Most Important Buckeyes: No. 18
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If Urban Meyer were making a list of his 20 Most Important Players for the 2012 season, Ben Buchanan might be near the top.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Right behind John Simon and John Simon.
It’s no secret Meyer has an almost unhealthy infatuation with his punt team—just as he seems to have with Simon—but that is nothing new to folks in Columbus. Ben Buchanan has been a household name at Ohio State since he became the starting punter two year ago.
Now a fifth-year senior, the Westerville product could be more important than ever, even with a revamped Buckeyes offense in Columbus.
What Makes Him Important?
Looking back at Meyer’s coaching history, it usually takes a year for the program to adjust to all of the change he brings with him. It’s a new offense, a new system, a new way of doing things and a new, much more candid, method of communication.
Ohio State’s offense should be better, even by default. They lost a trio of offensive linemen and two key players in DeVier Posey and Boom Herron, but neither of those guys were out there enough to be missed.
Quarterback Braxton Miller should thrive in Meyer’s new system, but there is a distinct lack of playmakers—at least guys with experience—surrounding him. This offense is going to have some problems, and that’s why the Buckeyes will rely heavily on solid defense and special teams until things are moving cohesively.
What Can be Expected of Him?
Buchanan was one of the better punters in the country a year ago, and it only makes sense he would thrive under Meyer’s tutelage in 2012. He had a 25:3 fair catch to touchback ratio a year ago and spotted 27 of his 70 punts inside the opposing 20-yard line.
If there has been a real knock on Buchanan and the OSU punting game over the last two years has been the blocked punts and poor coverage. Both of those things should improve under Meyer.
He has implemented a more directional punt for Buchanan this offseason and has pushed his senior to hit get his punts off in two seconds or less. That has been a little bit of a challenge for Buchanan, a traditional three-step punter, but having guys like Simon and Zach Boren in front of him should make things more peaceful—at least for Buchanan.
What Would the Buckeyes do Without Him?
Good question. Who knows? It is kind of amazing that most college teams get away with having one scholarship punter on the roster. The Buckeyes have Johnny Townsend committed for 2013, but if something were to happen to Buchanan at any point this year, they would likely have to rely on a walk-on punter with no experience.
It’s possible kicker Drew Basil could handle some punting duties, and freshman wideout Frank Epitropoulos was also a punter in high school, but Buchanan’s health is as critical for the Buckeyes this fall as just about anyone on the roster.
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