For the next two weeks, we’ll be taking a look at where each B1G team needs to improve and answering pressing questions this offseason. For some it’s establishing depth, and for others, it’s learning a new system. Whatever it is, each team has at least five things to take care of before 2016 kicks off.

1. Get receiving corps situated

Last year, the Buckeyes had an issue with getting everyone enough touches. Mike Thomas, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller were among the most talented trios in the country, but you wouldn’t have known based on their production. Let’s not forget that Ohio State ranked 100th in passing in 2015.

Without them, the Buckeyes need some of their biggest question marks to turn into reliable answers. Noah Brown and Corey Brown are still working their way back from last year’s season-ending leg injuries. Johnnie Dixon is also coming off an injury-riddled 2015 and has yet to stay healthy long enough to establish a role. James Clark, who doesn’t have a career catch, could finally break through, while Parris Campbell and Terry McLaurin could earn big snaps in their third seasons.

And Torrance Gibson will have plenty of eyes on him, especially after his spring game performance.

So the Buckeyes have talent — all of those guys were at least four-star recruits — but the problem is obvious. They combined for six catches and 91 yards in 2015.

Urban Meyer raised some eyebrows when he talked about how he hates that his receivers have potential. He wants to throw the ball more, and he’s looking for guys to show consistency. That, ultimately, could determine whether or not J.T. Barrett returns to the Heisman conversation.

2. Develop Nick Bosa

Meyer already said that he plans on playing the five-star defensive lineman immediately. Given the legacy his brother left, it might be some unfair shoes to try and fill. Nick was the higher-rated prospect, and he’ll have plenty of people reminding him of that in Columbus.

Before he can do that, he’ll have to get healthy. Bosa had a partial anterior cruciate ligament tear at the end of his high school season. He’s still getting back to full strength, and for a guy who wasn’t considered an explosive prospect, that could prevent him from emerging as a true freshman.

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But Meyer did say that he’s ahead of schedule. That’s big. It doesn’t take much for a true freshman to redshirt. Barring a setback, it would be a surprise to see Bosa redshirt.

The question is whether or not Bosa will fill an immediate need at defensive tackle. Without the likes of Tommy Schutt and Adolphus Washington, Bosa’s strength could make him a candidate to move to the inside. The Buckeye coaching staff already believes he’s skilled enough to make the switch. No matter where he plays, his development will be well-documented in fall camp.


3. Settle secondary battles

Ohio State avoided some potentially embarrassing losses because of how good it was against the pass. Sure, the pass-rush and cover ability of the OSU linebackers was a big part of that, but so was the skill the Buckeyes had on the back end. Three of those four spots are now open, and there aren’t the traditional next-man-up replacements.

Outside of returning starter Gareon Conley, the Buckeyes will rely on a group that dealt with several injuries in 2015. Damon Webb is a favorite to win one of the safety spots, but he was injured and suspended last year. Erick Smith and Cam Burrows both were injured in spring, which makes the safety situation a question mark. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Malik Hooker impressed this spring and looked every bit like a starter.

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OSU has major questions at the other safety and cornerback spots. Marshon Lattimore and Denzel Ward will battle it out at corner. Injuries have prevented Lattimore from getting the reps of a typical OSU underclassman, while Ward impressed enough to play as a true freshman.

The other question is whether or not this unit will take a step back without Chris Ash. There’s hope that Greg Schiano will step right in and prevent one of the nation’s top units from skipping a beat. Inexperience and question marks aside, that’s the expectation in Columbus.

4. Get young offensive line up to speed

Even with two starters returning, Ohio State’s offensive line is one of its most experienced units. Pat Elflein and Billy Price are both third-year starters and obvious leaders up front. Jamarco Jones has also been the Taylor Decker-replacement in waiting for the last two years and appears ready to take on that role. That’s the good news.

Beyond those guys is where it gets complicated.

The battle at right tackle between Isaiah Prince and Malcolm Pridgeon could go deep into fall camp. Prince played as a true freshman and was groomed to be the next in line, but Pridgeon — a four-star JUCO transfer — could delay that plan if he hits the ground running when he arrives this summer.

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There also figures to be a lengthy battle at left guard, where true freshman freshman Michael Jordan and third-year player Demetrius Knox could both earn the starting gig. Jordan got a lot of the first-team reps in the spring, but Knox could be the safer option come fall.

Meyer said that the offensive line certainly isn’t solidified yet, but nor was it in the beginning of OSU’s national championship season. To avoid an early-season loss like Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes will need to mature quickly up front or else that Week 3 showdown in Norman will be one-sided.


5. Get the chip back

It’s cliché but it’s true. Not everybody can run with a full cup of success. Last year, the Buckeyes didn’t handle the overwhelming preseason expectations well enough. As a result, they underperformed against lesser competition and didn’t play like the team many expected them to be until the regular season finale.

The talk coming into 2016 is that this group will have a much more 2014-like feel than 2015. The mammoth expectations are off. Sure, the Buckeyes are a likely preseason top-10 team, but that’s the standard in Columbus. Last year was unprecedented hype, even at a place like Ohio State.

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Despite all of the players gone, Meyer has something a ton of coaches wish they had — a bunch of former highly-touted recruits ready to compete for starting jobs. It’s a different feel than worrying about whether or not guys are going to get enough touches.

The Buckeyes arrived a year sooner than everyone expected in 2014 because that competition carried into the season. When inexperience turned into belief, the Buckeyes became the best team in the country.

Could this year’s group have similar DNA? It’s too early to tell. But if OSU is going to truly establish that culture again, it’ll happen this summer.