Hawkeyes Come to Town: Players to Watch Week 8

Iowa Hawkeyes 

Mark Weisman, Running Back #45-  Weisman is a bruising back.  He will be the first physical running test Ohio State will face this year.  He’s a hefty 6’1, 236 pounds, similar to a Le’Veon Bell.  The Buckeyes did their job last year against Bell, but the young Buckeye front four is not as big and stout as the one that was fielded last year.  Also, Weisman is a blue collar, hard nose runner who will not forfeit to a more dominant defensive front.  He will keep grinding and running hard in order to get the offense rolling for the Hawkeyes.  Not only will the front four need to be physical, they will also need to be relentless in bringing down Weisman.  If Weisman is able to get in to a flow, and maintain his pace of 4.5 yards per carry, the Buckeye front four will be in for a long bruising day, and more importantly, the Buckeye offense will be held at bay as the Hawkeyes will control the time of possession.  That combination could spell upset for the undefeated Buckeyes.

Kevonte Martin-Manley, Wide Receiver #11-  Manley is extremely manly (see what I did there?)  He is an imposing wide receiver at 6’1, 205 pounds, and plays even bigger than that.  However, he is the Hawkeyes only real receiving threat.  He leads the team in catches with 26 for 226 yards.  He will be physical, which should suit corner-back Bradley Roby very well, as Roby enjoys grabbing and disrupting receivers.  Their match-up will be interesting to watch, as Roby has had an underwhelming 2013 campaign so far.  Manley is also a threat on special teams since he returns punts for the Hawkeyes.  In the Hawkeyes blowout against Western Michigan, Manley contributed with two punt returns for touchdowns.  Freshman punter Cameron Johnston has had a stellar year so far, and he will need to ensure, if he punts to Manley, that he gives the coverage ample time to get down and cover the punt.

Anthony Hitchens, Middle Linebacker #31-  A senior linebacker, from Ohio, who was snubbed by Ohio State coming out of high school, who is a tackling machine.  Sound familiar?  Hitchens story definitely carries similarities to All-Big Ten linebacker, Chris Borland, from Wisconsin.  Borland proved to be a serious trouble maker for the Buckeye offense, and Hitchens possesses that same potential.  Hitchens is the rock of this Hawkeye defense.  He is ranked 23rd in the nation in tackles (59), and also leads the team in tackles for loss (5.5).  Hitchens will be looking to add to his already impressive 2013 year for Iowa, and continue to be the rock for the Hawkeyes 9th ranked defense.

Ohio State

Dontre Wilson-  Wilson saw extremely limited involvement in the Buckeyes last game against Northwestern.  Wilson’s limited action was due to what Tom Herman admitted, was a bad week of practice.  Those kinds of things will happen to a freshman.  The important part now is for Wilson to respond in a positive way, have a good week of practice, and make an impact Saturday.  It sounds like senior Jordan Hall is still struggling with a minor knee injury (surprise surprise right?), so Wilson’s services will be a great help to the Buckeye offense.  Wilson will be vital in two aspects of the game.  The first one will be for him to stretch the field horizontally for the Buckeyes run game, in order to help open up the inside zone for Carlos Hyde against an extremely stingy rush defense (ranked 8th nationally).  The second will be for Wilson to be more involved in the pass game, blocking or receiving, and help to provide more consistent explosiveness for the Buckeye offense.

Vonn Bell, Corey Brown, Tyvis Powell, or whoever plays free safety-  Somebody, anybody, has to step up and fill this role.  They don’t have to be as good as Christian Bryant was, but they need to be competent.  Corey Brown had an OK game against Northwestern, according to Coach Meyer.  However, Meye and Brown both know, OK will not cut it for this Buckeye secondary.  Meyer seems to be pressing for Coach Withers to get Vonn Bell ready to go and play.  I think that will be Ohio States best option.  Bell is already a solid tackler, but his speed is extremely underrated.  Bell may make mistakes, but his speed may help him make up for those mistakes.  He was not recruited heavily to just sit on the bench.  Meyer expects Bell to play and be successful, lets hope for this secondary’s sake that he is everything he is hyped up to be.  If not, hopefully Brown has studied the film, and made the proper adjustments in order to improve his play at the position.  At this point, the job seems to be between the senior and freshman.  Seniority will not win Brown the job, just as hype will not win Bell the job.  Whoever gives the Buckeye defense the best chance to be the best in the country will play.

Braxton Miller-  Braxton had a pretty average performance against Northwestern.  He did not register any touchdowns, had two turnovers, but did make clutch plays when needed.  A lot of Buckeye fans began to call for Kenny Guiton, and Coach Meyer was thinking it.  In the end, Meyer stated that he saw “the eye of the tiger” he needed to see in Braxton in order to let him finish the game.  Judging from his past two performances, Miller’s knee is not fully healed yet.  When Braxton was at his best last year, he glided through his cuts, and cut more ferociously horizontal than he is right now.  His knee is definitely bothering him, and I do not think its a mental hurdle, I think his knee is not fully 100%.  It looks to be at about 85%, which is really holding Miller back.  With the bye week, and a couple of hard nose games under his belt, Miller will face another tough defense.  The Hawkeyes will most likely force Braxton to throw against them and play to their strength, which is defending the run.  Good news for Braxton is, the Hawkeyes tend to give up big plays, and their secondary has been less than impressive.  I expect Braxton’s throwing numbers to out gain his running numbers again, but there may be opportunities for Braxton to scramble if the Hawkeyes begin to drop more players in to coverage.  Braxton should have a solid game against the Hawkeyes, as long as he is efficient with his reads (running and throwing), and takes care of the ball.

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