Ohio State Buckeyes: Drew Basil

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Another 12-win season is in the books, though the second one under Urban Meyer did come with a pair of losses at the end that took a bit of the shine off the record for Ohio State. As the Buckeyes turn the page to Year 3 under Meyer, they'll certainly be looking to top that victory total, clinch a spot in the first edition of the College Football Playoff and again compete for a national title. To do so, all three phases will have issues to address, and the final checklist hits on the special teams.

[+] EnlargeDontre Wilson
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesFreshman Dontre Wilson returned 21 kickoffs for 523 yards this season.
Find some explosion in the return game: Considering the influx of speed on the kickoff return unit and the presence of a veteran to field punts, Ohio State has to be disappointed in the lack of spark it had when the ball was kicked its way. Even before the second-half lead in the Discover Orange Bowl started to slip away thanks to a punt that Philly Brown muffed for a costly turnover, the Buckeyes were merely average in that phase ranking No. 60 in the country and weren't much better with Dontre Wilson pacing a kickoff unit that finished No. 42 in the nation. Meyer undoubtedly has much higher expectations for his returners and has long placed an emphasis on creating game-changing plays in that phase of the game, something he'll only harp on more heading into spring practice. Not only is Brown gone, but every player who fielded more than one punt last season has departed along with him, so there will be open auditions for at least one role when practice resumes for the Buckeyes.

Replace the kicker: Meyer at times seems allergic to kicking field goals, but he could at least feel somewhat comfortable when he did settle for a 3-point try with veteran Drew Basil around and hitting 90 percent of his attempts. But that security blanket is gone now, and while that might make Meyer even less inclined to kick a field goal moving forward, in the short term he'll have his attention focused on the candidates to fill the void. Walk-on Kyle Clinton will have a crack at the job, though his current experience is limited to 3 extra points and a handful of kickoffs in his career. Incoming freshman Sean Nuernberger, the No. 9 player in the country at the position, could wind up being the solution for Ohio State.

Dial up the FreakShow: The loss of Bradley Roby at cornerback is obviously pressing, but not having him around to lead the FreakShow punt-block unit could be just as significant given how dramatic an impact he had during his career attacking the football on special teams. Few things in a game mean more to Meyer than coming up with a momentum-swinging block in the kicking game, and Roby had the instincts and athleticism to do it perhaps as well or better than anybody the coach has ever had at his disposal. Doran Grant has shown a flash of that ability, but the Buckeyes will be looking hard at the young talent it has been stacking up in the secondary to find another guy or two capable of blazing deep into the backfield, getting a hand on the football and then potentially turning a block directly into points the way Roby did with the program.

Previous to-do lists: Offense | Defense

Season report card: Ohio State

December, 20, 2013
Final exams are either ongoing or all wrapped up around the Big Ten. We're passing out grades, too, for each team's regular-season performance.

Each team receives a grade for offense, defense, special teams and overall play.

Up next: The No. 7 Buckeyes.

Offense: A-

[+] EnlargeHyde/Miller
AP Photo/Jeff HaynesCarlos Hyde and Braxton Miller proved to be nearly unstoppable in the running game.
A somewhat sloppy final exam brought down the overall grade, but it's hard to find fault with the most prolific scoring attack in the Big Ten and one of the most explosive offenses Ohio State has ever had in its decorated history. The rushing game was close to unstoppable, clear strides were evident when the football was in the air and the offensive line proved itself to be one of the best units in the country as the Buckeyes rolled their way to more than 46 points per game.

For all the talk about trying to balance out the spread offense this season, though, the Buckeyes weren't quite able to trust the passing game when it mattered most against the best defense they faced all year. Michigan State made them pay in the Big Ten title game as Braxton Miller struggled with his accuracy and his receivers put a few catchable throws on the ground, making rushing lanes harder to come by down the stretch and ultimately building to a failed fourth-down rush with a chance to play for the crystal football hanging in the balance.

