Pregame Intel: #1 Ohio State Buckeyes

You'd have to expect the Northwestern Wildcats to be sky high after the solid win over Iowa last week. To add a little drama, Illinois suddenly shut down OSU's potent offense, at least that's how it looked, and you have an interesting matchup in Evanston Saturday at 2:30 WT

Last Saturday almost ended the dream of #1 vs #2...
As the Fighting Illini came back from 17-0 at the half, to close to 17-10 at the end of the game.
APHow shaky was last week's game against Illinois?
I thought our first 40 minutes or so were solid and the last 20 were less than that and because of that, we didn't have near as many winning performances. - Bucknuts

Ohio State did not name an offensive player of the week, a Jim Parker Offensive Lineman of the Week, or a Jack Tatum Hit of the Week as the Buckeye offense went into a kind of a prevent, ball control running game after halftime..

Regarding the lack of offensive honors, Tressel said: "It's based upon the consistency that wasn't demonstrated." -- Bucknuts.com

Center Doug Datish chimes in about the Illini too"

Games like the one vs. Illinois makes you get back to reality. It keeps you grounded. --  [OSU Official Site]

Bucknuts The defensive player of the week was [surprise] LB James Laurinaitis, [right] and the Attack Force Player of the Week was sophomore defensive end Lawrence Wilson.

Comparing NU's performance against the Hawkeyes to OSU's win, Coach Tressel said...

Northwestern's defense held Iowa to about 60 or 70 fewer yards than we held Iowa's offense to, and Northwestern's offense outgained how many yards we had against Iowa.
Another observation by the head coach was that the Bucks went into a lead-proection mode in the second half - shades of NU-MSU

Offense
The Buckeye's just didn't have a fabulous Saturday last week on offense:
Offensively, the offensive staff did not name a player of the week based upon the consistency that wasn't demonstrated and nor did they name an offensive lineman of the week. So I guess be happy that Coach Bollman is not the expert because he might growl at you or something --Jim Tressel OSU Official Site
BucknutsYou can guess that the Bucks' will be working on the offense this week, especially with RB Chris Wells, [left] who cost them at least one score on a turnover.
Unfortunately, just like a quarterback who can add a lot to the team if they throw it to the other guys, can you afford -- what's the risk versus reward component there? So I'm hoping that he'll be a big, positive part of what we do these next two weeks through the regular season and on into the bowl game. -- Jim Tressel OSU Official Site
but there's a big "but..."
He is a tough kid and what he is going through is just part of growing as a player. Nobody in our locker room doubts he can carry the ball or do whatever he is doing on offense. We have complete confidence in his abilities and what he can do for our offense. -- Anthony Gonzalez Official Site
In the final analysis of what happened at Illinois, just might be summed up in this quote
"I think the fact that we weren't running the ball consistently, we probably weren't as balanced as we could have been
Yup, OSU had just 29 yards in 30 rushes, not the kind of offensive production you expect from a #1 team.

Getty ImagesAnother injury that may be slowing down the OSU Offense is starting QB Troy Smith's [right] sore right thumb. He wears a wrap on it, but he says it doesn't matter
It's sort of like a sore ankle, because it's going to take that pressure and it's going to take those hits. -- Smith on Bucknuts
But maybe the biggest problem with Ohio State's offensive production just might be the Offensive Line, however Center Doug Datish, commented that while the Buck's have rotated players up front,
it's more of a flow thing and a cohesion thing. And any time you take a part out of there, I guess it messes it up a little bit. - [Columbus Dispatch]

Defense:
OSU OfficialThe big man on Defense is linebacker James Laurinaitis. [left] He's beena defensive player of the week, and is the Bucks' leader on that side of the ball...:
James continues to be productive ... , continues to grow in leadership and did a heck of a job - Jim Tressel OSU Official Site
Our Bucknuts site had even more from Tressel about his Sophomore defensive star..
He has good ball skills and he has good awareness, and maybe most important, he has good guys in front of him putting pressure on. And you add all that together, if you're in the right place and you can catch, and the people in front of you are creating a little bit of problems for the guy with the ball in his hands, you have a chance. [Bucknuts]
The major project for the Laurinaitis and the OSUOSU Official defense seems to be stopping NU's "Rells" - Tyrell Sutton and Terrell Jordan.  One guy who will have to do that is former walk-on, CB Antonio Smith [right]
He is a great back. He runs tremendously hard and is really powerful. We know he will be ready. He is an Ohio guy and will come out and perform. -- [OSU Official Site]
Names you should also watch for are Soph DE Lawrence Wilson and maybe David Patterson, who  considered the close game at Illinois a test of character
Guys are going to need to handle that adversity because when we're playing Northwestern or the rest of the teams we have, there may be a time that we do get down.
Don't kid yourself, this defense is the heart and sole of the Buckeyes success this year. You have to bring your A game to even have a chance but nobody talks about the Buckeye's pass defense, probably NU's strength.

Special Teams
The special teams player of the week was freshman kicker Aaron Pettrey.

Injuries:
Freshman defensive back Kurt Coleman was "banged" towards the end of the Illinois game and is "questionable" this week. Backup Tight End Brandon Smith also won't make the trip to Evanston.

Star WR Ted Ginn Jr. has a broken toe.

Starting LT Alex Boone is "another week away" according to Tressel.

Freshman wide receiver Ray Small (concussion) will be "full-go" beginning Wednesday, according to Tressel.
Outside of losing Mike D'Andrea for the whole year and Anderson Russell for three quarters of the year, we've been very blessed from a health standpoint [OSU Official Site]

Overall:
So what do you think, are the Bucks looking ahead to "The Game" with Michigan, or will they come into Evanston loaded for Wildcat? After last weekend's close call, and NU's win over Iowa, Smith showed a healthy respect for Northwestern...
I think that game showed their determination. They have been through a lot this season, including a devastating loss to Michigan State, but they are still fighting. They are going to come out and play hard. -- [OSU Official Site]
I also had a note from an NU fan that if the Cats can pull off a win Saturday, Rutgers might slide into a BCS slot...hmmm, maybe some rooting for the Cats from New Jersey?

Then there's NU Coach Pat Fitzgerald's goal for the Wildcats...
I can't give you a national championship, I can't give you a bowl championship, but I can give you a third goal: Be nationally recognized, -- Chicago Tribune
Now would that be something else...

What the Cats Have to Do:
  • Don't fear the Buckeyes - Illinois was the first team I felt came out and played us with no fear. I think that is why they were so successful. They were fearless [Anthony Gonzales]
  • No Turnovers by us - I think C.J. Bacher said he needs to not be greedy? Sutton needs to hold on to the ball.
  • Force Turnovers - That was how Illinois kept the game close and there's a lot of press about Wells' penchant for fumbles
  • Give the ball to Tyrell Sutton a few more times - or Terrell Jordan, CJ & the "Rells" need to keep our Offense on the field Saturday.

  • TV -ABC Regional and ESPN GamePlan  - click on 3:30PM Coverage Map - ESPN2 in Pittsburgh and Philly
  • Radio - It will be on WGN, Starting at 2:30 WT, Dave Eanet and Ted Albrecht. Also WNUR, pregame at 10 AM WT and XM Satellite
We'll be chatting at the same spot

You can send your comments or "back door" information
to Coach Roy
Go Cats
Beat 'em All!
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Copyright 2006 by PurpleWildcats.com/Purple Reign

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