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Will Dontre Wilson continue to be an offensive priority against Indiana?

How many ways can the coaches find to get the senior the ball?

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

When Dontre Wilson announced that he had decided to attend The Ohio State University on Signing Day 2013, after having previously been committed to Oregon, Buckeye fans were giddy thinking of what Urban Meyer could do with the skilled speedster from DeSoto, TX.

However, after a promising freshman season in Columbus, his next two years were hampered with foot injuries after breaking it against Michigan State in 2014. Since then, he has seen his productivity ebb and flow, and last year caught only seven balls for 63 yards, missing all or most of nine of Ohio State’s 13 games.

However, with a mass exodus for the Buckeyes after last season, the expectation was that, if healthy, Wilson would see an increased role at H-back and/or wide receiver in 2016, and the season’s first two games certainly bore that out. Against Bowling Green and Tulsa, Wilson combined for 141 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns in the air and one on the ground. However, in the biggest game of the non-conference slate, he had only two receptions for 19 yards against Oklahoma in week three.

After the game, Wilson tweeted his disappointment in his lack of offensive involvement, before deleting the post. While head coach Urban Meyer has said that he wants to lead the league in social media, this is likely not what he had in mind.

So, it was a little surprising that, following the season’s only open week, against Rutgers Wilson seemed to be a focal point for the offensive play-calling beginning with the team’s second drive of the day. The senior lined up in multiple spots all game and quarterback J.T. Barrett got him the ball in a number of creative ways.

In all, Wilson accounted for 98 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against the Scarlet Knights. So with this renewed attention from the coaching staff, Dontre Wilson is the offensive player to watch against the surprisingly stout Indiana Hoosiers this Saturday.

The stats

Name: Dontre Wilson
Number: 2
Position: Wide Receiver
Year: Senior
Height: 5’10
Weight: 195 lbs.

With the sky-high expectations that Wilson brought with him to Columbus, it is not a stretch to say that his injury-hampered career has been a bit of a disappointment to this point, at least from a productivity perspective. Through his first three seasons, he accounted for just 923 yards from scrimmage, however, he did show flashes of what he was capable of accumulating 1,218 kickoff return yards, fifth most in Ohio State history.

However, with his frustrating first three years behind him, throughout the off-season, Wilson repeatedly told himself to stay positive and to make the most of his last chance in Columbus.

“You can’t get down on yourself, you still have time. With the guys by your side you can get through it and keep pushing,” Wilson said.

Before the season, Wilson said that he felt like after suffering through a rocky three years, his senior season would be the one to make it all worthwhile.

“It feels like everything is finally falling into place this year, after all I have gone through,” he said.

Opposition research

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

In his five-plus seasons as the head coach of the Hoosiers, Kevin Wilson (no relation) has turned the Indiana offense into one of the Big Ten’s most prolific scoring units, averaging 30.45 points per game. The only problem with that stat is that IU’s opponents have averaged 35.49 ppg over that same period.

However, this season, Wilson has something slightly different brewing in Bloomington as his team is currently ranked 22nd in total offense and a much-improved 51st in total defense.

The IU defense has seen nearly immediate improvements from new defensive coordinator Tom Allen’s 4-2-5 scheme. The goal of the defense is to essentially run a nickel package on the majority of plays to keep pace with up-tempo offenses, like Ohio State’s. With only two linebackers on the field at a time, they are expected to be aggressive run stoppers, aided by the safeties, which leaves cornerbacks alone on the outside; the LBs will also be called upon to generate an additional pass-rush.

The heart of the Hoosier defense is Cincinnati native Tegray Scales. The junior linebacker leads the team in tackles with 35, tackles for loss with 5.5, and sacks with two. The Colerain High School grad also has an interception return for a touchdown this season. Along with fellow LB Marcus Oliver, Wilson said that Scales has grown into a leader as an upperclassman. With increased maturity, he has found the confidence in his teammates to focus on his specific responsibilities, and to not try to take too much on himself.

That confidence led to him being selected as the team’s Defensive Player of the Game in the overtime upset of Michigan State last Saturday.

While it is unlikely that any defense will dissuade the Ohio State coaching staff from running the ball, if receivers like Wilson, Noah Brown, or Parris Campbell (or any of the other nine Buckeyes that caught passes against Rutgers) can beat their one-on-one coverage on the outside, it could be a big day for the passing game as well.

Indiana will be looking for Scales and Oliver to create pressure on Barrett in hopes of mitigating the talent advantage that Ohio State possesses.

What to watch for

On a team with as many playmakers as Ohio State, targets can be fickle (no pun intended), but if the game-plan against Rutgers is any indication as to how Ed Warinner and Tim Beck want to use Wilson moving forward, you should expect to see him get the ball in a multitude of different ways this week.

Last Saturday, in addition to handling the punt return duties, Wilson was all over the Ohio State offense, lining up in the slot, on the outside, and in the backfield. Barrett got him the ball on traditional WR routes, on a shuffle pass, from the zone-read, on an end-around, and on a wheel-route. Barrett overthrew Wilson on a fade to the end-zone as well.

While Wilson didn’t necessarily have any huge, explosive plays against the Scarlet Knights, it was interesting to see just how many different ways that the Ohio State coaches found to get the ball in his hands.

After returning a punt 16 yards to set up Ohio State’s second drive, on first down Wilson took the ball on an end-around, picking up seven.

Then later in the drive, he settled into a hole in the Rutgers zone until a scrambling Barrett could find him for the game’s first score.

After halftime, two of the first three plays from scrimmage were zone-reads to Wilson up the middle.

While certainly Wilson and the coaches would have liked for one of these creative play-calls to result in a major gain, in terms of getting the senior involved in all aspects of the offense, last Saturday was a success, and is hopefully predictive of things to come throughout the season.