Opponent Preview: The Final Four

By Michael Citro on August 23, 2013 at 12:10p
34 Comments
HATE HATE HATEEleven Warriors 2013 Ohio State Football Preview

“We have met the enemy and they are ours.” — Oliver Hazard Perry, commander of the American fleet, after defeating the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie

Ohio State has already met the enemies they’ll face over the final four weeks of the 2013 football season. The Buckeyes faced Purdue, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan just last season. Of those final four foes in 2013, only Purdue has changed coaches, so Ohio State will know pretty much what to expect from each of those teams this season.

Purdue

Stay Purdue, Purdue

The Boilermakers went 6-7 overall (3-5 in Big Ten play) in Danny Hope’s final season in West Lafayette. Along the way, they scared the bejeezus out of the Buckeyes in Columbus, leading much of the game until Kenny G’s sweet, sweet jazz played out the final minute of regulation and overtime. It was a payback for the Buckeyes, who lost in OT the year before at Purdue, following a blocked Drew Basil extra point. Officially, Ohio State is 39-13-2 in the all-time series.

Purdue was 3-6 before winning three straight against the I teams — Iowa, Illinois and Indiana — to become bowl eligible. The Boilers’ reward was a 58-14 shellacking at the hands of the Oklahoma State Cowboys in something called the Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Former OSU assistant Darrell Hazell replaces Hope at the Purdue helm. Hazell was 16-10 in two seasons at Kent State, but really turned the Golden Flashes around last season, going 11-3 and earning the school’s first bowl berth since 1972.

OFFENSE: Senior quarterback Rob Henry appeared in 11 games last year as a backup to Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve, completing 21/38 passes (55.3%) for 216 yards and three touchdowns with one interception. Although not called upon to run much last year, Henry is mobile. However, he’s got a fight on his hands for the No. 1 spot with freshman Danny Etling. Whoever wins the battle will be protected by a veteran line. The Boilers return three starters on the offensive line, including both tackles.

Junior running back Akeem Hunt out of Georgia takes over for departing starter Akeem Shavers. Hunt rushed 42 times in 2012 for 335 yards (8 YPC) and two touchdowns, and he did this last year. Hunt is versatile and averaged more than 15 yards per reception in 2012, with two receiving touchdowns. Senior Gary Bush is the team’s leading returning receiver. He caught 41 passes for 360 yards and seven touchdowns in 2012.

DEFENSE: Purdue returns nine starters on defense, but Kawann Short is not one of them. Senior D-lineman Bruce Gaston returns to lead the villainous Purdue defense. Gaston produced only 28 tackles last year, but made key plays with 5.5 TFLs, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He’ll anchor the Boilermaker front.

Senior Ricardo Allen is an experienced cornerback who made 45 tackles in 2012, with four TFLs, a sack, an interception and four pass breakups. Junior linebacker Joe Gilliam finished fourth among Boilermaker tacklers a year ago, with 57 takedowns. He made 41 solo stops, with 2.5 TFLs, a sack and a forced fumble.

PLAYER to WATCH: Keep an eye on Allen. No. 21 for Purdue is a talented open-field tackler and a good cover corner. He could make life difficult on Braxton Miller.

Illinois

The Fighting Illini were terrible in Tim Beckman’s first season as head coach in 2012. Illinois went 2-10 (0-8) and the next conference win will be Beckman’s first. Looking at the Illini schedule, it’s hard to see where one of those Ws might come from. The Buckeyes hold a 64-30-4 advantage in the series, including a 52-22 home victory last year. Ohio State has had some close calls but hasn’t lost in Champaign since the early 90s.

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OFFENSE: Senior quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase is coming off an injury-plagued 2012 season, but even when healthy he wasn’t all that effective. In 10 games, Scheelhaase completed 149/246 (60.6%) for 1,361 yards and four touchdowns, with eight interceptions. He was also the team’s third-leading rusher, with 303 yards on 125 attempts (2.4 YPC), scoring four touchdowns. Junior Reilly O’Toole spelled Scheelhaase often last year, playing in seven games and completing 65/87 (74.7%) for 564 yards and six scores, against four picks. O’Toole isn’t the running threat Scheelhaase is, but he’s been the more precise passer.

Junior running back Donovonn Young is the leading returning rusher. Young gained a team high 598 yards in 2012 on 131 carries (4.4 YPC), with three touchdowns. He’ll probably get more than 10 carries per game this season under new offensive coordinator Bill Cubit (formerly of Western Michigan).

The leading returning wide receiver for Illinois is senior Ryan Lankford. He caught 37 passes for 469 yards and five touchdowns a year ago, but only made five receptions over the final eight games. Look for junior college transfers Geronimo Allison and Martize Barr to potentially make an impact in the Illini passing game. The caveat is that Illinois allowed a B1G-worst 39 sacks last year and lost their two best offensive linemen to graduation.

DEFENSE: The Illinois defense only returns four starters, but it was also one of the worst units in the league a year ago. Sophomore linebacker Mason Monheim was a two-time B1G Freshman of the Week and a second-team freshman All-American in 2012. Monheim led the Illini with 86 tackles, with six TFLs, 1.5 sacks, an interception, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. Senior linebacker Jonathan Brown is pretty good when healthy. He missed three games last year, recording 59 tackles, a team-high 9.5 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Junior safety Earnest Thomas is the lone returning starter in the secondary. Like Brown, Thomas has shown he’s capable of making big plays. Thomas was fourth on the Illini with 69 tackles in 2012, with two TFLs, a sack, an interception and three forced fumbles.

