Look, it’s good to be Ohio State. About 125 FBS programs would happily trade lots in life with the Buckeyes in football. But being a big dog doesn’t mean there aren’t problems. Frankly, OSU exists at a level where anything short of championships will be a disappointment. So there’s definitely room to improve. Here are 5 significant concerns for OSU in 2022, and how they’ll likely handle them.

1) Defense, defense, defense

OSU finished 2021 38th in the nation in scoring defense and 59th in yardage allowed. At some schools, that would be fine. OSU is not one of those schools. The Buckeye defense particularly let them down in the team’s losses to Oregon and Michigan. In both games, the offense, while it had some sticky moments, played well enough to win. The defense simply couldn’t get off the field. And without a turn-around, OSU can’t show much improvement.

The solution? It’s already arriving. New coordinator Jim Knowles will bring a more aggressive style of play that should help the Buckeyes exploit the talent advantage they have over virtually everybody. This is particularly important in defending the pass, where OSU finished 12th in the Big Ten, allowing 246 passing yards per game. Knowles will do a better job of putting his players in position to make plays, and the players will likely do the rest.

2) Replacing some big bodies up front

OSU does return 3/5ths of its starting offensive line, but lost standout tackle Thayer Munford and Nicholas Petit-Frere. As pivotal as the offensive line is to protecting Stroud and Henderson, OSU can’t afford to mess up in the trenches. Again, while the majority of the line returns, OSU loses its best all-around blocker and another solid starter.

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The solution? Shifting around the returning players should ease any OL growing pains. Paris Johnson will likely move out to tackle, which could fill the biggest vacancy, albeit while creating another one inside. Harry Miller, who missed the 2021 season, is healthy again and he started for part of the 2020 season. Filling in another spot should not be difficult. Admittedly, part of the adjustment will be new OL coach Justin Frye, but State can shuffle players and handle most of the OL attrition.

3) Replacing two All-America wide receivers

Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson aren’t just the kind of guys who show up day to day. Each is a once-in-a-long-while type receiver, and each made a significant share of big plays in helping CJ Stroud step up and run the offense in 2021. They’ll both be playing on Sundays in 2022, and State has to figure out how to replace 135 catches, 1,994 yards and 15 touchdowns.

The solution? Plug and play. Jaxon Smith-Njigba went from additional depth to All-American in 2021. Don’t be surprised if some of the other Buckeyes who have been waiting to shine do likewise this year. One immediate suspect? Marvin Harrison Jr. He saw significant time in the Rose Bowl and responded with 6 catches for 71 yards and 3 touchdowns. Emeka Egbuka showed flashes of next-level speed and should be ready to go. Julian Fleming will be another valuable guy. The players are there — they’ve just been waiting for the snaps.

4) Fixing the secondary

This was discussed earlier, but OSU could not do much against a decent passing game. The pass rush was inconsistent, but much of the blame has to go to OSU’s secondary. If Ohio State doesn’t play better in its back five, not much else will help. The good news is that a new face and a returning one should help.

The solution? Oklahoma State transfer Tanner McAllister will be reunited with his defensive coordinator, Jim Knowles, in Columbus, and he will be an immediate contributor in the OSU secondary. Also, injured safety Josh Proctor should be back, and his experienced ways should help as well. Those two will give OSU and upgrade at safety, and with Ronnie Harrison and Denzel Burke returning, OSU’s secondary has a very high ceiling. A new guy, a returning old guy, and a new coordinator should do the job.

5) Fixing the culture

Two losses was at least 1 too many in Columbus. That sounds harsh, to say that an 11-2 season that ends with a Rose Bowl victory was kind of a nothing season. But many at OSU would not dispute that point. How does OSU regain it’s mojo? It already may have.

The solution? A coaching staff shake up. The defensive moves were hardly surprising. But Day even shuffled the offensive staff. He knows 11-2 won’t fly, particularly with a virtual national Who’s Who of skill position players on offense. Every team that wins championships has those moments where a season can turn away from them, but they grab it and rein it back in. OSU didn’t do that last year. The hope is a new staff will bring a new energy and the Buckeyes will be more ready to meet those moments head on in 2022. Time will tell.