But, obviously, the Buckeyes had 12 wins on the resume before that, and Carlos Hyde's wildly productive senior season finally gave Urban Meyer a 1,000-yard running back. Despite missing three games due to suspension to open the year, Hyde still led the Big Ten in rushing yardage during league play and finished with 1,408 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground as the Buckeyes bullied through the regular season thanks to his terrifying partnership with Miller in the backfield.

Defense: B-

At their best and fully healthy, the Buckeyes appeared to be on their way to living up to the high standards of the Silver Bullets and ranking among the nation's best defenses with a developing front, a game-changing linebacker and a veteran secondary filled with playmakers. Without the full complement of starters and against some solid offensive game plans, the Buckeyes at times looked completely lost and were exposed in the back end, particularly late in the season as injuries revealed the lack of depth at critical positions.

[+] EnlargeJoey Bosa
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsJoey Bosa had a stellar freshman season with 6.5 sack and six QB hurries.
The good certainly outweighed the bad for Ohio State, as it showed a knack for regrouping and making critical adjustments after some shaky starts, notably against Iowa and Northwestern. Ryan Shazier came up short in his bid for a couple of individual trophies, but the junior linebacker sent his NFL stock soaring with another stats-stuffing season that was downright spectacular at times. After needing to replace the entire defensive line, Noah Spence, Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett all proved more than capable of wreaking havoc in the offensive backfield and will return next season.

But much, much more was expected of the secondary with Bradley Roby returning for at cornerback to team with senior safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett. The loss of Bryant in September to a fractured ankle was a blow the Buckeyes were never able to truly recover from, and finishing No. 11 in the Big Ten in pass defense is never going to be acceptable at a program with so much defensive pride. Those issues were balanced out by a stout rush defense and an opportunistic unit. While there are certainly programs that would be happy with a grade like this on defense, Ohio State isn't one of them.

Special teams: B+

Freshman Cameron Johnston turned out to be an invaluable recruiting pickup late in the game a year ago, bursting on the scene with his powerful leg and a unique ability to dial it back when needed to switch field position. A coverage unit stocked with starters willing to lend a hand in the kicking game certainly didn't hurt, either.

The Buckeyes also made life miserable on opposing punters, a calling card of an Urban Meyer team, with Roby blocking a pair and Doran Grant throwing in another. Drew Basil was solid kicking the football, though Ohio State didn't call on the senior all that much has he attempted just 10 field goals, making nine.

There was a spark missing on kickoff and punt return, which will no doubt frustrate Meyer heading into next season. Dontre Wilson broke a 51-yard kickoff return and Philly Brown had a long of 65, but neither was able to break a touchdown.

Overall: A-

Everything was set up for the Buckeyes to make a run at the national championship, and despite all the hand-wringing about the BCS standings and OSU's schedule, all the dominoes had fallen into place ahead of the conference title game. And while that loss to the Spartans left them one game short of playing for the national crown, the Buckeyes still won 12 and are headed to the Discover Orange Bowl, which is a respectable consolation prize in what should again go down as a successful season.
There's only one game on tap this week, but it's a very big one. Let's take a look at five things to watch in Saturday night's Big Ten championship game between No. 2 Ohio State and No. 10 Michigan State:

1. Something's gotta give: The nation's No. 1 defense in Michigan State goes up against the nation's No. 3 scoring offense in Ohio State. But has either unit really been tested? The Spartan Dawgs have been pretty special, but they've yet to face an offense ranked in the top 50 in yards. Ohio State's attack also looks the part, and the Buckeyes have faced two top-10 defenses (Wisconsin, Iowa), but no others in the top 35. Behind running back Carlos Hyde and quarterback Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes lead the nation in yards per rush (7.1) and runs of 10 yards or longer (130). Michigan State leads the nation in fewest rush yards allowed (64.4 per game), fewest yards per rush (2.2) and fewest rushes of 10 or more yards (19). Who will gain the edge at the line of scrimmage?

