10 Troy Smith 6-1, 215, Jr.
12 Justin Zwick 6-4, 225, Jr.
I think Troy Smith has used this stretch of weak defenses to put some much needed polish on his game. I think you see a different quarterback from earlier in the year to now. He's become patient, he isn't tucking the ball and running so quickly now and he's beginning to have more confidence in his arm. His arm strength has always been good and he's becoming more consistently accurate. Smith also looked better in progression reads. Earlier in the year he was missing open receivers because of either going through his reads too fast or too slow and it led to some bad decisions. Lately he's been better at finding receivers on the short routes and he's making better decisions with the football.
25 Antonio Pittman 5-11, 195, So.
34 Maurice Wells 5-10, 185, Fr.
2 Erik Haw 6-1, 212, Fr.
49 Dionte Johnson 6-0, 250, So.
43 Brandon Schnittker 6-2, 250, Sr.
Antonio Pittman has come on as of late, albeit against garbage defenses. Though the talent on the other side of the ball hasn't been there, It's clear Pittman is running with more authority and purpose inside. He's a pretty fast back who has ability outside of the tackles, is quick and elusive. His vision is improving and he's cutting back well outside and reading his blocks. He can be a receiving threat with middle screens and they will split him out as a receiver on occasion. Maurice Wells has contributed well this year too. I think Javon Ringer is a fair comparison to Wells. Wells needs to develop more patience inside and not bounce everything out to the edge but space is where he can do damage. He is very quick, light on his feet and elusive. Erik Haw who has great size and track star speed could also see some carries as well. Dionte Johnson is a bruising fullback similar to ex-Buckeye Jamar Martin. Brandon Schnittker has received some carries out of the I formation for the Buckeyes as well.
4 Santonio Holmes 5-11, 190, Jr.
8 Roy Hall 6-3, 240, Jr.
7 Ted Ginn Jr. 6-0, 175, So.
5 Albert Dukes 6-1, 190, Fr.
11 Anthony Gonzalez 6-0, 195, So.
85 Brian Robiskie 6-3, 190, Fr.
It's clear Santonio Holmes is one of the best receivers in the country. What makes him special is his ability to gain seperation, whether with just pure speed or quickness out of his cuts, this guy can get open. He has reliable hands, crisp route running skills and the ability to make things happen after the catch. He is the most dangerous man on the field because he is the total package at receiver. Obviously, what Ted Ginn Jr. can do with the football is no secret. He's developed as a receiver and despite some early frustration he's on pretty good track as of late. They will use him in a variety of formations and he's as dangerous as anyone in the country. Anthony Gonzalez certainly put his name on the map last year with a big catch against Michigan and he's contributed well this year. He works the middle of the field from the slot position and is just as fast, if not faster than Holmes. In my opinion they could be more aggressive with these three downfield but the short plays have turned into big ones thanks to playmaking by the receivers after the catch. I think Brian Robiske is going to be a stud in this league once the players ahead of him move on and he gets more time to play. He's more of a possession type guy with a big body, very reliable hands and disciplined route running. Also look for Roy Hall out there. He's been a great blocker all season and he's pretty tough for defensive backs to bring down once he gets the ball. He will likely split reps in the four wide sets with Robiske.
81 Marcel Frost 6-5, 255, So.
87 Brandon Smith 6-3, 240, Fr.
With Ryan Hamby out, Marcel Frost gets a good amount of the reps. His athletic ability could be a boost to the offense when needed but he's been blocking mostly this year. They will also rotate in Stan White to block and run some short routes to the flats. Not a big position of emphasis in this offense usually and even less now Hamby is out.
50 Doug Datish 6-5, 295, Jr.
75 Alex Boone 6-8, 315, Fr.
74 Kirk Barton 6-7, 325, So.
75 Alex Boone 6-8, 315, Fr.
77 Rob Sims 6-4, 310, Sr.
59 John Conroy 6-3, 295, Sr.
72 T.J. Downing 6-5, 305, Jr.
59 John Conroy 6-3, 295, Sr.
55 Nick Mangold 6-4, 290, Sr.
50 Doug Datish 6-5, 295, Jr.
I think this offensive line has created some momentum for themselves lately. Earlier in the season it seemed as if they were just creating stalemates with defensive lineman but now they are sustaining blocks better and opening up more holes. Kirk Barton will start at right tackle but I would expect true freshman Alex Boone to play some. Boone is very promising tackle with great run blocking skill but he has still shown signs of being a freshman. He's done a good job despite some hiccups in pass protection against Indiana. Rob Sims has adapted to his new role at guard well this year and he's working well in space. Nick Mangold is a very versatile center. He can be aggressive and drive block but also get out front of a screen play and get a block in the open field. This line isn't great but it's solid and playing well as of late.
How they matchup against the Michigan defense:
I think this matchup will depend on a few things. One, which lineup will Michigan use the most. The lineup of Pierre Woods and LaMarr Woodley at end along with Branch and Watson would be the best combination but that likely won't happen. For some reason or another Branch will most likely start at end and Pat Massey at defensive tackle. Given the second lineup, I think Michigan is putting itself at an obvious disadvantage by having three defensive tackles on the field against a very, very fast offense not to mention Massey is having a poor year thus far. I think Ohio State's leaps in the running game are legit given the way Antonio Pittman has ran the football. Throw out the numbers, this kid looks like a very good back now. I think he will get 100 yards on the day but not much more, of course keeping him under that mark would go a long way. The other big key to stopping the running game is containing Troy Smith. I think he is a bit more patient and won't take off and run as much but there is plenty of designed runs in the playbook for him. Michigan has improved its speed on defense and I think getting guys like Pierre Woods and Tim Jamison out on the field will help. The linebackers have more range this year compared to 2004 when Smith ran wild on Michigan.
The passing game should be interesting to watch. The key here for the Wolverines is to prevent yards after the catch. Ohio State's going to take a few shots down field but Michigan must not allow the short pass catches to turn into big plays. Having Morgan Trent on defense will certainly help with his speed and he will see plenty of time given all the spread looks OSU will run. The Michigan defensive backs don't have the speed of the Ohio State receivers but they've been in good position and have broke well on the ball all season long. They may get burned once or twice but this group is playing much better than fans thought they would. Credit Ron English for the year this position is having given all the injuries and inexperience he had to work with. I think getting some kind of pass rush on Smith will go a long way. Allowing receivers with this much speed to run patterns will be dangerous if Smith has all day to throw.
Turel's Film Evaluation: OSU Offense
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