Ohio State @ Northwestern – Play It Like Tressel

Congratulations to Ohio State on beating a solid Wisconsin team, 31-24. Ohio State seemed to take its foot off the gas in the second half (more on that later), but a win over a team like Wisconsin is always a good thing. As someone who was in attendance in Ohio Stadium for the victory, I would characterize the win as somewhat underwhelming. I would not be so harsh as the below tweet, but it gives a good analysis of what it felt like sitting in the stands during the second half ~

Braxton Miller returned to the starting lineup, showing little to no ill effects from his MCL injury.  While I agree that Miller’s running abilities and elusive skills are a tremendous asset, I would prefer to see fewer designed quarterback runs.  From my perspective, Miller would be far more dangerous on passing downs, scrambling if a play breaks down or a receiver is unable to get open.  Even Coach Meyer stated that Miller carrying the ball 22 times is too much.

It seemed to me, and perhaps I am mistaken, that Ohio State’s offense under Kenny Guiton seemed more balanced than when Braxton Miller played versus Wisconsin.  Guiton is not nearly the running threat that Miller is, and there were far fewer designed quarterback runs for Guiton during his games than for Miller versus Wisconsin.  Also, Guiton seems to run the option better, forcing the defense to commit to the pitch, where Miller is more inclined to turn upfield on a quarterback keeper.

I am not advocating a quarterback change, or trying to incite a controversy.  I would simply prefer fewer designed quarterback runs, especially for a quarterback coming off a MCL injury, and better offensive balance.

Regarding the designed Ohio State second half slowdown versus Wisconsin, I did not have as much of a problem with the conservative approach Ohio State decided to implement.  Ohio State focused on shutting down Wisconsin’s running game, and forced Wisconsin to go the length of the field to score in the second half.  Punter Cameron Johnston was consistently able to land punts deep in Wisconsin territory.

I do not have a problem with a conservative approach.  I would argue that conservative does not have to mean predictable.  Against Wisconsin, first and second downs were usually Braxton Miller designed runs (see up above), which would lead to third downs where Ohio State would sometimes convert.

Do you want to run the ball and chew up the clock?  Absolutely.  I would simply argue that with backs such as Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall (who should have played more versus Wisconsin, by the way), it is possible to be conservative yet not predictable.

Feel terrible for Christian Bryant with his injury at the end of the game.  I am hopeful Ohio State explores the medical redshirt option for Bryant, even if Bryant is not granted one by the NCAA.

As for Bradley Roby…let’s just say that being projected as a first round draft choice does not mean that you will be a first round draft choice.  Roby needs to rebound, starting with Northwestern.

On to Northwestern.  With Bryant’s injury, the likely starter will be Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown.  Brown was a highly touted recruit in the 2009 class, and this will be Brown’s opportunity to claim the starting job outright.

Heading up to Evanston, for another night game, another nationally televised game, versus an undefeated Northwestern team, what is the approach Ohio State should take?

Play Northwestern how former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel used to play Northwestern.

What does that mean?

Ohio State played Northwestern from 2001-2008, losing at Northwestern in 2004.  While Tressel’s teams usually played Northwestern well, it seemed as though the loss in 2004 to the Wildcats seemed to spur the Buckeyes to play with a true killer mentality from 2005-2008:

Ohio State should come out, ready to go against Northwestern’s mediocre defense.  While Northwestern has a solid offense, Ohio State should be up for the challenge, even with the loss of Christian Bryant in the secondary.  I will go Ohio State 56, Northwestern 31.

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