Chat with Austin Ward
Welcome to BuckeyeNation! On Thursday, reporter Austin Ward stops by to chat about the state of Ohio State football.
Ward joined ESPN.com in 2012 after five years as a college football writer at the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune and the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel. The award-winning journalist lives with his wife in Columbus, Ohio.
Send your questions now and join Ward Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
delaware oh [via mobile]
do u think the defense can step up next year
Austin Ward (3:01 PM)
The defense was certainly an improved group from the start of the season to the end, and the coaching staff deserves credit for that -- specifically altering the approach in coverage and in terms of pressure. The trick now is replacing all those starters on the defensive line and at linebacker, which I think will be easier up front than at the second level. However, there's plenty of talent to get that done, and it will help immensely to have such a high-powered offense lending a hand on the other side.
Gwynne Grimes (Point Pleasant, W.V.)
With graduation and defection from the front seven on defense, how are the Bucks lookiing to fill those gaps. There has been talk of bringing in J.C. players to fill but nothing has occurred yet. Is there still time to fill these positions or should we be worried going forward?
Austin Ward (3:04 PM)
Looking to the JUCO ranks isn't really part of the recruiting approach for the Buckeyes, and I don't think there were many candidates that were seriously considered to fill that void. The guys that Ohio State would really like to add at linebacker are high school guys, and there's still time for the top two on the board at this point. Really, the guys the Buckeyes figure to be leaning on are already in the program. Signing linebackers was a high priority last year, and from a group with guys like Joshua Perry, Camren Williams, David Perkins and Jamal Marcus, the Buckeyes should have the ability to shore up things at the position. Even with the loss of Hankins, the defensive line is fairly loaded as well.
Chat Man (Here)
Are you there Austin??
Austin Ward (3:04 PM)
Sorry, Chat Man. Had some difficulties here on my end, but obviously I'm going to try to make up for it now.
Do you think that the basketball team has a chance at winning the conference for the 4th straight time? They are probably overlooked because of Sully and Buford's departure.
Austin Ward (3:07 PM)
There are some issues the Buckeyes will have to get corrected for conference play, but they are certainly still talented enough to contend for the Big Ten title without Sullinger and Buford this season. One thing Ohio State is going to need to do with more regularity is knock down open shots, whether it's Craft, Smith, Thompson, anybody. Craft hasn't really been able to take on a more prominent scoring role the way it was anticipated so far, particularly off the dribble, and if that comes around the offense looks decidedly more dangerous around Thomas. Defensively, I don't think there's any issue at all, which will give then a chance pretty much every time out.
Austin, What is your opinion on the position that Forbes had tOSU(#20) for the list of most valuble college football programs? I am shocked that they were not in the Top 5, or at least the Top 10, considering they were reported by the NY Times earlier this year as having the largest fan base.
Austin Ward (3:08 PM)
I haven't dug into their research there, Gregory, but it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me with such a huge fanbase, a massive stadium and the television money that is pouring in -- just for starters.
Is Urban concerned about the WR's next year at all? They improved a little from the beginning of this past year, but not as much as I would have expected.
Austin Ward (3:10 PM)
I don't think I would characterize it as concern, but Meyer is certainly aware that his options at the position aren't finished product and they'll continue to receive a lot of his attention. He's still got a long time for them to develop along with Braxton Miller before the season rolls around, and just by judging the progress from Philly Brown and Devin Smith from spring until the end of the season, it's easy to see that they're taking to the system and coaching -- which would play a big part in easing Meyer's mind.
Mike (Tyndall (Tindole), S.D.)
I see two losers have posted. Question: Is the 12-0 Buckeye team the best you've seen, when compared to earlier teams?
Austin Ward (3:11 PM)
I've only been an Ohio State beat writer for one season, so absolutely, this was the best group of Buckeyes I've ever covered.
How realistic is OSU's shot at a BCS title game birth next season?
Austin Ward (3:13 PM)
Considering there are only two spots open each year and the huge number of factors that go into a full season, it should never be viewed as a foregone conclusion or anything like that. But on paper, it's hard to see at this point who would have an easier path to a BCS bid than Ohio State. The schedule sets up exceedingly well for them, the offense will be in its second season with Meyer and Miller, it still plays in a power league and will open the year highly ranked. If the season plays out like this one did, it's easily within reach.
An Undefeated Coach (C Deck)
Any indication on Roby's decision to stay or go? Have a guess at what's likely for him? If he does decide to go, how's devin bogard's knee rehab progressing? I know coaches liked what they saw out of him before the injury and he would be a major candidate for a starting CB position in the fall.
Austin Ward (3:16 PM)
Roby is apparently still mulling over that decision, likely waiting for feedback from the draft advisory board that supplies the projected grades for players wanting to leave early. Unless he gets evaluated as a first-rounder, which seems unlikely at this point in his career, I anticipate Roby will be back for another run with the Buckeyes -- and the public indications earlier from the coaching staff is that he'd be better suited to return. No known setbacks on Bogard's recovery, but I would expect him to eventually be an option at safety instead of cornerback.
Bob Hutchison (Champion Oh)
With the issues on defense do u think the bucks will have a real shot at a national titlw
Austin Ward (3:19 PM)
I don't think there's reason at this point to project issues for the Buckeyes on defense. The defensive line got a head start of replacing the veterans by involving Spence, Washington and Schutt in the mix as true freshmen, and Steve Miller and Michael Bennett should be ready for larger roles as well. The young talent at linebacker will have to develop, obviously, but they should benefit from a secondary behind them that figures to include two senior safeties and one of the best returning cornerbacks in the country (NFL decision pending).
Austin: Which position group needs to have the best offseason? What about which individual player?
Austin Ward (3:21 PM)
It's difficult to pick any position other than linebacker at this point. From that group of rising sophomores, Perry, Williams, Marcus and Perkins, the Buckeyes are going to have to find at least one starter and maybe two depending on what happens with the guy who was supposed to be a first-teamer last fall -- Curtis Grant. This is a make-or-break offseason for the talented linebacker as he heads into his junior campaign, because he's running out of time.
Any concerns with the womans basketball team? No recuits for the 2013 class, but there are some big time 2014's within the state of OH next year any chance they get 3-4 of those top players, (Mitchell, Rice, Waterman)?
are hockey questions relevant in here? if so is this the year that the new B1G hockey conference is starting? and how do the buckeyes' chances look?
Austin Ward (3:22 PM)
Sorry, guys. I've not been assigned any women's basketball or hockey games so far, so I'm no help there at all.
What do you think of the chances of Von Bell become a Buckeye
Austin Ward (3:27 PM)
I am not typically very reliable with these projections about prospects since my BuckeyeNation colleague Brad Bournival is the recruiting expert. The way his recruitment has played out, I would think it has to come down to a 50-50 battle with Alabama, though a new coaching staff could be a boost for Tennessee. The Buckeyes have put a lot of energy and effort into landing him and have scheduled his visit for Jan. 11 -- and that trip will be huge for gauging just how likely it is.
Austin Ward (3:28 PM)
My sincere apologies again for the delay and short chat this afternoon. I will try to make it up to everybody down the road! Enjoy the weekend and happy holidays!