The game was one month ago, but that doesn’t mean it has left people’s collective memory. The Ohio State loss to Oklahoma weighs heavy on fans and coaches alike, but unlike the fans, the coaches can’t afford to lose sleep over what happened. They need to move on, but first they must fix the problems that arose against the Sooners.
One of those issues was the linebacker play against the Oklahoma passing game.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield essentially had the Ohio State linebackers glamoured, which made the play-action devastating. According to OSU linebackers coach Bill Davis, however, those problems have been taken care of.
“Oh yeah, we got that corrected,” he said this week. “They were man coverages and they did a bubble-and-go and got Malik on one when we were in a man coverage. They got the running back down the middle on us. There were two plays that we wish we had back, but we got it corrected and hopefully those things don’t happen again and we learn from it, grow from it, and we’re better this week because we learned from it.”
Deep Thoughts by Zach Smith
Any time over the past three seasons when the Ohio State beat gets a chance to talk to a quarterback or an offensive coach, the topic of the deep ball will come up.
After such a focus on it during the spring and fall camp, the Buckeyes weren’t showing any of the improvements they had supposedly made. That changed against Rutgers when they finally faced some man coverage that wasn’t hyper-focused on keeping the passing game in front of them.
The next step will be to have deep success against any kind of pass defense the Buckeyes see. Are things where they need to be yet to have that happen?
“I think it’s improved, but it’s still not where we want it to be,” receivers coach Zach Smith said of the deep ball. “It’s a combination of a lot of things that need to be done well. It starts with pass pro and then goes to throwing the football and then obviously the receivers getting separation and making plays down field.
“I think we’ve improved in all three aspects of that. We’ve just got to keep improving and try to hit them more consistently. Because we’ve hit them and we’ve missed some, and there’s a multitude of reasons why on any given play why we didn’t hit a deep ball that we should have. Whether it’s a drop, a poor throw, a pass pro breakdown, and those things just need to be tightened up. And once they get tightened up, it will become a more consistent thing that we hit successfully.
Sprinkle Thoughts on Maryland
Just because Maryland is coming into Ohio Stadium with their third-string quarterback leading the charge doesn’t mean the Buckeye defense will be taking the Terps lightly.
Maryland has a very highly-regarded offensive coordinator in Walt Bell and some dynamic skill players to call upon.
Junior running back Ty Johnson is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing, averaging 103.8 yards on the ground per game. His tailback cohort Lorenzo Harrison is averaging about half of that, but he is dangerous as well.
There are also a few receivers who can make defenders miss. Only four teams in the B1G have more 40-yard receptions than the Terps (3).
“They’ve got a pretty good offense,” said senior nose tackle Tracy Sprinkle. “Fast running backs. We’ll have to stop the run really early.”
The offensive line is an experienced unit as well, which will only make things more difficult.
“They’ve got a couple of guys with a lot of experience,” he said. “A lot of guys that have played a lot of football. They can make a move really quickly and try to position block you a lot. So we’ll just have to do our best to defeat it.”
And even though Maryland quarterback Max Bortenschlager doesn’t have a ton of experience, the lack of film on him actually makes him a bit of a mystery to the Buckeyes.
“It’s pretty tough because you don’t really know the tendencies,” Sprinkle said. “You don’t know how he steps up in the pocket and where he wants to scramble to. We really only have one game of film on him so we’re just going to do what we can in the first half and then adjust for the second half.”