Two years ago when Penn State played Ohio State, there were 109,302 on hand in Ohio Stadium to witness the Buckeyes’ miraculous 39-38 comeback win over the Nittany Lions. It was the second-largest crowd in stadium history and Ohio State may have needed every last one of the fans in attendance in order to pull off the come-from-behind win.
This year, Penn State returns to the scene of the crime, but will do so in the day time and with a lessened seating capacity in Ohio Stadium.
That may make things slightly different, but if Ohio State head coach Ryan Day has his way, the atmosphere will be just as raucous as the last time these two teams played in Columbus.
“Oh, man, yeah, I mean this is for so many reasons, this is the biggest one of the year and we need everybody in their seat, we need everybody really loud, make it really hard for their offense to communicate, they’re going to do a lot of checking at the line of scrimmage and communicating, so we need everybody, every time Penn State has the ball we need them to be as loud as they possibly can,” Day said this week.
While wild atmospheres are great for recruiting purposes, there are also practical purposes for wanting a noisy crowd.
“Doesn’t matter whether it’s third down, doesn’t matter what it is,” Day said. “Because every play they’re trying to communicate, they’re trying to tell the line what the play is, they’re going to try to tell the receivers what the play is, change plays and that gives them an advantage. But if our crowd’s loud it makes it very hard for them to communicate that.”
Having been a quarterback in his younger days, and now a playcaller and head coach, Day understands very well the impact that the crowd can have on an opposing offense.
Add in the possibility that Penn State may be without their starting center Michael Menet, and that just makes the crowd’s impact even more possible.
“It’s huge. With guys being loud, when you’re at an opposing team’s stadium, if you’re on offense and you’re trying to communicate, it’s really hard,” Day said. “And so the louder we can be, the better. Just picture a left tackle who is trying to block Chase Young who’s not on a verbal cadence, he’s on a silent cadence. So typically what happens is you have to use some other mechanism to trigger when the snap count happens. And if you’re really, really efficient at that, you can be as good as a verbal cadence.
“But you better be really on your game. And so you’re either looking at the ball or you’re trying to time it up, or all those things, and so the louder we get, the harder it makes for an offense. And so, especially on third down, but anytime they have the ball the louder we can be, the harder it is on the offense, and especially on the offensive line who is trying to block our defensive line.”
Basically, if both Chase Young and the guy blocking him are watching the ball, then the offensive lineman is already off on the wrong foot.
You know the old saying, “If he’s even, he’s leavin’?” That applies here as well.
A loud crowd that makes life difficult on an offense slows that offense down, and in doing so, makes the defense faster. The last thing this Penn State offense needs is a faster defense to contend with, but that is what a crowd can do for the home team, be it an 8pm kick in perfect conditions, or a noon kick in the rain.
“So, yeah, I mean anything we can do to be as loud as possible that will make it harder for them,” Day said.
“And then this is, what an opportunity to go out and send our seniors out the right way as their last time playing in the Horseshoe and I know that means a lot to everybody in Buckeye Nation and it’s going to mean a lot to our team to see everybody out there loud and ready to roll at noon.”