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May 15, 2012Arguably the toughest game on Nebraska's schedule in 2012 will be their October trip to Columbus to take on Ohio State under the lights.
The Buckeyes returns several key pieces this season, but most importantly they add head coach Urban Meyer and his all-star cast of assistants.
As HuskerOnline.com continues are look at Nebraska's 12 opponents coming out of the spring, today we get a breakdown of OSU from BuckeyeGrove.com publisher Kevin Noon.
After one spring with Urban Meyer, what was the biggest impression you took away from what he brings and just the upgrades he's going to bring to Ohio State?
"I just think that it's a different energy. By saying that, I'm not saying there wasn't an energy under Jim Tressel, but I just think it's a different energy. I just think everything is a little bit more upbeat and direct. Just even from the way Urban is able to answer questions and to the way Jim Tressel did not answer questions, to the speed and the tempo of the practices to maybe a more aggressive style when it comes to recruiting.
"I just think they've really shown across the board that they are very different in the way they approach things. It's not necessarily saying one guys was right and the other was wrong, because both can work. Urban is definitely doing a great job and he's the right guy at the right time with Ohio State coming off a very sub-par season and a bad year when it came to NCAA violations and penalties and things like that. Just having somebody that's much more proactive will go a long way in energizing the fan base."
How much has Urban Meyer already had to address just the challenge this season will be to keep the team motivated since they can't play for a Big Ten championship or a bowl game?
"I think sometimes there might be a little bit too much placed on in terms of getting to play for that championship and things along those lines. Everybody out there is a competitor and everybody has team goals. The team wants to win and they want to win every game. Then everybody has individual goals. All the seniors have NFL aspirations and in many ways it's a job audition for them. If you are senior you have plenty to play for.
"If you are an underclassmen you have a chance to learn the system and a chance to be able to get in there and get in a good position for 2013 when Ohio State has to be considered one of the front runners in the Big Ten. I don't think it's going to be an issue with them being flat. They'll have the Michigan game as their last game in November, so there's plenty to play for."
How much better will Meyer's system fit Braxton Miller compared to what they ran under Jim Tressel where they almost had to try to make the system fit him?
"I think if you look at the old system if you wanted to get 15 yards on a pass play, you were going to ask Braxton Miller to throw 15 yards - maybe the guy would catch it, maybe he wouldn't it. I think you are going to see in this Urban Meyer offense is they'll dump the ball out into the flats and see if you can pick up 10 yards. He's got more of a license to be able to run the ball with the way this offense has been sped up. I do think it's going to be a situation where Braxton Miller is going to be able to succeed and that breeds success.
"I think last year it was kind of a situation where if Braxton Miller was not able to get hot immediately, you knew it was going to be a pretty lack luster day. I think there's going to be a lot of opportunities, so if Braxton Miller starts out the game 1-of-4 or 0-of-3, it's not going to be the end of the game. You have to remember last year Ohio State's leading receiver had just 14 receptions on the year. Where in the spring game Ohio State's leading receiver had 12 receptions. Granted that was the spring game, but it shows there's going to be a lot more opportunities and that will do nothing but help Braxton Miller."
What is the biggest question right now coming out of the spring for Ohio State?
"I think who is going to step up at wide receiver is the biggest question. Ohio State had three guys with 14 receptions each, which led the team last year. DeVier Posey is gone, after only getting to play in three games last year. Ohio State doesn't necessarily have a No. 1 receiver at this point. Who is going to step up? It's very difficult to have this prolific spread passing offense if you don't have somebody who is able to catch the ball. I think that was something that we saw a lot of during spring practice. Meyer was probably passing a little bit more during practice just to see who could catch and make plays on the ball."
The recruiting with Meyer has been unbelievable the last few months. Where does this early class by Meyer rank from what you've seen at Ohio State in past years?
"It's obviously a very good class and it's probably a little bit different than a few of the other classes at Ohio State just on the timing on a lot of these kids when they decided to jump on board. I think a lot of that has to do with the make-up of college recruiting. Everybody's calendar is moving quicker. When Jim Tressel was putting together great classes before, you wouldn't have this many commitments before May 15. Urban Meyer is being successful with that, but I think the thing people are noticing the most is Urban Meyer is casting a much wider net. Jim Tressel may have offered four kids for two spots and wait until signing day on them. You aren't going to see that from Urban Meyer, he's going to sit there and prioritize his board, but have more kids out there.
"He'll tell kids 'if you want to be on board, then we'll have you. If you want to pick the time, that spot may not be there.' He's not going to sugar coat it and you are going to know where you stand with him. I think you are also seeing him make more offers out there that are not committable offers, where you may have to go to camp to get an offer. That makes it confusing to Ohio State fans, because there are more offers out at this point than ever before."
What are the realistic win-loss expectations for this team in year one under Urban Meyer?
"If I were setting a line I think 10-2 is a very safe line for Ohio State. I don't think they have a very challenging out-of-conference schedule. Probably a game at home against Cal is their most difficult, then the way the Big Ten season sets up, you have several of the difficult games against Nebraska and Michigan both coming to Columbus.
"Then you look at the road games against teams like Penn State, who has a lot of issues and that may not be as daunting of a game as it might normally be. Really their toughest game is at Wisconsin and if Ohio State can get by them in Madison, who knows what can happen. This is kind of a bad year for them not to be bowl eligible with how everything sets up."