1. Stop the Run – The Buckeyes should have a huge chip on their shoulders after last week's game. If the Buckeyes can hold Michigan's ground game in check they have an excellent chance to win. The magic number to me is to hold the Wolverines to under 3.5 yards per rush attempt. Here are some things the Buckeyes must do to control the Michigan running game:
A. The Buckeyes defense must hold their gap integrity better. There were too many plays where the Buckeyes would have two guys in same gap. That would leave a running lane open.
B. The Buckeye defensive line must command double teams in the Michigan zone running attack. The longer they can hold that double team the more time it gives the linebackers to make the play.
C. Get penetration! Do not run upfield! Buckeye defenders got too far upfield in their penetration. When defenders get too far upfield they create running lanes for the offense.
D. Get off the block. Even the Buckeye linebackers were getting blocked at times by the Illini wide receivers. Use your hands and get off blocks.
E. Fly to the ball. When the Michigan running backs get tackled Ohio State needs to have lots of silver helmets there. One way to make up for a missed tackle is to have teammates there to clean it up.
2. Hit Chad Henne – Henne is not very mobile in the pocket. The Buckeyes should be able to pin their ears back and come after Henne on throwing downs. Add that to the fact that Henne has an injured shoulder, among other things, means the Buckeyes must hit Henne early and often. Henne is a very effective quarterback when he has time. Normally, he has the arm strength to make all types of throws.
3. Prevent the big play to Mario Manningham. When the Wolverine offense starts to sputter they turn to Manningham to make a big play in the passing game. That play typically comes in the fly route to the sidelines. The Ohio State corners must keep him in front of them.
1. Todd Boeckman must protect the ball. Last week Boeckman had the type of performance that can plague first-year starters. He must bounce back. Todd must take what is given to him. One could argue that all three of his interceptions came when he was trying to get more than was there.
2. Get Beanie Wells over 100 yards. The Michigan defense has not looked good against the run the last three halves they have played. The Buckeye offensive line must come out and play physical football. The Buckeyes must wear the Michigan defense down. It is the end of the year when teams are wearing down. This will help the Buckeyes protect their own defense. The Michigan run defense has had trouble at times all year stopping the run. The Buckeyes need to make it one more game this year that happens.
3. Protect Todd Boeckman: The Buckeye offensive line, especially in the middle, has allowed the opponents to get pressure on him in the last two games. Two of the three interceptions came last week when the quarterback felt pressure. There is nothing a quarterback hates more than is to get pressure coming right up the middle at him. The interior of the Buckeye offensive line must hold up against the Michigan pass rush.
It is time for the Buckeye special teams to step and be special. The special teams need to win the match up against the Wolverine special teams. Many times coaches just want their special teams to not lose games for them. The Buckeyes this last week did not lose the game for the team, but they did not create enough plays to win the game. If this Buckeye team is going to win the Big Ten it needs to win special teams' battles.
Chalk Talk's Game Plan
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