Scouting Report: Le’Veon Bell

 Michigan State’s bruising tailback Le’Veon Bell will be the focal point this weekend for the Buckeye defense. Listed at 6-2, 244 pounds, head coach Urban Meyer described Bell as a “more athletic Ron Dayne.” Bell is second in the nation in rushing with 610 yards through only four games. He is a real workhorse, averaging 29 carries per game and he has reached pay dirt five times.

With the Spartans inexperience at quarterback, if the Buckeyes stop Le’Veon Bell, they will have a great chance to win the game. In Sparty’s only loss this year versus Notre Dame, the Irish held Bell to only 77 yards on 19 carries.

Primarily, Michigan State utilizes Bell as the tailback in the I-Formation and there aren’t really any surprises. They tend to run to the strong side and with their physical offensive line, they dare the opposing defense to beat them. Coach D’Antonio runs a prototypical “ground and pound offense.”

Bell has done most of his work in the first quarter this year, rushing the ball 43 times for 214 yards. In the remaining three quarters, he rushed the ball 74 times for 396 yards. Coach D’Antonio clearly wants to establish the run in the first quarter and wear out the opposing defense early in the game. Also, Bell is averaging 5.35 yards per carry on first down coming on a 62 carries. If Bell can consistently give the offense 2nd and 5, that will put inexperienced quarterback Andrew Maxwell in a better position to get the first down.

Against Boise State in the first game of the season, Bell showed the nation his athleticism and what he can do with the ball in his hands. He showed a killer stiff arm, a devastating spin move, and he also hurdled a safety who ducked his head too early. The Buckeyes will figure out early that he does not go down easily and breaks a lot of tackles. Many times throughout the game, Boise St put their strong side outside linebacker on the line of scrimmage and it did not matter. The Spartans offensive line, combined with Bell’s vision allowed him to consistently make something out of nothing.

In the red zone or short yardage situations, Bell will have the ball in his hands the majority of the time. He even took a direct snap out of the wildcat in the red zone that resulted in a few yards. He can also catch the ball out of the backfield and displays pretty good hands for a big running back.

The thing that is surprising is that they did not show as much play action as you would expect. The defense knows that Bell is going to get the ball the majority of the time, so one would expect play action on the goal line or short yardage every once in a while.

Overall, the silver bullets have their hands full this weekend with Le’Veon Bell. One positive is that if the Buckeyes can jump out to an early lead, they can take Bell out of the game. Putting the ball in Maxwell’s hands more than Bell’s has to be a big part of their game plan. If Bell has over 30 carries to finish the game, the score will be close, or in favor of the Spartans.


  1. […] to see #24. It’s no stretch of the analytic brain to realize that Ohio State has to stop Le’Veon Bell. He’s one of the nation’s top running backs, statistically speaking, partially due to […]

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