Welcome to I Got Five On It, where I give you five things to watch for during each Ohio State game. The less we talk about the OU game the better, but last week was a rough one for your boy, as I predicted J.T. Barrett would at least tie the Big Ten’s career touchdown record (LOL), and that Ohio State could change the perception of its offense that’s been lingering since the Clemson game (Narrator: They did not).
Mercifully, a new week is upon us, and the Buckeyes are in rebound mode against what should be an over-matched Army squad. While Urban Meyer definitely doesn’t hate the troops, this is one that the Buckeyes should go out of their way to make ugly after what happened last week. With that in mind, here are five things to watch for as Ohio State takes on Army:
The secondary won’t be doing much covering, but better tackling would be nice
I want you to grab a football and a friend, and go outside for a second. Stand 20 yards apart, and throw them the ball.
You have now thrown for more yards than Army has:
As funny as it is to play a program that almost completely disregards the forward pass in 2017, playing Army’s triple option offense couldn’t come at a worse time.
As I’m sure you’re already aware, Ohio State’s secondary has been bad this season. They need all the work they can get before heading into conference play, and unfortunately they’ll probably get little-to-none this week, even if the Buckeyes are up big.
At least it’ll be a great chance for the secondary to work on their pursuit angles after whatever this was last week:
A breakout game from Jerome Baker
Lost in all the noise about the secondary has been the play of linebacker Jerome Baker. After a dominant redshirt freshman season, Baker has been quiet so far, notching only eight tackles in two games, none of which have been for a loss.
As we saw in the Oklahoma and Michigan games last season, Baker is the type of player that can change a game single-handedly, and with the new-look secondary struggling behind him, Ohio State is going to need Baker to re-up his game back to its 2016 level.
Against Army’s triple option, Baker should have the opportunity to shine, much like Darron Lee did against Navy in 2014. He’s way too good to keep producing quiet stat lines, so keep a close eye on him in what should be his best performance of the young season.
Someone please help J.T. Barrett
Do you notice anything about this catch from Austin Mack last week?
Aside from Mack landing on his head dragon suplex-style (we’re glad to hear that he’s OK), it was the rare occurrence of an Ohio State receiver making a play on the football. So rare, in fact, that my Hangout in the Holy Land co-host Patrick Mayhorn thinks it might be the first time an Ohio State receiver has high-pointed the football since Michael Thomas was posterizing defensive backs in 2015.
While that’s probably a bit of an exaggeration, he brings up a good point. Barrett’s accuracy is obviously an issue, but it’s not like he’s gotten a lot of help when he’s put the ball on the money, either:
You, a football imbecile: "JT SUCKS!"— Frank Bumb (@frankbumb) September 10, 2017
Me, staring at this photo and sobbing hysterically to point can't even form a response: pic.twitter.com/wH0MDAbVkz
Ohio State’s receivers have the catch radius of a T-Rex right now, so it’s worth watching players like Mack and Binjimen Victor tomorrow to see how much —if at all— they’re able to use their athleticism to give their quarterback some help. Barrett has his share of blame in the lackluster performance of the passing game, but at some point, #Zone6 needs to show up and make some plays.
The best part about a game like this is the chance for young talent shine. Whether it’s Dwayne Haskins, Jeffery Okudah, Chase Young, Shaun Wade, Baron Browning, or someone else, Ohio State should be in a position where they can unload the bench early in the second half.
Haskins is the front-runner for the player that most are anxious to see on the field, and I’m already cringing at how awkward the loud ovation he’s going to get when it happens will be. Nonetheless, we’re finally going to see what he can do, and the eventual future of the Ohio State offense.
Defensively, Okudah, Young, Wade, and Browning are names to look out for that could see significant minutes. If Ohio State is able to establish a big lead early, there’s no reason for Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Baker, etc. to have to take on Army’s physical style of offense for three quarters. It’s unfortunate that the secondary won’t get much work, but Okudah and Wade getting some meaningful game action will pay dividends down the road.
Appreciate how ridiculous J.K. Dobbins is
Seriously, look at these cuts. A freshman shouldn’t be capable of this.
Let’s just hope they don’t forget to give him the ball.