The Buckeyes belied their patriotism by taking down Navy, 34-17 last Saturday. This week’s opponent, Virginia Tech, opened their season with a convincing win over their neighbors, the Tribe of William & Mary, an FCS school.
This preview will necessarily be short because this is the 2nd game of the season (not much current history to go on) and VT has a lot of new faces in the playmaking positions, so there’s some changes on who-does-what-to-who. However, two things that don’t change will be evident on Saturday night; first, BeamerBall and its emphasis on using special teams to score points (forget “field position”) will be on display. Second, Bud Foster, the long tenured (with VT since 1987, DefCoord since 1995) will bring in a hell-razing defense. OSU Coach Tom Herman is aware of this, I assume.
As I read through some information on Virginia Tech, I noticed an interesting structural difference in the coaching staff, compared to Ohio State. They have a staff member, Thomas Guerry, whose title is “Director of High School Relations”. This is an interesting assignment. We assume that part of the tool kit of a head coach is top flight recruiting capability. That’s probably a good assumption, but the Virginia Tech football team has taken this a step further, I believe, by assigning a person to develop and maintain relationships with high schools to support recruiting.
Ohio State on Offense:
It was a tale of two halfs last week. Against VT, it’d better be two complete and well played halfs. Eric gets into the narrative and the OSU SID gets into the detail. As you see, JT spread the ball around, the offense looked pretty balanced and the Buckeyes got a comfortable win. This week, the Virginia Tech defense will present a stiffer challenge to Ohio State. Bud Foster’s group is always aggressive and athletic. Tip your hat to BeamerBall if you want, but VT’s defense is the foundation of the Hokies success.
Coach Herman did a nice job of mixing up the play calling to get several players involved. Six players had rushing attempts and six players had pass receptions. The offensive line needs to put together a full game Saturday, much like their 2nd half against Navy. The VT defense is experienced, 7 starters are juniors/seniors, so subtlety won’t work. Herman showed glimpses of base plays and their counter / misdirection counterparts last week. Setting, then breaking a pattern will work against VT. Their defense is smallish, but aggressive, so they can be powered, then misdirected. That’s what can happen. I think it will happen. Ohio State also has the luxury of going several deep at any skill position, so fresh legs deep into the game will not be an issue for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State on Defense:
Ohio State began the season with a highly touted defensive line, was gashed by Navy for 370 yards, but gave up only 17 points. I haven’t done the math, but the points/yards ratio is probably pretty good. As I mentioned in the opening remarks, there are a lot of new faces on this Virginia Tech team. Quarterback Michael Brewer is a transfer from Texas Tech (one Tech to another, I guess) and running back Shai McKenzie is a freshman, as well as WR Isaiah Ford and TE Bucky Hodges. Ohio State can’t fall asleep on the VT offense; McKenzie averaged over 11 YPC and Brewer was a very efficient 23-30, 251 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT in his opening game with the Hokies.
I think that Ohio State’s DL and LB will be fine on Saturday. However, the secondary, after having, in effect a week off, will be challenged by VT’s offense. I know that Coach Ash wants his defense to be aggressive, which is fine with me, but the Buckeyes need to keep the play in front of them.
Usually, I don’t comment on this, but since the Buckeyes are hosting BeamerBall, I’ll give it a mention. Last season, VT didn’t do anything special on special teams, and they continued that trend against William & Mary. Frankly, I don’t see this being an issue.
As a side note, VT committed 2 turnovers and were called for 10 penalties against W&M. These are two areas where VT needs to clean up their act. I’m not religious, but 10 penalties against an overmatched opponent is sinful.
Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for, what is a Hokie? Maybe not what you’d think. It’s a derivative of the first three words of an old cheer:
“Hoki, hoki, hoki Hy”
At least it wasn’t “Boola, Boola” or “Sis, Boom, Bah”.
So, how does this shake out? Ohio State is favored (at time of article) by 11 points. That sounds a bit generous to me. There 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 an 8:00 PM EST kickoff. Television coverage is provided by ESPN, check local listings. We’re going to run the in-game chat, beginning approximately 30 minutes before kickoff. We look forward to seeing you.