5 Answers: Michigan at Ohio State

This week we were looking to see which quarterback would have the better day, how Ohio State would choose to attack the Michigan defense, which star defensive lineman would have a bigger impact and if Michigan's play-action passing would be a factor.

1. Can Ohio State contain Denard Robinson?

Michigan's sophomore quarterback entered the game third in the nation in rushing at 139.8 yards per game but failed to hit that number after the Buckeyes knocked him out of the game late in the second quarter.

Robinson had 101 yards in the first quarter but finished with only 105. He left in the second quarter with dislocated fingers on his left (non-throwing) hand, but his replacement, Tate Forcier, was not very effective.

The Buckeyes' game plan was to get the ball out of Robinson's hands, and it seemed to work. Aside from one long run by Michael Shaw, the Michigan running backs struggled to make anything happen.

"I think getting the ball out of his hands was the most successful game plan that we could have," defensive end Nathan Williams said. "At the beginning of the season he was a Heisman candidate, so as long as the ball was out of his hands we could do what we do on defense and that's pursue to the ball."


2. Can the Ohio State defensive backs hold their water?

Robinson completed a couple of early passes to keep drives alive, but Ohio State was able to avoid giving up any passing plays over 22 yards.

The Wolverines were able to hurt teams with play-action passing at other points in the season, but Ohio State cornerback Chimdi Chekwa said that was not something that concerned the Buckeyes much.

"I think what we talked about was letting them throw the underneath passes and coming up and making the play," Chekwa said. "Sometimes I got a little too aggressive and went after the short pass and they got it behind me, but we were just out there flying around and playing like silver bullets."


3. Who has the bigger impact, Mike Martin or Cameron Heyward?

Martin, Michigan's best defensive player, had six tackles but was hardly noticeable as the Buckeyes piled up 37 points in three quarters then put it on autopilot.

Heyward also posted six tackles and played a key role in controlling the edge against the Michigan running game.

He was part of a defensive line that controlled Michigan's improved offensive front and prevented the Wolverines from sustaining much success.

"I thought the second half in particular our defensive line kind of took over," defensive coordinator and line coach Jim Heacock said. "We were able to get some pressure and we didn't have to blitz, which is a little bit shaky against a guy like (Robinson), so we felt like we had to get three- and four-man pressure. I thought the second half we did. The first half we didn't really get after him like we needed to. In the second half we got after him pretty good and got some pretty good pops on him. I think once we started controlling the front a little bit more he had to get rid of the ball a little bit quicker and then the backend was able to do a good job of covering. They all work together."


4. What kind of day will Terrelle Pryor have?

Ohio State's quarterback improved to 3-0 against Michigan and had his best game yet against the Wolverines.

His first throw was shades of an early 2008 interception when he directed a pass well short of intended receiver Dane Sanzenbacher that looked like it could be caught by a MIchigan defender, but overall he made far more good plays than bad.

Despite a sore shoulder, Pryor completed 18 of 27 passes for 220 yards with two touchdowns. He caused some consternation with his one interception, a bad decision to make a late throw that was intercepted at the goal line at the end of the second quarter, but Pryor's knack for keeping plays alive longer than the usual quarterback paid off on several occasions.

"He did a great job, an unbelievable job," offensive coordinator Jim Bollman said of Pryor's passing when he scrambled. "He often does."

He added 49 yards rushing on 12 carries.


5. Air it out, or ball control?

Michigan threw a wrench into Ohio State's plans by abandoning its 3-3-5 defense in favor of a look that was more like a 4-3, but the Buckeyes eventually got it going and finished with 478 total yards.

They had a balanced 220 yards through the air and 258 on the ground.

"It was a strange game offensively where we kind of led with the pass in the first half and all of a sudden we got a couple turnovers and we are looking more at leading with the run the second half, and I don't even know if we threw the ball the second half," head coach Jim Tressel said. "It wasn't like all of a sudden a snowstorm came in or something. It was just that's not what we needed to do and we always talk about we do what the team needs, and first half we needed to throw it. They were jamming the box full of people and we felt like we could throw the ball. And our guys were protecting well. And TP was stepping up running and making good decisions."


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