The Ohio State football team faces its final tune up game before its first major test of the season against Notre Dame.
Just eight days and one final tune up game lie between Ohio State and their tough road matchup against Notre Dame. What must the Buckeyes do tomorrow to lessen the uneasiness amongst fans and the coaching staff?
1. Third down efficiency
Ohio State is tied with Akron at 113th in the nation at converting on 3rd down. They were 2-12 against Indiana and 5-12 against Youngstown State. With the new time clock rules, this is an area of the game the Buckeyes just can’t afford to be bad at. Ryan Day has made valid attributions to the inexperience at both QB and on the offensive line, however, those excuses can’t continue into week 3. The Buckeyes’ line has to be a force and help the offense convert in short yardage situations. While McCord has to be both smart and creative on his end as well. Notre Dame will be stingy on defense, and so will numerous Big Ten opponents. So, we must see a more efficient Buckeye offense on 3rd and any distance.
2. Defensive efficiency
It is obvious that the defense is much improved and thriving under the Knowles system. However, even while allowing just 10 points and less than 500 total yards, the defense has allowed opponents to work the clock. Against more efficient and talented offenses, Ohio State has to get off the field quicker. The longer your opponent has the ball, the less opportunities for your own offense and more likely it is better teams will score. Like I said, the ability to stop teams from scoring is great, but that likely won’t persist if they can’t get off the field quicker.
3. Tenacity in the tranches
Ohio State has struggled in short yardage scenarios and creating consistent running lanes. On the flip side, the defensive line has generated just 3 sacks. It’s been a trend the past few seasons that the Buckeyes just haven’t been nasty up front in both aspects of the game. If this team has hopes for a title and dominating the conference, they have to show that through their play. I’d like to see the defense putting more pressure on the QB, especially against a WKU team that loves to throw it around. While also seeing more push from the offensive line, allowing a more consistent rushing attack.
4. Open it up
Now that the QB battle has been decided and you’ve committed to McCord, it’s time to showcase his talent. It’s felt conservative on the offensive side, which makes sense when adjusting to the clock rules and having a new o-line configuration. However, you can’t save all the firepower for Notre Dame. On the road things might get dicey, so if McCord hasn’t gotten to loosen up and air it out in live action, it’ll be hard to ask him to do so if things were to go south. I believe now is the time to show your confidence in him, let him toss it around, get him some deep shots. If you can’t open it up against WKU, it’s doubtful they will against Notre Dame, which could lead to trouble.
I believe these are the biggest areas of the game the Buckeyes need to clean up and showcase against WKU. Now that the QB battle is over and you’re getting a true test offensively, it’s time to show out. If the Buckeyes want fans to be excited rather than nervous for the trip to South Bend, now is the time to execute. Coach Day and his staff know what’s at stake, and the answers to their problems are obvious. Execution and mental toughness have to be the focus if this Buckeye team is going to start clicking on all cylinders.
Featured image: Adam Cairns, Columbus Dispatch, USA Today Network
Gabe Woodcox is a content contributor for The Silver Bulletin. He is a native of Cleveland, Ohio, and a graduate of The Ohio State University with a major of Sport Industry. Gabe has been working closely with Ohio State athletics during his sport industry tenure, writing for BuckeyesNews and working most recently with 97.1 The Fan. He is an avid Buckeye basketball and sports betting fanatic and will continue his education in a Turf Management Masters program next fall.