[+] EnlargeBraxton Miller
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCan Braxton Miller and Ohio State's high-powered offense move the ball against Michigan State's stingy defense?
2. Buckeyes back on the big stage: It has been a while since Ohio State played a game of this significance on a stage as big as Lucas Oil Stadium. Miller has been brilliant the past two seasons, but he has yet to play in the postseason with a spot in the national championship on the line. Nebraska came into last year's title game tight and it showed in a disastrous performance against Wisconsin, which played loose and ran the Huskers up and down the field. Although no one expects Ohio State to lay an egg, Michigan State has been here before, and the Spartans are likely heading to the Rose Bowl no matter what happens in the game. MSU is the first top-15 team Ohio State will play since its win streak began under Meyer. Are Miller and the Buckeyes ready for the challenge?

3. Shutdown showcase: The title game features two of the nation's elite cornerbacks in Michigan State's Darqueze Dennard and Ohio State's Bradley Roby. Both have the ability to shut down a side of the field and make game-changing plays if quarterbacks dare to throw their way. Dennard, a likely first-round draft pick, will press Ohio State's receivers and try to eliminate the deep passing game. Roby is playing his best football and can be a difference-maker not only on defense but on special teams. Dennard has four interceptions and a forced fumble in an All-American-caliber senior season, while Roby has a pick-six, a fumble return for a touchdown, and a blocked punt and recovery for a touchdown.

4. Cook's big moment: Asked to make a brief opening statement on a media teleconference earlier this week, Michigan State quarterback Connor Cook said, "Hello, I'm Connor Cook." The Spartans sophomore will introduce himself to the nation Saturday night and can make a strong statement about himself and the MSU offense. No one pegged Cook to be in this position before the season, but he has taken control in Big Ten play, passing for 1,708 yards with 12 touchdowns and four interceptions in eight league contests. Cook said that after Ohio State's defensive struggles, "you're licking your chops" about Saturday's game. He hasn't played in a game this big, but he doesn't lack confidence. It will be interesting to see how he fares.

5. Special attention: Michigan State's first appearance in the Big Ten title game came down to a special-teams play, and it didn't end well for the Spartans as Isaiah Lewis was flagged for running into Wisconsin punter Brad Nortman. Don't be surprised if the kicking game once again plays a big role in determining Saturday's winner. Both teams have excellent punters (MSU's Mike Sadler, OSU's Cameron Johnston), and Roby has been a special-teams star with three blocked punts and two recoveries for touchdowns. Kickers Michael Geiger (MSU) and Drew Basil (OSU) both have shown good accuracy on field goals with limited opportunities. Lewis' performance as he returns home to Indianapolis also is worth monitoring.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Training camp hasn't even started yet. After that grueling month, there's still almost an entire season to be played before "The Game" that matters most.

But it's never too early to set the table for the feud between Ohio State and Michigan, and at BuckeyeNation and WolverineNation, we're doing it all week.

We looked back on Monday at some heroes and villains on both sides of the rivalry. Today we're looking ahead at the strengths and weaknesses that could decide the latest edition in the storied series, which is just more than four short months away.


Ground and pound:

Carlos Hyde
David Dermer/Diamond Images/Getty ImagesOhio State running back Carlos Hyde is poised for a big senior season.
The Ohio State rushing attack was potent enough a year ago, but it's only added more experience and weapons to the mix now. By November, it might be almost impossible to slow down the Buckeyes on the ground as they incorporate the new pieces to the attack and potentially get more support from the passing game. Braxton Miller is obviously a threat to score from anywhere on the field, and if Carlos Hyde makes the kind of improvement he's targeted in terms of making defenders miss at the second level, that one-two combination will continue to rank among the best in the country, particularly with four seniors back on the offensive line.

