Sugar Bowl Teams Might Try To Surprise

Ohio State has unveiled something new on a regular basis in bowl games under Jim Tressel. Will that trend continue? That seems likely, but what is in store is anyone's guess.

Ohio State has made a habit of pulling something new out of its offensive bag of tricks during bowl season.

In 2007, Brandon Saine played an expanded role at tailback and fullback.

Two years ago, the Buckeyes used a dual-quarterback system including both Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor plus some wrinkles in the running game.

Last season, head coach Jim Tressel and offensive coordinator Jim Bollman pulled the biggest surprise of all by unveiling a ball-control passing game that had Pryor put the ball in the air 37 times after averaging only 17 passes per game in the last month of the season.

Naturally that means reporters in New Orleans have been curious if another move is in the offing, and just as unsurprisingly, OSU coaches and players have not had much specific to say.

They acknowledged looking at all their options, though.

"Bowl games are interesting," Bollman said. "No. 1, it's going to be a makeup of the team mentally, how they handle the change of the preparation and practice facilities and timing, so how you keep your focus throughout the week as you're getting ready to do those things."

Of course, this season is a bit different from last season in that the Buckeyes were far more balanced on offense through the course of the year as opposed to 2009 when they leaned heavily on the run, especially down the stretch run of another Big Ten championship season.

Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson expects in their first game of 2011 they will look a lot like they did throughout 2010.

"I think they will continue to do what has allowed them to go 11-1, and that's mix it up," Robinson said. "You load the box and they can hurt you with the passing game, and their play-action pass. You break your box down and they spread you out, and the quarterback and tailback can hurt you as well.

"They're not going to change much, we wouldn't figure. Obviously, we know we have a size difference, but our kids have faced differences in size in our conference as well. Why change anything? Why change something that's not broken? They're 11-1. This guy has won a lot of games. Their quarterback has been very successful with what they do."

As a result, the Razorbacks planned to identify what they think the Buckeyes do best and prepared most to stop them.

"As we watch their 12 games, the one thing we know is that we're getting something different," Robinson said. "It's not going to be a bunch; it's going to be one thing or two things. But, we'll get something different from them and that keeps you off balance a little bit, so we'll see how fast we can adjust."

Bollman acknowledged there is an urge to do more with more time to prepare, and that is not always a good thing.

"It's like any other game where you walk that line of what's too much and what's not enough but now you've got another month so how far do you go?" Bollman said. "That's something you've got to see. I think this year we did a better job of being a little more balanced at times. I think in a game like this against a good football team you've got to be prepared for that type of thing again.

"I think you've got to have the threat of being able to do both and you're going to have to execute both."

On the flip side, Tressel said the Buckeyes are on alert for something new from Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino and the Hogs offense.

"Bobby's teams have always done that," he said. "I thought his brother (Illinois defensive coordinator Paul) did good a job of that against us with Illinois this year. They came out especially early and did a couple of key-breaker things, and it was challenging. And so we have to make sure that in the course of the game we don't get disappointed that they're not doing exactly what we've prepared to do, because it's not within the rules that they have to."

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