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Denzel Ward wasn’t the problem in Ohio State’s secondary against Indiana

Also, what did Urban Meyer say his assistants need to work on after last season?

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Tamanini Matt Tamanini is the co-managing editor of Land-Grant Holy Land having joined the site in 2016.

“This will be just the 14th time since the start of the 2012 season the Buckeyes have been a single-digit favorite, and they are 10-3 SU and 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games as one.”

- OddsShark, SBNation

After the Buckeyes won on the road in Norman last year, it’s not a tremendous surprise that they are more than a touchdown favorite for this Saturday’s return-game in Columbus. Going into this weekend, OSU is a 7.5 point favorite, and the game’s over/under is 64.5.

While the Buckeyes’ secondary will be tested after Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield put up video game numbers in the season-opener against UTEP; he was 19 of 20 through the air for 329 yards and three touchdowns; OddsShark points out that history is on Ohio State’s side.

“Ohio State is 22-1 SU and 15-8 ATS in its last 23 September home games,” OddsShark wrote. That sole, straight-up loss, as every Buckeye fan knows, was the 2014 defeat at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies. Ohio State went undefeated from there en route to the first College Football Playoff championship.

With the o/u in the mid-60s for Saturday, it might be valuable to note that the Sooners were over in seven of their last eight road games. Meaning that with the Buckeyes coming off of a 49-point output against IU, and Oklahoma having put up 56 against UTEP, this is shaping up to be an explosive prime-time matchup.

Ward had five pass breakups and an interception in the boxscore. But did he play well or not? Should there be confidence or worry about the corner when it's time to face Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield?”

- Doug Lesmerises,

In an incredibly gif-tastic article, Lesmerises went back and examined all 18 times that Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow through at projected first-round cornerback Denzel Ward. Thanks to ESPN’s Megacast coverage, Lesmerises is able to include many looks at the All-22 footage, so you are able to watch the play, and Ward’s coverage, develop.

Of the 18 passes thrown his way, six were completed for 58 yards, and one earned Ward a pass interference call. Lesmerises correctly points out that for most of the game, Ward was on an island allowing his less experienced cornerback compatriots as much support as possible.

Unfortunately, the other CBs did not perform anywhere near as well as Ward did. Kendall Sheffield gave up seven completions on 13 targets for 105 yards, while Damon Arnette was thrown at nine times, including seven completions for 78 yards.

Ohio State’s non-Denzel Ward cornerbacks will need to do much better to keep Mayfield in check on Saturday.

“Despite reaching the College Football Playoff, Meyer received a ‘performance meets expectations’ when determining the competitive success of the program.”

- Colin Hass-Hill, The Lantern

The obvious take away from these reports is that they supply official confirmation that making it to the College Football Playoff every year is the expectation at Ohio State. However, what is most interesting is the things that head coach Urban Meyer most valued, and would like to see improvement on, from his assistants.

While he called defensive coordinator Greg Schiano the “best coach I’ve worked with,” he did have some constructive feedback for others on the defensive side of the ball. Meyer said that he would like defensive line coach Larry Johnson to to use his motivational ability more and to work on his game planning ability.

Meyer also said that he he valued cornerback and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs’ loyalty, energy, and chemistry with staff as his best traits.

On offense, though Meyer gave wide-receiver coach Zach Smith high marks for recruiting, he would like to see the #Zone6 leader work on the WR corps’ behavior. He also wants to see more accountability and focus from the unit in the weight room and meeting room.

“Oklahoma’s upcoming game at Ohio State is one of the biggest regular season games in recent Sooner memory... but with quarterback Baker Mayfield leading the way, OU is in excellent hands.”

- Seth Oliveras, Crimson and Cream Machine

Look, this won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but for Oklahoma to win in Columbus this weekend, they will need to have a great game from Baker Mayfield. The problem is going to be that, despite OSU’s secondary woes against Indiana, if Schiano doesn’t have to worry about an effective running game from the Sooners, that will allow him to turn the Buckeyes’ ridiculous front four loose on the veteran quarterback.

If the rotation of Nick Bosa, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Dre’Mont Jones, Tyquan Lewis, and Tracy Sprinkle are able to pin their ears back in hopes of getting after Mayfield, it will make his ability to complete passes down the field difficult, no matter how suspect OSU’s inexperienced corners are.

So, while the Heisman-contender quarterback will certainly be important to OU’s success, what might be more impactful is if the Sooners are able to eek out enough of a running game to give Coach Johnson the slightest bit of hesitation when deciding to send his defensive line into the backfield.