With Urban Meyer just recently finishing up his first season with Ohio State, it is now time to begin focusing on next year. Even though we are still more than a half-a-year away from the 2013 season kicking off, it is never too early to begin looking ahead.
The Buckeyes finished the 2012 season with an undefeated record, but we will never know if they had the talent to finish the job in the national championship. Even though running the table is impressive in today's day and age, the team had more than its fair share of close calls and shaky performances.
You know Meyer is already hard at work on improving his football team, but what are some of the things that next year’s team should have that this year's team didn't?
Here are a few areas that should be addressed in order to take Ohio State to the top.
That Game-Changing Wide Receiver
Some would call this the "Percy Harvin player," while others will just say it is a receiver to help stretch the field. It doesn't matter how you want to label a difference maker, the point is that the Buckeyes' offense needs one.
Name one receiver on this year’s team that was a big-play guy.
Sure, Corey Brown made plays throughout the year, but he didn't give the opposing defense nightmares. Devin Smith had his moments, but he couldn't be counted on consistently as he went eight games with fewer than three receptions.
Ohio State had receivers that stepped up at certain points in the season. However, Meyer is used to having that elite guy that can take things to a completely different level.
Harvin was that player that could line up all over the field and had that big-play ability. He helped spread the defense to its limits and forced coaches to actually game-plan against him. The former Gators receiver would play in the backfield, the outside, the slot and would be used in various trick plays.
Defenses would have a hard time figuring him out and simply couldn't keep up with his track star speed.
It is one thing to have that great dual-threat quarterback that can create opportunities, but Meyer needs that receiver that can help make plays in more ways than one. This not only takes the pressure off of the quarterback to do everything, but it will also make everybody around him better because the defense is keying on both the quarterback and the receiver.
The spread offense is almost impossible to stop when you have that difference maker on the outside. The Buckeyes are still searching for that playmaker that can help put this offense over the top.
Dominance in the Trenches
It should be no secret to anybody why the SEC dominates college football. It all starts with the offensive and defensive lines and it really doesn't get any bigger or nastier than what is going on in the conference that has won the last six national championships.
Oh don't get me wrong, there is some talent in the Big Ten, but it isn't nearly as deep as teams such as LSU, Florida and Alabama. Those teams are easily eight deep on the defensive front and are relentless when trying to generate pressure on the quarterback. The coaching staffs are able to rotate constantly to keep the guys fresh and it makes things difficult for the opposing defense.
Considering Meyer has experience in the SEC, he knows that he must fix this area. In last year’s recruiting class, according to Scout.com, Meyer was able to pick up seven top recruits that will play on either the offensive or defensive line. This includes three defensive linemen that were considered at the top of the 2012 class.
In 2013, Meyer has already received the commitment of 5-star defensive end Joey Bosa and has landed a few other elite prospects that will play up front.
With a few defensive players leaving for the NFL draft during the offseason, Ohio State should still have enough depth to remain solid up front. The problems come on the offensive line where Meyer had to do a patch job in his first year, moving Reid Fragel from tight end to right tackle.
That didn’t cut it this year, as the team gave up 29 sacks.
If Ohio State wants to take that next step and achieve elite status once again, the play in the trenches must continue to develop and become just as physical and dominant as the ones you see in the SEC.
The only way to beat those teams down south is to build a team just like them.
We are seeing it with Notre Dame this year and could soon see it with the Buckeyes in 2013.