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Ohio State Football: 5 Questions That Need to Be Answered During Fall Camp

Even with all the talent and expectations in Columbus, there are still a number of pressing questions that Urban Meyer needs to answer as Ohio State opens fall camp on Monday.

The top-ranked Buckeyes reported to the team hotel for the official start of camp on Sunday afternoon, and over the next four weeks, the coaching staff will fine-tune the depth chart and finalize the game plan in preparation for the season-opening clash with Virginia Tech. 

Here are five things Meyer will need to sort out before the start of the season.


Who's Going to Start at Quarterback?

One of college football's most intriguing offseason storylines will finally reach a resolution when Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett battle for the starting quarterback spot.

Jones got a head start during spring practice as Barrett worked through his recovery from the broken ankle that ended his 2014 season. Jones got the chance to build a chemistry with Ohio State's new-look receiver unit that lost key members such as Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. 

But Barrett was able to run seven-on-seven drills during spring camp to stay fresh and engaged while Jones got the lion's share of first-team reps. Meyer said Barrett was "close to 95 percent" in early July, according to Ari Wasserman of the Plain Dealer, so he should be up to full speed for camp.

Meyer doesn't plan to announce his starting quarterback before the Virginia Tech game, so he has four weeks to make his decision. 


Can Braxton Miller Catch?

One of the other big storylines during the offseason was Braxton Miller's move from quarterback to wide receiver.

The two-time Big Ten MVP is coming off a pair of surgeries to his throwing shoulder, and he told Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated that he isn't quite ready for a full load of throwing activity. Because of that, he made the move to the perimeter in order to see the field in his final season with the Buckeyes.

“For the most part, it’s going to be H-Back and punt return,” Miller said, via Thamel. “This is the smarter thing for right now, God blessed me with a lot of talent and different opportunities. I’m going to have fun with that and still score a lot of touchdowns and help the team out and be dominant at that.”

But does he have the actual skill set to contribute in such a capacity?

That's something Meyer wants to find out. But the coaching staff is eager to get him on the field to find out how they can use him.

"We won't know enough until practice starts how we can use him and what he can do," Meyer said, according to Doug Lesmerises of the Plain Dealer. "I just don't know. He's a great athlete, but he's never caught a pass for us. So we'll know more and we have plenty of time when practice starts."


Who's Going to Be the Other Cornerback?

Ohio State's secondary surged down the stretch of the 2014 season as the starting four defensive backs found their groove in Chris Ash's simplified defensive scheme.

Safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell are back along with cornerback Eli Apple, but the Buckeyes have to identify their second corner to replace Doran Grant, who was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers last May.

Gareon Conley emerged as the front-runner after a solid spring practice, and by all accounts, he had a great summer and is ready to step into his role as a starter.

"The one name that people are a little bit iffy on is Gareon Conley, because he didn't play a ton last year and people got the impression about him," linebacker Joshua Perry said at Big Ten media days, according to Eric Seger of Eleven Warriors. "But that kid, the way he's worked this summer and some of the things he's been through in his development right now is huge."

But Conley will have to work hard to keep talented underclassmen Damon Webb and Marshon Lattimore at bay. 

"There's a different level of expectation on the part of the player who feels really good that he's gonna be the starter," cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said of Conley, via Bill Landis of the Plain Dealer. "Damon Webb is nipping at his heels and he wants that job, but Gareon is walking out of the building every morning saying, 'I'm gonna be that guy.' It's a different level than, 'I hope I might be that guy.' There's no safety net." 


Which Freshmen Are Ready to Make an Instant Impact?

Over the last two seasons, Ohio State has had a number of true freshmen step up and make an immediate impact.

In 2013, the Buckeyes got huge contributions from Joey Bosa, who had earned a starting spot by the Week 6 matchup with Northwestern, and Dontre Wilson, who made an impact on the ground, in the air and on special teams. Last season, middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan was a big part of the defense as he split time with Curtis Grant, and offensively, Curtis Samuel emerged as Ezekiel Elliott's primary backup.

