Five for Friday: What to Watch for on Saturday
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — We went into last week's game against the Buffalo Bulls with a bunch of questions about the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes. After watching that game, however, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered.
The mysteries will continue to unravel and truths will reveal themselves a bit more this Saturday against San Diego State. A few of those possible revelations are discussed below, and it might not be a bad idea to keep an eye on these topics as you watch the game on Saturday.
1. More press coverage by the cornerbacks.
Despite a 23-0 lead in the first quarter, you were likely fuming at how far off the receivers the Ohio State cornerbacks were playing last Saturday. That off coverage also led to some missed tackles, which only enraged you more. But rage no further, as the Buckeyes should be playing a bit more aggressively on Saturday against San Diego State. Last week, Doran Grant had a fantastic overall game, and was also impressive against the run. He'll move from the boundary to the field, which means he will now be playing the far side of the field where the ball takes longer to arrive. He will be able to play closer to his receiver, and everybody knows that Bradley Roby will be playing his receiver closely as well. Of course, this is assuming that Roby is inserted back into the starting lineup (which he will be). There's also the not-so-small matter of safety C.J. Barnett returning this week as well. The defensive coaches had to protect their secondary last week. This week, however, it might be San Diego State quarterback Adam Dingwell who needs to be protected .
2. Tempo throughout the game.
Right guard Marcus Hall said this week that the coaches have talked to the offense about keeping their foot on the gas for the entire game this week. The first quarter against Buffalo was fantastic, but things slowed down after that. The focus this week was on not slowing down. So, if you don't want to slow down, then you may as well speed up. Eastern Illinois ran 82 plays against SDSU last week with their hurry-up offense, and it was extremely effective. Coaches are nothing if not copycats, so they'll also employ what worked against the Aztecs before.
3. More called quarterback runs.
Urban Meyer talked about the lack of called runs for Braxton Miller last week. There were a few reasons why this happened. The first is that they wanted Miller to throw the ball and stand in the pocket, and the other is that they didn't need to call runs for him. Jordan Hall was doing just fine, and Miller's second-half scrambles were tremendous. That being said, the quarterback counter is one of the best plays in the Ohio State arsenal, and there's really no reason to hide it since everybody has to prepare for it.
4. The linebacker blitzes should start getting home.
Middle linebacker Curtis Grant blitzed the quarterback a few times last week against Buffalo, but never quite got to him before he got rid of the ball. The same can be said of Ryan Shazier as well. Shazier was brought on delayed blitzes that saw him wait a second or two before coming from 10-12 yards away. He would finish one step late, just like Grant. This week, however, the idea is that Dingwell will hold onto the ball just a bit longer than Buffalo did last week. Will those split seconds start turning into sacks and tackles for loss? They should. Urban Meyer also seems to think the Buckeyes will be playing more base defense, which means that Joshua Perry will also be available to attack the quarterback from his sam linebacker position. Ohio State couldn't be as aggressive on defense as they wanted to last week because of all of the new faces, but with the influx of old faces this week, things should open up.
5. Braxton Miller against the blitz.
We got to watch Braxton Miller stand in the pocket and look for openings against a passive zone defense last week against Buffalo. This week, however, Miller will be facing an attacking, blitzing, man-to-man defense that will lend itself to big plays for both the offense and defense. How well will Miller recognize the blitzes, and will he then make the proper reads in those situations? Those are the questions that should be quite pertinent to Buckeye fans. We will learn quite a bit more about Miller's development during this game. If Miller and the Buckeyes pick up the blitzes properly, there could be a lot of running room for everyone involved in the offense, including Miller. This is where the called runs for Miller could lead to a home run or two. There will be opportunities here for the offense, they just need to capitalize.
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