The Midshipmen are reliable as clockwork when it comes to offense, and Ohio State spent plenty of time before the season working on ways to slow down Navy's potential triple-option attack.
This season, the Buckeyes have not had that luxury on either side of the ball while preparing for Thursday night's season opener against Marshall. The first opponent of the 2010 season features plenty of unknowns, starting with first-year head coach Doc Holliday and his new staff. The new coaching staff alone has made the Buckeyes not only look at tape of the Thundering Herd but tape from other schools that the coaches have worked at.
"You've got to look at (Florida International's) offense. You've got to look at Purdue," said Brian Rolle, referring to a pair of stops in the coaching history of new Marshall offensive coordinator Bill Legg.
Legg served in that capacity at Florida International for the past two seasons after spending five years working for the Boilermakers. Both of those teams were spread offenses, and even Holliday comes to Marshall after working for schools with wide-open offense at Florida and West Virginia among others during his 31-year career as an assistant.
Even so, several players and coaches said they have not spent too much time worrying about what the Thundering Herd will show. Instead they're looking at themselves.
"You really have to work fundamentally on what you do, the things you do at your position and really key in on those things," cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said. "That's what we've really talked about. We know we're going to have to adjust, and the adjustment has to come quick."
Added wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell: "There's a lot of uncertainties going into this one. We've got to study ourselves and study their personnel, but schematically, who knows what we're going to get?"
"The big challenge is that you just don't know what you're going to with the new staff – a good staff that they are," he added. "They're going to be very well coached. They'll play hard, so it'll be interesting."
Despite the perceived major differences in preparing for a team like Navy and an unknown in a team like Marshall, Johnson said it's the same.
"You're banging your head because you don't know what's going to happen," he said of preparing for the Thundering Herd. "You're banging your head last year because you knew what Navy was going to do. ... It's tough."
With the showdown against Miami (Fla.) looming after the opener, the fact that the Buckeyes won't know what Marshall will throw at them until kickoff could be a benefit. Senior defensive lineman Cameron Heyward said it has helped the team stay on the task at hand.
"It's helping us focus a little bit more, and gets us in the film room to see what mistakes we've had in the past and see what success they've had," he said. "It helps us get ready with everything we can."
That was a sentiment shared by fellow captain, tailback Brandon Saine.
"It makes us realize we have to be on our A-game," the senior said. "We have to play our game and not worry about what they're doing."