Ohio State Buckeyes: Ben Buchanan

Spring forward: Kicking game breakdown

February, 28, 2013
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With national signing day in the books, the next big date on the Ohio State calendar as it continues working toward an encore for an undefeated season in 2013 is spring practice. Before those workouts begin, BuckeyeNation will take a look at each position to see where the roster is at -- and where it's going.

[+] EnlargeDrew Basil
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesDrew Basil is the incumbent kicker and is likely to take on punting duties in 2013 as well.
KICKER/PUNTER

  • Who's back: With all the firepower the Buckeyes have returning and an aggressive coach who would clearly prefer never to need anybody to boot the football, the loss of punter Ben Buchanan may not be that big of a deal. But no offense is going to be perfect on every possession no matter how much Ohio State might score this fall, which makes filling the void the senior left a high priority this spring -- and could give kicker Drew Basil plenty to do. The Buckeyes recruited and received a commitment from a punter before Johnny Townsend ultimately elected to stay closer to home and sign with Florida, which has created something of a dilemma for Meyer and newly promoted special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs. But Basil does have one more year left to contribute with the program, and he will be the leading candidate at both positions heading into camp next week.
  • New face: Frank Epitropoulos isn't new to the program, but he could wind up being a fresh option to fill the hole at punter. The graduate of nearby Upper Arlington was recruited as a wide receiver and was listed at the position last fall during his first year with the Buckeyes, but the big leg he showed off as a three-way player in high school when averaged more than 42 yards per punt will make him a candidate as a specialist and could help take some of the burden off Basil.
  • Projected spring depth chart: Basil should enter spring practice as the starter at both positions, with Kyle Clinton backing him up at kicker and Epitropoulos potentially pushing for work at punter.
  • Numbers game: Meyer's fearless approach paid off in pressure situations as the Buckeyes led the country in fourth-down conversion percentage last fall, but it doesn't leave much of a sample size to judge Basil's accuracy as a kicker. Heading into the final week of the regular season, the rising senior had attempted just six field goals, making four of them. The Buckeyes needed him to deliver against rival Michigan to close out the undefeated campaign, though, and he doubled his total by making four of his five tries in the victory.
  • One to watch: There aren't many candidates, leaving Epitropoulos as the most intriguing option for the Buckeyes among the specialists. His numbers in high school suggest he has the strength and ability to potentially be productive at the next level, and with Ohio State loading up with dangerous weapons at wide receiver and creating stiff competition for playing time at the skill positions, handling the punting duties could provide a clearer path for Epitropoulos to contribute.
  • He said it: "Kerry Coombs is an excellent coach who has a great deal of experience and expertise with special teams. He is an outstanding teacher, an excellent motivator and he has a true passion for special teams." -- Meyer earlier this month

Year in review: Ups, downs for specialists 

December, 7, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A position-by-position look at a perfect season for Ohio State, wrapping up today by rewinding to look at the kicking game and a group of special-teams contributors that were stretched by injury during a roller coaster campaign.

SPECIAL TEAMS
[+] EnlargeCorey Brown
Jim Rinaldi/Icon SMIReceiver Corey "Philly" Brown became the playmaker that Urban Meyer was looking for on special teams.

  • Most valuable player: Roles on special teams just aren't handed out under Urban Meyer, though that doesn't change the fact they're valuable proving grounds for players looking to make an impression, as the Ohio State coach is so heavily involved with the kicking game. It also doesn't just apply to younger players, since it was junior Corey "Philly" Brown's explosive contributions on punt return that seemingly helped his role on offense expand as the season progressed and the Buckeyes gained even more confidence in his ability to make something happen with the football in his hands. Meyer had been somewhat critical of Brown's ability to make defenders miss early in the season, but his 76-yard punt return against Nebraska helped seal a blowout victory and signaled that the wide receiver was turning a corner as a playmaker.

Monday briefing: More moves possible

October, 15, 2012
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Zach BorenGreg Bartram/US PresswireAfter leading the Buckeyes in tackles against Indiana, it looks as if senior Zach Boren will continue to see time at linebacker.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick hitters from Ohio State's media luncheon on Monday as it prepares for a visit from Purdue on Saturday.

Shake it up: For the time being, Zach Boren shouldn't make any plans to return to offense after shifting from fullback to linebacker and then leading the team in tackles against the Hoosiers.

