Ohio State vs Illinois Preview

This is what the first half of the year has felt like for Ohio State players, coaches and fans:

Ohio State has been very average this year. There is no other way to put it. There is plenty of blame to go around. From interim head coach Luke Fickell to offensive guru (cough, cough) Jim Bollman to bright red ginger Joe Bauserman. For me the biggest reason for OSU’s struggles thus far has been this:

RB Jordan Hall
RB Boom Herron
WR Corey Brown
WR DeVier Posey
OL Mike Adams
OL Corey Linsley
OL Antonio Underwood
DL Chase Farris
DL Solomon Thomas
DL Nathan Williams
DL Melvin Fellows
LB Scott McVey
LB Conner Crowell
DB Corey Brown
DB Travis Howard
DB Donnie Evege
QB Terrelle Pryor
WR James Jackson
WR James Louis
LB Ejuan Price
LB Dorian Bell
LB Jonathan Newsome

That is 21 players that have been suspended, injured, transferred or booted off the team. That is a TON of talent not to have. The coaches have certainly had their issues and will most likely be replaced, but this year’s Ohio State football team simply put has a lack of talent…at least compared to most years. That is an average of 3.95 stars per player when they were being recruited, folks…that’s a lot of talent and a big reason why OSU is struggling.

Not only is this team lacking a huge amount of talent, it’s got to be mentally drained after going through the offseason from hell that has bled into the season with the continuing onslaught of off the field treats the OSU players continue handing out. It has also lost its legendary coach and is dealing with the everyday incompetence of an offensive coordinator who doesn’t seem to have a clue out there.

I have stolen this secret OSU offensive weapon from deep within the bowels of the interweb…this is what Bollman uses to call his plays:

However this week we will finally be able to watch Boom Herron run the “Dave” series as he makes his return after a 6 game suspension. Oddly enough it was his game last year vs. Illinois that catapulted Herron into being OSU’s work horse. Herron scored 16 TD’s last year and ran for over 1000 yards. Herron, Hyde and Hall will carry the offense with a wounded Braxton Miller likely to start. Reports have Miller getting all the action with the 1’s and apparently he is not limited physically. I can’t see Ohio State running Miller too often due to his injured ankle. We may see Miller use some play action off runs he has typically made this year and look for a couple shots deep.

Make no mistake…OSU will try to establish the run on Saturday. If not…there always this guy:

On to Illinois…

They have a pretty good squad this year. They are 6-0 for the first time in like 2000 years or something. Nathan Scheelhaus has been outstanding in his sophomore season and is running a spread option attack to the tune of 34 points per game. He runs and throws well and has a big-time playmaker at wide receiver in A.J. Jenkins who has 7 touchdowns already this year. Three backs split carries along with Scheelhaas to form an effective option attack. Something OSU struggled with vs. Nebraska in the 2nd half.

Defensively I expect Illinois to follow the MSU model of blitzing the hell out of OSU QB’s, whoever they may be. Nebraska didn’t really pressure OSU at all, especially in the 1st half and nearly got blown out of their own building. I don’t see Illinois following that model.

For me this comes down to two things: Will Braxton Miller play and will he be able to use is very gifted legs. I’d also love to see him throw a few more times than 8 through 3 quarters. If Miller can make a couple plays with his legs, a couple plays with his arm and stay healthy I think OSU can win this game. I also can’t wait to see what Boom Herron does. Will he be rusty or will he carry the load vs. Illinois 9th ranked rush defense?

Oh yeah…and they are playing for this thing:

Prediction:

Illinois: 30
OSU: 24

Until the coaching staff can show they have a full game in them, I don’t trust’em…and I don’t think the players are far behind me…

Comments

  1. Ohio State – 28
    Illinois – 17

    The return of Boom flips what would’ve been a 24-21 Illinois win by a TD each way.

  2. I’ve been getting more optimistic as the week has progressed. Even Illinois fans are insecure about the weakness of their schedule so far… viewing OSU’s D as the toughest they’ve faced this year.

    Also, three 3-pt victories in a row? And Illinois was behind and had to come back in all of those games. So I’m confident that Haecock’s defense will keep Indiana to a beatable number of points.

    The one unknown is the offensive scheme the coaches will roll out for Herron’s return.

    Kade, you wrote “Defensively I expect Illinois to follow the MSU model of blitzing the hell out of OSU QB’s.” But they’ve been floating the idea for a year of using Hall as a slot receiver. Now that Herron’s back, they’ll be able do to just that. Theoretically.

    IF they make that switch, then that simple adjustment alone could wreak havoc with any team’s blitz-first scheme. What, leave Hall completely uncovered? They’ll have to cover him… with what? A linebacker on him? That leaves fewer blitz opportunities, not to mention gives Herron/Hyde/Miller breathing room. Move to nickel? The RBs will kill them all day.

    I’m not saying OSU’s offense will suddenly transform into a juggernaut, but the return of Herron creates formation options that the defenses of the past few weeks haven’t had to scheme for.

    IF Hall is used extensively in the slot and OSU shows continued improvement from Miller:
    OSU 24-17.

    If the lame offensive coaching continues, and adjustments aren’t made in time, and if Bauserman gets to touch the ball at all:
    Illinois 20-13.

  3. Looks like monkey and I are good at this “hedging your bets” thing.

    If Miller makes it to the end of the game in one piece:
    OSU 23 Illinois 20

    If Guiton has to come in relief:
    OSU 16 Illinois 27

  4. Derp

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