But it might be the added dimension of a healthy Jordan Hall or a true freshman such as Dontre Wilson or Jalin Marshall at the hybrid, Pivot position that gives opponents even more fits. Or maybe it's a backfield that can be loaded up with as many as three talented rushers, rolling out Rod Smith or Bri'onte Dunn in a diamond formation with Hyde and Miller. Either way, the Buckeyes have the personnel to give Michigan a workout in the front seven.

Air patrol:

The expectations are growing for Michigan's passing attack now that Devin Gardner has the position all to himself, and he'll have plenty of time to develop and find a rhythm before meeting up with the Buckeyes. But there might be no stiffer test in the country than the one Ohio State can present a quarterback thanks to its overflowing talent and veteran savvy in the secondary. Cornerback Bradley Roby and safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett would make life difficult on their own, but the Buckeyes can complement that with another senior safety in reserve in Corey "Pittsburgh"' Brown, a junior cornerback looking to make a name for himself in Doran Grant and a class of incoming defensive backs that represented perhaps the best signing day haul in the nation.

The Buckeyes plan to get as many of those guys involved as possible this season, which could make the secondary even more fearsome by the time Gardner gets a crack at them.


Middle ground:

The fresh faces are almost everywhere in the front seven, but heading to training camp, there's not all that much uncertainty about who will be filling which shoes left behind by the defenders who helped the Buckeyes go unbeaten last fall. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington are poised for breakouts at end and Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry appear ready to lend a hand next to Ryan Shazier at linebacker, but there are two critical spots on the inside of the line that bear monitoring as Ohio State prepares to stop opposing rushing attacks. Michael Bennett is close to a lock for one role, but there could be a heated competition for reps next to him to complete the rotation. Tommy Schutt battled injuries throughout spring practice, but he has the ability to be a future star. Joel Hale is a grinder and respected leader, and the junior could be an intriguing option as well. And if big Chris Carter can manage his weight, his massive frame clearly could fill up some rushing lanes.

By November, the Buckeyes figure to have long ago answered those questions up front and should have also built up plenty of experience. But that will be at the top of the priority list as Ohio State chases a Big Ten title -- and keeps an eye on its rival.

Kicking it:

More often than not, the Buckeyes had the edge over opponents in the third phase. But considering how much value Urban Meyer places on special teams and how much production he expects, Ohio State wasn't all that close to giving him what he wanted a year ago. Kicker Drew Basil wasn't used all that much, aside from the season-ending win over Michigan, but among his 11 attempts last season were a pair of missed field goals from less than 39 yards that didn't exactly inspire confidence. The Buckeyes will be breaking in a new punter as well, and winning the field position battle is as important under Meyer as it has always been under previous regimes at Ohio State -- putting pressure on some young contributors to make plays in kickoff and punt coverage.

Philly Brown took a couple punts back for touchdowns last year and the "Freak Show" punt block unit made itself a nuisance a few times, but Meyer and newly-promoted special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs keep the bar pretty high in that area of the game. And in tightly contested rivalries, it can make all the difference.
It didn’t take long for Sean Nuernberger (Buckner, Ky./Oldham County) to impress Ohio State.

And it didn’t take the Buckeyes long to impress Nuernberger.

The senior kicker participated in Ohio State’s specialist camp Monday and today and accepted a scholarship on the spot.

The place kicker had been in contact with Louisville and Kentucky and went down to Alabama’s camp as a punter, but when the opportunity to join Ohio State came about, he couldn’t pass it up.

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Spring practice begins Tuesday at Ohio State, but the Buckeyes never stop recruiting.

On Feb. 6, Urban Meyer and Co. landed the third-ranked team in the nation after a 2012 recruiting campaign that put Ohio State sixth.

There are certain things we know about the Buckeyes as they fine-tune their lineup, and other things that need to be addressed.

Here are five questions facing the school as they turn the calendar completely to 2014:

1. What to do with the offensive line?

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Spring forward: Kicking game breakdown

February, 28, 2013
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.

  • 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

It's combine time in the Midwest 

February, 14, 2013
It’s time to camp.

