Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Next Task For Ohio State - Bowl Eligibility

Game Nine: Indiana Hoosiers

Coach: Kevin Wilson

Location: Ohio Stadium (Columbus, OH). 12pm EST kickoff, The Big Ten Network.

How I believe it will all shake out: Indiana comes in 1-8, facing a massive rebuilding job. To his credit, Kevin Wilson has gone entirely with a youth movement, starting many true freshmen on both sides of the ball. If Wilson can adequately recruit, this team could be in bowl contention in the next couple of seasons, but there is a long road ahead for Indiana.

Ohio State comes into this game, still riding the high from its last-second win over Wisconsin, 33-29. This is a potential trap game for Ohio State, in the sense that Ohio State may have depleted its emotional tank against Wisconsin, while Indiana has nothing to lose by letting it all hang out against Ohio State.

If I had the opportunity to game plan for this contest with Coach Fickell, my recommendations would be:
  • Work on the passing game for QB Braxton Miller. I am not suggesting going away from what works, which is the running game, but allow Miller to throw at least about 25 times this game. Keep working on the slants, hitches, and other short to intermediate passing routes that Miller hit well last week against Wisconsin. Above all, try to limit Miller's carries - at one point last week, Miller came up somewhat gimpy after a quarterback draw, late in the Wisconsin game.
  • Get TE Jake Stoneburner back into the offensive mix. Stoneburner dropped a pass last week against Wisconsin, but he will be needed down the November stretch run for the Buckeyes.
  • Get RB Carlos Hyde back into the running back rotation. Hyde has not played since his strong performance against Nebraska a few weeks ago. With the injury to Jordan Hall, as well as the suspension of Jaamal Berry, Ohio State cannot sustain an injury to RB Daniel "Boom" Herron. Hyde will be needed for the November stretch run.
  • Get some work for backup quarterback Kenny Guiton. An injury to Braxton Miller would be disastrous. Ideally, Ohio State will have the lead in the 4th quarter, which would be a good time to get Guiton some desperately needed reps in game-like conditions.
  • Rotate defensive linemen throughout. Ohio State will need John Simon and Johnathan Hankins against Penn State and Michigan - once the lead is clearly established, rotate in as many backups as possible.
  • Once the lead is well-established, play the backups. One of my biggest frustrations of the Coach Tressel era was it seemed as though he kept the starters in too long, simply content to run off-tackle to kill the clock. I am not suggesting putting in backups and having them throw downfield for the end zone, but I am suggesting playing backups to get quality experience.
Prediction: Indiana threw a scare into Penn State a few weeks back, losing only 16-10. Ohio State needs to come out and take control of this one from the onset, building off the positive momentum of the Wisconsin game. This game can be a tremendous springboard for a memorable November, if the Buckeyes approach it with the right frame of mind. Indiana will battle, but in the end, Ohio State has too much on both sides of the ball. I am calling it Ohio State 38, Indiana 10.

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