Scouting the Midshipmen and a Look around the country

osuHelmetIt’s Back!!!! College Football is finally upon us and we here in the Buckeye State (and, really, all of America) are ecstatic to get the 2014 season underway. It’s going to be a wild ride. Ohio State comes into this season ranked 5th in the nation and preseason favorites to win the Big Ten and advance to the inaugural College Football Playoff. Those are lofty expectations for a team that lost its leading rusher, 4 offensive linemen, and return most of a secondary that struggled last year. (And now, it’s potential Heisman quarterback, too.) But with new additions and schemes, they are poised to accept the challenge. First on the docket are the Navy Midshipmen. If you remember right, Navy gave us everything we could handle in 2009. It took a Brian Rolle interception on a 2-point conversion with two minutes left to seal the win. Here’s to hoping this year is a much smoother affair.

(As you can tell, this preview was being worked on before that fateful day… Braxton Miller is out for the season and according to the OSU press release he will return for the 2015 season. This obviously changes a few aspects to the Buckeye offense, but it will mostly be business as usual. )

Opponent: Navy Midshipmen (2013 record: 9-4)
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland (home of the Ravens)
Kickoff: August 30, 2014. Noon on CBS Sports Network (Check here for your local channel)

Sizing up Navy:

The Navy offense lives and dies by the triple option which is expertly ran by do-it-all QB Keenan Reynolds. Some people have called him Navy’s best QB since Roger Staubach, which should tell you everything you need to know. The kid can play. He ran for 31 touchdowns last season, an FBS record for a QB. But he can also throw the ball; yes Navy does have a passing game. He threw for a little over 1,000 yards in 2013 to go along with 8 touchdowns. If Reynolds and the Midshipmen can go to the air more, they could be in for a great season because of a dangerous offense.

Defensively, they return seven players from last seasons’ team. Teams consistently moved the ball down the field on them but had trouble punching it in the endzone. They will be overmatched athletically in the majority of games they play. Look for Ohio State to exploit that.

Offensive GamePlan:

Braxton Miller’s injury is a huge blow to the Buckeye offense. He made so many things look easy. We’ll see how well Urban and Tom Herman have prepared the backups. So it’s next man up for the Buckeyes.

Enter J.T. Barrett, a four-star and one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the class of 2013. If you watch his highlight tape, his offense in high school was very similar to Ohio State’s. He ran a lot of read options (reading the defensive end then either giving to the RB or pulling it and taking it himself) and was also very successful throwing the ball downfield. Make no mistake, the kid can play.

Our gameplan needs to be getting the ball into our playmakers hands. Expect Zeke Elliot and Rod Smith to get a lot of carries against Navy to take some pressure off Barrett. But he will be expected to air it out a little bit. Our main objective is to get the ball to our athletes on the perimeter. Guys like Dontre Wilson, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith, Michael Thomas and Curtis Samuel will all be targeted plenty. Herman needs to call a lot of quick read passing plays as well. The play will start with the read option, then Barrett will have the option of making a quick throw on the outside (hitch, bubble are main routes for this). And I can also guarantee we will see Jeff Heureman run the TE stick up the hash and be wide open. That could end up being Barrett’s first passing touchdown of his career.

The main focus of this game is number 1, win. Then number 2, Herman needs to get Barrett (and really the entire offense) confidence up so he’s ready to face Virginia Tech next week. It’s also a possibility that we’ll see Cardale Jones thrown into the mix just to get a different look. But Barrett is the guy and all he has to do is facilitate and distribute, which he is very good at.

Craig Krenzel was never a huge statistical Heisman watch player, but he won a national championship. That’s something former Buckeye QB’s Troy Smith, Terrelle Pryor, and even Braxton Miller have failed to bring to Columbus. It will definitely be a fun season to watch.

Defensive Gameplan:

The key to the Navy offensive scheme is to keep defenses off balance by constantly running misdirection plays and by throwing in a pass every once in a while to keep the defense honest. They’ve been running the triple option offense since the Revolutionary War so it’s safe to say they’re good at it.

Navy’s favorite formation is with 5 offensive linemen with a running back/wide receiver on both the right and left tackles hip (off the line). Reynolds will be under center with a fullback 5 yards behind him. Reynolds will take the snap, take a step back and read the defensive end. He will either give or keep the ball. He can also option to the receiver behind him who will sweep around as the pitch man. Many teams get caught with their eyes in the backfield reading the pitch man. But the RB was given the ball up the middle and is untouched heading to the endzone.

It’s key for our defensive line to blow up anything that comes up the middle (which I fully expect them to do). The linebacker corps also has to read their keys. Reynolds likes to take off whenever possible; either by keeping it on a read play or tucking and running instead of passing. It will be interesting to see how new Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash will handle the triple option but I don’t think he’ll disappoint. Look for the safeties to press most of the game along with a number of blitzes and coming up into the box to assist with the running game. Reynolds is a great talent but I have a lot of faith in our defense to keep him contained.

Prediction:

All of Buckeye Nation will tune in to see the future of Ohio State Football, in J.T. Barrett. His first possession could be shaky but once he gets the jitters out, he’ll have a huge game. The defense will be back to being the Silver Bullets by holding the Midshipmen to less than 100 yards rushing. After the game, everyone can take a deep breath and know they’re in good hands with Urban Meyer at the helm.

Ohio State 45
Navy 13

Look Around the Country

Notable Games Last Week: None

Big Matchups This Week:

Thursday, August 28: Texas A&M at South Carolina
Saturday, August 30: Clemson at Georgia, Florida State vs Oklahoma State (Cowboys Classic), Wisconsin vs LSU.

Michigan Update:

They play Appalachian State this week. I’m trying not to laugh. Oh, memories.

Heisman Watch Contenders:

Jameis Winston, FSU
Marcus Mariota, Oregon
Bryce Petty, Baylor
Brett Hundley, UCLA

Rising Star: J.T. Barrett perhaps?

Dropping Fast: Braxton Miller- out for the season (balling my eyes out)

My Playoff if the season ended today:
1. Florida State vs 4. Ohio State (Sugar)
2. Oregon vs 3. Auburn (Rose)
Just Missed the Cut:
5. Oklahoma
6. Alabama
7. Michigan State
8. UCLA
9. Baylor
10. South Carolina

Comments

  1. Nicely done.

Leave a Reply to Bighemdog Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: