The #5/#6 Buckeyes begin their 2014 season with a game against the Naval Academy in Baltimore, MD. I’d think that this would qualify as a “Home” game for the Midshipmen because the two cities are only about 20 miles apart and regardless of where the game is played, deep in your heart, don’t you cheer just a little bit for a Service Academy? Fittingly, Navy is a member of the All American Conference.
Navy enters this game with a lot going for it. It finished last season with a 5-game winning streak to end the year with a record of 9-5. In the triple option era, Navy is 8-4 in opening games, and last season they opened the year with a 41-35 win over a Big Ten school, Indiana. Navy also enters the game with three players on preseason Watch Lists. They are; quarterback Keenan Reynolds (Maxwell Award, Davey O’Brien Award, Manning Award, and Walter Camp Award), linebacker Chris Johnson (Lombardi Award) and fullback Noah Copeland (Earl Campbell Tyler Rose Award).
Ohio State on Offense:
This will be a good game to get a feel for the Ohio State running game. Yes, a significant portion of OSU’s offense (Miller) is sidelined, but JT Barrett now has the reins and I have full confidence in JT and the coaching staff to make this work. In fact, Navy doesn’t feel there is a lack of playmakers…
Ohio State is expected to start redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett (6-1, 225) at quarterback. He will have a host of talented skill players to get the ball to, including running backs Ezekiel Elliott (6-0, 225), Rod Smith (6-3, 231) and Curtis Samuel (5-11, 196) and H-Backs Dontre Wilson (5-10, 188) and Jalin Marshall (5-11, 205). Tight end Jeff Heuerman (6-5, 255) is one of the top tight ends in the country.
… nor should you. I think that a key element will be how well the OSU offensive line performs. Navy fields a 3-4 scheme, with both DE’s around 250 lbs and a 300 lb nose tackle. Not a lot of size, so I’d expect some initial between-the-tackle running to begin to wear down Navy’s front seven, then flash outside with Wilson/ Samuel/ Marshall to get the big yardage.
Ohio State on Defense:
Ohio State begins the season with a highly touted defensive line, perhaps one of the better ones in the country. We’ll get a good read come Saturday. We’ll also get a good sense of how the players are taking to Coach Ash’s more aggressive schemes to utilize OSU’s athleticism. Navy (Keenan Reynolds) throws the ball 10 times per game at 8.3 YPC, fairly efficiently. They average over 300 YPG rushing, so this will be a good stress-test for OSU’s front seven. They need to play patiently and with good gap responsibilities. It OSU’s defense tries to ply too heroically, they’ll get out of position and get gashed by the triple option. If they play within themselves, they’ll be fine.
So, how’s it going to shake out? Ohio State is favored (at time of article) by two TD’s. That sounds about right. The Buckeyes will steadily be a little bit better throughout the game, then get the “icing” score in the 4th quarter as Navy begins to tire.
The game is scheduled for a 12:00 PM EST kickoff. Television coverage is through CBS Sports Network. We’re going to run the in-game chat through the comments function of this article. So, please stop back here approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. We look forward to seeing you.