Keys to Victory: Toledo

Written September 8th, 2011 by Jim

Keys to victory.

Coming off a solid all-around performance against Akron, Ohio State and its fans have a lot to be optimistic about heading into game two.

The Buckeyes established a solid foundation on offense and defense to build from as they work to get better each week.

Fans and players can be optimistic, but not overconfident.

The Toledo Rockets have upset BCS opponents multiple times in the last ten years and are a favorite to win the MAC conference this season.

They will be a bigger challenge than the Zips.

At the same time, the usual MAC talent gap still exists, although it is not as large this week compared to last.

However, it is still there and the Buckeyes are clearly the better team.

The Rockets also represent a significant shift in offensive philosophy from the Zips; creating a substantially different challenge for the defense to overcome.

Regardless, if the Buckeyes take care of business, they will notch their second win of the season on Saturday- and in convincing fashion.

Follow me after the jump for the “keys to victory” against Toledo.

Offensive Keys

Establish the run. Play-action pass.

Ohio State’s offense was a very pleasant surprise against the Zips.

The offensive line and backs established the power run game to the tune of 4.4 yards per carry while the play action passing game proved extremely effective, particularly the connection between Joe “The Boss” Bauserman and weekly matchup nightmare Jake Stoneburner.

The power-I, play-action sets will be the foundation of Ohio State’s offense this season, and I look forward to watching that style of smash-mouth football.

Against Toledo’s defense, continued success here should not be difficult.

In week one, the Rocket’s gave up 332 total yards to I-AA (I know, we’re not supposed to use that anymore) opponent New Hampshire, which included 4.6 yards per carry on the ground.

Putting together extended scoring drives and keeping the dynamic (or at least, more dynamic) Rocket offense off the field will be a key to victory.

Get Quick. Get Creative.

This week, I am looking forward to seeing the Buckeyes find creative ways to utilize their biggest playmakers around the power run game.

If there was one knock against the offense last week, it was that they lacked quickness in the backfield and creativity in the play calling.

The return of Jordan Hall this week will address both of these issues.

Against the Rockets, the offense can start to implement some of the creative formations and ways of getting Hall the ball in open space that they worked on throughout camp.

Jaamal Berry warming up before Akron is also a nice sign that his explosive talents will be back on the field in the near future as well.

CJ Barnett and the secondary will be tested against Toledo.

And finally, finding ways to utilize Braxton Miller’s unique skills will also provide a boost offensively, particularly in combination with the “quick” backs mentioned above.

This “key” won’t be very important against Toledo (we should be able to just run them over), but throwing wrinkles into the offense will be vital in the biggest games this season, and what better time to start practicing than now?

Defensive Keys

Get Quick. Cover Space.

At the risk of using the most clichéd and over-used talking point in all of college football, the Buckeyes will need to get quick on defense against Toledo.

The Rocket’s like to spread the ball around and attack the edges, testing the defense in open space.

Fortunately, Ohio State has developed a position to counter just such offenses: the star.

This will be a game for Tyler Moeller and Christian Bryant to shine. They were recruited to Ohio State to play against offenses just like Toledo’s, so let’s hope they put on a good show.

The safeties and cornerbacks will also be tested, providing a much different challenge for them compared to Akron.

With Travis Howard back on the field and the depth provided by Dominic Clarke, the Buckeyes should have plenty of bodies to put on the field to counter the Rocket pass game.

Despite being young, I have plenty of faith in the secondary for this game, and I believe they will perform well.

Blitz. Pressure the QB. Create Turnovers. Repeat.

Ohio State won’t have to throw everything and the kitchen sink at Toledo on Saturday, but they will need to be aggressive in order to disrupt the Rocket game plan.

It would be really nice to get pressure simply from the front four.

In lieu of that, continuing to bring pressure off the edge with the corners, and especially bringing pressure with Tyler Moeller from the nickel package will be a great way to disrupt Toledo’s quick hitting offense.

It will also be a good way to force some turnovers.

If the Buckeyes can get their ‘quick’ defensive players on the field and making plays while still disrupting Toledo’s backfield, things will be looking good in this game.

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