Buckeyes Brace for "Bear" Raid
By Rob Ogden
Asked how much experience he and his players have against an offense like California's, Urban Meyer through for a few moments, then responded with one word: none.
"We didn't face anything like this last year," he said. "I don't feel like we've faced one like this, not one that's going to throw 70 times."
Led by first-year coach Sonny Dykes, the Golden Bears employ an air raid (or Bear raid) offensive attack in which they average an NCAA-leading 103 plays per game. For perspective, under coach Jeff Tedford in 2012, Cal averaged just more than 71 plays per game.
The most plays the Buckeyes faced in four quarters last season was 80 against UAB. Wisconsin ran 83 plays in an overtime loss to the Buckeyes.
J T. Barrett
Photo by Dan Harker
In order to prepare the Buckeye defense for what it's going to face Saturday night, Ohio State coaches have tried to replicate a Dykes-style offense in practice. Led by quarterback J.T. Barrett, the scout team has turned up the tempo this week.
"It's a challenge," said defensive lineman Michael Bennett. "As a defensive player, you hate it because they just run it and go and go and go and it's really tiring. You don't have time to bring in subs, you just got the 11 players on the field for however many plays. People don't like it because it's hard."
Cal's offensive attack is led by true freshman quarterback Jared Goff, who ranks first in the nation with 935 yards passing this season. He's thrown for four touchdowns, but has also tossed three interceptions, two of which were returned for a touchdown.
In their week one loss to Northwestern, the Bears threw the ball 65 times. Goff's 114 passing attempts also leads the nation.
Despite leading the nation in passing yards, Cal's offense still hasn't quite reached where Louisiana Tech's offense was under Dykes in 2012. The Bulldogs led the nation with 51.5 points per game.
Playing against a fast-paced offense isn't completely new to the Ohio State defense, though. Linebacker Ryan Shazier said the fact that the Buckeyes' offense usually plays at a pretty high tempo has helped prepare the defense.
Photo by Dan Harker
"Going against our offense is a big plus because they're a hurry up," he said. "They're not as fast, but when we need them to go fast, they'll go fast.
"To be honest, if you're a good defense, you're not allowing 100 plays, and that's our goal. We're not gonna allow them to do 100 plays."
So what's the best way to slow down an offense like Cal's?
“There’s just little stuff like getting off the pile slower, stem around a little bit, make them make checks and stuff,” Bennett said. ““It’s just little stuff. You want to confuse them so maybe they have to call timeout instead of just running it down the field."
In their 44-30 win against Cal two weeks ago, the Wildcats were accused by some of faking injuries to slow down the Bears. Bennett said there would be none of that.
"I've never tried to fake an injury. I've only tried to fake not being injured," he joked.
Of course, the Bears can only run their offense when they have the ball, which means they'll have to figure out a way to get the Buckeyes' offense off the field.
"We'll try to manage the game to let our defense rest," Meyer said.
Shazier echoed his coach.
"If we just get the ball into their hands, they can control the tempo," he said.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.