Three starters (running back Dan "Boom" Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams) are serving five-game suspensions. Numerous 2010 standouts have moved on.

Three starters (running back Dan "Boom" Herron, wide receiver DeVier Posey, left tackle Mike Adams) are serving five-game suspensions. Numerous 2010 standouts have moved on.

Add a two-deep that's littered with underclassmen, and there are a number of question marks heading into the opener. Here's a breakdown of the players to keep an eye this fall, especially during those first five games that could make or break this season.


Joe Bauserman

Year: Senior

Height: 6 feet, 1 inch

Weight: 230 pounds

Braxton Miller

Year: Freshman

Height: 6 feet, 3 inches

Weight: 210 pounds

The quarterback competition will obviously be the big story, at least on the field. Bauserman is slated to take the first snap against Akron, but he and Miller are listed as co-starters on the depth chart.

Bauserman's experience means he gets the first shot, but Miller is a dual-threat playmaker and should see plenty of playing time. Don't be surprised if Miller wins the job by the time conference play begins.

Jordan Hall

Position: Running Back

Year: Junior

Height: 5 feet, 9 inches

Weight: 195 pounds

Hall was originally expected to move into a Percy Harvin-like hybrid WR/RB role, but sophomore Jaamal Berry's (5'10", 200 lbs.) hamstring injury means he'll take over starting backfield duty.

Berry showed flashes last year of his breakaway speed and shifty moves as a backup RB (8.3 yards per carry), but Hall also impressed with his speed and receiving skills when given the opportunity.

Jake Stoneburner

Position: Tight End

Year: Junior

Height: 6 feet, 5 inches

Weight: 245 pounds

Without Posey, the receiving core is completely up in the air. The QB would be wise to look for Stoneburner as a sure-handed security blanket. He can also get downfield and is a match-up nightmare for opposing defenses.

Defensive Backs

Travis Howard

Position: Cornerback

Year: Junior

Height: 6 feet, 1 inch

Weight: 190 pounds

Orhian Johnson

Position: Safety

Year: Junior

Height: 6 feet, 2 inches

Weight: 205 pounds

C.J. Barnett

Position: Safety

Year: Sophomore

Height: 6 feet

Weight: 190 pounds

The defensive backfield is probably the biggest question mark for the defense - the lack of a pass rush isn't far behind. But this is Ohio State, so the talent is there.

Howard looks poised to be a lockdown corner and Johnson - the lone returning starter - will be joined by Barnett at the other safety position. Barnett was impressive before a knee injury ended his 2010 season.

Etienne Sabino

Position: Linebacker

Year: Junior

Height: 6 foot, 3 inches

Weight: 242 pounds

Sabino is a five-star recruit who looks poised to break out. His NFL size and athleticism, along with a better understanding of the defense, means he's expected to be an impact player and leader on an inexperienced unit.

3 more to watch:

Senior center Mike Brewster (6'5", 305 lbs) will anchor the O-line, especially when Adams is out. Freshman wide receiver T.Y. Williams (6'5", 228 lbs.) didn't crack the two-deep, but his Megatron-like size and speed could result in big plays. Senior defensive end Nathan Williams (6'3", 255 lbs.) made a name for himself as a pass rush specialist last year (4.5 sacks) and should keep pressure on opposing QBs.