Last week was, in a word, indescribable. The emotion swings we experienced of the Buckeyes' early struggles versus their climb back into the game and finally, the stomping on the carotid artery of Bo Pelini's squad were magnified both by the late start, the quality of opponent and the alcohol consumed. Hopefully, the Buckeyes' performance in this game will dovetail with my performance in these prediction articles: slow, bad starts, followed by improvement and just crushing it by the end of the year. Probably not realistic expectations, but hey, who's counting! Let's get it going for this week's tilt in Bloomington.
1) More quick throws from the spread. Cameron Coffman looked like the next big thing at Indiana last week. (Poor Tre Roberson.) He picked apart the Michigan State defense for three quarters until the Spartans pulled their heads out of their behinds, stopped taking the dumb penalties they are wont to take, and started remembering who they were (and who the Hoosiers were, as well.) Still, Coffman looked good. He threw for three touchdowns and zero interceptions against a fearsome Spartan D that has NFL scouts drooling, albeit one which was apparently not taking the game seriously. More noteworthy was that Coffman was not sacked. Not once. This means that most likely, unless Indiana has an O-Line full of Rodger Saffolds this year, that Coffman was getting the ball out quickly to his playmakers. This has frustrated the Buckeyes all year. We'll see if they've learned how to defend the spread yet.
2) Rod Smith will have a good game. Smith looked awfully good on that touchdown run in the fourth quarter which pretty much iced the game. He is Carlos Hyde when Hyde needs a break, and it looks like he's starting to earn Urban Meyer's trust. His presence on the field in goal-line situations, if nothing else, makes him valuable as a 6'3, 235lb decoy in the backfield. Smith appears (at least temporarily) to be cured of his fumble-itis, and has shown an ability to break tackles recently that we all expected from him in the first place. This would be a good spot for Smith to get going and have a good performance while spelling Carlos Hyde. If ever there was a time for Smith to break out, it's this week.
3) We won't see a whole lot of new starter Josh Perry this week. Unfortunately, as was reported three days ago, Etienne Sabino is out for at least three weeks with a broken fibula. This means that as of October 8th, freshman Josh Perry is the starting outside linebacker for the Ohio State Buckeyes. No pressure, kid. It seems like every game the Buckeyes play against a spread team like Indiana is a struggle lately, so it is doubtful that Perry will actually see the field too often versus multiple receiver sets. Perry must take advantage of whatever field time he does have, because there are other freshmen such as Jamal Marcus and David Perkins waiting in the wings if he can't perform. Ohio State is seriously hurting for a superstar at the linebacker position. Does Urban think he has the next one in Josh Perry? We'll have to see. Making a few splash plays against the Hoosiers' decent passing game would be a start.
4) Greg Heban will surprise Braxton Miller with a pick. The former walk-on really has a nose for the ball in the secondary. Braxton, as transcendent a runner as he may be, has his struggles early on in games. Heban is not, technically, a starter, but plays as the team's nickel corner. He along with Mark Murphy are probably Indiana's best players on defense, and the ball always seems to find the junior. Look for Heban to grab his second pick of the year this Saturday.
5) Continued consistency from Corey (please don't call him Philly) Brown. #10 has had a wonderful stretch lately, both catching the ball and with the huge punt return, which had intern Fernando Lovo doing this in an iconic shot that made the Twitter rounds. Brown already has 35 catches, good for 3rd in the Big Ten. He also has 352 yards, good for 7th (Devin Smith is 8th with 351). Now, he needs some more touchdowns to reward all that hard work. I look for Corey Brown to have a big game catching the ball once Braxton gets on track in this game, and I predict that he'll have two touchdowns this week. Gotta feed the beast and get him some more receiving TDs!
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Threats? Awkward questions? Post 'em in the comments. And don't forget to check out The Crimson Quarry for all your Hoosier needs. It's really awesome that Indiana has an SB Nation blog and Illinois doesn't. Warms my heart.
Enjoy the game this weekend!