After the excitement of a premiere out of conference victory last Saturday, this week’s match-up with in-state ‘rival’ Ohio is a bit underwhelming.
The Bobcats are coming off of a 13-20 loss at the hands of MAC conference opponent Toledo. OU managed only 11 first downs and 183 yards of total offense in the losing effort.
Needless to say, this will be the first week of four to work on any lingering issues or concerns heading into the grind of October and November.
There are some issues that need to be worked on, so to die hard fans, this game may be somewhat intriguing, if only to look for improvement from the Buckeyes.
Join me after the jump for what to look for in this weeks game.
Ohio State’s offense was a one man show last week. Terrelle Pryor accounted for 346 of the Buckeyes 414 yards of total offense. This week, it would be nice for Ohio State to re-establish their running backs in the ground game.
Specifically, it would be nice for Brandon Saine to get back into his running groove. After averaging over 11 yards per carry against Marshall, he was held to only 0.6 yards per carry on 12 attempts against the Hurricanes.
While the lack of yards from the backs may have been due to the quality of Miami’s defense (we will see on that one), Miami focusing their schemes on stopping the run, or some combination of the two, Terrelle Pryor doesn’t need to be carrying the ball 20 times every game.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Boom Herron had a solid game, but it is still not ideal to have Terrelle Pryor with the most carries and the most rushing yards in a game.
At the same time, Pryor’s running ability is an elite weapon, and if Ohio State needs to utilize that weapon in big games, so be it.
Against Ohio, the Buckeyes will not need that weapon, so let’s see some RBs with 100+ yards.
In the passing game, Pryor only completed 12 of 27 attempts against Miami. He made some very nice deep throws but looked erratic and indecisive at times when he checked down to the shorter routes.
Once again, this may have been a product of the quality of Miami’s defense, the nerves of a big game, it only being week 2, or all of the above.
Some have criticized Pryor’s passing performance last week, and are concerned about the prospects of a repeat performance down the road against an elite defense with a few less lucky breaks (dropped interceptions).
I personally am not concerned at this point in the season with Pryor as a passer, especially considering even with the low completion percentage, it was still arguably one of the top five best games of his career.
The goal is offensive balance, and 233 yards through the air is something that defenses will need to account for, even if it was achieved with a relatively low completion percentage.
Also worth noting is the 27 passing attempts. Pryor has clearly earned Coach Tressel’s trust as a passer, and that is good enough for me (at least for right now).
If that doesn’t satisfy you, Pryor has four games of warm ups before his next big test against Wisconsin. He will have plenty of time to continue to progress as a passer and we will have plenty of time to continue to critique him.
Let’s relax a little bit on the criticism for the moment (if you happen to be one of the people doing the criticizing).
That being said, starting this week, I look for Pryor to become more consistent and accurate in all phases of the passing game. When playing against inferior opponents, Pryor cannot make bad throws that could cost the Buckeyes against elite teams.
On defense, Ohio State will have no problems shutting down a terrible Ohio offense (how is that for in-depth analysis?).
One thing of note is the season ending injury of strong safety CJ Barnett. Barnett won out a camp battle with Orhian Johnson to earn the starting spot, and his speed and play making ability will be missed.
The good news is that Orhian Johnson received lots of praise in his own right during camp and should be fully capable of filling in. The bad news is that there is now a little less depth in the secondary.
There have been several other changes on this weeks depth chart, and there will most likely be more shuffling over the next several weeks as Ohio State fine tunes its lineup.
Right now, 5th year senior Aaron Gant (who has been limited by injuries his entire career) is slated to fill in as the second string strong safety. It will be interesting to see if any of the younger DBs (Christian Bryant, for example) receive playing time at safety against OU.
There was also some shuffling along the defensive line. Garrett Goebel moved outside as the primary backup to Heyward while Adam Bellamy moved inside as the primary backup for Simon.
At this point, it seems like Heyward, Simon, Goebel, and Bellamy are being utilized in so many different ways that where they are put on the depth chart is almost meaningless. Where they line up is dependent on the opponents offense and down and distance more so than the depth chart at this point.
I have noted before that Ohio State is specifically recruiting players with the versatility to play multiple positions, and the movement of the defensive linemen on the depth chart is a reflection of that.
Bellamy and Goebel are perfect examples of players that can fill multiple rolls with the quickness to play on the edge and the strength to hold up in the middle.
[Huge digression: Players like Joel Hale and Michael Bennett (among others) are examples of the next generation of players to fill that inside/outside roll on Ohio State's defensive line. The possibilities for the defensive system that is being utilized by the Buckeyes is truly exciting, and something that I am sure I will write more about in the future.]
Ohio State has the versatility to move players around along the defensive line. They also have straight space eaters in Dexter Larimore and Johnathan Hankins, which will be important against power rushing teams like Wisconsin and Iowa.
What does this all have to do with Ohio State vs. Ohio? Not much, but the fact is, barring an absolute disaster, this game is about getting better one game at a time in order to be ready for bigger challenges down the road.
Speaking of getting better…
Kick coverage, seriously, get it together.
On the plus side for special teams, Ohio State has two dynamic kick returners in Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry. They are both game breakers who will likely make an impact at RB sooner or later, but for now, they provide Ohio State a spark on special teams that is exciting to watch.
The goal this week for special teams, the offense, and the defense is to get better one week and one game at a time.