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First Look: the Ohio State Starting Offense

Yesterday we took a look at the OSU defense. Today we examine the much more impressive OSU offense. The Buckeyes return seven starters from last season.

Offensive Line
Left Tackle: Alex Boone 6'8" 325 Sophomore
Boone is a man-child for sure. He played in every game last year but the Texas contest and started three times. Boone was a Parade All-American in high school and is expected to be an elite college tackle.

Left Guard: Tim Schafer 6'5" 290 5th year Senior
Schafer is a very good athlete who was originally recruited to play defense. He has switched sides of the ball a couple of times during his stint in Columbus.

Center: Doug Datish 6'5" 295 Senior
Datish moves to center from tackle this season to replace 1st round draft pick Nick Mangold. He has played all three line positions in college. Datish has started 22 games in his first three years.

Right Guard: T.J. Downing 6'4" 305 5th year Senior
Downing is a returning starter at right guard. He has started 16 games including all 12 last season. The right side of the offensive line will be tough to penetrate.

Right Tackle: Kirk Barton 6'6" 310 Junior
Barton is the best lineman at OSU and one of the best in the country. After redshirting in 2003, he started seven games in 2004 and all nine for which he was healthy in 2005. Barton is a legitimate All-American candidate.

Receivers
Split End: Roy Hall 6'3" 240 5th year Senior
Hall has been a key reserve the past few seasons who replaces Santonio Holmes this season. He is a solid blocker and the third option for Troy Smith. Hall had 16 catches for 134 yards last season.

Flanker: Ted Ginn Jr. 6'0' 180 Junior
Ginn is definitely the most dangerous target for Smith. He can absolutely fly and will line up all over the field to maximize his touches on offense. OSU will also use him on punt and kickoff returns. He can score any time he touches the ball. Ginn must have better production than last year against Texas if OSU is to come out victorious.

Slot: Anthony Gonzalez 6'0" 195 Junior
Gonzalez is a solid receiver who should increase his production this season as Smith's number two target. Gonzalez caught 28 balls for 373 yards and three TDs last season. He has excellent hands and runs solid routes. Could have a big game if Ginn requires double teams.

Tight End: Rory Nicol 6'5" 250 Sophomore
Nicol represents a fourth option in the passing game. He likely would have seen action last season but suffered a foot injury causing him to miss the entire year.

Tailback
Antonio Pittman 5'11" 195 Junior
Pittman is another returning starter on offense. He is a solid inside the tackles runner who is difficult to bring down alone. Pittman came on strong late last season finishing with over 1,000 yards. Pittman and freshman Chris Wells present a dangerous tailback combination.

Quarterback
Troy Smith 6'1" 215 Senior
Smith is a dual threat quarterback who prefers to beat you with his arm first and feet second. Don't be fooled by his lack of rushing against NIU though.  He can still turn it up field if needed. Controlling the scrambles of Smith will be a key to success. Smith is basically a third year starter. Last year he finished with 2,282 yards passing and led the Big 10 in passing efficiency. He also scored 11 touchdowns on the ground. Smith combines a soft deep ball with accurate shorter strikes. He was my pre-season pick to win the Heisman trophy.

The OSU offense is loaded. They have the best college quarterback in the country, a solid two headed attack at tailback, one of the most dangerous wide receivers in the country, and a very good offensive line. Don't be too afraid though, we have Gene Chizik. He hasn't lost a game in decades. I expect the Horns to play physical with Ginn and limit his touches, control Smith's scrambling, and eliminate the big play. Winning the field position battle will also be crucial. Texas must force OSU into long drives against our solid defense and the furry of 85,000 orange bloods. That said completely stopping OSU's offense is not likely. Texas will simply have to control the ball and the clock and hope the defense slows Troy Smith down enough to win in the 4th quarter.

--AW--