5 Answers: Ohio State vs Marshall

For the Buckeyes' season opener, we chose to focus on the Ohio State running game, the maturation of Terrelle Pryor, new-look special teams, new defensive starters and the Ohio State defense's quarterback pressure. Read on for an assessment of those areas.

1. Can the Buckeyes hit the ground running?

That was the type of performance Ohio State fans no doubt were hoping to see.

The Buckeyes ran up 280 yards on 41 carries - a cool 6.8 yards per even when accounting for three sacks. The total represented the second-best on an opening day in the Tressel era behind 317 yards against Texas Tech in 2002.

"I definitely have to give all the credit to the offensive line and the fullbacks," said tailback Brandon Saine, who was the game's leading rusher with 103 yards on only nine carries. "On the one run, I was untouched, so it's great to be out there doing things the way we want them to be done. We had a lot of fun out there."

Ohio State has eclipsed the 200-yard rushing mark in six consecutive regular season games.

2. What will Terrelle Pryor do for an encore?

So far, so good, for the Buckeyes' junior quarterback. He calmly directed the offense to five scoring drives and completed 17 of 25 passes for 247 yards and three touchdowns.

"I think he played well," said wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, the recipient of a picture-perfect 65-yard scoring strike from Pryor late in the first quarter. "I think you got to see a little bit of that offseason work we've been talking about. I think obviously the whole offense did a good job adjusting to what they were going to do. Coming in, we knew it was a whole new defense and didn't really know what to expect so we were going to have to do it on the fly, but I think overall we were able to get that done."

Head coach Jim Tressel liked what he saw as well.

"I thought Terrelle had confidence in where he was going with the ball," Tressel said. "I thought his anticipation was good."

Pryor's maturation as a passer continued, and his use as a runner dwindled. Pryor carried only eight times for 17 net yards, totals that include a pair of sacks that cost him seven yards.

3. What about those special teams?

The kickoff unit had it's ups and downs.

Redshirt freshmen Dorian Bell and Dominic Clarke combined to force Marshall's Andre Booker to fumble the opening kickoff, but later Booker got his revenge with a 63-yard return that brought to mind the struggles of the Buckeyes in 2009.

Meanwhile, true freshman Drew Basil's first field goal attempt was forgettable as Marshall defensive lineman Johnny Jones pushed through the Ohio State line to block the kick. Ahmed Shakoor scooped up the loose ball and returned it for the Thundering Herd's only touchdown.

"I think we just didn't protect the gap on the field goal because we got the kickoff in like 1.22 seconds," Tressel said. "Now, I don't know if it was hit high enough. Sometimes you drive those long ones, they're a little lower, but we just flat out didn't protect, so that better get fixed in one week. As far as the kickoff coverage, you know, we sure hope it does (get fixed). I can't sit here and tell you exactly what happened, who got blocked or who went out of a lane or whatever, but we'll figure that out tomorrow and begin working on that tomorrow."

In his second full game as the Buckeyes No. 1 punter, Ben Buchanan averaged 40.8 yards on four kicks. That included two downed inside the 20-yard line.

4. How will the new guys on defense perform?

Safety C.J. Barnett and defensive linemen John Simon and Solomon Thomas made their first starts on defense while Tyler Moeller played extensively as the Star in the Buckeyes' nickel defense.

Moeller turned in the most notable performance by logging the defense's only sack and finishing with team-highs of seven tackles and two tackles-for-loss.

"He's really exciting to watch," said defensive tackle Dexter Larimore. "He can come off the edge as a safety and really get after guys. We love bringing him off the edge. There's not too many guys who can get pressure like he can. He's a fast, strong secondary guy who is just fun to watch."

Simon had three tackles, including one for loss, while playing both tackle and defensive end.

"I feel great," Simon said. "We went out there and Marshall was a very tough team and we played'em tough, so overall I feel like we have a lot to improve on but the defense did a nice job for a first game."

Barnett and Thomas both notched a pair of tackles.

"I think they came together pretty well," defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said. "First game there are always jitters, but I think they kept a level head and just were ready to go."

5. Can Ohio State rush the passer effectively?

Perhaps the lone disappointment on the night was the defense's inability to harass Marshall quarterback Brian Anderson consistently.

"We didn't get enough pressure, but I think we controlled the running game pretty well and we're just going to have to keep improving on it," said Heyward, who missed a chance for another sack when Anderson eluded him then scrambled for a first down.

The senior captain said the team would work on getting off blocks more effectively this week with Miami (Fla.) set to pay a visit next Saturday.

"With the team coming up, they're going to be ready to fly around," Heyward said.

The expected return of defensive end Nathan Williams figures to aid the cause.

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