Last weekend's contest versus the University of Cincinnati left Ohio State fans curious about the Buckeye pass defense. New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash was brought in during the offseason to fix what was considered the weakest link in Ohio State's defense. After allowing Bearcats WR Chris Moore to average nearly 74 yards per reception (3 receptions for 221 yards, 3 touchdowns), who could blame Ohio State fans for feeling somewhat anxious heading into a game that features two of the B1G's leading receivers in former Ohio State recruiting target Stefon Diggs and Deon Long?
Besides Diggs and Long, Maryland features other players on its roster who may be familiar to Ohio State fans. Players such as OT Damian Prince, OT Derwin Gray, and WR Taivon Jacobs were all recruited by Ohio State, but chose Maryland instead. The lone Ohioan listed on Maryland's roster is freshman TE Andrew Gray, who did not receive an Ohio State scholarship offer.
Three areas I will focus upon during the game are:
- Ohio State's Press Coverage With Its Secondary: Anytime a team decides to play aggressively with its pass defense, it is a high risk, high reward situation. Receivers such as Diggs and Long can easily take a pass all the way to the end zone, like Chris Moore did last weekend. Will Ohio State adjust its safety play to offer up more help to its cornerbacks, and help neutralize the threat of big plays?
- Ohio State's Pass Rush Must Come Up Big: So far this season, sophomore DE Joey Bosa has been causing disruptive plays along the line of scrimmage, resulting in turnovers against the opposition. Will Bosa be able to come up big again, especially against a Maryland team that may double-team him? If Bosa is double-teamed, will Adolphus Washington or Michael Bennett be able to pick up the slack, and create the necessary pressure to help Ohio State's secondary?
- Ohio State's Run Game Must Control The Clock: Against Cincinnati, sophomore RB Ezekiel Elliott ran for 182 yards, while teammates J.T. Barrett, Rod Smith, Dontre Wilson, Curtis Samuel, and Jalin Marshall also contributed to the overall team rushing effort (380 yards on the ground). To keep Maryland off the field, Ohio State will need its rushing attack to come through in the clutch time of this contest.