With the signing period over, the need for the Class of 2014 to get noticed becomes paramount. This weekend, three big combines take place.

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Ohio State hardly needs motivation thanks to the chip on its shoulder already firmly in place after sitting out the postseason with a perfect record. But just in case any players required any extra fuel heading into workouts or wanted a little help putting together some goals, BuckeyeNation is here to lend a hand with some records that could be in reach with another productive offseason.

[+] EnlargeDrew Basil
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesDrew Basil made 56 extra points in 2012, the third-most in Ohio State history.

  • Who owns it: A prolific attack in 2010 gave Devin Barclay plenty of chip shots to convert, and the Ohio State kicker converted every single one of them -- putting his name in the school record book an extra point at a time. That record obviously is much more of a reflection of a dynamic offense than an indicator of how good or bad Barclay was that season, but it's well worth nothing that he is the only kicker in the single-season top 10 for 1-pointers who made every attempt.
  • Who wants it: Just three seasons after Barclay took over the top spot, the Buckeyes are primed to put an even more explosive offense on the field in Urban Meyer's second year with the program. Drew Basil should be in line to capitalize heading into his senior campaign. As a junior, Basil perhaps didn't get as many chances to try field goals as he might have hoped, a combination of Meyer's aggressiveness and a red-zone offense that ranked among the best in the nation at turning those chances into touchdowns, doing so 76 percent of the time. That proficiency still gave Basil work to do, and he banged through 56 extra points, in all in the third-best individual season in school history in that category.
  • Relevant number: The Buckeyes were a perfect 3-of-3 when they had to dial up a two-point conversion instead, and considering how effective the offense was near the goal line thanks to the versatile backfield tandem of battering ram Carlos Hyde and elusive quarterback Braxton Miller, Meyer could conceivably think about trying to double up after a touchdown more often next season. Had those three tries been extra points last year, Basil would already own the No. 2 spot on the single-season list -- though the Buckeyes would obviously much rather be undefeated.
  • Offseason checklist: There's not much preparation Basil really needs to do to convert his simplest chances as a kicker, leaving the work that could carry him to a personal record to all those teammates on offense. Another year of development for Miller as he readies for a third season as the starting quarterback should take the spread offense to another level, and there is no shortage of weapons around him. Aside from the loss of Reid Fragel at right tackle and Jake Stoneburner at wide receiver, every other starter returns for an offense that led the Big Ten in scoring last season and still has room to grow.
  • Attainable goal: All signs point to even more scoring for the Buckeyes in 2013, and given the track record already established by Meyer with the program, that means touchdowns and not field goals. While that could keep Basil from piling up a personal point total that could challenge Barclay's overall mark of 122 set during that same 2010 season thanks to 20 field goals, the extra point mark could be in serious jeopardy.

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.

[+] 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.

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Four downs: Keys to OSU-Wisconsin 

November, 16, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Critical areas for the Buckeyes as they hit the road for a physical test at Wisconsin with a chance to lock up an outright division crown. The game will be televised live on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday from Camp Randall Stadium.

Buckle up: Both offenses have a bruising, downhill runner. Both Wisconsin and Ohio State will have mobile quarterbacks. And both programs have proven more than capable of shutting down rushing attacks with aggressive defenses that rank among the best in the Big Ten.

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Ohio State awards tracker: Week 8

October, 23, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A glance at the Ohio State players named to preseason watch lists and how they performed in a 29-22 overtime win against Purdue to stay undefeated:

QB Braxton Miller, So. (Maxwell, O'Brien): The sophomore didn't look quite like himself even before getting hurt in the third quarter, having rushed for just 10 yards on his first 11 carries. Miller did look poised to break out on his 37-yard run that ended with him getting rammed to the turf and eventually taken to the hospital, and it looks like he'll have a chance to go back to work against Penn State this week.

DE John Simon, Sr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott IMPACT): The two-time captain never gave up on plays even after just missing on a couple chances to make tackles behind the line of scrimmage, finishing with nine tacklese overall as he scrambled around and brought down Boilermakers in a much better defensive effort collectively for the Buckeyes.

