OSU offseason questions: Special teams

June, 4, 2014
Jun 4
10:00
AM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Almost as soon as it arrived, spring camp at Ohio State wrapped up. Time isn't likely to fly by quite as quickly in the offseason with the summer months sure to drag by until the 2014 campaign finally opens in August. The Buckeyes have plenty of work to do to get ready for their debut against Navy on Aug. 30, and to help pass the time, we're looking at some of the most pressing positional questions they'll have to answer to make another run at a championship.

Who is going to replace Drew Basil?

[+] EnlargeKyle Clinton
Jamie Sabau/Getty ImagesKyle Clinton was 3 of 3 on extra points against Florida A&M in 2013.
Considering the little regard Urban Meyer seems to have for kicking field goals, maybe it won't actually make any difference who emerges as the top candidate to fill the job Basil left behind.

Even as much as the Ohio State coach raved about his starting kicker last year, Basil actually only attempted 10 field goals and was only called on once in the last four games. There certainly appears to be a trend emerging there for the ultra-aggressive Meyer, who only tried 11 field goals in the 2012 season, his first with the Buckeyes.

So will it really matter whether veteran walk-on Kyle Clinton or early enrollee Sean Nuernberger claims the job for Ohio State in a battle that couldn't be decided during spring practice? Perhaps not when it comes to 3-pointers, but finding somebody capable of placing kickoffs to set up the blitzkrieg coverage style preferred by Meyer might make the race a bit more important for the Buckeyes in terms of establishing field position.

Nuernberger appears to have a decided edge in leg strength, and he arrived on campus as the odds-on favorite to claim the gig, given his athleticism and the simple fact that Ohio State gave him a scholarship, knowing it would likely have to replace the steady veteran. Clinton is accurate, though, and there were times during camp in March and April where he might have been the leader in the head-to-head competition, a credit to a work ethic that hasn't gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

Either way, Meyer isn't likely to put all that much work on the shoulders of either kicker, based on his track record with the program. But with the punter position locked up thanks to the booming leg of Cameron Johnston and a deep pool of candidates ready to return punts and kickoffs, the kicker spot would seem to be the only one in the third phase in which there's really anything to worry about heading into training camp.

The impact Clinton or Nuernberger might have on Ohio State's title hopes is another matter entirely.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter

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