Thursday mornings this summer Patrick will be running us through the Ohio State schedule with an early look at the opposition. First up; the only team in blue on the schedule that we support 364.5 days a year.
When Urban Meyer leads the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes onto the field on August 30th, he’ll be doing it in unfamiliar surroundings and against an unfamiliar foe. The Bucks will open their 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland against the Midshipman of Navy.
This game will mark Meyer’s first regular season game on a neutral field and the first opener away from home for Ohio State since 1999 when Ohio State lost to Miami, (FL) 23-12 at Giants Stadium. It will also mark the first time OSU has played Navy since their memorable matchup from 2009 in which it took a Brian Rolle INT on a Navy 2-point conversion attempt to seal the victory.
Ohio State will try to put behind them the disappointment of losing to MSU in the B1G title game and the Orange Bowl to Clemson while Navy comes in riding high off their 9-4 2013 season which saw them destroy their arch rival Army and win the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl 24-6 over Middle Tennessee State.
Navy quarterback, Keenan Reynolds was nothing short of sensational as a sophomore, setting numerous school records and several NCAA marks as well. In less than two full seasons on the job, the Tennessee native — who is 15–6 as a starter — is already being mentioned in the same breath as Navy greats Roger Staubach and Chris McCoy.
After averaging 33.5 points and 411.3 total yards in 2013, Navy’s patented triple-option offense figures to fire on all cylinders again this season as Reynolds will operate behind an experienced offensive line and has plenty of proven weapons at the skill positions.
The Navy offense will be the first test for new defensive coordinator Chris Ash. Ash will use a slew of new combers, including true freshman Damon Webb and Raekwon McMillon as well as returning starters Joey Bosa, Tyvis Powell, and Michael Bennett to try to slow down the triple option attack of Navy.
Navy must rebuild the heart of its defense after graduating two interior linemen, both starting inside linebackers and the top two safeties.
Bernard Sarra, a powerfully built 303-pounder, returns as the starting nose after doing a superb job of taking on double-teams and plugging the middle a year ago. However, the Midshipmen have a pair of untested sophomores as backups at a position that has always required a rotation.
By far the biggest concern comes at inside linebacker, where Navy must replace their top tacklers in Cody Peterson (142) and DJ Sargenti (110). Defensive coordinator Buddy Green’s 3-4 alignment requires the inside linebackers to make the majority of tackles, and none of the returning players at that position has seen much action beyond special teams. Late in spring camp, Green addressed the lack of experience by moving returning starting outside linebacker Jordan Drake (43 tackles) inside.
The young Navy defense will have the daunting task of stopping Heisman trophy candidate, Braxton Miller. Miller will be behind 4 new starting offensive lineman as well as handing off to a new running back.
The offense looks to not miss any strides with Miller still under center and once the dust settles, I see the Buckeyes winning this game. My prediction for the game is Ohio State – 52, Navy 24.
Stop back each and every Thursday leading up to the start of the season for my week by week preview. Next week – Virginia Tech