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Ohio State’s cornerbacks are hoping to build off their season opening performance

Denzel Ward and the rest of the Buckeye cornerbacks will have their hands full trying to slow down the Oklahoma passing attack.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Indiana Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

“When you play corner, it’s not the five you made that stick out, it’s the two you missed. That’s the position. If you don’t like it, go play something else. Around here, the standard is you don’t allow catches.”

-Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano via Bill Rabinowitz, The Columbus Dispatch

Early on against Indiana it looked like Ohio State might be in for a bit of a rude awakening if they thought they wouldn’t miss cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore. The Hoosiers utilized some quick throws which allowed Indiana quarterback Richard Lagow to get into an early rhythm and give the Hoosiers a lead. The Buckeyes were able to make some adjustments, moving from man-to-man coverage to a zone, which slowed Indiana down and let the Buckeyes take control of the game in the second half.

With Baker Mayfield and Oklahoma coming to town, Ohio State can’t afford any early lapses in coverage or the Sooners might put the Buckeyes in a hole they can’t dig out of. Last year in Norman, Ohio State’s secondary found a lot of success in shutting down Mayfield and the rest of the Oklahoma attack, intercepting two passes and holding Mayfield to just 226 yards through the air.

There are plenty of differences between how Indiana tried to attack the Buckeyes and how Oklahoma will. Indiana tried to use short passes to not only offset Ohio State’s talented defensive line, but also to allow the Hoosiers to create some tempo. Oklahoma has one of the best offensive lines in the country, which will see them try and mix in more of the run game than Indiana did. Ohio State’s cornerbacks will be forced to hold their coverage longer in this game than they did against the Hoosiers, which will give the Buckeyes an even better idea of what they have in the secondary as they try and replace Conley and Lattimore.

“I mean, he walked in as a grown man. I wasn’t surprised at all. I kind of tempered my emotions with you guys early on, because we have seen that since spring practice. He had a hell of a camp.”

-Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer on running back J.K. Dobbins via Paul Myerberg, USA Today

What a luxury it is to be Ohio State. Just a couple hours before Ohio State’s season opener against Indiana last week it was announced that true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins would start due to a hamstring injury that Mike Weber was dealing with. For most teams this would be a big loss, especially considering Weber rushed for over 1,000 yards as a redshirt freshman last year. For the Buckeyes, the injury just gave Ohio State fans an early look at their running back of the future.

Dobbins impressed in his Ohio State debut, with his 182 rushing yards, breaking Maurice Clarett’s school record for rushing yards by a true freshman in his debut. Now with Weber returning for this week’s clash with Oklahoma, the Buckeyes will be even stronger in the backfield.

The two running backs complement each other nicely, with Weber giving Ohio State a more physical runner in the backfield, while Dobbins is a more speedy and shifty running back. Not only does the addition of Dobbins into the backfield allow J.T. Barrett to not have to carry the football so much, but it could help Weber as well if Meyer splits carries between the two, subjecting Weber to less contact and allowing the sophomore to stay fresher later in the season. If the Sooners aren’t able to find a way to slow down the duo, it could make for a long night for the Oklahoma defense inside Ohio Stadium on Saturday night.

“We’re excited just because [Oklahoma’s offensive line is] hyped up as the No. 1 O-line and we’ve been hyped up as the best D-line for so long that it’s starting to get annoying. It’s time to prove it.”

-Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa via Colin Hass-Hill, The Lantern

What certainly won’t be annoying on Saturday night for fans of both schools is watching the matchup between Oklahoma’s offensive line and Ohio State’s defensive line. Oklahoma’s offensive line, which is led by junior tackle Orlando Brown, has started a combined 85 games in their careers, but will certainly face their toughest test when they try and slow down the Buckeye defensive line. Brown is ranked as one of the best tackles in the country, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him jump to the NFL after this season.

Ohio State’s defensive line has a number of players who will eventually make their way to the pros. The Buckeyes showed against Indiana the kind of disruption they are capable of causing, registering five sacks against the Hoosiers. Tyquan Lewis led the way with two sacks in the game, while Sam Hubbard, Nick Bosa, and Jashon Cornell each registered one.

Oklahoma’s offensive line might provide the toughest challenge for the Ohio State defensive line this year, but there is no question Oklahoma won’t see another team on their schedule with the depth Ohio State possesses on the defensive line. The difference in the game will likely hinge on if Ohio State can find their way through the Oklahoma offensive line to allow the Buckeyes to harass quarterback Baker Mayfield, much like the Buckeyes did last year in Norman.

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