Players to Watch: Week 5 Ohio State vs. Cincinnati

Urban Meyer is 34-3 when he is allowed more than one week to prepare for a team. The Buckeyes head coach and his team will need every second of that week plus to prepare for the dynamic and explosive passing attack the Cincinnati Bearcats will bring with them on Saturday night. Tommy Tubberville is one of two coaches who have a winning record (2-0) against Coach Meyer, Nick Saban being the other (2-1), and he will be looking to keep his record clean versus Meyer and stage a second home upset against the Buckeyes this year. Let’s take a look at some of the players to keep an eye out for Saturday night.


Gunner Kiel

In recent memory Kiel was known for his indecisive moments in his recruiting cycle that led him to committing to LSU, flipping to Notre Dame, and after a redshirt year, transferring to his now home in Cincinnati. What seemed to be lost in his dramatic recruiting story was how talented Kiel was. Kiel was the number one rate pro-style quarterback coming out of high school and after several stops is finally starting to live up to his billing.

He is a towering player at 6-5 200+ pounds, and with his size comes some surprising mobility. He won’t beat you with his feet, but is more than capable of escaping the pocket and gaining meaningful yardage. Kiel’s real talent lies in his big arm and above average accuracy. Head Coach Tommy Tubberville wanted to find out what he had with Kiel in their first two games and he came away impressed. Kiel went 50 for 76 (65.8%) and threw for ten touchdowns and two interceptions. The Bearcats offense is not very balanced and relies heavily upon Kiel to get the ball to their plethora of wide receivers. This will be the most talented receiving core Ohio State will face this year and Kiel loves to spread the wealth. The Buckeyes will have to bother Kiel in the pocket in order to make their more aggressive pass coverage schemes more effective. If not, expect Kiel to put up big big numbers and really push the Buckeyes to the brink of an upset.

Shaq Washington, Wide Receiver

The first of Kiel’s talented targets on the outside is Shaq Washington. Washington has been a consistent producer for the Bearcats during his career as he registered 78 catches a year ago. However, with only 1 touchdown to his name last year it would be fair to say Washington is more of a chain mover in this offense than a big play threat. However, chain movers are exactly what Ohio State struggled with against Virginia Tech. Guys who know how to get just enough on a 3rd down to keep their offenses drive moving. Washington is a very good route runner and his low center of gravity (only 5-9) allows for his cuts and breaks to be very quick and fluid, which can often times shake off tight coverage. The Buckeyes will want to know where Washington is especially on money downs if they want to halt the momentum of Cincinnati’s potent passing attack.

Mekale McKay, Wide Receiver

McKay is the exact opposite of his counterpart Washington. McKay is a huge receiver at 6-6, 195 pounds. He easily wins the majority of jump ball situations, and is second for the Bearcats in yards per reception(17.9). McKay leads the Bearcats with three touchdowns and is Kiel’s favorite down the field target. McKay does not possess elite speed or great physicality, which may allow for Buckeye corners to press him and throw off his routes, but if they make any type of mistake versus McKay, Kiel will find him and there will most likely be six points on the board for the Bearcats.

Ohio State

Doran Grant

Meyer declared this game as the real test for the new pass defense. Therefore all eyes will be on the Buckeye DB’s, particularly the teams best corner Doran Grant. Grant will be given several challenges with how deep the Bearcats receiving core is, he could see several thrown his way. However, his main match-up could be on McKay which will be a very interesting one to watch. McKay has the distinct height advantage however, Grant can counter that by being physical with him at the line of scrimmage and ensuring McKay does not get a clean release on his route. Grant is the senior member in the secondary and will need to play like it Saturday night to ensure the pass defense passes its first real test.

Adolphus Washington

The last time the Buckeyes faced a primarily spread team (Virginia Tech) Washington created havoc. He benefited from the opponents offensive line focusing heavily on Michael Bennett and Joey Bosa and took great advantage of the single coverage he received in blocking assignments. I would expect a similar scenario to unfold Saturday. Generating pressure up the middle is the best way to throw off a quarterback of Kiel’s stature and play style. Washington should have ample opportunities to be a huge factor in disrupting not only the run game but also the Bearcats pass attack.

Michael Thomas

Get this guy the ball. Every time he gets the ball he makes something happens and thats no exaggeration. Thomas and Barrett have a great chemistry and I would look for Herman to get Thomas a few more targets. He is the best pure receiver in this group with his great combination of size, speed, and smooth route running ability. The Bearcats pass defense struggled to cover receivers from Miami (OH) and Toledo so there will be several opportunities for Thomas to leave his mark on the game. If Barrett can get him the ball Thomas could explode Saturday.


  1. […] are the key players to watch? You probably already know, but Ronnie at Men of the Scarlet and Gray breaks it down for you. He thinks Cincinnati native Adolphus Washington will have a big day up […]

  2. […] are the key players to watch? You probably already know, but Ronnie at Men of the Scarlet and Gray breaks it down for you. He thinks Cincinnati native Adolphus Washington will have a big day up […]

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