|#11 Ohio State 1-0, 0-0 Big Ten Roster | Schedule||September 8, 2007 12:00 PM ET ------ Ohio Stadium Columbus, OH||Akron 1-0, 0-0 MAC Roster | Schedule|
Opponent: The Sweater Vest Love Fest 2007 Stadium Tour continues as the Buckeyes once again square off against a school that Jim Tressel has a special connection to. Tressel started his coaching career as an Akron graduate assistant in 1975 and then got a paying gig with school to take care of the offensive backs and kicking game for 3 seasons before moving on to Miami (OH). Toss in the fact that the Zips were the opponent that first Saturday of The Vest's Ohio State career which also was the first weekend the renevated Shoe was open for business and.. And you can see we're searching for reasons to hype these guys up.
Akron is probably a middle of the pack MAC team. Yoda calls for them to finish 5th in the MAC East conference, slightly ahead of the juggernaut that is Temple football. Considering Steele lives in the heart of MAC country, we'll defer to him. The good news for Zips fans: the Zips return 8 starters on the defensive side of the ball, including their top 6 tacklers from the last season. The bad news: a brand new quarterback and 4 new offensive linemen.
Sophomore Chris Jacquemain (#11) got the bulk of the snaps at quarterback and turned in a decent performance going 14/24 for 125, 1 score and no picks in the Zips' 22-14 victory over Army at Cleveland Browns Stadium last week. If you're quick with math, you know that his yards-per-completion was a meager 5.2. Jacquemain seems to have a go-to guy in senior wide receiver Jabari Arthur (#12) as he caught 11 of the quarterback's passes for 125 yards including a 19 yarder that the two hooked up for 6 on.
The new offensive line only allowed 1 sack to Army, but the team only picked up 133 yards rushing on 35 carries, an average of 3.8 per carry. Amazingly, 7 different Zips rushed the ball last week but Dennis Kennedy (#3), a former Buckeye recruit that failed to qualify in 2004, led the team with 13 carries for 72 yards. Kennedy, a junior, paced the Zips with 999 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns last season and considering the fact that he was on his way to becoming a Buckeye, you know he's got skills.
On defense, Akron employs a "Mustang" 3-3-5, a cousin of the 46 defense, which presents opportunities to run on it. Army's McMahand, who's no Beanie Wells (or even Michael Wiley for that matter) had 21 for 84 last week. The Zips are strongest in the middle of the defense with junior linebacker Kevin Grant (#30) and senior backer Brian Stokes (#43). In the secondary, the Zips go 5-9, 5-10, 5-10 and 5-11, so Taurian Washington, Hartline and Robo, all at least 6-2 should be able to pose some matchup problems in the passing game.
Notes: Akron is 1-5 all-time against OSU, the last win coming in 1894... The Zips are 0-9 in their last 9 games against Big Ten teams being outscored 44-7 on average... Akron was 2-7-1 against The Vest during his days at YSU... Ohio State put up 525 yards of offense against the Zips in their last meeting in 2001.
Buckeye Breakdown: After one game, Buckeye fans are starting to feel good about the quarterback situation, which was a big unknown heading into this season. What fans are concerned about now is the running game after the lackluster performance the unit turned in against Youngstown State. Bollman and the coaching staff sent a message to the line by not awarding the Jim Parker outstanding lineman award following the YSU game. As others have pointed out, the The Vest didn't exactly open up the playbook against the Penguins last week. He could have easily called some pitch plays when the Bucks had the ball down on the goal line to leverage the OSU speed advantage on the corners, but instead called middle of the line running plays to get the hogs the work they obviously need. I'm willing to give the guys the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it is hard getting up to play a I-AA opponent. If so, Akron is their chance for redemption. If the line and running game sputters again against the Zips, expect there to be some nail-biting among the Buckeye faithful in the week leading up to the Washington game.
Running back Beanie Wells was very hard on himself for last week's performance according to his teammates and the coaching staff. Much like the O-line situation, Akron is a prefet chance to get on track. I'd be very surprised if he struggled through another weekend of rushing the football. If he does, then Saine deserves more looks to push the big fella a little harder.
As mentioned, the Buckeye receivers could have a huge day against the vertically-challenged Akron defensive backs. Ohio State will have the air option when needed, but should look to pound the ball and work on fixing the problems with the running game. If the Zips stack the box, watch out. Tressel indicated that sophomore burner Ray Small could see his first action of the season and he participated in practice this week without the aid of a colored no-contact jersey. His role is important if the Bucks hope to stretch the field against better quality opponents down the road. Small needs to get healthy because Taurian Washington may be in his mirror, closer than he appears. The return of Small and the emergence of Washington could mean less playing time for Dane Sanzenbacher, which is good because you don't win national championships with wide receivers that are 5-10/175 (wet).
On the defensive side of the ball, Ohio State has an opportunity to tune their pressure game given the relative inexperience of Akron's quarterback and offensive line. Both Robert Rose and Cameron Heyward will get a chance to prove to the coaching staff that they are deserving of filling Wilson's shoes at the end spot. I know there's a lot of love going around for Heyward because he's Ironhead's son, but Rose is a sack machine in the making. Expect Little Animal to be everywhere again and watch for Anderson Russell to quiet the yapping of his teammates by getting his hands on a pick-six.
You can bet the coaching staff had no problem motivating the team this week after what happened in Ann Arbor last weekend. Welcome to the modern world of (somewhat) parity. If a team ins't prepared and ready for the test, they can lose on any given Saturday. Yes, even you, USC. The game plan will be similar to what we saw last weekend: work on the things that need work, get snaps for a lot of players, get the "W", try to avoid injuries and eliminate the mental mistakes.
Notes: Tressel says that he was rooting for Michigan last weekend... Akron native and current OSU speed coordinator Butch Reynolds will be the game's honorary captain... Tressel will be attempting to earn his 199th career victory against the Zips... The game will be the 499th contest at the Horseshoe... OSU has scored at least 1 touchdown in 126 consecutive games... Hottie Charissa Thompson will handle BTN sideline duties again for the Buckeye game... Ohio State last lost to an in-state opponent in 1921 when Oberlin defeated the Buckeyes 7-6 (full disclosure: the future Mrs. 11W is an Oberlin grad and urged the inclusion of this point).
Jason: OSU 31, Akron 6
Chris: OSU 37, Akron 10