Five Questions: Ohio State vs. Troy

The opponent might not have the same lofty ranking, but there is no shortage of intrigue this week for Ohio State. We examine the quarterback issue, the offensive line and even those other Trojans who are headed to town among this week's Five Questions.

1. How will plays be distributed among the quarterbacks?

Undoubtedly, there will be much attention placed on which quarterback, Todd Boeckman or Terrelle Pryor, is calling the Ohio State offense's signals for the first play of the game, but that could turn out to be a trivial detail.

Head coach Jim Tressel said the starter would be determined by which quarterback practiced best this week, but it's reasonable to conclude that both will play, probably extensively.

Will Ohio State continue to alternate the pair within series or will they use a more traditional rotation?

If one gets hot, will he be entrusted with the reins for an extensive period of time?

The one that earns the most playing time this week likely has the inside shot at piloting the offense the rest of the season, no task to be taken lightly with a fourth straight Big Ten title on the line.

2. Which quarterback plays best?

To this point, there was a clear starter (Boeckman) who got the majority of chances to show the coaches what he could do. Now the preparation pendulum swings toward Pryor, whom Tressel said would get 65 percent of the practice snaps with the first team offense this week because the staff needs to see how he looks in that role.

As un-Tressel-like as it would seem for the coach to opt for a freshman over a senior, earlier this week he sounded more than ready to do so if Pryor turns out to be the best option, and "best option" is not hard to define when talking Tressel and his quarterbacks.

The coach will select the player who most often makes the correct decisions based on the situations that present themselves to him. Given the mistakes Boeckman has made so far this season and the poise Pryor showed in his limited chances, the decision might not be as difficult as it initially seems.

3. Will the Ohio State offensive line get it together?

The Buckeyes' 88th-ranked offense has suffered from more than just poor line play, but the big fellas up front could stand to play better, be it in protecting the passer or clearing lanes for the Buckeye running game.

Right guard Ben Person said the players are not worried about the offense, a unit with a 24.0-point-per-game average that is 73rd in the nation.

"We've talked about that the last couple days," Person said. "We've got to play faster, we've got to better, we've got to play harder, we've got to play tougher. It's things that we're capable of. We have to execute.

"The offense basically kind of lives and dies through (the line). It starts with us and it ends with us. We have to get better. That's the bottom line."

Getting back the services of star running back Chris Wells would not hurt either. Not only does Wells' presence make teams approach every aspect of the Ohio State offense in a different way, the 237-pound bull also is the only Buckeye running back with the ability to beat a defender one-on-one consistently. He can make a small hole look a lot bigger by blowing through it or make up for a missed assignment with his famous stiff-arm.

4. Will the no-huddle spread offense bother the Buckeyes?

Since preseason, Ohio State defensive coordinator Jim Heacock has been mentioning Troy when the matter of offensive tempo comes up.

Unlike last week's opponent, these Trojans favor a fast-paced, no-huddle spread attack.

That will test the Buckeyes' ability to adjust on the fly and to communicate defensive signals without a huddle. Open-field tackling will be at a premium as well.

Similar attacks have given the Buckeyes fits in the past, but safety Kurt Coleman expects that to work to their benefit this week.

"We've gotten a lot better at refining what we need to do against a spread team," he said. "We know how to play our lanes now."

This could be a game in which Ohio State's depth at linebacker and in the secondary comes in handy.

With Tyler Moeller expected to be back from injury and Donald Washington and Jamario O'Neal both in their second games back after being suspended to start the season, Ohio State has several options in the defensive backfield.

Ohio State always rotates up front so look for every member of the two-deep to get plenty of work. Perhaps freshmen ends Nathan Williams and Keith Wells will be called upon to help as well.

5. Will there be a post-USC hangover?

After talking all last week about how important it would be to play the perfect game against USC, the Buckeyes certainly failed to walk the walk. Penalties, missed reads and missed assignments added up to a blowout loss. And that was in a game when few people would have questioned Ohio State's focus, determination or motivation.

How will they bounce back?

"We know that Troy is a good team and we don't want to let our guard down coming off this loss," Coleman said. "I think it's in the rearview mirror. We have to focus on what's at hand. Right now it's Try and then we've got the Big Ten coming up. We have to put that behind us because it's not going to do anything but affect us if we let it linger."

Seeing what kind of enthusiasm the Ohio Stadium faithful can muster could be interesting to watch as well.

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