Now sitting at 5-0, the Ohio State Buckeyes are rolling into their Week 6 matchup versus Indiana with momentum. It’ll be homecoming weekend in Columbus, so having a letdown following the thrilling win against Penn State (as they did last year when they traveled to Iowa) would be less than ideal. But, before we get to the game on Saturday, we have a whole week of obligations to get through.
Starting off those obligations, Urban Meyer held his weekly press conference on Monday and spoke with the media for nearly half an hour. In his talk, he gave insight on the injury situations OSU is facing, as well as praising the wide receivers for their blocking in the last game.
Let’s take a look at the five key takeaways from Meyer’s presser.
“Dre’Mont is probable. He has a strain, but he’s very probable. Damon Arnette is probable.”
Injuries have sneakily creeped up on the Bucks. A few weeks back against TCU, defensive end Nick Bosa went down with a core muscle injury— leading to him having surgery that will keep him out of action until at least November. Then a week later against Tulane, running back Mike Weber missed the final half of play with a leg injury. He went on to play against PSU, but wasn’t 100 percent.
Now, in the aftermath of PSU, a couple of Buckeyes are listed as probable against the Hoosiers. In a way, it’s a good thing that Dre’Mont Jones only suffered a strain on Saturday night, as his absence on the defensive line will be noticed. Especially with Bosa still out, the d-line can’t really afford to have, arguably, their two best players out for substantial amounts of time. Even though Chase Young is a playmaker and is picking up the slack in the absence of Bosa, he can’t do it all.
The same thing goes for the defensive backs. So far this season, pass prevention hasn’t been what it’s normally been for Ohio State. Last week, Penn State connected on a 93-yard touchdown completion thanks to Trace McSorley and KJ Hamler. With Damon Arnette, who’s listed as a starter, being penciled in as probable this week, more holes in the defense could be exposed.
But again, fortunately, both injuries (Jones and Arnette) don’t seem to be long term. And even though OSU can’t overlook Indiana, it’s not like last year where they had to go on the road following their comeback win against Penn State.
“Ben Victor, I’m saying this, because I love him, darn near refused to block, didn’t play him a lot. He has one of the biggest blocks in the game Saturday. On left sideline. I can’t remember who caught the ball, I don’t care who caught the ball, I care about the blocking. It was elite. “
If anyone had a breakout game in State College last weekend, it was wide receiver Binjimen Victor. He did a little bit of everything, ranging from catching the ball in do-or-die time, to making key blocks down the stretch.
Meyer’s praise of Victor has been a long time coming, as it wasn’t always like this for the wide out. Victor had small roles on offense prior to the season, but he has since cranked the dials upward. The culmination of his hard work was on display against the Nittany Lions. While Meyer talked about Victor’s blocking ability, his biggest moment came with the Buckeyes down 12 in the fourth quarter. Pinned at the PSU 47, a short pass to Victor became highlight reel worthy, not only because he made a spectacular grab, but because he weaved around the defense for a TD.
Binjimen victor. What a touchdown for Ohio State. Still alive. pic.twitter.com/S1cVAFAiO5— Harrison Klopp (@HarrisonKlopp) September 30, 2018
Notice the convoy that Victor had on the way to the end zone? That’s something that Ohio State’s been missing in the years since their national title run in 2014. Downfield blocking was the “X-factor” down the stretch, and was the difference maker in the Buckeyes developing their passing game in the second half.
Even though this quote talked specifically about Victor, the whole WR corps shined in the biggest game of the year. The Penn State win should be a launching pad for this receiver unit, and expect even greater things as the season moves on.
“We haven’t made a final decision. Jahsen Wint is playing well, and Shaun Wade is the next, and Brendon White. We have three capables. This is going to be a big week in practice to determine what happens.”
Injuries won’t be the only thing the coaching staff has to take into account for the upcoming game with Indiana. Safety Isaiah Pryor will miss the first half of Saturday’s homecoming game after being ejected from last week’s contest due to targeting— he committed the penalty in the second half at Penn State.
Filling the void will be left up to Jahsen Wint, Shaun Wade and Brendon White. However, after seeing Wade’s performance against the Nittany Lions, I’m inclined to believe that he’ll leap over Wint for the starting role this week. He had a couple pass of breakups against McSorley, and was a lockdown defender when he saw the field.
A redshirt freshman, Wade is a key component of the future for OSU. Give him a little more time to develop, and you’ll have the next great Buckeye defensive back. So, it makes sense to get him on the field for as many reps as possible.
“He’s a tough dude, man, he’s a really good football player on the bubble screen, and he’s a great blocker. He can do it all.”
Like Meyer, we can’t say enough good things about Zone 6. It wasn’t just Victor who had a great game, but the whole unit. Terry McLaurin picked up offensive player of the game honors, even though he didn’t register a catch against PSU; Parris Campbell made plays; as well as K.J. Hill, who we’ll talk about right now.
OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! pic.twitter.com/JSqhJEMxjs— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) September 30, 2018
The game-winning score was thanks to Hill stretching a routine bubble screen for a first down into a touchdown. He cut a path on the sideline and, with help from his fellow wide outs, had blockers all the way to the end zone.
Ohio State has found an answer for when teams decide to bring the kitchen sink on defense: screens. With evidence that the WRs will block down field, a simple screen thrown at the line of scrimmage has real potential to be sprung open into either a monster gain or score. Hill hauled in six receptions for 59 yards against Penn State, and he wasn’t the team leader in either category (receptions or yards).
It’s no secret that Dwayne Haskins is a bonafide passer, so, expect more screens to come Hill’s way, as he’s proven again that he will throw himself down for a block, or make a catch when needed. There’s been talk of a mass exodus of OSU receivers after the season ends, due to the NFL Draft and graduation. If Hill keeps playing like he has, there’s an outside chance the junior will be one of the early exits. If you can catch and, especially, block, you’ll find a home in the NFL.
“Their scheme is outstanding, I think they’re very well coached. And they have answers for everything.”
Lastly, Meyer gave a brief glimpse into what the Indiana Hoosiers bring to the table. Last season’s squad went 5-7, and gave the Buckeyes a run for their money in Week 1. This season, however, the Hoosiers are already 4-1, with their only loss coming to Michigan State.
Granted, they haven’t played nearly the same level of competition that OSU has, and haven’t looked as stunning as the Buckeyes have against a mutual opponent, Rutgers. But, don’t let the absence of any marquee wins fool you. The Hoosiers have a dual-threat quarterback in Peyton Ramsey who can make plays. Is he like a McSorley? I wouldn’t go that far. But, looking back at how OSU fared against a dual-threat QB, there is some level of concern about how much damage one could do.