Before Ohio State enters into conference play in its first road contest of the season versus Michigan State on September 29th, there are many areas Ohio State will look to improve upon with this contest against the Blazers. Braxton Miller is leading the team in rushing, which prompts concern among the fan base about how many hits Miller can sustain over the course of the season. Ohio State's traditionally stout defense gave up over five hundred yards of offense in the last game versus California - is it the scheme? Poor tackling? Combination of those factors?
This UAB game comes at a perfect time for Ohio State to try to fix and improve all of those questions and challenges. While they are all important, another important area should also be kept in mind for this game.
As mentioned up above, Michigan State and Big Ten play are on the horizon. While Ohio State is ineligible to compete for the conference championship, the opportunity to win the Leaders Division, as well as impacting the conference standings, are very much on the minds of the coaching staff.
Along those lines, I am advocating the strong use of backup players throughout this game versus UAB, once the contest has been decided. Yes, Ohio State needs to figure things out, both offensively and defensively. UAB represents an opportunity to figure those items out.
What I am proposing is once the game has been decided, and I am speculating by either the third quarter or by the end of the third quarter, is liberally playing as many backups as possible in this game. Once Ohio State has a lead of three or four touchdowns, it would make complete sense to me to get as many backups into the game for much needed experience.
Allow me to put it to you this way - Braxton Miller is the focal point of Ohio State's offense. How comfortable would Ohio State fans feel going into East Lansing on September 29th, or even at home with Nebraska on October 6th, with Kenny Guiton having had minimal playing time? Wouldn't you breathe easier if Guiton played at least a full quarter, maybe even closer to a half, even if it was against UAB?
Taking it further, why not give true freshman quarterback Cardale Jones some meaningful snaps if possible? Again, my logic is that Jones is the third-string quarterback, and recently had his “black stripe” removed, meaning he is officially a Buckeye in the eyes of the coaching staff. If Braxton Miller were to be injured, thrusting Kenny Guiton into the starting role, Cardale Jones would be next on deck. Why not give Jones some playing time against UAB?
Looking at the rest of the team, below are some other areas where the backups could or should be considered for playing time:
RB – Bri’onte Dunn and Rod Smith were available for California, but did not carry the ball. Why not work on improving the running game with these players, lessening the load on Jordan Hall. Adam Homan is the backup fullback; why not give Zach Boren a rest in the second half, if possible?
OL – Players such as Antonio Underwood, Tommy Brown, Chase Faris, and Darryl Baldwin need to be ready to go, in case any of the current starters go down with injuries.
LB – Connor Crowell, David Perkins, Joshua Perry, Camren Williams, Luke Roberts, and Jamal Marcus have all earned playing time, primarily on special teams. Why not give them much needed game-time experience at linebacker?
And I could go onto other positions such as the wide receiver or defensive back groups as well. Will the coaching staff use “Coach”Guiton’s game plan and use the backups a lot against UAB? We shall see this coming Saturday afternoon.