Which freshmen will be ready to play this fall? 

Former 4-star prospect Michael Weber has a huge opportunity to crack the running back rotation this fall. 

The depth chart behind Elliott is wide open after Samuel transitioned to H-Back this spring. Bri'onte Dunn had a great spring and is slotted as the No. 2 back, but Weber showed up for camp looking the part of a freshman ready to play.

Other first-year guys to watch include receivers K.J. Hill and Alex Stump, defensive linemen Jashon Cornell and Robert Landers and linebackers Justin Hilliard and Nick Conner.


Can This Team Handle the Expectations?

The last 10 teams that entered the season ranked No. 1 have failed to win the national championship, with USC being the last to do so in 2004.

The Buckeyes are hoping to end that decade-long curse, and Meyer is already trying to set the tone and prepare his team for the grind that comes with repeating. Meyer won't use the word "defend," because the players they lost and the incoming freshmen have created an entirely new team. And he knows there's a difference between proving yourself as a team and staying on top of the mountain once you do so.

"I can tell you which is more enjoyable and that's the run up the hill," Meyer said at Big Ten media days, via Jon Solomon of CBS Sports. "I'm sure every player would say that, too."

Meyer's biggest priority over the next four weeks will be identifying the right leaders to help his team handle the mounting expectations. Perry has emerged as the voice of the defense, and guys such as Taylor Decker, Miller and Barrett have been singled out for their leadership as well. 

But if the right leadership doesn't emerge, the Buckeyes will have a very hard time living up to the hype. 


All recruiting information via 247Sports.

David Regimbal is the Ohio State football Lead Writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.

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Cam Robinson Injury Reaffirms Star OL Is Alabama's Most Indispensable Player

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — University of Alabama sophomore left tackle Cam Robinson had experienced it before, but not quite to this extent.

On Saturday afternoon, he went down with an injury during the Crimson Tide’s third practice of training camp, when players were donning shells for the first time this fall. After getting rolled from behind in a pile, he was carted off the practice field, mostly as a precaution.

It put the Alabama fanbase on high alert. With no media access other than a short viewing period earlier during individual drills, the rumors started flying through social media and on message boards. Speculation zeroed in on a possible broken foot that could sideline him for months, if not the season.

Only it wasn’t true.

Robinson had a mild knee sprain and wouldn’t even miss the next practice. Nick Saban was quick to announce that he was “fine” during Alabama’s media session Sunday morning, and the left tackle shook his head while downplaying the whole thing.

“I try not to let that bother me too much,” he said. “Fans are…we have the greatest fans in America, so I’m pretty sure if they hear of anybody getting hurt it’s going to be a hold-your-breath-type moment.”

Although it turned out to be another Chicken Little incident led by people assuming the worst, the injury scare did reinforce the notion that Robinson may be the player Alabama can least afford to lose to an injury this season.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t depth concerns, especially at wide receiver, and cornerback has been an ongoing problem for years. Yet when Saban announced other injuries—wide receiver Chris Black and tight end Ty Flournoy-Smith with sprained ankles and cornerback Marlon Humphrey with a pulled muscle—they barely registered as a blip on the fanbase's radar.

But left tackle is different, especially when you have a really good one.

Last year, Robinson was the first true freshman to start at left tackle for Alabama since Andre Smith (who was just the seventh true freshman in school history to start in his first career game) in 2006. Smith went on to win the Outland Trophy and be the sixth selection in the 2009 NFL draft.

Robinson has that kind of potential. Against the pass-rushers the Southeastern Conference had to offer, he was credited with 32 knockdown blocks while surrendering just three sacks in 861 snaps.

With a good fall, he could be in the running for All-American honors along with some hardware, and he was named to the preseason All-SEC team during media days.

“I have high expectations for myself. I knew that if I came in and worked that I would be able to do a lot,” said Robinson, who then demonstrated that he’s mastered the diplomatic side of media interviews as well. “Whatever comes from Nick comes from Nick. Whatever accolades and whatever comes, I just try and play to the best of my ability, and hopefully I’ll earn [them].”