Expecting somebody else to have that same kind of instant impact at a new position might be asking a lot in the middle of the season, but that doesn't mean the Ohio State won't consider more personnel shakeups in response to its lack of depth on defense.

Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer confirmed there "are conversations" as the coaching staff evaluates all its options, though the only player identified specifically when he was asked about tweaks to the lineup during his Monday press conference was freshman defensive end Noah Spence -- but he won't be playing offense any time soon.

"Options are very limited right now, so that’s one thing," Meyer said. "The guy that played very well is Noah Spence, so the thing you have to ask yourself, 'OK, Noah Spence and Nathan Williams play the same position, so let’s have a conversation about that' -- and we are. How do you get them both on the field at the same time is the conversation.

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3 Up, 3 Down: Ohio State 29, UAB 15 

September, 23, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A few things Ohio State will feel good about and some issues it will need to correct after wrapping up nonconference play with a 29-15 home win over UAB on Saturday.

THREE UP

1. Healthy Hall: If Jordan Hall wasn't quite back to full strength in his second game of the season, the senior running back hid it well. The Buckeyes again handed him the football 17 times, and he didn't miss many opportunities to pick up yardage on the way to a career-high total of 105 yards. He also added two catches for 21 yards, and Ohio State should be even stronger on the ground with Carlos Hyde expected to return against Michigan State.

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Notes and quotes: Bucks begin UCF week

September, 3, 2012
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There wasn't much for Urban Meyer to enjoy during his first quarter with Ohio State.

In hindsight, the new Buckeyes coach is looking back at it and smiling about the opportunity it gives him moving forward.


Eventually the offense started clicking and cruised to an easy win in Meyer's debut with the program, but as Ohio State goes back to work preparing for a tougher test on Saturday against Central Florida, he's got plenty of teachable moments to help make his point about how much work is still left to be done.

"At the end of the day, I’m pleased with what happened," Meyer said during his Monday press conference. "I’m pleased we got thrown around a little bit. We were actually losing in our home stadium in the first quarter, and I didn’t like it at the time, but now that you look back, I think everybody got hit in the face a little bit and responded well.

"I’m glad after we evaluate it now that it happened. It gives us an opportunity to coach very, very hard and get some things corrected."

Meyer and his staff wouldn't normally ease up on the Buckeyes early in the week anyway, though they do have the option of making the already infamous "Bloody Tuesday" workout even more difficult if it's necessary.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A quick refresher course on the guys that will have the biggest impact this weekend on Ohio State's special teams units that will be closely watched by new coach Urban Meyer.

KICKOFF/PUNT RETURNER

COREY "PHILLY" BROWN

  • THE OPTIONS: The junior wide receiver's emergence as a weapon in the kicking game qualifies as a bit of a surprise heading into the opener against Miami (Ohio). Obviously the loss of Jordan Hall to injury early in the season left the door open for other Buckeyes to audition for the role, including projected backup Chris Fields and cornerback Bradley Roby. But Brown impressed with his ability to break big plays, with Devin Smith emerging as the next in line on punts and freshman running back Bri'onte Dunn getting a look on kickoffs. Roby might eventually work is way in, but for now the preference appears to be for offensive players to handle the football.
  • THE NUMBERS: Brown was called on to return a pair of punts last season, and he averaged 14 yards per attempt with a long of 17. Fields provided the highlight for that unit, taking a punt back 69 yards for a score.

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The season is finally getting closer. The release of preseason watch lists for the major college football awards confirms it, and with a full week of candidates already announced and more to come, BuckeyeNation will break them all down to see which Ohio State representatives have a shot at bringing home some hardware.

AFCA GOOD WORKS TEAM
  • WHAT: A select group of 11 players from the Football Bowl Subdivision recognized for showing a commitment to making a difference in the community
  • ON THE LIST: Ohio State senior Ben Buchanan
  • CREDENTIALS: The starting punter has an impressive resume on the field, including a career average of more than 41 yards per attempt, but it's his work away from it makes him a preseason candidate for the American Football Coaches Association award. Buchanan has taken three medical missions to Honduras, spent his most recent spring break working with Habitat for Humanity and is a three-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree.
  • ODDS: Given the qualities he already has demonstrated during his career with the Buckeyes, it's hard to see Buchanan as anything other than a strong candidate for the 11-man roster, which will be announced in September.

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