Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Look at Ohio State From an Ohio State Fan

As you may know, the No. 1 THE Ohio State Buckeyes are in Madison Saturday to battle Wisconsin.

You can read some of my thoughts on the game via The Buckeye Battle Cry. We decided to do a little cross-over this week, as I answered some of their questions about the Badgers, and they answered some of mine about the Buckeyes.

I hope you'll jump over there and read their posts on the game. In the meantime, here's the Q&A that we did on tOSU.

How is the offensive line performing?
That is an interesting question and something that Ohio State has been looking for an answer to for several years now.

Despite being the 20th ranked rushing offense in the country (217 yards per game, a lot of which has been Pryor), many fans are disappointed in the way the offensive line has been run blocking.

My personal feeling is that the breakdowns in the run game have been due to defenses stacking the box and taking their chances with Pryor's arm. Either way, there are question marks surrounding the run game, which starts up front.

On the flip side, the pass protection for Pryor has been great, which once again may go back to the run first schemes the defenses have been utilizing.

Either way, Wisconsin will present a big challenge for the offensive line. If they are not up to that challenge, it will be a long night for the Buckeyes.

Is Ohio State prone to a bruising running back or more of a slashing style of runner?
The Buckeye defense has stopped pretty much everything that has been thrown at it so far this year, so I am not sure if they are more vulnerable to one style of runner over another.

The line has tremendous size and athleticism to stop a bigger back, while the linebackers and safeties (particularly Jermale Hines, #7) have the speed to keep a quicker back from getting to the edge.

Obviously you have a big bruiser in John Clay and a slasher in James White, so I hope that Ohio State is equally good at stopping both.

Ohio State's defensive line and linebackers are very talented this year, but the line in particular lacks the depth of last year's squad. The trick to cracking the D might be a rotation of both backs to wear out the Buckeye starters and get to the more vulnerable back ups.

Does Terrelle Pryor still frustrate Buckeye fans with his bouts of inconsistency? Or has he cleaned up that area of his game at all?
Ohio State fans, like those of many college programs, have a unusual memory. When things are going well, there's a contingent that cannot see any flaw or issue that may exist. When things are going poorly, there's nothing that can be done to correct it. For example, in spite of the successes in wins and losses, there are still those who call for Tressel to step aside and pass the offensive playcalling to someone else. There are also those who, once Terrelle throws his first interception, will be screaming for him to be moved to wide receiver- it's actually become a joke among many Buckeye fans.

Thus far, we haven't seen many of the latter types of arguments lately; mostly because a) Ohio State is winning, b) Terrelle is having a very good year {among the nation's leaders} and is building on the exciting things we saw in the Rose Bowl and c) we're too busy freaking out about our offensive line's seeming inability to open holes the size of battleships in the opposing defensive front. Should he falter, though, I'm confident that those who have reservations will again see their beliefs justified.

What is the best way to keep Pryor in check?
I really am not sure. I thought that Miami would have the best success, given their history of defensive excellence and their speed in the secondary, but Terrelle was able to take over the game during the last quarter and a half in particular.

It seems to be a "pick your poison" type of thing. He's throwing well enough now that you can't just load the box and make him run, if you play heavy coverage it gives the offense running lanes, if you try to spy him (as Illinois and Penn State did last year) it had better be with someone who can make sense of his speed- being so big, it's really hard to gauge the appropriate angles to run him down.

So I really don't know... Get him so enamored by the great brats and beer at a tailgate that he forgets to go to the game? :)

Are you surprised by the relative weakness of the Big Ten?
You know, I don't see it. Wisconsin is having a good year, as is Mich1gAAn (thus far). Iowa's as strong as they were expected to be with only a loss in a hostile environment. Michigan State could run the table, and Illinois looks better than expected (their only losses were to teams that are currently undefeated). Penn State is struggling, but overall the conference looks pretty good.

I think the Big T1e1n is building on a solid bowl season, and will be all that much stronger when Nebraska joins next fall.

If the Buckeyes go 12-0, will you be pissed if they don't make the BCS title game (it could happen)?
Disappointed? Yes. Pissed? No. The BCS system isn't perfect, and an argument could obviously be made that Ohio State truly deserves to be in the title game if we finish the season at 12-0, but in another year we may be the beneficiaries of the system while another team gets left out. While it's possible that we could finish 12-0 and not make it into the title game, it seems unlikely. At this point we should just be looking at the next game on the schedule, focusing on winning one at a time, and at the end of the season we'll see how things fall out.

What is the best shot Wisconsin has to win this game?
Wisconsin's best shot to win this game is for Scott Tolzien to have a career day. While the Buckeyes haven't yet played a team with a solid power running game this season there is no reason to believe that sort of offense will find success against this defensive line. The Bucks have only given up 468 yards total on the ground through 6 games - 4th in the nation in total run defense. Last season Wisconsin ran 6 different backs to the tune of 131 yards on 33 carries for 3.97 yards per carry (taking out Tolzien's 11 for -13). Most of the success came from running Gilreath on end arounds as Clay gained only 59 yards on 20 carries. These kinds of numbers are simply not going to cut it - especially with OSU's coaching staff thinking that this defensive line is by far and away better than any they've had in the last 10 years - and suffered little attrition from last year's squad.

It's up to Tolzien to get the ball over the head of OSU's defensive strength. There's been a number of question marks in the secondary this season, especially with the injuries that have been sustained to our starting "Star" (hybrid nickle back) and backup corners. A sustained, consistent, competent passing attack could be the key.

1 comment:

poker affiliate said...

Wisconsin looked dominant against OSU. Pryor just looked out of sort and never got anything going on the ground or through the air. That knocks OSU out of the running for the title and Pryor for the Heisman.