With Robinson, Alabama could have another monster offensive line, possibly its best since All-Americans Barrett Jones, Chance Warmack and D.J. Fluker were all manhandling opponents together during the 2012 title run.

Moreover, at 6’6”, 326 pounds, he’s the Crimson Tide’s most intimidating player outside of his defensive counterpart with the same last name, A’Shawn.

So the thought of not having Robinson is something Crimson Tide fans want to avoid at all costs, just like it was in 2014.

“I’ve never questioned his mental toughness, even last year when he got hurt in the Tennessee game and we thought he’d be out for two to four weeks,” Saban said. “We had a bye week, and he played at LSU two weeks later.

“He’s a guy—some guys can deal with those types of things and it doesn’t bother them. He seems to be one of those guys that doesn’t complain much and really can manage the bumps and bruises that you get playing football. Everybody gets them, and some people can manage them and some people don’t.”

That injury against the Volunteers was one that looked a lot worse than what it was. After taking 33 snaps in the game, Robinson tried to help running back T.J. Yeldon when he got stood up at the end of a nine-yard run, only to have Tennessee players land on the back of his leg.

The injury turned out to be a high-ankle sprain. As was the case with this incident, Robinson’s knee brace saved him from potentially severe damage.

“I’m fine. It’ll be all right,” Robinson said.

The sound that came after that was from thousands of fans exhaling together in relief.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.

Christopher Walsh is a lead SEC college football writer.

Follow Christopher on Twitter @WritingWalsh.

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Thomas Tyner Injury: Updates on Oregon RB's Recovery from Shoulder Surgery

Oregon running back Thomas Tyner underwent successful shoulder surgery Friday, but he will miss the 2015 regular season as a result, his father John revealed.

Continue for updates.

Tyner's Father Announces Status, Comments on 2016 Season Sunday, Aug. 9

"Lingering pain and discomfort led to Tyner undergoing surgery," relayed Aaron Fentress of CSNNW.com. "His father said the procedure went well and Tyner is expected to make a full recovery and return to action in 2016. John Tyner said that naturally his son is down about missing the season but is looking forward to next year." 

The shifty runner had established himself as a reliable complementary piece of the rushing attack, as his 573 yards and five touchdowns last season in a backup role proved. He's not built to take on a heavy workload, which is expected to be handled by Royce Freeman, but he's a spark plug capable of making big plays.

He's managed to stay pretty healthy during his time with the Ducks despite his lack of ideal size. The only notable injuries over the past couple of years were shoulder and ankle issues he dealt with at the same time late last season.

The loss of Tyner "could force senior Byron Marshall to return to running back after he spent most of last season at wide receiver," noted Fentress. "Marshall, who led the team last season with 74 receptions and 1,003 receiving yards, in 2013 led the team with 1,038 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns."

Looking ahead to 2016, Tyner should immediately step back into his usual role once healthy.

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Thomas Tyner Injury: Updates on Oregon RB's Recovery from Shoulder Surgery

Oregon running back Thomas Tyner underwent successful shoulder surgery Friday, but he will miss the 2015 regular season as a result, his father John revealed. Continue for updates...

Read the full article on Bleacher Report...

Cam Robinson Injury: Updates on Alabama OT's Knee and Recovery

Alabama left tackle Cam Robinson sprained his knee in practice Saturday, as coach Nick Saban told Michael Casagrande of AL.com.

Continue for updates.

Robinson's Injury Isn't Considered SeriousSunday, August 9

Saban told Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News that Robinson "is fine" and may be able to participate in practice Sunday. He also praised his star offensive tackle, noting that "when he sets his mind to something he has a strong personality and is a strong, effective competitor," per Alex Scarborough of ESPN.

In other words, Saban doesn't expect a knee sprain will hold Robinson back.

Despite being just a sophomore, Robinson is one of the more talented offensive linemen in the country. A preseason All-SEC selection, he started all 14 games for Alabama as a true freshman and thrived, and he is expected to be a pillar on the line for the Crimson Tide this season. 

