This is going to be an opportunity for the Ohio State defense to play against some very good offensive personnel, but not so good that they make the Buckeyes look bad. Similarly, the Terps aren’t pushovers on defense, but the Ohio State offense should still be able to do what they want if they fight hard enough to do it.
Maryland has looked pretty good in wins over Texas and Minnesota, but the Buckeyes are obviously a different animal, and circumstances continue to be fluid for the Terps.
There has been plenty to talk about with this game, and there is still more to come. What will you be saying after the game, however? Plenty.
But for brevity’s sake, I’ll keep the list to five items.
1. “I still want to see more of J.K. and Weber together.”
I mean, duh, who doesn’t? What would be an acceptable number of carries for the two of them? Sixty? I’m only joking a little bit. Urban Meyer wants to see between 25-30 carries for the two of them, but how often does he actually see what he wants when it comes to number of carries? And even if he gets what he wants, that doesn’t mean you or I will. We both want to see J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber together in the backfield and we want to see a lot of it. We may not get any of it, which is really going to be frustrating.
2. “Johnnie Dixon reminds me of Santonio Holmes.”
Five-foot-11? Check. Under 200 pounds? Check. From Florida? Check. Ability to make dudes miss after the catch? Big-time check. Dixon’s season-high in catches in one game is just three, which he had last week, so he’s not as productive as Santonio Holmes was, but they are similar players with similar abilities. Because Ohio State runs six starters deep at receiver, it’s going to be difficult for one guy to have a huge year this season. Dixon will have some big games throughout, however, and this could be another one like last week.
3. “I never thought I’d say I missed Luke Fickell, but here we are.”
The Buckeye linebackers might be the new deep ball. And by that I mean the new concern du jour. And by “concern du jour”, I mean concern of the day. Urban Meyer told me this week or last week that the reason so many young linebackers are playing right now isn’t because the veterans aren’t playing well as much as the young guys are raising their respective games. That may be the case, but they haven’t had to raise their level of play as much as past freshmen would have had to do in order to see the field. Maryland’s offense can make linebackers look bad. This is a great test for the Buckeyes, and if they don’t pass easily, many will continue to wonder how much the OSU linebackers are missing Luke Fickell.
4. “The cornerbacks are coming around.”
Denzel Ward has been fantastic this season, but the group will always be measured by its weakest link. People still remember that Indiana game, and the Buckeyes went to work fixing those issues. I asked Kerry Coombs if he had seen what Indiana’s passing game has done since they played OSU and he had no idea of the drop off the Hoosiers have experienced. I asked if it was possible that it was just “one of those games” and he said people need to remember that it was a big game on the road to open the season, and even though Damon Arnette had experience, Denzel Ward was really the only returning starter. Last week, the Buckeye corners didn’t allow a catch to a wide receiver. This week they face a Maryland offense with only two receivers with more than seven receptions. They will be tested by D.J. Moore (100.8 yards per game) and former OSU commit Taivon Jacobs, but they should be up to the task, and you should expect to be impressed.
5. “I knew the Buckeyes were going to use the tight end this year.”
The Ohio State tight ends have 13 receptions in the five games this season. Last season, they had 26 all season long, so they are ahead of their pace from a year ago, but not exactly lighting things up. We have seen what Rashod Berry is capable of doing, and Marcus Baugh is getting better every week. Expect Kevin Wilson to start rewarding those guys for their work — especially Baugh, who Urban Meyer is very pleased with. It will be up to Baugh to take advantage of the plays called for him, but there is no reason we can’t see some plays made by the tight ends this weekend. And I’m not leaving Luke Farrell out either.