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Ten Questions: OSU Opens Fall Camp

Ohio State opened preseason camp early this morning with a 6 a.m. practice for returning players. The incoming freshmen will also get their first day on the field later this afternoon.

John Simon is back at DE, Urban Meyer opens his first camp as OSU coach and Braxton Miller returns at QB

We will have a chance to talk with several of the returning players later this morning.

There is a lot happening at Ohio State right now. It is Urban Meyer’s first preseason camp as the OSU coach. He also has six assistant coaches who are new to the university.

OSU is also transitioning from the quarter system to semesters. Next week is exam week for the summer term, meaning the players will have this weekend off to focus on those exams and two-a-days won’t start until next Friday (Aug. 10).

In past years, the players did not start the fall quarter until mid- to late-September. The fall semester this year will begin on Aug. 22.

Because of these changes, there was not a move-in day prior to camp. The players will move into their camp residence during the day next Wednesday. They will return to their dorms or regular residences on Aug. 19.

Fall camp practice dates are Aug. 3-6-7-8-9-10-11-13-14-15-16-17-18-19 with two-a-days on Aug. 10, 13, 15 and 17. As of now, the information we have is that practices are closed to the public. We will share information regarding any practices that are open to the public.

All of this will prepare Meyer’s first OSU team for its Sept. 1 season opener against Miami (Ohio) at Ohio Stadium.

ESPNU will debut a series of four 30-minute specials on OSU’s camp for its Training Days series on Aug. 14. The Big Ten Network will air its fall camp tour show previewing Ohio State beginning on Aug. 19.

With camp under way, let’s look at Ten Pressing Questions for the start of camp:

* 1. How has Braxton Miller improved and built on what he did as a freshman last year? – Meyer talks a lot about how his quarterbacks can’t have a bad play. They have to handle the snap, read the defense and make a decision on what to do with the football on every play. That can be a lot for a young guy like Miller, but he has playmaking ability and the new spread offense should work to his advantage. We will see how he has spent his off-season soon enough.

* 2. Is Carlos Hyde ready for a prime time role? – Hyde got to play quite a bit last year as he filled in during Boom Herron’s suspension. Herron has graduated and projected starting quarterback Jordan Hall will be out at least a game or two as he comes back from a foot injury. Hyde could be poised for a nice year as the “big back.”

* 3. Who emerges at wide receiver? – You wonder if there are more suspects than prospects here. But there were some positives coming out of the spring. Philly Brown seems to be the first name you hear, followed by the likes of Devin Smith and Michael Thomas. I thought Verlon Reed was on to something last year before he suffered his knee injury. I want to see if Evan Spencer, Chris Fields or Ty Williams can make an impact. And then you have two newbies in Ricquan Southward and Frank Epitropoulos as well.

* 4. Is this the year Jake Stoneburner becomes a star? – Stoneburner had a setback when he was taken off scholarship for the summer term after an arrest in the spring. But it sounds like he is back in the fold and should be full-go. With inexperience at wide receiver, Stoneburner could be a high volume receiver in this offense. It’s now or never for Stoneburner, who has only scratched the surface of what he can do over the last three years.

* 5. What will this offense look like? – Meyer says it is still power football. It’s just power football from a spread formation. It sounds like it will be the best of both worlds as a scheme that gives the receivers room to make plays and also accentuates the running game between the tackles. Hey, anything would be an improvement of that “attack” (or was it an “attack of the senses”) that OSU fans endured last year.

* 6. How will the revamped offensive line look? – Jack Mewhort was in the same boat as Stoneburner over the summer. They are counting on him big at left tackle. Are Marcus Hall, Corey Linsley and Reid Fragel all ready for starting roles? There is a lot of pressure on Linsley at center and Fragel, a converted tight end, at right tackle. How will they hold up?

* 7. Is Nathan Williams ready to go? – Williams, a defensive end, suffered a knee injury in last year’s season opener and was lost for the year. It does not sound like he will be full-go for another week or two. His return would help take pressure off potential All-Big Tenners John Simon at end and Johnathan Hankins at tackle. Emerging soph Michael Bennett also seems thisclose to taking a starting spot at tackle.

* 8. Is Curtis Grant primed for a big year at middle linebacker? – Grant had a lost season last year as a true freshmen. Because of attrition, there are no experienced linebackers around to push him in the middle. Playing behind a rugged and veteran defensive line and alongside playmakers in Etienne Sabino and Ryan Shazier, Grant will have every opportunity to make plays. Will he make them?

* 9. Can the secondary make game changing plays? – The five starters (CBs Travis Howard and Bradley Roby, safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett and nickel back Orhian Johnson) all have a ton of experience. But the coaches are looking for better tackling as well as more interceptions. Johnson always seems to be around the ball, but may not be the best all around player. This secondary should have the front seven support to be really good this year.

* 10. Which true freshmen will get the chance to shine? – It doesn’t sound like Meyer is a big proponent of redshirt years unless it just makes too much sense to sit somebody out. It looks like Thomas, at receiver, is already in the mix after a nice spring. Taylor Decker could push Fragel hard at right tackle. Brionte Dunn and Warren Ball could add some support at tailback, especially with Jordan Hall out for a few weeks.

Defensively, they recruited so well across the board. Maybe Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence add a spark up front. Perhaps Josh Perry, Luke Roberts or David “Boom” Perkins can get into the two-deep at linebacker. Tyvis Powell enrolled early and showed he could do some things at corner. Maybe Devan Bogard can sneak in there at safety (a la fellow Glenville grad Bryant before him).

We will do our best to follow it all in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned to Bucknuts.com for as much camp coverage as you can handle.

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