Chicago and Cleveland

My First Blog Post

with 4 comments

This will be my first, ever, blog post.  My girlfriend is the driving force behind most of this, so you should all expect to read many more of her posts than mine.  Usually, I will be writing on topics like College Football, restaurants that I’ve recently tried and my general impressions/rants/neuroses.  Since the bowl selections were made yesterday, I’ll start off by talking about my favorite team, the Ohio State Buckeyes.  That’s right, I’m a member of the Buckeye Nation.  A few hours ago, it became official that my boys are going to head down south to the Sugar Bowl and face off against the Razorbacks of Arkansas.  Now, without hearing too many predictions about this game yet, there are at least some people who will just hear Ohio State v. SEC and their minds will be made up.  Ohio State will be the favorite, but there will be doubters.  Here’s why those doubters are wrong.  This is a football post for football fans, so I apologize to everyone who doesn’t follow the game closely enough to understand all of the terminology.   I’m happy to answer any of your questions in the comment section that follows this post.

Arkansas Offense v. Ohio State Defense

It would be absurd to refute that Ryan Mallet can play.  He is without question in the top 5 most pro-ready quarterbacks in the college game right now, and arguably in the top 2 or 3.  That said, he’s limited in his options to throw to and Chimdi Checkwa will be able to hang with Greg Childs.  Devon Torrence will be fine on the other side against the bevy of receivers that he’s likely to see and Arkansas simply doesn’t have the ability to overload Ohio State with viable receiving options the way that USC did in 2008 or Florida did in the 2007 (2006 season) National Championship game.

Assuming that Ohio State Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock opens the game in a four – three set playing a zone, Arkansas will be able to move the ball fairly effectively.  The reason for this is the 6’8” freak of a quarterback Arkansas has.  Ohio State will want to stop the run first, which they will do, and Mallet will be able to wait for his receivers to find the holes in the zone.  You won’t see many early game stunts from Ohio State’s front four because that’s not the way Ohio State likes to open games.  But, expect Ohio State to lock it down after the second or third possession of the game.  Heacock likes to adopt a bend-but-hopefully-don’t-break strategy in the beginning of games so that he has the opportunity to see how the opposition’s offensive coordinator wants his plays to develop.  Playing the zone early allows him to do this because it allows the offense to come to the defense rather than the defense attacking the offense.  The plays fully develop before the defense comes to meet them and this allows the boys in the booth to analyze possible weaknesses that can be exploited.   This has led many “experts” to criticize Ohio State for their slow starts.  I believe that these experts either don’t understand the benefit of conservative early game play calling on the defensive side of the ball or they don’t think their audience can understand it, so they improperly criticize the Ohio State players’ emotional preparedness.  Either way, expect Ohio State to give up some big yards early, but to flip a switch sometime close to the end of the first quarter.

After that, expect Ohio State to move to man coverage and use their free (usually front side) linebacker to add passing pressure.  The reason it will be mostly the front side, or strong side, linebacker is that Arkansas likes to run a fairly popular blocking scheme on most of their passing plays.  They rarely go empty backfield.   When it happens that the quarter back has time to throw, the running back releases out of the backfield into the flats.  They will almost surely retain this philosophy of protection first against the very good front four of Ohio State, especially early in the game.  Mallet can move around a little bit, but he’s not a serious run threat.  This means that Petrino will have an extra incentive to keep a release back close to Mallet.  Sometime around the start of the second quarter expect to see Ohio State move into full man coverage from a four – two – nickel package.  I expect Cameron Heyward and John Simon to be very effective and place a lot of pressure on Ryan Mallet.  This may lead to an incentivized zone under man with Ross Homan and Brian Roll, but either way, I expect the nickel package to include straight man coverage on the corners.

Arkansas’ ability to effectively run the ball on Ohio State will depend on (here comes a big shocker) the Arkansas line.  Yes, I mean that as simply as it sounds.  Ohio State’s front four can run.  They can really, really, run; this is especially true of Cameron Heyward and John Simon.  I expect Bobby Petrino to respond to this by taking an old school “put a hat on a hat” philosophy toward run blocking.  I’m not saying they won’t pull their guards to run off-tackle, but down blocking in the direction of the play will outweigh designed cut-backs and back side misdirection.  I expect the Arkansas crew to study a ton of Ohio State film, including the film of the 2010 (2009 season) Rose Bowl against the Oregon Ducks.  Nobody in the country is better at running designed cut backs and backside misdirection than Oregon and Ohio State absolutely shut it down.   Ohio State did, however, display some vulnerability against a power run game that doesn’t shy away from hard-nosed football.  The 2010 Wisconsin game provided a blue print on how to beat the Buckeyes.  The trick is that most teams can’t simply out power the Buckeye front four and I don’t think that the Razorbacks will be able to do so.  The bottom line is the Razorbacks won’t be able to run the football with a great deal of efficacy against the Buckeye defense and they won’t be able to pass the ball much after the first quarter.  I expect Arkansas to score a total of 17 points or so.

