After more or less taking care of business in the season/home opener against University of Buffalo last week, the Buckeyes again play host, this time to the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs. Last year’s Aztec team finishes a respectable 9-4 (7-1 Mountain West Conference) and had a strong finish to their season, winning seven consecutive regular season games.
As fearsome as their mascot is, last week didn’t go so well for SDSU. The Aztecs hosted FCS opponent Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley Conference) and were demolished 40-19. It was an odd game in that SDSU had 440 total yards (318 passing) yet scored only 19 points. I’d suggest that a contributing factor was the Aztec’s 5 turnovers; 4 interceptions and 1 fumble. SDSU’s defense didn’t help matters much by giving up 533 yards; 361 passing, 172 rushing.
Ohio State on Offense
This will be a good game to work out some of the kinks that developed on offense last week. That would involve ironing out the transition between Linsely/Boren at Center, working in Rod Smith into the RB rotation, and perhaps even some Bri’onte Dunn there as well.
The Aztecs gave up a ton of yardage last week (see Introduction) and quite a few TDs. Eastern Illinois spread their scoring among 3 passing TDs, 2 rushing TDs and a punt return TD. The Aztecs run a 3-3-5 scheme, which should sound familiar, but fortunately, no Khalil Mack. Their front three isn’t that big, ranging from 6’1”255 to 6’4”275, so it would seem they can be manhandled. The problem is that with their DL being a bit on the shortish side, Coach Warriner’s troops need to really focus on staying low to get blocking leverage on SDSU. Once OSU’s linemen get engaged in their blocks, running lanes should open up.
With SDSU getting blistered in the passing game last week, I would expect Coach Herman to emphasize the passing game this week as well. There were flashes of it coming together, at least in the first quarter last week, and based on Eastern Illinois’ offensive performance, the Buckeyes’ passing game should do well.
Ohio State on Defense
The Aztecs are pretty stout across their offensive line, averaging 6’5” and 300 pounds. Although their tailback, Adam Muema was limited to 31 yards last week, last year he provided 1,458 rushing yards on 6.2 YPC and 16 rushing touchdowns. Urban Meyer stated that Muema may be one of the best running backs that OSU faces all year. With numbers like that, it’s quite possible.
Their junior quarterback, Adam Dingwell, is not afraid to throw the ball, regardless of the results. Last week he was 27-63 for 318 yards, but 4 INTs. Dingwell was also dinged for 4 sacks. It seems the player to “keep an eye on” is wide receiver Colin Lockett. Last week, he hauled in 8 passes for 98 yards, and also scored a 48 yard rushing TD. Wide receiver Ezell Ruffin caught 4 passes for 91 yards, so he will obviously pose a down field threat. I think the corners need to play a bit more press coverage, and perhaps with Roby returning to the lineup, they will. The Aztecs don’t have a tall WR like Buffalo did, but game tape indicates that the short routes did work against the Buckeyes
It will be good to have the Buckeye defense back to full strength for this game. First, the SDSU offense throws the ball quite a bit, so having Brad Roby on the field will be a good thing. The other “keep an eye on” statistic, to me is SDSU’s offensive pace. Last week against Eastern Illinois, the Aztecs ran 99 plays from scrimmage. That’s right, 99 plays. Coach Marotti would be remiss if the Buckeyes weren’t properly hydrated going in to Saturday.
From the SDSU web site, here is a brief highlight reel of their game against Eastern Illinois last week. When you lose 40-19, I’ve used the the word ‘highlight’, pretty loosely.
I’m not sure what to expect this week, aside from an Ohio State victory. From the media video (below) it’s clear that SDSU Coach Rocky Long is more concerned about his team’s improvement than who they play. It’s probably not a bad coaching philosophy, but I think that any tangible improvement by his team may be masked by the quality of the opponent. I see his point, after getting rolled by an FCS team, that he’s looking for performance improvement, but I’m a little unclear how that would be measured.
Here is an interesting and enjoyable media interview of SDSU’s head coach, Rocky Long, addressing last week’s loss against Eastern Illinois and the upcoming game versus Ohio State.
I see the Buckeyes starting out of the gates fast again this week against the Aztecs, but staying more focused on execution for more than one quarter. This time, they need to stay away from the “cuteness” on offense and keep running the plays that work. We know that OSU is deep at running back, are pretty sure they have depth at wide receiver, and have heard they have tight ends on the team.
I believe there is enough variation in OSU’s base offense that the Aztec defense won’t be “sitting” on a play call. It’s not like “Dave” is the only play in Herman’s playbook. Our running game worked well last week, and let’s do it again against the Aztecs. Long scoring drives, emphasis on scoring, will light up the scoreboard, burn clock and will prevent the Aztecs from running 99 plays on us.
Certain Professionals have estimated that Ohio State should win the contest by 28 points, or approximately 41 – 13. Frankly, I don’t see how SDSU keeps OSU less than that number. The Aztecs have the ability to put a significant amount of points on the scoreboard. Just not this Saturday, though.
The game is scheduled for a 3:30 PM EST kickoff. Television coverage is through ABC. Please join us at tBBC for live in-game chat approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. We have a new chat platform this year, and I think that it works very well. And of course, the comments are as insightful and witty as ever. I look forward to seeing you.