His loss would have been a crippling one for Alabama, so Sunday's news was certainly a relief for the program. The Crimson Tide simply can't afford to lose a player as valuable as Robinson as they compete in the brutal SEC West.


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Adam Lane Granted Release from Florida: Latest Details, Comments and Reaction

The Florida Gators have granted running back Adam Lane his release so that he can address family concerns, according to the program's official Twitter account:

Lane, a sophomore, was expected to compete for playing time this season. After being given just eight carries during the 2014 season, he was named the MVP of the Birmingham Bowl after rushing 16 times for 109 yards and a score with Matt Jones out of the game due to injury. 

His low center of gravity and strength not only made him a tough player to tackle, as he hit the hole and bounced off would-be tacklers like a pinball, but also a fan favorite at Florida.

The move thins out the running back position pretty significantly for the Gators. While Kelvin Taylor is the starter, freshmen Jordan Scarlett and Jordan Cronkrite will now be asked to step up and contribute with Lane off the team. It will be trial by fire for Florida's young backs. 


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Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher Buys Frozen Yogurt for Waiting Fans

It's not fun sitting outside in the Florida heat on an August day. But diehard Florida State Seminoles fans do it just to catch a glimpse of their favorite college football team. Dedication at it's finest.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher passed these fans on his way to work today and decided to reward them for their support and dedication to the team. And what better way to reward fans sitting out in the heat than with frozen yogurt? 

It was definitely the right move by coach Fisher. 

[ FSU Football ]

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SEC Football: Which Teams Are Trending Up and Down Heading into 2015 Season?

SEC football is so difficult to predict this year because of the parity in the league and the lack of definite juggernauts.

There are few guarantees when it comes to who's going to be good and who's going to have a difficult time. The perfect example is that the Mississippi State Bulldogs were picked by the media to finish dead last in the rugged SEC West a year after winning 10 games.

Few still believe in Missouri despite back-to-back SEC championship game appearances, and everybody is jumping on hype trains rolling through Knoxville, Fayetteville, College Station and the Alabama Plains.

Some teams appear to be built for a sustained return to competitiveness such as Tennessee, while other powerhouses are facing some very real questions entering 2015.

It's always going to be a fun season with twists, turns and surprises. But where would the fun be in abstaining from trying to predict who'll live up to the hype and who'll fall flat on their faces?

Let's take a look at a few teams trending upward here a month before the season kicks off and which teams are heading in the opposite direction, if only for a short time.

As always, sound off in the comments.

Begin Slideshow

Duke Williams Expected to Rejoin Auburn Following Discipline Issue

Auburn Tigers wide receiver Duke Williams missed his second straight day of practice Saturday, and coach Gus Malzahn said he is dealing with a “discipline issue,” according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com. 

Marcello also noted that Williams is expected to return to the field, but the coach avoided providing any specifics about the return date when answering questions and said, “I will let you know when he’s back.”

Barrett Sallee of Bleacher Report provided a quote from Malzahn, adding more context to the situation:

Auburn is expected to be one of the best teams in the country this season, checking in at No. 7 in the initial Amway Coaches Poll, and Williams is a major reason why. He was the Tigers’ leading receiver in 2014 with 45 catches for 730 yards and five touchdowns and is a genuine NFL prospect.

Joel A. Erickson of AL.com suggested as much:

But bigger numbers aren't the only thing that would cement Williams as the top receiver in the 2016 draft. A big-bodied receiver known for his catch radius, hands, ability to make catches in traffic and work the middle, Williams needs to improve his speed.

With that in mind, Auburn's coaches have asked Williams, who played at 230 pounds last season, to drop 10 or 15 pounds and play faster next season.

If he can do that, Kiper thinks Williams will be the top receiver heading into next year's draft cycle, and that could mean big money as a top-10 pick.

Despite the obvious talent, this is not the first off-field issue for Williams.

