Weekly Players to Watch: Week 6 Northwestern

For the second straight week, Ohio State is a participant in ESPN’s “Game of the Week”.  Same time, different place and opponent.  This time we’re on the road against the Northwestern Wildcats.  This will be a massive test for the Buckeyes, so lets take a look at some of the players that you should keep an eye on Saturday, who will effect the outcome of the game.


The Dual QB system- Kaine Colter (#2) and Trevor Siemian (#13) are the two quarterbacks Ohio State will be prepping for this week.  Colter is the dual threat QB who is more likely to burn you on the ground, than through the air.  So far this season Colter is averaging 6.1 yards per rush, and only 7.6 yards per attempt.  He’s recorded 3 touchdowns and 2 interceptions against the likes of Cal, Main, and Western Michigan.  However, he does have the Manziel look and elusiveness when he runs.

Siemian’s statistics aren’t much better.  He’s the passing quarterback in this system and he’s recorded 9.6 yards per attempt with 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  He is fairly accurate, and he can move out of the pocket and gain a few yards with his legs.  However, his effectiveness, along with Colter’s has been limited this year.  The reason for these quarterbacks lack of production is mainly due to the absence of their All Big Ten running back and utility man, Venric Mark.

Venric Mark, Running Back #5-  Mark is the key to the success of this offense.  While his injury has not been disclosed, it has held him out since the opener against Cal, which leads me to believe either the injury was serious, or Fitzgerald has been saving him for this game.  Mark is an electric, powerful running back, who can tear apart any defense he faces.  While the Buckeyes have staked their claim as a very good front seven against the run, they have yet to face a triple threat attack like Mark, Siemian, and Colter, who can punish you on the ground or through the air.  Mark will be available in some capacity this Saturday, according to Cats head coach Pat Fitzgerald.  However, he was listed as the starter, and I expect to see Mark in the game early and often.

Just to give you guys some idea of what Mark is capable of, here are is stats from last year: 226 rushes, 1366 yards, 12 touchdowns, 6 yards per rush, 20 receptions, 104 yards, 1 touchdown, and finally, 15 kick/punt returns for 280 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He’s an extremely versatile weapon, that may cause Ohio State fits if they don’t contain him  If that isn’t enough, check out his highlight reel, to the theme of “Sharknado”.

Ohio State

Ryan Shazier-  If there is a dangerous weapon in the opponents backfield, it seems to be the common theme to assign that guy to Ryan Shazier.  Shazier loves the challenge of facing great, versatile running backs.  As previously stated, Mark is fast north and south, and he can also make you miss in open space.  If he breaks the first level of contain, Shazier will need to track him down, and prevent him from creating any serious damage.  I also expect Shazier to cover Mark coming out of the backfield, as Northwestern likes to use him in the passing game as well, either  as a dump off, or on wheel routes.  Shazier has the speed and talent to cover Mark, but he will have to be on his A game in order to negate the impact of Mark on the game.

Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown-  He’s the “other Corey Brown” in the Ohio State program.  Coach Coombs and Meyer have pegged Brown as the leading candidate to step in and replace senior leader Christian Bryant.  While the decision will ultimately come from Coach Withers, I’m expecting Brown to be pegged as the starter.  Brown has the most experience at the position, and when facing a pretty difficult offense to defend, experience will be key in this game.  I don’t think there is a huge drop off from Bryant to Brown in talent, in fact Brown may even be a better cover safety than Bryant.  However, the leader, and brains, of the Buckeye defense has a broken ankle, and while I don’t expect Brown to fill that role completely, he is a senior and he will be expected to step up in some capacity.

Devin Smith-  Week by week, Smith has been turning in to a legit, big time wide receiver.  He’s already recorded 20 receptions, for 335 yards, and 5 touchdowns through 5 games, averaging 16.6 yards per catch.  Last year Smith had 30 receptions and 6 touchdowns for the whole season!  He’s not just a deep threat anymore, he is developing in to a real wide receiver.  His routes have been sharp, and his ability to burn coverage deep, has opened up the short curls and outs underneath.  This guy is becoming a real play-maker and safety valve for Braxton.  His big plays, and consistency, will be needed this week.  Northwestern will provide a very hostile environment, and as Buckeye fans witnessed Saturday in the first half, Herman wants to take deep shots early and often.  If Smith can reel in one, or two, of those deep balls they may be able to tame that atmosphere.

Now that Smith is executing sharp quick routes, expect his routes to evolve in to double moves, which will drive secondaries nuts.  Northwestern’s defense is already pretty bad, if Smith can continue to provide consistent play for this offense, and also hit a home run once or twice, expect him to have a monster day Saturday.


  1. I’m a big fan of Venric Mark, so it’s good to see him back on the field, but I’d rather he not be effective until next week.

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