OSU Q&A: Part 4

Our final installment of the Q&A with Bucknuts.com's Kirk Larrabee, previewing the defending national champion Ohio State Buckeyes.

BN: Is B.J. Sander a concern at punter?

Larrabee: Some of us are a little concerned, but others aren't. Sander has a big leg and is going to get off some astronomical punts this year, but there's also the memory of him not being consistent enough to keep the job over Andy Groom (who was a walk-on at the time). Groom turned out to be a very good punter though, and he'll be tough to replace. Sander isn't as athletic as Groom, but if he can become consistent and get the punts off, he could very well be up towards the top of the Big Ten in punting average.

BN: How are the Buckeyes' special teams otherwise?

Larrabee: I think the special teams will be solid. Junior kicker Mike Nugent was a Groza Award finalist last year and will be regarded again as one of the nation's top kickers. Chris Gamble has the punt returning job held down, and also look for Santonio Holmes and Bam Childress to possibly provide a spark to the return game. Long snapper Kyle Andrews, who earned a scholarship after being a walk-on, is an unsung hero, and coverage should be better.

BN: I hate to put you on the spot, but I have to ask…will OSU repeat as Big Ten and/or national champions?

Larrabee: That's the most important question, of course... I have a feeling they will repeat as Big Ten champs despite having to go to Wisconsin and Michigan this year (I'm assuming of course that everything goes well and the team performs as we think they can after seeing them on paper). I do think they'll slip up somewhere along the way though, which will prevent them from repeating. I predicted in Bucknuts the Magazine that they'd lose in the Sugar Bowl in a rematch to Miami. Never say never with this team though. Last year, they were never short of tricks up their sleeve, and don't count out them being able to do the same this year. If they play up to their potential though, they might be good enough where they won't need any of those tricks. It's a senior-laden bunch with a lot of leadership and experience. They're focused on doing what needs to be done, and if they don't win it all, they'll at least be in the thick of it until the end.

For all of your Ohio State information now and throughout the 2003 season, visit Kirk Larrabee, Mr. Bucknuts and the entire Bucknuts staff at Bucknuts.com

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