Stepping Into Manhood, One Spread Offense At A Time

By Johnny Ginter on October 7, 2010 at 4:00p
17 Comments

Let's say you're Christian Bryant. You're a true freshman, right out of high school, and through your heady and ballhawking play in the preseason practices you've been rewarded with a second string spot behind Tyler Moeller at the Star position. You know that Star is a somewhat unique position in the 4-3 defense; different schools run different variations of the idea, but at Ohio State it requires a versatile defensive back who can cover someone just as well as he can stop the run. At 5 foot 9 and 175 pounds you may be somewhat undersized for your position, but hell, Antoine Winfield is that size and he certainly hasn't suffered for it.

Then against Illinois, Tyler Moeller is lost for the season and you are suddenly thrust into the starting role, a virtual impossibility at Ohio State for a true freshman on defense. It's possible you react to the news like you've just been attacked by Sharktopus, but it's more likely that you handle it in stride by saying:

Orhian Johnson was telling me throughout, 'You're a grown man now,' so I had to step up. I had to leave a little kid game. I had to grow to be a man.

And during the game you perform very well, recording 5 solo tackles and looking like you've been out there all season. Which is terrific. And hey, next week you get a chance to ease in to Big Ten play a little more against an Indiana team that is more than a three touchdown dog. "Sure it's the Big Ten," you think, "but at least it isn't Denard or Cousins or somebody."

Well, Hypothetical Christian Bryant, I'm afraid you've just screwed up. Because while it is pretty unlikely the Hoosiers will pull off the upset, you, Christian Bryant (5 foot 9, 175 pounds, true freshman) are very probably going to be picked on all game long by the first of many teams who have been licking their chops at the idea of an Ohio State defensive weakness they could exploit. And unfortunately for you, the Indiana Hoosiers are probably the most dangerous team offensively in the Big Ten that no one is talking about.

A few stats, with a caveat:

  • Indiana averages 39.8 points per game, 3rd in the Big Ten
  • Indiana is 4th in the country with 348.3 passing yards per game
  • Indiana averages 42.3 passing attempts per game, but still completes 69.8 percent of their passes
  • The only teams that have numbers comparable to this are Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Arizona

The caveat is, not surprisingly, that these numbers have come against some terrible defenses. Because of this it might be easy to dismiss Indiana's success through the air somewhat, but here are a few other bits of information that show why Indiana poses a unique challenge to Ohio State specifically:

  • In five games, Ohio State has allowed 12 passing plays of 20 yards or more
  • 4 of these plays came against Eastern Michigan
  • Indiana has 17 passing plays of 20 yards or more through 4 games, an average of 4.25 of these plays per game
  • Ben Chappell has 162 passing attempts and exactly 1 interception in 2010

There are two points that I'm trying to make with these numbers. The first is that defensive lapses in the secondary can happen at any time against any team. Ohio State has given up more than its fair share of long pass plays this year, and Indiana has three WRs who are capable of turning a missed assignment into a huge gain at any given time. Again, Eastern Michigan was able to complete 4 passing plays of 20 yards or more against OSU. Should injuries or even simple rotation cause several untested freshmen to be in the secondary at the same time, they must keep focused or Indiana will make them pay.

The second point is that Indiana has an absolutely legitimate passing attack, regardless of the type of competition they've played. Ben Chappell is completing 71.6% of his passes with a 12:1 TD:INT ratio. That is impressive against anybody, and if he continues to make good decisions with the football, the OSU defense isn't going to be able to rely solely on timely turnovers to get Chappell off the field. Indiana also has the use of three very dangerous WRs in 6 foot 5 Demarlo Belcher (93.75 receiving yards per game), 6 foot 3 Terrance Turner (121 receiving yards against Akron), and 6 foot 3 Tandon Doss (15 receptions against Michigan for 221 yards).

I think an upset is possible here (yes, really), but ultimately I don't think Indiana will pull off the win on Saturday. It's a home game, their defense is terrible, and they are probably going to be way too one dimensional to total the kind of yards they usually do. But Indiana will be a unique test to see just how prepared the Buckeye secondary is to withstand a team with little interest in offensive balance; a team looking to threaten them short, medium, and deep on virtually every play. Hopefully Torrence and Chekwa can remain healthy, and the newest starter on the team can keep his cool as the Hoosiers literally throw everything they've got at him.

17 Comments

Comments

Denny's picture

So glad that Real Christian Bryant is Sharktopus-proof.

I bet he gets all the ladies with that line.

Taquitos.

Luke's picture

#SympathyForTheSharktopus

Denny's picture

Pleased to eat you/Don't forget my name

Taquitos.

iball's picture

Warning, no naked yoga on the beach.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

poguemahone's picture

I think you're understating just how crappy the defenses Indiana has played have been. Of the three FBS defenses Indiana has played, the best is 102nd-ranked Michigan.

I think Indiana will get their yards and probably score multiple touchdowns, but I think an upset is roughly as likely here as it was against Eastern and Ohio 

Johnny Ginter's picture

that may be true, but indiana's passing attack was fairly legit last year and will likely remain so this year. at this point i think it'd be hard to argue that chappell isn't a very good QB or that tandon doss isn't an NFL caliber WR

Poe McKnoe's picture

Indiana at the Shoe.  Unless they hired Ron Zook and has his recruiting classes, color me not worried one bit.  Indiana puts up 17 max.  There's a such thing as getting Zooked, but not such thing as getting Lynched...

Ok, there is a such thing as getting lynched, just not Lynched.

blazers34's picture

I wanna see the front 4 get some serious pressure this week.

Buckeye Black's picture

That would be great, or get a little more creative on the blitz.

tampa buckeye's picture

Ya'll see me on the cover of vice mag?  

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Taylor Martinez is blowing up right now - serious Denard-y numbers. 

AJ's picture

there should be a rule on not using that phrase on this site...

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -----------Woody Hayes

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Ya know, it hurt me to write it. But I can say it in full faith that the Silver Bullets could shut either of them down. 

AJ's picture

that goes without saying...but you can say it.  cool points returned

"Without winners, there wouldn't even be civilization." -----------Woody Hayes

Poe McKnoe's picture

Correct.  The proper term is Denardian, not Denard-y.

 

Dah.

Olentangy's picture

i feel like we're in for a very heavy dose of the soft cover-2/cover-3 that frustrates the hell out of everybody but ultimately gets the job done... especially w/ heacock having a true froshy stepping in. it'll be interesting to see what position heacock sends the pressure from... does he trust bryant's instincts and physicality to get to the qb in time to send him off the edge a la Moeller? i expect a ton of completions saturday simply b/c of the defensive game plan but ultimately not a ton to show for it.

How firm thy friendship

dmurder's picture

we could always put anderson russell in...lol

"We have always had the best damn band in the land, now we have the best damn team in the land"- Jim Tressel 1-03-03