DT Johnathan Hankins, Jr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Outland): The big man in the middle was back to his old tricks, giving the Purdue offensive line all it could handle, and he swallowed up pretty much every interior run that came his way. Hankins also got a critical hand on a field goal that kept the game close in the second half.

WR Corey "Philly" Brown, Jr. (Biletnikoff): Yet another player who dealt with an injury that popped up against Purdue, Brown made three catches for 44 yards and had a 9-yard rush before heading to the locker room early. The Buckeyes appear likely to get him back against the Nittany Lions, and they are getting him more and more involved as the season progresses.

TE Jake Stoneburner, Sr. (Mackey): The veteran wasn't targeted as much as he was the week before, but Stoneburner added another catch to his tally and picked up 17 yards to go with his solid blocking on the perimeter. It also couldn't have come at a much better time for the Buckeyes as he helped set up the score in overtime with his grab over the middle on a second-and-1o snap.

SS C.J. Barnett, Jr. (Thorpe): Looking more healthy as he works back to full strength after missing time with a high-ankle sprain, Barnett had a clear impact in the secondary with six solid tackles and a critical interception in the end zone. His experience and knowledge of the defense don't show up statistically, but Barnett has also been an invaluable leadership asset.

K Drew Basil, Jr. (Groza): The junior still isn't getting a lot of chances to show off his leg, and he just missed converting on his best chance all season to do it on Saturday. Basil was called on to try a kick from 50 yards against the Boilermakers, but he banged it off the left upright and has now made 3 of his 5 field goals this season.

LB Etienne Sabino, Sr. (Butkus): The senior missed his second game since fracturing a bone in his leg, and he's not expected to return in time for Saturday's trip to Penn State.

RB Jordan Hall, Sr. (Walker): Another veteran who is stuck on the sideline, Hall missed his third game in a row since going down with a partially torn ligament in his knee.

Ohio State Awards Tracker: Week 7

October, 16, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A glance at the Ohio State players named to preseason watch lists and how they performed in a 52-49 win on the road against Indiana to stay undefeated and move up to No. 7 in the AP poll:

QB Braxton Miller, So. (Maxwell, O'Brien): The Hoosiers had a few answers for the multipurpose threat on the option, but not nearly enough to stop him from breaking another long touchdown run and having one more enormous game in the spread offense. Miller complemented his 149 rushing yards with 211 through the air, tacking on a pair of touchdown throws to keep his name in the conversation for the major awards.

DE John Simon, Sr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott IMPACT): A quick-hitting attack kept the Buckeyes from getting to the quarterback much, though Simon got close a few times, as usual. Even without a sack, he kept his recent run of success in the backfield going with another tackle for a loss to run his tally to 8.5 this season.

DT Johnathan Hankins, Jr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Outland): Much like his buddy on the end, the defensive tackle wasn't able to do much damage statistically against the Hoosiers. But Hankins also found a way to make the most of the few plays he was in on, chipping in a tackle for a loss that cost Indiana 3 yards.

Braxton Miller
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesBraxton Miller (5) and Corey "Philly" Brown (10) are both in the running for postseason honors.
WR Corey "Philly" Brown, Jr. (Biletnikoff): The team lead in receptions was extended after Brown made six more catches in the win, but his biggest play came as a rushing threat on the perimeter. The junior took a well-timed pitch from Miller and did the rest of the work himself on a 12-yard touchdown carry that opened the scoring against the Hoosiers.

TE Jake Stoneburner, Sr. (Mackey): After a three-week drought, Stoneburner was once again a featured part of the passing game. He finished with four catches for 41 yards and provided a reliable weapon for Miller, particularly when the quarterback was rolling out of the pocket and couldn't help but find the big target.

