Tim from Varsity Blue hits us with his weekly thoughts on the Buckeyes. Head over to his site to see my views of Michigan's game versus Illinois.
What I Saw: So, uh, those guys in the Scarlet-and-Gray backfield are pretty good, right? Beanie was back with a vengeance after just being solid last week. He showed power, speed, and burst. This guy will definitely be a load for every team to handle.
Also inhabiting the backfield is one Terrelle Pryor. Pryor showed in this game why he was the nation’s #1 recruit last year, and he also gave glimpses of why it’s so hard for a true freshman to step in at quarterback. Pryor isn’t exactly consistent, and his lows can be pretty low (throw the ball away under pressure, young man!), but Jesus H. Christ are the highs high! Did anyone think of Vince Young in the Rose Bowl when Pryor ran into the end zone the last time? I sure did.
Defensively, the buckeyes played a much more physical game than they have so far this year. It’s easy to assume they were saving their big hits for the Badgers, rather than wasting them on Troy or Ohio. However, there were still some pretty open holes in the zone for Evridge to throw into.
What I Didn’t See: There wasn’t a ton of success out of the option looks that the Buckeyes ran. When you have Pryor and Wells, I think it’s probably a better idea to run the ball in a more straightforward manner, whether it’s from under center, the shotgun, or the pistol. The option look gives another thing to prepare for, but it isn’t Ohio State’s most effective package.
Tons of discipline by the defense. Wisconsin’s most effective plays, when they weren’t simply grinding it out on the ground, seemed to come from misdirection. The run up the gut was opened up a bit by the fake reverses to Gilreath, and the real reverse itself had some success against Ohio State. Regardless, the Bucks managed to slow down the Badgers (and hit them hard) enough to come away with a win.
Pressure from the defensive line without blitzing. The defensive tackles have yet to impress me this season, and the ends are doing as much as they can. Fortunately for Ohio State, Evridge isn’t a terribly accurate passer, and they had good coverage down the field for most of the game.
Who I watched: The offensive line. They have steadily been improving over the course of the year, and this game continued that trend. They still haven’t lived up to the preseason hype, but the pass protection has stayed about the same (of course, you can’t blame the line too much when Wisconsin sends the house, but Pryor got absolutely killed a few times). Beanie Wells can make small holes into big gains, so perhaps he is amplifying their positive plays as well. Still, this is one of the better defenses the Buckeyes will face, and the line didn’t do anything to prevent OSU from coming away victorious.
The defense. I wanted to see if they’d step up their physical play against a real team, and they certainly did. However, the line didn’t get tons of pressure on Evridge, and the Badgers were also able to move the ball on the ground a bit. Of course, Wisconsin should be able to move the ball on the ground a bit no matter who they’re playing.
What I expect to see next week: I’ve been on the “Purdue kinda sucks” bandwagon since the summer, and their results thus far have not dissuaded me from that opinion. Ohio State will dominate on both sides of the ball. Boeckman may get his longest appearance since Pryor took over as the starter.
I was disappointed when Penn State finally yielded to the Boilermakers, and I’d be surprised if the Buckeyes allow much more than a field goal this week. Offensively, they should be content to grind it out a bit (with Herron and Saine, mostly), and maybe rep some things for the future.
What this can tell us about The Game: The Ohio State offense is much better when they have both Beanie and Pryor available. Assuming those two are in the game against Michigan, Ohio State will definitely manage to score some points. However, The Buckeyes somehow managed to score less against the Badgers than did Michigan’s dysfunctional offense, so the Buckeyes are far from unstoppable. However, given Michigan’s troubles stopping Illinois, it could be a long night when there are more talented players plugged in.
Defensively, there is going to be yardage available against Ohio State. Michigan’s weakness is in the interior offensive line, and Ohio State’s defensive tackles, while they’re pretty good, did not dominate by any means against the Badgers. The Wisconsin offense also did its best when relying on misdirection, which is essentially the cornerstone of Michigan’s offense.