Marcello pointed out that Auburn suspended the receiver for the Outback Bowl against Wisconsin because of an undisclosed violation of team rules after he missed practices, and Williams even posted a picture of himself on Instagram with a black eye around that time.

The Tigers have national championship aspirations this season, but it is difficult to envision that happening without their most talented receiver on the field.

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Should Auburn Worry About the Absence of WR Duke Williams?

AUBURN, Ala. — For the second straight practice, Auburn wide receiver D'haquille "Duke" Williams was missing in action.

The star wide receiver for the Tigers, who caught 45 passes for 730 yards and five touchdowns after transferring from junior college in 2014, is out for what's being termed as a "discipline issue."

"When he takes care of that, he'll be back on the field," head coach Gus Malzahn said Saturday. "I'll make that decision and I will let you know when he'll be back. The bottom line is that nobody is bigger than the team around here. That's between me and him, and that's all of the questions that I'll take on that."

Cryptic? Yes. 

Concerning for the 2015 Tigers? Absolutely, although there are plenty of experienced wide receivers to help pick up the slack if Williams' absence becomes a trend rather than an early camp anomaly. 

Senior wideout Ricardo Louis seems like he's been around Auburn forever. If Williams is out, he will likely be counted on to play a much bigger role outside as both a deep threat and a possession receiver—which is where Williams was most effective a year ago.

"Ricardo Louis is a guy who has really done a good job in fall camp," Malzahn said. "He's raising his level and taking the next step and becoming a leader."

Marcus Davis and Melvin Ray are two veterans who have played plenty of football for Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee over the last two seasons, and they will also be counted on to pick up the slack. Ray, in particular, is closest to Williams in terms of size and skill. At 6'3", 215 pounds with good speed and long arms, he can replicate some of what Williams provided.

"Melvin Ray has done a solid job," Malzahn said. "Those are two players—along with Jonathan Wallace—we're relying on those guys for leadership."

Can Ray slide in and provide the exact same production?

That's unlikely, but Malzahn and Lashlee have all of fall camp to get him up to speed.

Another player to keep an eye on is 6'1", 180-pound sophomore Jason Smith. After transferring from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College where he played quarterback, Smith made the switch to wide receiver and has been the buzz of fall camp.

"You can just tell he's in a good place, and he's been one of those guys in the first four days that's been really impressive," Lashlee said Friday, according to Brandon Marcello of AL.com. "I mean, if you were to ask me some guys that stand out, he's really stood out."

Don't be fooled by Smith's height and weight. For a guy who seems like he'd be lanky on paper, Smith is much more put together than it seems. He's not going to be a force like Williams over the middle, but he certainly can play that role from time to time if needed based on the limited viewing available to the media during Saturday's practice.

There are options for Malzahn and Lashlee if Williams is out for a prolonged period of time, and the staff does have the luxury of time to get the receiving corps prepared for Plan B.

Make no mistake, though: Williams could make this Auburn offense one of the most lethal in all of college football.

You know the running game will be fine. After all, Malzahn has produced 12 1,000-yard rushers in nine seasons as a college head or assistant coach. The connection between Williams and first-year starting quarterback and Heisman Trophy contender Jeremy Johnson was supposed to be what places the Tigers offense among the nation's elite.

For the time being, that offense is stuck in neutral until Williams figures out whatever "discipline issue" is going on.


Quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports. Statistics courtesy of cfbstats.com. Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on Sirius 93 XM 208.

Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.

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OSU's Cardale Jones Gets Locked out of Apartment, Live-Tweets His Struggle

Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones is worth following on Twitter. On Saturday, he gave the world yet another entertaining reason his feed is a must-read.

Fellow Buckeyes QB J.T. Barrett had Jones’ keys, so last year’s breakout star was locked out of his apartment for quite some time.

Luckily for us, he provided Twitter updates throughout the ordeal.

It started off with a tired Jones getting smacked with disappointment upon arriving at his place:

Then he got really bored:

Barrett didn’t seem too concerned with his friend’s struggle:

[Twitter, h/t For The Win]

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