SS C.J. Barnett, Jr. (Thorpe): Returned from a three-week absence because of a high-ankle sprain and picked up almost right where he left off in the secondary. Only converted linebacker Zach Boren made more tackles than Barnett in his first game back, and the safety also broke up a couple of passes as he settled back into his role in the back end.

K Drew Basil, Jr. (Groza): Basil finally tried some field goals longer than 26 yards, and the results were mixed. The junior drilled his first attempt from 35 yards away against the Hoosiers, but he missed on the second attempt (also from 35 yards) -- his first miss of the season in just four tries.

LB Etienne Sabino, Sr. (Butkus): The absence of the captain and the lack of depth at linebacker was pretty obvious as the Buckeyes moved Boren over from fullback to fill the void. Sabino will be out at least two more weeks as he recovers from a fractured bone in his leg.

RB Jordan Hall, Sr. (Walker): On the shelf again with a partially torn ligament in his knee, Hall remains doubtful for this week's home date with Purdue. Without him in the lineup, the Buckeyes have turned to Carlos Hyde, and the junior has 296 yards and five touchdowns in the last two games.

Ohio State Awards Tracker: Week 6

October, 9, 2012
Braxton Miller Greg Bartram/US PresswireBraxton Miller's pursuit of postseason awards was bolstered by his performance against Nebraska, accounting for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 63-38 victory.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A glance at the Ohio State players named to preseason watch lists and how they performed in a 63-38 win over Nebraska to stay undefeated at the midway point of the season:

QB Braxton Miller, So. (Maxwell, O'Brien): Turned in a couple more signature moments to spark the Buckeyes on offense, including a 72-yard run that prominently featured his ability to make sharp cuts and accelerate back to top speed. In all, Miller rushed for 186 yards and a touchdown while throwing for 127 and another score.

DE John Simon, Sr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Lott IMPACT): The two-time captain finally looked like himself physically, and he seemingly unleashed some pent-up frustration on the Huskers with five tackles for a loss and two sacks. Simon also forced a fumble in easily his most productive outing this season.

DT Johnathan Hankins, Jr. (Bednarik, Lombardi, Nagurski, Outland): The monster in the middle had another quiet statistical performance, but his work was again critical to opening up opportunities for his teammates around him on the defensive line. Officially Hankins was credited with three assisted tackles in the win.

WR Corey "Philly" Brown, Jr. (Biletnikoff): The Buckeyes hardly needed to throw the ball against the Huskers, so they rarely did and attempted just 14 passes. Brown caught three of them for 35 yards, but his biggest contribution came on special teams with an eye-catching 76-yard touchdown on a punt return.

TE Jake Stoneburner, Sr. (Mackey): The lack of passes didn't do Stoneburner any favors statistically either, but this wasn't a one-off for the senior. Stoneburner has now gone three straight games without a catch -- meanwhile, tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett combined for three receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown.

SS C.J. Barnett, Jr. (Thorpe): A high-ankle sprain kept Barnett on the sideline again, though he did dress for the win over the Huskers and could be closing in on a return. Ohio State coach Urban Meyer indicated Barnett practiced on Sunday, and the Buckeyes might have the safety back this week at Indiana.

K Drew Basil, Jr. (Groza): Basil went another game without kicking a field goal, but his leg still got plenty of work against the Huskers with all those extra points and kickoffs. Basil continued to put the ball right where the Buckeyes needed to set up their kickoff coverage.

LB Etienne Sabino, Sr. (Butkus): The emergence of the senior into a reliable contributor makes his injury even more painful for the Buckeyes. Sabino left the win on Saturday with a fractured bone in his right leg, an issue that will keep him out for at least three weeks and possibly more.

RB Jordan Hall, Sr. (Walker): A partially torn ligament in his knee kept Hall on the sideline against the Huskers as the senior continues to struggle to stay healthy in the Ohio State backfield.

Monday briefing: Buckeyes thin at LB

October, 8, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The defense is down to two healthy starters at linebacker.

That might be all Ohio State needs this week.

