Countdown Until THE GAME 2018

Monday, August 29, 2011

Ohio State Will "Zip" By Akron In Fickell's Debut

Game One: Akron Zips

Location: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OH) 12:00pm EST, ESPN

Head Coach: Rob Ianello

Akron Players Who Were Recruited By Ohio State: N/A

What I Am Anxious To See : Ordinarily, I would write up scouting reports on what I have seen or expect to see from the opposition. The reality of the situation is Akron was arguably the worst team in NCAA Division 1 football in 2010 in just about every measurable category. Throw in the fact that this is the debut of Luke Fickell as Ohio State's head coach, after arguably the most tumultuous off-season in Ohio State history, and you can understand why this is challenging to write on what will come to pass.

  • Offensively, I expect Joe Bauserman to get the start at quarterback, playing at least three series before allowing true freshman Braxton Miller to come into the game. I believe the coaching staff wants to ensure that Miller will have positive experiences at quarterback, which will allow him to continue to grow into the full-time starter by season's end. Ideally, Bauserman and Miller will play at least three quarters, before turning the reins over to backups Kenny Guiton, Jr., and Taylor Graham.
  • For all Ohio State fans who were tired of Jim Tressel's conservative offense ~ If you thought you had seen the last of "TresselBall", think again. With inexperienced quarterbacks, as well as the best offensive lineman, running back, and wide receiver suspended for games one through five, Ohio State is going to run the ball predominantly in the first few weeks. Look for junior RB Jordan Hall to be the primary rusher, as well as a receiving threat out of the backfield.
  • Will RBs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith emerge as bruising backs for Ohio State?
  • Look for TE Jake Stoneburner to be a primary receiving target, again due to the inexperienced receiving corps.
  • A new player I am excited to see against Akron is WR redshirt freshman Verlon Reed. Reed was a high school quarterback who was moved to wide receiver last season, and has emerged this fall camp.
  • Defensively, Ohio State is breaking in several new starters. How will LB Etienne Sabino play, especially with a broken hand sustained last week? Will Storm Klein be able to handle the MLB assignments?
  • Special teams coverage units were a disaster in 2010. Have they improved in terms of kick coverage? How will new PK Drew Basil do as the starter? Has P Ben Buchanan improved?
  • How many freshmen will play? Several names besides Braxton Miller have made the two-deep roster, such as WRs Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, DB Doran Grant, LB Ryan Shazier, TE Jeff Heuerman, and DL Michael Bennett. It is my strong hope that the coaching staff will not just casually burn a year of eligibility on freshmen, unless they will play considerably throughout the year. Players such as OT Mike Adams and OT J.B. Shugarts played sparingly as freshmen in 2008, and I wonder if it would have been best to redshirt them both.

Intangibles: As I wrote up above, Ohio State is coming into this season after what seemed to be a never-ending litany of attacks from the national media, beginning last December before the now-vacated Sugar Bowl victory over Arkansas. The forced resignation of Jim Tressel in May, QB Terrelle Pryor's jump to the NFL to avoid further NCAA inquiries, suspensions of key players until after game five...This team is going to be eager to take the field on Saturday, and take out their aggressions on someone. Akron is truly going to be a sacrificial lamb in this one.

Prediction: A few weeks ago, I predicted that this would be Ohio State's easiest game of the 2011 season, and nothing has changed that opinion. Ten years ago, Jim Tressel began his tremendous career at Ohio State with a 28-14 victory over Akron, and I was proud to say my lovely wife and I were in attendance for that one. We will not be there for this game as the Luke Fickell Era begins, but I believe it will be even easier for Coach Fickell. Ohio State fans can only hope that this game is the springboard for results even remotely close to what Jim Tressel achieved. I am saying Ohio State 35, Akron 7.

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