Keys to Victory: Purdue

Written November 10th, 2011 by Jim

Bringing us down the homestretch.

Offense

Don’t turn the ball over.

I think we can all remember what happened the last time we traveled to West Lafayette with a young QB under center and struggled holding onto the ball.

Unfortunately, in order to facilitate no turnovers, it is a strong possibility that we are going to see an offensive game plan straight out of the 1950s.

Fans hoping to see Braxton Miller light it up through the air are going to be largely disappointed once again.

Establish the run.

With Jim Bollman as the offensive coordinator and his well established failures to form a simplified and coherent passing attack based off the strengths of the run game, running the ball is the key to every game until he is fired.

There is nothing wrong with running the ball to win, but being so mind-numbingly one dimensional about it is still frustrating as hell and I can’t help griping about it one more time.

The good news is that Purdue has given up 364 and 339 yards rushing the past two weeks, so there is hope that even without a passing game, the Buckeyes can still find some success on the ground.

Antonio Underwood successfully replacing J.B. Shugarts at RT.

It is likely that Underwood will be starting in his first game at RT against Purdue. As a true freshman, that is an area for concern, particularly in pass protection.

The good news is that we weren’t going to pass it very much in the first place- no matter who is starting along the offensive line.

Still, this is clearly something to keep an eye on, and who knows, if Underwood does well, this could even be a positive development for the future.

Bryant and the secondary will be tested early and often, especially after showing some weaknesses against Indiana. Will they correct their mistakes and be up for the challenge this week?

Defense

Wake up for the noon kickoff.

Based on post game interviews after Indiana, it was no secret that the Buckeyes struggled to get fired up for the noon kickoff time (there were obviously other factors at play as well).

Against the quick-hitting spread offense that the Buckeyes need to stop, coming out flat will be devastating.

Figure out how to cover the flats and the middle of the field simultaneously.

The linebackers are a step slow in space, Tyler Moeller has underperformed, and the safeties have been hit or miss.

All of these things leave the Buckeyes vulnerable against a team that quickly gets the ball into space through a spread attack.

Indiana demonstrated the blue print for success against the Buckeyes last week and Purdue will try to duplicate their success.

Covering the flats without leaving gaping holes in the middle of the defense will be a huge challenge for the staff and players to figure out this week, especially given the weaknesses I mentioned above.

Force turnovers.

This has been a focus for the team and something that Coach Fickell has talked about all week.

Winning the turnover battle will make this road trip a lot easier; Coach Fickell obviously recognizes this.

____________________

There are some things to be confident about heading into this game; namely that Purdue seems to be soft against the run- which is Ohio State’s entire offense.

There are a lot of other things to make you nervous about this game.

With such a young team, it is hard to know what to expect from week to week. Playing on the road compounds the uncertainty significantly.

As a fan, you just hope that the team does enough to get the W, get better, and get to next week.

A decisive and dominating win would be nice as well, but that would be more of a pleasant surprise at this point.

3 Comments

  1. KenNo Gravatar
    November 10th, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Good stuff. I’m not that concerned about Underwood at RT with pass protection. Like you said, we likely won’t be passing that much and if there is a breakdown, at least it won’t be blind side. It will be interesting to see how our running game plays out; we know Purdue has been weak against the run, Purdue knows that all we can do is run, etc, etc.

    Good points about defending flats and center of field, will be a challenge. What are your thoughts on this? Would man coverage work?

    Finally, what are your thoughts on special teams match ups; specifically the punt/punt return and kick/kick return units? Thanks.

    [Reply]

    JimNo Gravatar
    November 10th, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I honestly think the solution may be to put two stars on the field (basically a dime defense) with Sweat in the middle and Moeller and Orhian Johnson (or maybe someone else, Dominic Clarke?) as the extra DBs.

    I don’t think our linebackers this year are fast enough or athletic enough to handle defending the flats and the middle at the same time effectively.

    As far as special teams, I honestly don’t know enough about Purdue to say, but BuckeyePlanet will have a great preview that will go over everything in depth shortly that I would highly recommend everyone check out (it’s part of the reason I switched from previews to keys to the game, BuckeyePlanet can’t be beat on the previews).

    I will say that Jordan Hall’s return would be a big boost in the return game and our coverage unit has been very good this season. It would be nice to see the kick offs go a little deeper, but the are clearly focusing on height and hang time.

    [Reply]

    MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    November 11th, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    We’re putting two stars on the field now? Wow- has our recruiting been that bad recently?

    [Reply]

Comment On Article