Ohio State Offense v. Arkansas Defense

I agree with what everybody will be saying on this one.  It all comes down to Terrelle Pryor.  Since that part of this discussion is so obvious, I’m just going to say this:  The 2010 (2009 season) Rose Bowl should show everybody that Terelle Pryor can play under pressure and he has all the natural ability that it takes to go up against a premier football team and make plays.  There will, however, be some really interesting under-stories that we should all pay attention to.

First, Daniel “Boom” Herron will have to put up at least eighty-five yards or so in order to give Terrelle Pryor the kind of time that it will take to find open receivers.  Here’s why.  Ohio State only has two viable wide out receiving options and a tight end.  Jake Stoneburner and Reid Fragel are good options with few drops for Ohio State at tight end, but only one will play at a time and often, Jim Bollman (Ohio State’s Offensive Coordinator) likes to keep the Tight end in to block on passing plays.  Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey are Ohio State’s only down field threats.  Ohio State has one young receiver that can get open regularly, but Corey Brown has shown his youth when the ball has been thrown his way by dropping a number of passes in the last few games.  This would be an enormous problem for Ohio State, except that Terrelle Pryor can run just as well as any other quarterback in the country, save Cameron Newton.  This ability means that the Razorback linebackers will have to hold the line to keep Pryor under wraps.  If Bollman is smart, then he’ll call a plethora of rollout pass plays seeking to put Terrrelle Pryor in match-ups against the Arkansas linebackers in space.  Expect Terrelle Pryor to have at least 70 or so rush yards.

Dane Sanzenbacher should lead the way for the receivers as Terrelle’s favorite choice.  Arkansas is unlikely to double cover him because Ohio State has two great out-of-the-backfield receiving options in Brandon Saine (RB) and Zach Boren (FB).  With the linebackers frozen because of Terrrelle Pryor’s run threat, single, zone under man will rule the day for Arkansas.  Expect a three – three – nickel package from the Razorbacks throughout most of the game.  Most of Arkansas’ speed lies in the corners, but the linebackers can run too.  Bobby Petrino will try to use this speed to confuse and out run the Ohio State line.  Expect a ton of blitz packages from a very strong SEC defense.

The key for the Ohio State offense just may end up being the relationship that develops between Pryor and Saine.  The nickel package from Arkansas is likely to be effective against Ohio State’s down field passing attack and Ohio State won’t be able to rely only on Boom Herron for all of their offensive yardage.  This means that there will have to be some third option to keep the linebackers and corners honest and off the line of scrimmage.  Out of the backfield receiving from Brandon Saine is by far the most likely choice for Tressel, Bollman and Pryor.  Saine has the ability to turn second and nine into third and one, or better.  A great day for Saine will mean that Ohio State will have the ability to run long sustained drives.  And, as Arkansas moves their safeties up to try to combat these short gains, Sanzenbacher and Posey will have one on one looks in man coverage down the field.  If Saine can have a good day, then Ohio State should be able to overload the Arkansas defense.  Between Herron running the ball, Sanzenbacher and Posey’s down field receptions, Saine’s ability to relase from the backfield and catch short passes, and Pryor’s abaility to scramble on the broken plays, there should be enough scoring opportunities for Ohio State to out score Arkansas.

The bottom line here is that Ohio State won’t put up huge numbers over all, but there are just too many weapons for Arkansas to keep under check for the whole day.  I expect Ohio State to score somewhere between 24 and 31 points in the game.

Well, this was my first, ever, blog post.  I hope you all enjoyed it and I hope you leave comments, but mostly, I’m just excited to watch a great game between two great teams.  Thanks!!!


Written by ryanandjocelyn

December 6, 2010 at 11:51 PM

4 Responses

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  1. I’m not usually one to go around recklessley complimenting people, but since this is your first ever blog post, I wanted to tell you that it was really good.

    Your info is on point, and, while I may not agree with everything, you make very good arguments.

    Good start to the bloglife.


    December 7, 2010 at 12:36 AM

    • Thanks, man! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I’ll probably do more on the other games coming up this post-season. I’ll be announcing the new posts on Twitter @BuckeyeGuy79. My girlfriend will probably announce them too @legalesque.


      December 7, 2010 at 12:55 AM

  2. I don’t understand any of this. However, you can bet that I will randomly and selectively quote from it to sound like I know things about football. You can also bet that I will bandy these football-related quotes about at the most inappropriate times I can manage, such as during a wake, while handing in an exam, and while consoling someone that is crying.


    December 7, 2010 at 12:55 AM

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