It was a rough week for Ohio State fans. After suffering a tough loss to Virginia Tech in The Horseshoe last Saturday, things looked somewhat dim for the program. The good news is that they get to keep playing and improve upon the mistakes they might have made. To help them get things back on track, a matchup against in-state foe Kent State at home on a Saturday afternoon should be enough of a boost to have the Buckeyes in high spirits once again.
Kent State heads into this game 0-2 on the season, having lost to Ohio University and South Alabama last week. This game shouldn't be anything more than a tuneup for Ohio State, before they head into a bye week before hosting the Cincinnati Bearcats. For now, here are five things to look for tomorrow afternoon against the Golden Flashes:
More Kwon, Please
If you watched the game against Virginia Tech, you should have noticed that Curtis Grant suffered a slight injury earlier in the game and had to come out for a short period of time. That forced the coaches' hand to put in true freshman Raekwon McMillan at middle linebacker for the first time this season. His first play in? McMillan immediately sprinted into the backfield and got a tackle for loss.
While McMillan had played on special teams up to that point, many Buckeye fans were surprised the young linebacker didn't get a chance to play at his spot against Navy and for a while there, it seemed like he might not play against Virginia Tech either. Look for that to change this week, against a lesser opponent, who might provide an opportunity to play McMillan even more.
Two games into the season and I'm pretty comfortable saying that Ezekiel Elliott and Curtis Samuel are the two best backs on Ohio State's roster. Samuel has provided a spark for the Buckeyes on offense whenever he gets a chance to carry the ball. While neither of them can claim the title of leading rusher on the team (that honor surprisingly goes to J.T. Barrett) the two will surely have much more success against an opponent that isn't as impressive defensively as Virginia Tech was.
I would imagine that both Elliott and Samuel will get the majority of the carries and I could see both of them ending up with a touchdown each, at the very least.
Offensive line will look better
Because there's nowhere to go but up at this point, right? With quite possibly the worst performance I've seen from an offensive line at any level in a long time, Ohio State needs one of these games to find out what is working and what isn't. So far, pretty much everything they've done has been the latter.
With Kent State not likely to present too much of a challenge up front, this is a good opportunity for the coaching staff to get things right with the offensive line. Fix up any mistakes that they have made up to this point and just improve upon their performances. The key to any successful offense is the play of the offensive line, and Ohio State has the talent surrounding the line to compete with the best, but every position has to be playing at a high level.
Evil Coach Meyer?
In the days of Jim Tressel coaching Ohio State, against lesser opponents in the middle of the year, it wasn't surprising to see 'Evil Tressel' loosen up his sweater vest and start running up the score against various teams such as New Mexico State or Eastern Michigan. One of the fun aspects of those games were the trick plays coach Tressel would dial up that he wouldn't use against any stiff competition, but boy were they interesting to watch.
Even though coach Meyer hasn't ever had a problem with scoring in high quantities, I can see a scenario where the Golden Flashes receive some of the pent-up frustration that the Ohio State offense has had, and the scoring just seems to never end. I could just be hoping for that, since at least that means there's an offensive identity somewhere down there.
Just win, baby
I could point out multiple things the Buckeyes could do better, but in reality, it all comes down to wins. After 25 straight regular season victories, Ohio State finally dropped at home to Virginia Tech. Now, it's time to right the ship and gain some sort of momentum heading into the game two weeks from now against Cincinnati, who will provide a tougher test than most might expect.
For now, the best thing Ohio State could do to help themselves out is to just win their game against Kent State, use the bye week to their advantage and prepare for the season beyond the bye week. That's what I expect them to do anyway, but it never hurts to think out loud.