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Three things to watch from Indiana: Aggressive defense, early-season sloppiness, more

Ohio State starts 2023 on the road in Bloomington, Ind.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

The last time Ohio State opened up on the road at Indiana to start their season was 2017. Urban Meyer was Ohio State’s head coach, J.T. Barrett was the Buckeyes’ quarterback, and there was a new offensive assistant by the name of Ryan Day, who was already making a positive impact on the program.

Now entering his fifth season as Ohio State’s head coach, Ryan Day has another talented team that is certainly national championship-caliber, but questions abound at crucial position groups — such as at quarterback, the offensive line, and the secondary. Going on the road to face their long-time foe within the B1G, the Indiana Hoosiers, will give Ohio State fans some idea as to how the 2023 season may shake out.

The Indiana Hoosiers are coming off a 4-8 campaign in 2022 that resulted in massive turnover within the program. Indiana head coach Tom Allen took advantage of the transfer portal, bringing in new faces to try to improve the overall talent level. Indiana had a stellar 2020 season, going 6-2 in the COVID-shortened season, but has fallen off over the last two years, going a combined 6-18 from 2021-22.

Below are Three Things To Watch from Indiana when the game kicks off on CBS at 3:30 p.m. ET

1) What will Indiana do to disrupt Ohio State’s offense?

Among the new faces in Bloomington is Indiana co-defensive coordinator Matt Guerrieri. Guerrieri was on Ohio State’s defensive staff last year as an analyst and has been tasked with coaching the Indiana secondary.

Tom Allen has a defensive background, and will probably ask Guerrieri and co-defensive coordinator Chad Wilt to try to test either Ohio State quarterback that is in the game. Kyle McCord will be making his second career start, while Devin Brown played only sparingly in 2022.

An Indiana defensive player to keep eyes and ears open for is transfer defensive lineman Andre Carter. Carter came to Indiana from Western Michigan and is coming off a productive 2022 season that saw him rack up 13.5 tackles for loss and seven sacks.

2) Will Ohio State lean heavily upon its running game?

As written up above, neither McCord nor Brown have tremendous playing experience. Throw in the fact that Ohio State has three new starters along its offensive line, with Josh Simmons at left tackle, Carson Hinzman at center, and Josh Fryar at right tackle. Fryar has made one start in his career (2022 versus Indiana) but has filled in as a utility player along the offensive line over the past few seasons. Fryar’s versatility, as well as his strengths as a run blocker, are what led me to select him as a “Player To Watch” in our series.

Ohio State has a stable of talented running backs at their disposal. While McCord and Brown are getting experience piloting the Buckeyes’ offense, and while the offensive line is trying to develop cohesiveness as a unit, it will not surprise me if Ohio State is very run-heavy in the first few games of the 2023 season.

3) Do not be surprised by sloppiness in Game 1

I wrote up above about how Ohio State opened up on the road at Indiana in 2017. The Buckeyes actually trailed the Hoosiers 21-20 late into the third quarter, until eventually pulling away to win, 49-21. In 2021, Ohio State was on the road at Minnesota, with a new starting quarterback (sound familiar?), and trailed 14-10 at the half until Ohio State won, 45-31.

The point I am trying to make is going on the road, at a B1G opponent, with inexperienced players at quarterback and offensive line, will probably result in some sloppiness. The NFL has preseason games to work its kinks out; College football does not.

On this week’s Silver Bullet Podcast, our guest Colin Lavery from Crimson Quarry (thanks again for being on our podcast, Colin) has Ohio State winning 56-14. I see a more run-oriented game for the Buckeyes as they try to get their new quarterback and offensive line comfortable. Michael Citro has it 38-17 for Ohio State, while I am going with Ohio State 35-14.

Hoping everyone enjoys Labor Day weekend, and the first of what should be many Ohio State victories in 2023.