#6 Ohio State v Navy
Ohio Stadium, Columbus, Ohio
Alumni Reunion Game
Wahoo!! The season is finally upon us. After what always seems like an eternity, the Buckeyes will take the field this Saturday against the Midshipmen of Navy. Navy has gotten better over the last few years and, under second year head coach Ken Niumatalolo, will prove a handful for one of the youngest Buckeye teams ever to take the field. Everybody is looking ahead to the colossal showdown with USC next week, that is except for Navy. The Buckeyes can’t come to the ‘Shoe half asleep this Saturday because the Midshipmen will give OSU all they can muster.
Ohio State needs to do something this Saturday that has seemed to be something of a difficult task recently; open up the offense and put the opponent away. The Navy defense is disciplined and tenacious but it is entirely outclassed in size, speed, strength and talent. Jim Tressel needs to use this game as the 2009 offensive springboard for his young team. Don’t hold back and let it all hang out. Pistol, Shot-Gin, Wildcat, Pro-Set and all the formations in the playbook need to come to the surface and executed on Saturday. Don’t throw this game away to the typical mediocre early season / inferior opponent / conservative play that Tressel likes to run. The Buckeyes are young and they need to come out of the gates firing and develop a rhythm. Quarterback Terrell Pryor, his offensive line and his receivers have to gel early by taking smart shots down the field mixed with an effective running game. Tressel needs to let Pryor throw 22-30 times this Saturday to get a feel for the speed of the game. Pryor needs to make quality throws and not easy, high percentage dump off passes. No need to “hide” plays or formations from USC. Just run them. A lot. The Buckeyes are going to have to rely on Pryor’s arm to win a game sometime this season and Saturday is the perfect time to start executing those plays and getting meaningful quality repetitions at actual game speed. Don’t abandon the running game but don’t use it as the primary gameplan. The growth of Pryor and the future of the 2009 Ohio State Buckeye season hinges on the amount of quality passing reps called in on Saturday. Come on, Jim, let your hair down.
Real football fans are in for a treat this Saturday while casual fans will be scratching their heads wondering just what the heck is going on and why is it working. Navy utilizes the Triple Option formation to execute its effective running attack, which is incredibly hard to defend since very few teams run it anymore. Without getting into the gory details and historical significance of the formation, Navy is basically able to run every play they have in any direction and nobody but the quarterback knows which way it’s going until the last possible moment. And Navy is really good at it. Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Navy only returns four starters on offense and must replace their top fullback, slot back and wide receiver. Quarterback Ricky Dobbs will start the season for the Midshipmen and will look to hand off fullback Alexander Teich and slotbacks Bobby Doyle and Marcus Curry. In the unlikely event of a pass, Dobbs will look for wideout Mario Washington as his primary target. Lateral movement and misdirection is the name of the triple option game and we will all see just how fast and disiplined the new linebacking corps really is.
Navy is no push-over. They play big boy teams every year (2009 Ohio
State, Pitt, SMU and ND) and aren’t afraid to go into hostile environments. They beat Notre Dame last year and they have lead the nation in rushing five of the last six years. The Buckeye linebacking corps and the secondary are filling big holes vacated by seniors leaving for the NFL and could be vulnerable to the Cirque du Soleil triple option rushing attack. A motivated, fearless and effective Navy offense coupled with the shadow of the USC game looming in the near future should give the Buckeyes fits come gameday. This one’s far from a gimme. With so much youth on both sides of the ball, one must expect growing pains and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if the score is close at halftime. In the end, however, the defense will calm down and adjust while the offense will start to get into a rhythm. The final score likely will not reflect how close the game actually was.
OSU 42 – Navy 13
Why OSU will win:
-After some youthful mistakes and miscues, the Buckeye offensive and defensive will wear down the smaller Navy squad.
-Jim Tressel opens up the playbook and is not afraid to win for a change. This will pay huge dividends down the 2009 season road.
Why OSU will lose:
-If the Midshipmen can control the ball with their running game and capitalize on turnovers, Navy could pull this one off; especially if the Buckeyes aren’t focused on the game at hand.
Bold prediction for the game:
The Midshipmen will eclipse 200 yards rushing this Saturday.
Crazy stat of the game:
-Navy has lead the nation in rushing for five of the last six years including 2008 where they averaged 292.4 yards per game.
-It’s been 31 years since Ohio State has lost a home opener. (1978, Penn State)
Last time they met…
1981 Liberty Bowl OSU 31 – Navy 28 (OSU is 3-0 versus Navy).
Navy players to watch:
Junior QB #4 Ricky Dobbs
Sophomore FB #39 Alexander Teich
Junior WO #85 Mario Washington
Senior SB #33 Bobby Doyle
Sophomore SB #28 Marcus Curry
Sophomore DE #98 Jabaree Tuani
Senior DE #69 Jordan Stephens
Senior LB #51 Ross Pospisil
Freshman SB/KR #21 Alexander "Gee Gee" Greene