BBN Preview: OSU DBs vs. Cal’s Passing Game

“Are you frightened?”


“Not nearly frightened enough.”

It’s no secret that Ohio State’s most glaring area of weakness thus far has been the defense of the opposing passing game. This deficiency has a few explanations, some in the hands of the defense and others not. Through two games, Ohio State’s defense is ranked 99th (NINETY NINTH!!) in the country against the pass, giving up over 280 yards a game. The (non-existent) pass rush has generated three sacks over the first two games. This can be chalked up to many reasons — Ohio State’s most pure pass rusher, Nathan Williams, has been limited in his time on the field. The defensive play-calling seems to be rather vanilla, with few blitzes being dialed up (even with the potential of a great blitzer in Ryan Shazier). And finally, the two offenses played so far have been playing from behind, forcing them to be pass heavy. The quick hitting passing game employed by Miami (and to a lesser extant, Central Florida) has reduced the possibility of sacks and increased the completions against the Buckeyes.

All this adds up to a team that appears vulnerable to a good passing attack.

Can we call Cal’s passing game “good”? Well, good is probably being generous. But it has the potential of being really good.

Cal’s Passing Game vs. Ohio State’s Defensive Backs

Cal brings in a decent passing attack with left-handed (this is important, as starting RT Matt Summers-Gavin is going to miss Saturday’s game) Zach Maynard at quarterback and a receiver corps led by NFL-caliber wide receiver Keenan Allen.

QB Zach Maynard was benched for the first quarter of the first game versus Nevada. Nevada jumped out to a 14-0 lead before Maynard came back into the game. Keenan Allen was not pleased and voiced his opinion after the game, saying that the team did not know about the suspension until right before kickoff. It appears their chemistry runs deeper than just on the field (they’re half-brothers).

Since that first quarter, Maynard has averaged 237 yards per game and he has completed 64% of his passes. He has thrown 3 touchdowns to only 1 interception.

Chris Harper, a freshman WR leads the team in receptions with 12 and a touchdown. Even though Allen is the primary focus for opposing defenses, he is second on the team in receptions with 11 but only one touchdown. Another freshman, Bryce Treggs is third on the team in receptions with six and a touchdown.

Keenan Allen will present the biggest match-up problem for the Buckeyes. Allen is big (6’2″, 215 pounds) and runs consistently good routes. He has break-away speed but with his size, presents a problem to smaller defensive backs trying to bring him down. (And not to step on the toes of those guys who are previewing the special teams, but the Buckeyes will also have to watch out for Allen as a punt returner, he has a 69 yard return for a touchdown and he is averaging 22.2 yards per punt return.)

So the match-up this week to watch will definitely be Bradley Roby vs. Keenan Allen. Urban Meyer recognized this and was quoted as saying, “Bradley Roby will have to play ‘grown-man football’ this week against Allen.”

The Ohio State defense is going to be challenged once again by above-average talent in the opposing passing game. If the defensive line struggles to get pressure on Maynard, the defensive backs (especially Roby or whoever else draws the responsibility of covering Allen) will be once again under attack all game long. Eventually, given enough time, even mediocre quarterbacks are going to find open receivers. Creative defensive pressure is going to be important, forcing Maynard into poor decisions, something he already seems prone to this year.

It also seems like it would help to see the defensive backs up a little closer to the line of scrimmage, taking away the quick-hitting passing game that has found success the first two weeks against the Buckeyes.

Be physical and play “grown-man football”.

The other Buckeye Blog Network Previews:

Buckeye Empire – Cal vs. OSU Coaches and Special Teams
Men of the Scarlet and Gray – Cal’s Passing game vs. Ohio State’s defensive backs
The Silver Bullet – Cal Running vs. OSU Defense
The Buckeye Battle Cry – OSU Receivers -vs- Cal’s Secondary
The Buckeye Blog – Ohio State’s Rushing game vs. Cal


  1. Thanks, Drew. Post has been updated!

  2. Great write up and right to the point without a lot of fluff. If we can get more pressure on the QB our pass defense will improve greatly.


  1. […] The Men of the Scarlet and Gray try to make sense of the OSU secondary against the Cal passing […]

  2. […] The Men of the Scarlet and Gray try to make sense of the OSU secondary against the Cal passing […]

  3. […] Men of the Scarlet and Gray: Cal Passing Game vs OSU’s Secondary […]

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