Whom we spoke with: In one of our preseason conversations, we exchanged a Q&A via email – the Interweb version of two cans and a string—with Off The Tracks. You can check out the interview here.
They have television on the Interweb now: Good: pictures; Better: pictures that move and make noise: Best: pictures that move and involve Ohio State football. Typically, I like to use this space to post video previews for the upcoming game. Alas, no one has deemed this game fit for video (that I could find). Instead, we will use these pixels for historical purposes. Behold:
Ohio State Run Offense vs. Purdue
Countless adjectives can be used to describe Purdue’s defense. It is charitable to say that it is bad. Before I go on, take a look at the Boilermakers defensive statistics, as well as league and national ranks.
Uh, not good. The cherry on top? They have allowed an opposing player to run for at least 100 yards in each of their four games against D1 opponents.
As you can see, they are equal opportunity incompetents, as they have allowed running backs as well as quarterbacks to rush for 100 yards. What do you want to bet that this is the first game the Boilermakers allow both positions to rush for 100 yards?
Unless the coaches rest Wells for much of the game, it is a foregone conclusion that he will crack the century mark. Pryor has no such guarantee but that will be a reflection on the coaches wishes rather than opportunities and basic math.
The worst part for the Purdue defense is that they have allowed large rushing totals to disparate offenses, including three different spread attacks as well as Notre Dame’s traditional pro-style offense.
They have also given up over 100 yards rushing to a quarterback. Pryor and Ohio State are certainly capable running each style offense and should look equally proficient regardless of pre-snap formations.
One thing cutting against the Buckeyes is the lack of options at running back. Beanie was admittedly sore after Wisconsin – probably more sore than the coaches wanted to hear.
The best case scenario includes resting Wells this weekend, which means one of two things: (1) Pryor gets a lot of carries on the ground, or (2) Saine and/or Mo Wells has to produce. You be the judge of which is more likely.
Ohio State Pass Offense vs. Purdue
As you can see from the chart above Purdue’s defensive ineptitude is ostensibly equal in the passing game, ranked 11th in the league. Part of the explanation for this may be the aggressive defensive scheme that defensive coordinator Brock Spack runs.
Purdue will blitz on at least half of the downs and will play man coverage with no safeties over top. Needless to say, big plays can be had over top of the defense. Ask Jimmy Clausen. If you are thinking that Spack’s strategies and diagnostic skills sound questionable, check this out for confirmation.
How much Ohio State passes in this game depends on a couple of factors: (1) the abovementioned productivity of Saine and Mo Wells, and (2) the score at the half.
If Saine and Wells are not able to get consistent yards, Pryor will be forced to produce, either by land or air. It would not surprise me if the coaches took some shots deep down the field in order to build an early lead.
There is a negative in playing Purdue’s defense, however: overconfidence. Early next week, everyone will be saying how good the receivers looked this week and how they are improving every week. Newsflash—players always seem improved when they play low-budget competition.
Purdue Run Offense vs. OSU
Would you be surprised if I told you that Purdue is last in the league in rushing? You could be a little surprised considering Kory Sheets is hardly the worst starting running back in the conference.
In fact, he was averaging over six ypc prior to the Penn State game. He does not figure to come close to that against OSU, but he may be the Boilermakers best shot at an upset. If he were productive on the ground it would keep Pryor and co. off the field.
Because Purdue runs a spread, opposing teams are forced into a nickel alignment. Fortunately for Ohio State, this is basically their base defense at this point and Jermale Hines, one of the best young defenders on the team, will see increased plays this week. Purdue will not enjoy any advantage by forcing Ohio State into the nickel.
As usual, the front four is crucial in stopping the rushing game and as Tressel said during this week’s press conference, the OSU defensive line has “not been out of this world.” If those guys can slow down Sheets, it should be a long day for the Purdue offense.
Purdue Pass Offense vs. OSU
Joe Tiller, what have you done with Curtis Painter? The Boilermaker QB came into the 2008 season as heralded as any quarterback in the league. To date, he is having his worst statistical season with a 1:1 TD/INT ratio.
He was benched in the fourth of their loss to Penn State last week.
Tiller stated earlier this week that Painter will start but his hook may be short if they struggling again this week. It is hard to say what is causing the offensive problems for Tiller’s final crew, but the offensive line and Painter’s propensity to airmail some throws certainly account for a good portion. Ohio State may have some sack opportunities but, like most spreads, Purdue gets rid of it quickly so QB-pressures become a stat of more consequence. Those pressures in turn lead to interception opportunities for Jenkins and the rest of the defensive secondary. I will not be surprised if Ohio State returns an interception for a touchdown this week.
You know the story with Ohio State’s special teams: great coverage units; very little pop in the return games. With Herron out, my guess is that Saine and Mo Wells will return kickoffs but I would welcome two newcomers back there. Lamaar Thomas anyone?
Purdue benched more than Painter last week, as their place kicker, Chris Summers, also got the ax. The new kicker this week is a freshman with a big leg.
Imbue yourself with unearned confidence if...
¬ Pryor completes 4 passes of more than 25 yards
¬ Painter hits the ground on half of his attempts
¬ Ohio State scores 14 points in the first quarter
Become unnecessarily upset because of amateur athletics if...
¬ Curtis Painter completes 60% of his throws
¬ Ohio State is forced to use linebackers to get pressure
¬ Saine is still unable look serviceable
Irrelevant Stat of the Week:
Penalties kill, right? How rarely does that happen? Since the start of the 2004 season spanning 3370 games, they are the 24th and 25th teams to accomplish that feat. Since each game has two chances for a team to finish with no penalties, there have been 6740 chances, meaning that it has happened in only 0.37% (25/6740) of the chances.
Well, Purdue had no penalties in their game last week versus Penn State. Oh yeah, Purdue still lost.
Irrelevant Annoyance of the Week
Why do they call Purdue’s offense “Basketball on grass?” I have never understood that. Because they pass a lot and basketball players pass a lot? Shouldn’t we call it “Formula One on grass?”
Meteorologist for a Day
The forecast is amazing. You may actually want to apply some sunscreen.
Three possibilities for me to look stupid
1. Ohio State rushes for less than 200 yards
2. Ohio State loses the turnover battle
3. Purdue actually puts up a fight
The laws of the universe and blog ownership require me to predict
Ohio State 35, Purdue 9
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