5 Questions: Eastern Michigan at Ohio State

Though the incoming opponent is winless, there are tasks the Buckeyes must attend to Saturday when Eastern Michigan visits Ohio State. We have an eye on the OSU running game, the EMU offense, the Eagles' blitz, special teams and potential trick plays.

1. Will Ohio State get its running backs in gear?

While the Buckeyes enter the game Saturday in the nation's top 25 in total offense, rushing and scoring, production from the running back position has left something to be desired the past two weeks.

Co-No. 1 tailbacks Brandon Saine and Dan Herron combined to carry 47 times for 148 yards in victories over Miami and Ohio, an average of just 3.1 yards per tote.

Running back coach Dick Tressel was careful not to say the running game is a concern, but he admitted it must continue to improve.

"Let's say this: We're not unhappy," he said. "There is some development going on. I'm not unhappy with the running game. I think we've got good people and there is great potential there. We popped a couple the first week and the last two we haven't, but I think that will show up again."

Through three games, Eastern Michigan has allowed 253.0 yards rushing per game, 117th in the country.

2. Can Eastern Michigan get anything going on offense?

Ohio State safeties coach Paul Haynes said to look for the Eagles to utilize a one-back spread offense with a lot of misdirection and motion.

"I think they want to run the ball and hit you with play action," Haynes said. "It's almost similar to option football. It's assignment football. They do a lot of motion and misdirection and try to get your eyes in different places."

Starter Alex Gillett and backup Devontae Payne should both see time at quarterback. Haynes says Payne is more of a drop-back passe.

The team has not been very effective with either player taking snaps. Overall, EMU is 91st in the nation in scoring (20.7 points per game) and 87th in total yards (332.0).

3. How will Ohio State handle the Eastern Michigan defense?

Head coach Jim Tressel warned reporters earlier this week the Eagles will bring an aggressive attitude into Ohio Stadium.

That means quarterback Terrelle Pryor and his offensive line must be on the same page to make sure they can avoid giving up big plays going the other way.

"Recognition and awareness and patience and rhythm are going to have to be there," Jim Tressel said.

Ohio sold out a few times last week with middling results. When the Bobcats did break through, Pryor often made them pay by avoiding a rusher and making a play down the field. That included touchdown passes to both Saine and tight end Jake Stoneburner.

4. What will special teams look like this week?

Ohio State's special teams continued to be a mixed bag last week as a punt was blocked and a kickoff return touchdown by Ohio was called back because of a penalty.

Meanwhile, punting may be what the visitors Saturday do best. The Eagles are sixth in the country in net punting, although they are 118th in punt returns.

"They do a good job of covering, but bottom line is he gets the ball off quick and punts the ball to where they want him to punt it, so a lot of teams haven't gotten a lot of returns," Haynes said.

5. Will Ohio State throw out any unexpected wrinkles?

As unlikely as it might seem, Jim Tressel has shown a fondness for reaching into his bag of tricks against overmatched opponents in the past.

Last season, the Buckeyes executed an onside kick and scored a touchdown on a reverse pass by wide receiver DeVier Posey.

Could such exploits be in the offing again to give future opponents more things to think about?

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