Taking a look at some of the underlying subplots as the Buckeyes take on the Bobcats this Saturday.
1. Special Teams Coverage. A week after surrendering two touchdowns on special teams, the Buckeyes must improve the special teams coverage this week. Whether it simply be better discipline in maintaining their lanes, or putting better athletes on the special teams units altogether, the Buckeyes have to find a way to fix this issue. If it weren’t for the two blunders on the coverage units, last week’s game would have been more clearly dominated by Ohio State. Moving forward, this is the single greatest issue the team will face, as it is the only clear weakness the team has. For visual proof of the disparity between Ohio State and Miami, excluding special teams, see below.
Chart provided by Bud Elliot of Tomahawk Nation.
2. Hangover. Not only are the Buckeyes coming off an emotional game against the Miami Hurricanes, but they are playing in their first 12 O'clock game of the season. The early start has led to a sluggish performance for many teams through the years, the Buckeyes included, so it will be important for the Bucks to get out of bed early and be ready to go. The 2008 game between Ohio and Ohio State was far too close for comfort, and it'd be reassuring to see a dominating performance this week. Furthermore, it'd be valuable for the offense to be effective enough early to allow some younger players to get into the game. Sophomore tailback Jordan Hall and redshirt freshman tailback Jaamal Berry were excellent on kick and punt returns last week, and it'd be great to see them play a role in the base offense.
3. The Posey Bowl. Ohio cornerback Julian Posey is the brother of Ohio State wide receiver DeVier Posey. Both Posey's start for their respective teams, which means we will see them go against one another during the game. How intense will the run blocking be from DeVier? Will the Bobcats use man coverage and match them up? An intriguing familial subplot between two semi-familial universities.
4. Strongside Linbacker. With starting strongside linebacker Andrew Sweat doubtful for the game after suffering a minor injury, how will the Buckeyes adjust on defense? Jim Tressel intimated that sophomore Johnathan Newsome would start in his place, but just how many snaps will he receive? With the Bobcats using spread personnel and formations at times, star- a position on the Ohio State defense- Tyler Moeller will sub in on those downs. The Bobcats may respond by using more heavy personnel to keep the experienced Moeller off the field and the green Newsome on it.
5. Boo Jackson and Phil Bates. Ohio's two quarterbacks, Jackson and Bates are both mobile runners who figure into the Bobcats' option game. Beyond that, the two frequently scramble during passing plays, allowing a busted play to turn into a positive for the offense. During the aforementioned 2008 game, Jackson notably caused the Ohio State defense difficulty in wrapping him up. With a more athletic defense this season, and a bigger defensive line, will the Buckeyes have as much trouble in corralling the agile quarterbacks as they did in 2008?