Senior Day in The Shoe: Buckeyes vs. Hoosiers Preview


Lack of focus would be the phrase to sum up the preparation and gameday execution of Illinois week. Coach Meyer admitted that he, the coaches, and the players were too focused on outside issues and lost the tunnel vision that they needed to come out and play well on Saturday. That lack of focus led to one of the Big Ten’s worst teams, Illinois, being within 9 points of the Buckeyes in the 4th quarter last Saturday. The Buckeyes would eventually pull away behind the running of Carlos Hyde, but for Coach Meyer and the whole program the message was received, take care of your task at hand and continue to block out anything else. This week, all hands will need to be on deck as a very explosive and talented Hoosier offense comes in to town on Senior Day in Ohio Stadium.

The Hoosiers Offensive Machine

Urban Meyer is an admirer of Kevin Wilson and believes Wilson was one of the early pioneers of the spread offense in college football. Wilson has this Hoosier offense making explosive plays through the air and on the ground. As a matter of fact, most would believe that this offense is predicated on a pass first philosophy, however, Wilson has developed this offense in to a run first, play action spread offense, with some option game mixed in. The Hoosiers have done a pretty decent job of obtaining balance in their offense. They rank 17th in the nation in pass offense, and 45th in the nation in rush offense according to

The two quarterbacks that power this spread attack are Tre Roberson (5) and Nate Sudfeld (7) . Both quarterbacks possess quality arms. Sudfeld is the more accurate thrower, while Roberson can throw, but generally does a better job running the option aspect of this spread attack. Wilson will use both quarterbacks on Saturday. However, when Roberson is in the game the back seven will have to stay extremely disciplined since the Hoosiers run a lot of option with him, as well as run play action and take shots down field. When Sudfeld is in the game the pass rushers will have to be able to get home on their blitzes and rushes. Sudfeld can not be left sitting in the pocket or he will dissect a defense if he has time. Sudfeld possesses some mobility, however when he is in, if the Hoosiers want to run expect them to hand it off to their talented running backs Stephen Houston and Tevin Coleman.

Both of these backs are averaging around 7 yards a carry for the year, which should immediately get any defenses attention. Coleman is the every down back, while Houston will be used more in the option game and is a bit more explosive. The Hoosiers run game is nothing to scoff at as they have scored 23 rushing touchdowns this year and Houston, Coleman, and Roberson have accounted for 20 of those rushing TD’s. Getting Joshua Perry back for this game will be crucial, since the Buckeye linebackers can expect to have an extremely busy afternoon trying to defend not only this run game, but whatever play action the Hoosiers will try to run off of it.

The Hoosiers have two main targets when they run their play action and take shots down the field, Cody Lattimer and Shane Wynn. Lattimer is the most reliable of the receivers as he leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, but Wynn could be the X-factor for the Hoosier’s offense this Saturday. Wynn was a big get for the Hoosiers out of high school as he came out of the Buckeye pipeline of Cleveland Glenville, but was never offered by the Buckeyes. Wynn is a very explosive and elusive player who can get in space quickly and create havoc. Preventing him from getting yards after the catch will be vital. Add in receivers Koffi Hughes, who is second in the team in receptions (35) and third in touchdowns (6), and Ted Bolser who has 30 receptions and 5 touchdowns on the year, and the Buckeye secondary will have their hands full on Saturday.

Expect Ohio State to play a lot of nickel and dime this week. Indiana’s only hope to keep this game close is to force a shootout like they did last year. The Buckeye defense as a whole needs to play at a high level this week. While this Hoosier team seems to play poorly when they go on the road, their previous success against Ohio State last year will provide them with some confidence going in to The Shoe. Tackling, rushing the passer, preventing deep plays, and preventing yards after the catch will be extremely vital for the Buckeye defense if they want to have success in stopping the Hoosier offense.

Hoosier Defense May Want to Hyde

Indiana does not have a quality defense. I could do my best coach speak impersonation and try and name some guys that could give the Buckeyes trouble, but there aren’t many. David Cooper, linebacker, is the Hoosiers best player, but he’s only the teams leading tackler. He doesn’t do much in pass defense or rushing the passer. Therefore, Buckeye nation should expect a very productive day from the Ohio State offense.

Tom Herman likes to utilize Braxton’s arm strength and stretch the defense by taking multiple shots downfield, which stretches the defense and provides more running lanes for Hyde. He tried to do that last week, however the wind did not cooperate which led to Braxton’s average completion percentage, and the Buckeye offense getting behind the chains, and stalling out at times. Herman needs to be patient with the deep ball. Running Hyde, Wilson, and Miller isn’t always the most terrible option. Wisconsin proved last week that running the football against the Hoosiers is a great way to set up the rest of the offense. I would expect Herman to do some self evaluating this past week, and give himself a shorter leash on how often they throw deep. That’s not saying that Herman will go in to a shell with the offense, but he wants the offense to operate as efficiently as possible so expect more intermediate throws that have the potential to be explosive rather than straight shots down the field.

As I said, Hyde and Miller should absolutely destroy this Hoosier defense. Wilson has said he wants to focus on Hyde, but that probably means giving Miller open running lanes which isn’t the wisest idea either. Running the football early and often for this offense would probably do it some good as it could keep the explosive IU offense at bay for a while, and give the Buckeye defense some rest. I would expect this offense to try and link drives together on Saturday if the defense seems like they can’t handle the IU offense. If they fail to do this then expect a similar shootout to last year.

Breakout Buckeyes

Coach Wilson, during the weekly Big Ten teleconference, already sounded concerned with the amount of play makers Ohio State has. This reminded me of Darrell Hazell’s comments prior to the Purdue game. What does that mean? I believe we will see another explosive performance from tight end Jeff Heuerman on Saturday. The easiest way to attack a poor defense is up the middle. If Herman wants to throw deep, he will need to have the Hoosier defense focused on Hyde and Heureman in the middle of the field in order for his receivers to win their one on one battles on the outside.

Also, according to Meyer Dontre Wilson deserves to be receiving more touches, generally that means, we will get Dontre the ball more. I would think Dontre can expect some opportunities running, receiving, and even returning in this game. He should have some success against this Indiana defense especially with the focus generally being on Hyde and Miller. Ezekiel Elliott may also see time in this game depending on how close this is.

Under the Radar Match-ups

The Hoosiers kicking game is one of the more efficient in the conference. Wilson is not afraid to have his kicker kick 40+ yard field goals if they are in range. The Buckeye defense tends to become very stingy in the red zone. If Indiana’s kicking game is successful it may help them stick around in the game, however if they kick too often and their defense surrenders too many touchdowns, the Hoosier will find themselves in a blowout.

Last week the Buckeyes surrendered their first punt return for a touchdown to one of the nations best returners. This week they will face Tevin Coleman who is a threat in the kick return game. The coverage teams have been pretty banged up, which has led to offensive players being taught how to properly tackle this past week. Watch out for Coleman in the return game to see if he has any success against this banged up unit.

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