October 14, 2010

Behind Enemy Lines: Ohio State

For just the ninth time in program history, the No. 1 ranked team in all of college football will entertain an energetic crowd inside Camp Randall Stadium when Ohio State comes to town this weekend.

In an effort to learn more about the Buckeyes, BadgerBlitz.com went straight to the source. Welcome in BuckeyeGrove.com staff member Kevin Noon, for look behind enemy lines.

1.) I see Terrelle Pryor didn't run the ball at all against Indiana. What is the inside scoop on his injury? How much is it limiting him and will it hamper him at all come Saturday evening?

Noon:Despite Jim Tressel saying that Terrelle Pryor would not be limited against Indiana it was obvious that he didn't have his full wheels under him in that game. But Pryor said after the game that he made his own decision to not try and push things and wanted to be good to go for Wisconsin.

He said the day of the injury that he heard a pop and that scared him but it came out later the pop was just his knee brace rather than any muscles. I tend to think that he is pretty healthy and will show much more this week than he did last.

No offense to Indiana but he really didn't need to run much in that game and the offensive line was able to give him ample time against an overmatched Indiana defensive line. That won't be the case this week but sometimes getting pressure on Pryor is the worst thing possible because that is when he takes off and makes things happen.

2.) Does the OSU coaching staff move Cameron Heyward around the defensive line a little bit? If so, where is he at his best?

Noon: Heyward can play inside and outside and actually came into the program playing the tackle position. Regardless of where he plays he draws attention and that has limited some of his numbers this year and has some of the reactionary fans wondering what is wrong with Cam.

I personally like him best when he is on the edge and then has Nathan Williams at the other end spot. It gives the Buckeyes different looks on either end while the tackles have a chance to get more pressure up the middle. But I have to admit when the Buckeyes switch to a three man front with Cam ready to crash into the line the Buckeyes have a lot of success as well.

Ultimately the defensive coaches are going to try and throw as many looks as they can at opponents and Heyward really could lineup about anywhere.

3.) From what you've seen, is Ohio State a team that has potential to struggle on the road. That game at Illinois to kick off the Big Ten slate went deep into the fourth quarter before the Buckeyes pulled away. Is that a sign that they struggle away from home or more of flash in the pan?

Noon: This season I have only seen one road game and they struggled so I suppose they are one for one in that category. Last season the team came out flat against Purdue and lost the game. I think that sometimes a team just gets to the point where they can overlook someone or just figure that 'good enough' will be in fact 'good enough'.

This weekend there won't be a single player who will look past Wisconsin so there is no chance of them coming out flat. There is always the chance that they can be outplayed but I don't see the Buckeyes coming out and giving anything away being on the road.

Something else that hasn't been talked about much when it comes to the Illinois game is the 20-mile per hour wind that was whipping through Memorial Stadium that limited both quarterbacks to varying degrees. I think the Illinois game was more of an exception rather than the rule.

4.) How has Pryor developed as a passer? It really seems he's off to a very good start passing the ball and has that dimension of his game working at a very high level. With that being said, if he is more of a passing threat, how much does he rely on the Buckeye rushing attack to open things up for him?

Noon: Pryor came into the program as an athlete who lined up under center. He did not have to have great quarterback skills in his high school program and played street ball on grass in my opinion. Even when Pryor was thrust into the starting role he still really was raw and only had a deep ball.

Fans were wondering if he would ever develop over the first two years of his career with short and intermediate passes continuing to be his kryptonite. It seemed this spring camp however that he was finally starting to put things together and some of his passes that would end up short hopping his receivers have been hitting the numbers.

There are still some throws that he doesn't have in his bag of tricks on a consistent basis but he is starting to get a better grasp of what it takes to be a top flight quarterback and most importantly his decision making has been much better with a 15-3 TD to interception ratio.

Any team needs a running game to be there to truly be effective throwing the ball but as long as the line holds up for Pryor the Ohio State receivers are good enough to get free from the best coverage and that certainly helps the cause. Add to that the emergence of the tight end and fullback positions in the passing game and that gives the Buckeyes a dangerous edge for Pryor to work his progressions through.

5.) Finally, what's your prediction. How do you see this one going down?

Noon: No matter how good Ohio State is going into Camp Randall it always seems to be a tough place for the Buckeyes to win. Ohio State has had a lot of success stopping the run and if the Bucks are able to hold any Wisconsin back from rushing for 100 yards it would be the 30th game in a row the defense has accomplished that feat. Ohio State is going to want to make Tolzien beat them in the air.

The Buckeyes are a passing team this year and even though a zebra can't change its stripes it still can try and disguise itself temporarily. The Buckeyes will look to get some resemblance of a running game going but as long as the passing game is there the Buckeyes will look to try and do things through the air in 8-10 yard chunks and the occasional home run ball. Wisconsin will have some success with its multi-headed running attack but the pass defense will definitely not break (while it may bend some) as Wisconsin tries to take what the Buckeyes will give it.

Wisconsin will hold the lead as late as the third quarter on the Buckeyes but neither team will enjoy more than a one-possession lead at any point until the fourth quarter. The Buckeyes will turn the Badgers over late and break through with a long scoring drive to try and take the air out of the ball (Tressel loves to ground and pound late in the game) and the Badgers' final efforts will come up short as the Buckeyes win 30-20.

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