July 23, 2013

Big Ten media days storylines

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Big Ten conference will hold its annual media days on Wednesday and Thursday of this week in Chicago, Ill. Representing Ohio State alongside head coach Urban Meyer will be quarterback Braxton Miller, left tackle Jack Mewhort, and safety Christian Bryant.

With this in mind, here's a look at some of the top storylines that the Buckeyes in attendance will be facing when they meet with the media later this week.

Year 2

While Meyer spent last year's media day as the new kid in town, the Buckeyes head man is headed to Chicago as perhaps the conference's most revered head coaching. Having coached Ohio State to a perfect record in 2012, Meyer knows that he has a bullseye on his back, now more than ever.

A two-time national champion head coach at Florida, Meyer has stated that he's in a better place personally now than he was during his time in Gainesville. But how Meyer will deal with the increasing pressure in Columbus remains to be seen, and could go a long way towards determining the trajectory of the OSU program in the coming years.

Title contenders

Despite their perfect record last season, the Buckeyes were ineligible for postseason play due to NCAA violations committed by former head coach Jim Tressel and members of the 2010 team. This season, however, Ohio State will likely enter the year as a top-five nationally-ranked team, and are thought by some to be on a collision course to the national title with Alabama.

It's been two seasons since the Buckeyes have been in the national title hunt, which means that this will be the first time that a player like Miller finds himself in such position. Winning the Big Ten Leaders Division is one thing, but anything less than a national title in 2013 will be viewed as a disappointment in Columbus.

Miller for Heisman?

After finishing fifth in Heisman voting in his sophomore season, Miller is on the shortlist of frontrunners for the award in 2013. The OSU signal-caller set a school record with 3,310 yards of total offense last season, and spent a portion of his offseason working out with noted quarterback specialist George Whitfield, Jr.

High expectations are nothing new to Miller, but this upcoming season should take them to a new level. The Huber Heights, Ohio native has all of the tools to become the Buckeyes' first Heisman Trophy winner since 2006, but will need to show more consistency as a junior than he did as a sophomore.

Seven new starters

One of the main problems that the Buckeyes will face this season is the loss of seven starters from last year's starting defense. Cornerback Bradley Roby and linebacker Ryan Shazier are about as good of building blocks as a coaching staff could ask for on a defense, but they'll be surrounded by inexperienced -- albeit, talented -- players.

The key to the replenished OSU defense will be the growth of sophomore defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington. The defensive end duo looked dynamic in the Buckeyes' spring game, combining for seven sacks, and will look to produce similar results in the 2013 season.

Dealing with distractions

Between the suspension of Carlos Hyde, arrests of Roby and Marcus Baugh, and national championship chatter, the 2013 offseason has been one full of possible distractions for the Buckeyes. Meyer has stated before that how his team deals with such problems will determine his team's ceiling for the upcoming season, which is not uncommon at big time programs.

The Buckeyes players and coaches will likely say all the right things this week, but their actions will speak louder than their words. Media scrutiny is only going to advance as the season does, but it will all start Wednesday in Chicago.


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