The loss of Etienne Sabino for at least three games due to a broken bone in his right leg will test the depth at a position that was already perhaps the most inexperienced on the roster. But as the Buckeyes prepare for a trip to Indiana on Saturday, they might be in position to survive for a week without the senior captain given the amount of Nickel they're likely to be playing against a pass-happy offense.

"Tremendous blow," Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said. "Very good player ... and we’re going to miss him.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Khris Hale/Icon SMIUrban Meyer isn't quite ready to call Braxton Miller a Heisman finalist.
"We’re also dealing with [this offense], and this week will probably be a lot of Nickel. You’ve got Storm [Klein] and [Ryan] Shazier -- a couple older linebackers and the rest of them are freshmen."

The Buckeyes are going to need at least one of those young guys to contribute in the base personnel package, and Joshua Perry is in line for the start in place of Sabino.

They're also looking for more contributions from guys like David Perkins, Jamal Marcus and Camren Williams, who are much more likely to see action on defense now that the team's third-leading tackler is on the shelf for an extended period of time. But when Ohio State puts an extra defensive back on the field to match up with a passing attack that is throwing for more than 300 yards per game, it will be sticking with its veterans -- even if Shazier just barely counts as one as a sophomore.

"Any time one of your captains goes down, especially a big leader on the team, you need a lot of guys to step up," defensive end John Simon said. "[Sabino] gave a pretty good speech there in the locker room, and he just kind of laid it out for us.

"We’ve got a lot of guys who need to step up this week, and I think we’re starting to prepare for that task and looking forward to it."

Awards talk: Meyer still isn't ready to anoint Braxton Miller as a Heisman Trophy candidate. But the time appears to be getting closer.

The sophomore was named the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback of the Week after another wildly productive outing in a win over Nebraska on Saturday, and his work on the ground over the last two games to open Big Ten action has only strengthened his case as a potential option for Heisman voters at the end of the season.

But Meyer isn't ready to do any campaigning for his guy just yet.

"I don’t think Braxton is a Heisman candidate right now," Meyer said. "I think he’s certainly one to watch, he’s got the ability, but I don’t know who is [a candidate now]. We’re only halfway through the season, in two or three games I think you can start talking about it.

"I’m not talking to Braxton about it. We’re trying to win some games. I think at the right time, he will be a candidate if he continues to play very well."

Bumps and bruises: C.J. Barnett appeared to have a chance to get back on the field since he was in uniform for the win over the Huskers, though his high-ankle sprain again kept him on the sideline.

The Buckeyes might finally be able to turn the safety loose again this week at Indiana.

"Good sign yesterday, he was out there running around," Meyer said. "We need to have him back for obvious reasons."
The Buckeyes could use Jordan Hall back to add depth to the backfield as well, though they didn't exactly have any problem running all over the Huskers without him. Meyer didn't give an indication either way about the senior's availability for the meeting with the Hoosiers other than confirming the partial tear of a knee ligament "is not right yet."

Champions club: Running down the players who graded out the highest according to the film review of the 63-38 win over the Huskers by the coaching staff.

He said it: "We’re getting ready to play a big-time game in that great stadium and I get a bunch of text messages and phone calls, ‘Did you hear?’ We suspended him immediately for the game, a very ignorant comment. That’s exactly what it is, a 19-year-old kid making an ignorant comment, which makes him 1 of 460 million. We’re moving on, we moved on already, had a good chat and he’s very apologetic. He does go to class and he’s actually a heck of a kid." -- Meyer on Cardale Jones and his tweet about the value of classes last week


Scene and Heard: Top 10 Predictions
In a conversation with ESPN's Antonietta Collins, national recruiting reporter Gerry Hamilton breaks down the recruiting momentum building at Auburn and offers predictions for where the top 10 recruits will commit.Tags: Trenton Thompson, Kerryon Johnson, Jeffery Holland, Martez Ivey, Torrance Gibson, Cece Jefferson, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Gerry Hamilton