OSU vs. UAB Preview

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Last updated: 09/21/2012 0:42 AM
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UAB at Ohio State Preview
By Tony Gerdeman

This will be the first ever meeting between #16 Ohio State (3-0) and UAB (0-2). The Buckeyes are 12-1-1 all-time against teams currently in Conference USA. The lone loss came against SMU in 1950.

UAB is 0-2 against teams currently in the Big Ten, having lost each game by an average of 34 points.

Ohio State is 399-109-20 all-time in Ohio Stadium, and the Buckeyes have won 60-consecutive non-conference home games against unranked teams. Their last loss came to Florida State in 1982.

When UAB Has the Ball

With head coach Garrick McGee having run offenses at both Northwestern and Arkansas, it is no surprise that the UAB offense carries the genetic profile of both programs.

The Blazers employ a downfield passing attack that also utilizes a moving pocket. Quarterback Jonathan Perry has started both games and has completed 35-67 passes for 536 yards and two touchdowns. He has thrown one interception.

Perry is not incredibly accurate and can tend to overthrow his receivers on the intermediate routes. Safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett will have opportunities for interceptions in this game.

The two top targets for the Blazers are Jacki Williams (202 yards receiving) and Patrick Hearn (174 yards receiving), both having caught eleven passes on the season.

The Buckeyes have had breakdowns in the secondary a few times this season, and with the way UAB throws the ball down the field, those issues will need to be resolved. Although if they aren't, chances are that Perry will not be able to capitalize.

Cornerback Bradley Roby is recovering from a shoulder injury. How much he will play in this game is unknown. If necessary, the third cornerback Doran Grant will step in and need to play seamlessly.

UAB's offensive line has given up eight sacks in two games. Six of those sacks coming last week against South Carolina.

Expect the Ohio State defensive line to put serious pressure on Perry with a little bit of help from the linebackers. Against UAB, a Buckeye defensive line should be able to get to the quarterback without any blitzing help.

This could be a week where defensive ends John Simon and Nathan Williams get quite a bit of time off, making way for freshman Noah Spence to get a bunch of snaps rushing the passer.

The UAB offensive line doesn't fare much better in the running game either, paving the way for just 80.5 yards rushing per game. Perry leads the team in carries with 24, but tailback Darrin Reaves leads the team in rushing, averaging just 29 yards on the ground per game. UAB's longest carry of the season has gone for just 16 yards.

Considering the trouble with tackling that the Buckeyes have had of late, this game should allow them to get some confidence back.

Ohio State will also have the advantage on special teams this weekend. The Blazers have returned four punts for -4 yards this season. Two yards is their longest return. They are a little more successful in kickoff returns, as Jacki Williams is averaging 36 yards on two returns.

Placekicker Ty Long is 3-3 on field goals with a long of 46. Punter Hunter Mullins is having a very good season, averaging 43.9 yards per punt. However, he is somewhat outkicking his coverage, as the Blazers are allowing 12.8 yards per punt return.

When Ohio State Has the Ball

Quarterback Braxton Miller is tenth in the nation in rushing, averaging 125.7 yards per game. Only four players in the nation have more rushing touchdowns than his five.

Overall, the Buckeyes are rushing for 237.7 yards per game. UAB is currently 109th in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 220.5 yards per game. Ohio State should be able to rush for however many yards they would like against a UAB interior that averages just 276 pounds at defensive tackle.

Tailback Jordan Hall will likely get the start this week after returning from injury last week and rushing for 87 yards. He is still working the rust off, and this will be a great opportunity for him to continue doing so.

Urban Meyer mentioned that backup tailback Rod Smith had moved up to the number two spot this week in practice, and he expects to get Smith some carries on Saturday.

The Ohio State passing game continues to make strides. The Buckeyes looked pretty good with their downfield passing last week. Expect the Blazers to try and force the Buckeyes to go over the top as well.

UAB will play a base 4-3 defense, but they will bring a blitzing linebacker about half the time. Fullback Zach Boren and whomever is playing tailback will need to be able to pick those blitzers up so that Braxton Miller will have time to look for open receivers downfield.

Middle linebacker Marvin Burdette leads the team in tackles with 17, and in tackles for loss with 2.5. He will be one of the Blazers' main blitzers. If he isn't making plays on Saturday, then the UAB defense will likely be very quiet on the day.

Receiver Devin Smith is proving himself to be quite a weapon in the passing game so far. His 233 yards receiving are just 61 yards short of his total last season when he led the Buckeyes in receiving yards.

The Blazers are allowing 256.5 yards passing per game, and rank 121st in pass efficiency defense (174.67).

In an attempt to create havoc up front, UAB will mistakenly allow some receivers to run free. Provided Miller is as accurate with his deep balls as he was last week, the Buckeye quarterback could have the best passing game of his career.

Meyer was a bit disappointed in his special teams last week, and expects more out of them this week. His frustration grows every week that the Buckeyes don't block a punt, and they should have a slew of chances this week.

Meyer is also frustrated with the lack of any big returns from either the kick or punt return units.

How It Will End Up

UAB could be the worst team to come into Ohio Stadium since New Mexico State in 2009. The Buckeyes should be able to name the score in this game.

Offensively, provided Miller doesn't play passively, Ohio State will march the ball up and down the field. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him finish with 200 yards passing in the first half, with many of those yards going to Devin Smith.

Meyer likes his quarterback against UAB's attacking style, and will likely attack it with designed quarterback runs.

Jordan Hall may not rush for 100 yards, but that will simply be because there's no reason to. This will be a good opportunity to get Rod Smith and Bri'onte Dunn on the field.

Defensively, the front four will get enough pressure, unless UAB changes their ways and goes to a quick passing attack. Jonathan Perry will be on the move constantly, which will just make him even more inaccurate than he already is.

The Buckeyes should be able to pick off at least three passes, provided they catch the ones that hit them in the hands. The poor tackling of Ohio State will disappear for at least one week, but won't be forgotten.

In the end, this will be the fifth Buckeye team to ever start the season by scoring 30 or more points in their first four games. Those other four teams? 1917, 1969, 1995 and 2010.

It will be the fourth Urban Meyer team to do so.

Ohio State 63 - UAB 0

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