3 Things I’m Looking For With Ohio State/Kent State, From The Mind Of Minnich

A surefire way to make a one game losing streak into a two game losing streak is to keep looking back at the game your team lost. While disappointed with Ohio State’s loss to Virginia Tech last weekend, the Buckeyes need to regroup and refocus with the Kent State Golden Flashes coming into Ohio Stadium on September 13th.

Kent State will be the easiest opponent remaining on Ohio State’s 2014 schedule. With a bye week approaching the weekend of September 20th, here are three critical areas I will be looking for from the Buckeyes as they head into their first bye weekend ~

1. Establish The Running Game: So far this season, Ohio State has not been able to consistently run its favorite running play, the inside dive play. A big part of that is because Carlos Hyde is now playing for the San Francisco 49ers and not the Ohio State Buckeyes. Almost equally important is Ohio State has four new starters along its offensive line. No matter which Ohio State running back is playing, I will be hoping the Ohio State coaching staff will be dedicated to developing a consistently productive inside running game. With a strong inside running threat, the entire offense will become that much more difficult to defend. The way Ohio State can develop and establish a strong running game is by…

2. Play The Starters For At Least Three Quarters: Developing chemistry and cohesiveness with the offensive line, the linebackers, the secondary, etc., can only happen through repetition. By keeping the starters in through at least three quarters, Ohio State will be able to work through a lot of the kinks that have been visible through the first two games of the 2014 season. Once the third quarter concludes, I would hope Ohio State would liberally play as many backups as possible, especially with backup quarterback Cardale Jones only one snap away from taking over the starting quarterback position.

3. Fix The Special Teams Units: For the first two games of the 2014 season, Ohio State’s special teams have been consistently inconsistent. Senior PK Kyle Clinton has twice failed to keep the ball inbounds on kickoffs. Freshman PK Sean Nuernberger missed two field goals versus Virginia Tech. Sophomore P Cameron Johnston had a 24 yard punt versus Virginia Tech. And the kickoff coverage team made costly coverage and tackling errors.

While Coach Meyer would always prefer to score touchdowns versus field goals, focusing upon Nuernberger’s psyche would not be a bad thing – I can recall how Ohio State legendary PK Mike Nugent struggled as a true freshman in 2001, and it took Nugent some time to work his way out of his issues. Fortunately for Ohio State fans, Nugent was a clutch performer for Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team.

While I would prefer for Ohio State to pin its opponents deep in their own territory, I would gladly sacrifice this option if it meant opponents were not starting on their own 35 yard line. I would hope the coaching staff has worked with Clinton on his kickoffs, as this has impacted Ohio State twice this season already.

As for the kickoff units, I recall how Coach Tressel used his 2002 linebacker recruits (Bobby Carpenter, A.J. Hawk, Mike D’Andrea) on kickoff coverage. Could Coach Meyer do the same with freshmen such as Raekwon McMillan, Dante Booker, or Sam Hubbard?

It is important for Ohio State coaches, players, and fans to get over the loss to Virginia Tech, and focus upon the remainder of the season. The game versus Kent State is the first opportunity to refocus and concentrate upon the message in the image below. Go Bucks!


Aztecs Have Varied Recent History Of Leads In Ohio Stadium

Game two of the 2013 season arrives with the San Diego State Aztecs visiting Ohio Stadium to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.  While Ohio State is naturally a favorite against the Aztecs, fans would be wise to recall how the recent visits by San Diego State have gone when taking on the Buckeyes~

2001:  Ohio State 27, San Diego State 12.  At first glance, Ohio State did not seem to have much trouble versus San Diego State, but the reality is quite different.  Originally scheduled for September 15, 2001, this game was rescheduled due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and played on October 20, 2001.  Ohio State actually trailed San Diego State at the half, before rallying for the victory.

2003:  Ohio State 16, San Diego State 13.  Talk about a game that went down to the wire.  Ohio State was behind 7-0 to San Diego State, rallying behind Mike Nugent’s field goals and a 100 yard interception return for a touchdown by Will Allen.

2005:  Ohio State 27, San Diego State 6.  This game was arguably the least competitive, but again, Ohio State was actually behind 6-0 after the first eleven seconds into the game.  Coming off the heartbreaking 25-22 loss to Texas from the previous week, Ohio State rallied behind Troy Smith, who had emerged as the starting quarterback.

Moral of the history lesson, Buckeye fans?  That Ohio State would be wise to avoid overconfidence against the Aztecs, as San Diego State has historically demonstrated that they are not overly intimidated by Ohio Stadium at the onset of a game.  Yes, Ohio State has rallied to victory in these recent visits, but it would be best to come out strongly and decisively against the Aztecs, especially after a somewhat lackluster conclusion to the victory versus Buffalo last week.

On a slightly different bend, this visit by San Diego State will also be a sort of Ohio homecoming by former Browns quarterback and current SDSU quarterback coach Brian Sipe.  Even though I was, and remain, a big Brian Sipe fan, I will certainly be hoping that Sipe is not able to sprinkle any of his former Kardiac Kids magic on the Aztecs as they battle Ohio State.