PLAYER to WATCH: Monheim looks like a star in the making on the Illini defense. The Buckeyes will need to locate him on every play because he’s a difference maker.

Indiana

The Indiana Hoosiers were only 4-8 (2-6) a season ago, but they sure seemed like a better team than that when the Buckeyes visited Bloomington. Kevin Wilson has Indiana’s offense playing very well and if the defense ever catches up, the Hoosiers could become a problem. As it is, Indiana is a sexy preseason pick to make a bowl game in 2013. Ohio State is 68-12-5 in the all-time series. Wilson’s offense gets the ball out quickly. Indiana allowed only 17 sacks last season.

CHROME, SON

OFFENSE: The Hoosiers return 10 offensive starters, but have to settle on a quarterback. They have three good ones — junior Cameron Coffman and sophomores Tre Roberson and Nate Sudfield have all been efficient in Wilson’s offense. Roberson completed 33/50 (66%) for 368 yards with two touchdowns and a pick last year, before breaking a leg in the second game. Coffman took over as starter, completing 247/407 (60.7%) for 2,734 yards, with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Sudfield played in seven games, going 51/82 (62.2%) for 632 yards and seven touchdowns, with one.

Redshirt senior running back Stephen Houston returns. He carried 161 times in 2012 for 749 yards (4.7 YPC) and 12 touchdowns. He also caught 37 passes for 381 yards and four more scores. Indiana returns almost everyone at a deep wide receiver position, including its three top guys — juniors Shane Wynn and Cody Latimer and senior Kofi Hughes.

DEFENSE: Indiana returns nine defensive starters, but lost tackles Adam Replogle and Larry Black to graduation. Senior safety Greg Heban returns after leading the Hoosiers in tackles (91), solo stops (68), and interceptions (3) last year. He picked off Braxton Miller in the end zone to thwart an Ohio State drive last season. Heban posted seven TFLs, eight pass breakups, a sack and a fumble recovery. He can make plays.

Redshirt junior linebacker David Cooper returns to the middle, where he made 86 stops a year ago. Cooper finished with three sacks, nine TFLs, three pass breakups and a forced fumble last season. Fellow linebacker Griffen Dahlstrom was Indiana’s “Will” linebacker in 2012, recording 48 tackles, seven TFLs, a sack and a forced fumble. Redshirt junior Ryan Phillis is the D-line’s leading returner, with 34 tackles, 3.5 TFLs and three sacks.

PLAYER to WATCH: Latimer scored six touchdowns last year and led Indiana in receiving yards (805) and yards per catch (15.8). He can move and get open, and he knows what to do with the football after the catch. Houston and Heban are also playmakers to keep an eye on.

Michigan

So big, yet so quiet.

The enemy from the north is getting a lot of love from the national media. The Wolverines were 8-5 (6-2) last year and fell to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. Although they’re a media darling and have recruited well the last couple of seasons, Michigan has a 5-7 mark away from the Big House in Brady Hoke’s first two seasons. The Buckeyes are 44-58-6 officially in the series, but have owned it since John Cooper was fired.

OFFENSE: Redshirt junior Devin Gardner will be the quarterback this year after the departure of Denard Robinson. Gardner completed 75/126 passes in 2012 for 1,219 yards and 11 touchdowns against five interceptions. He ran for 101 yards on 47 carries, but his 2.1 yards-per-attempt average is misleading due to sack yardage. Only two starting offensive linemen return, but one of them is All-American left tackle Taylor Lewan. Former Ohio State commit Kyle Kalis will likely be in the starting five.

Senior running back Fitzgerald Toussaint gained 514 yards on 130 attempts last year (4.0 YPC) and scored five touchdowns. He’s a talented runner and the Wolverines missed his presence in their 26-21 loss in the Shoe last November. If not healthy, freshman Derrick Green or junior Thomas Rawls will get the call from offensive coordinator Al Borges.

Senior receiver Jeremy Gallon caught 49 balls a year ago for 829 yards and four touchdowns. He’s small at 5-foot-8 but he’s the class of Michigan’s receiving corps. Senior Drew Dileo finished 2012 with 20 receptions for 331 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore tight end Devin Funchess caught five of his 15 receptions last year for touchdowns.

DEFENSE: Redshirt junior linebacker Jake Ryan is coming off an ACL tear, but is expected back in October. He led Michigan in tackles (88), solos (56), TFLs (16) and sacks (4.5) last season. Junior linebacker Desmond Morgan (#48) was third among Michigan tacklers in 2012, with 81. Eleven of those, as well as half a sack of Braxton Miller, came in the Shoe. Junior defensive end Frank Clark can be a handful, as Ohio State found out last November.

Two regular starters return to the secondary, notably senior safety Thomas Gordon and junior cornerback Raymon Taylor. Gordon made 81 stops with four TFLs and a sack a year ago, picking off two passes. Taylor made 45 stops and also intercepted two passes. Junior Blake Countess will be back from a knee injury he sustained in the opener against Alabama last year.

PLAYER to WATCH: Gardner can run, throw and catch. He scored seven rushing touchdowns in 2012 and he caught 16 passes for 266 yards and four more TDs. He is elusive in the pocket, so Ohio State will have its hands full containing him.

34 Comments

Comments

BTBuckeye's picture

I still can't believe we won that Pudon't game

jdagrava.1's picture

I still have it on DVR to bring out on a rainy day and baske in the glory that was one of the best regular season games I've ever witnessed.

"It takes a little something special to be a great player.  What you got in you, we're going to find out.  And if there's a touch of greatness in there, how cool would that be?"

-Urban F. Meyer

wojodta's picture

Yeah it should have been much higher on BTN's best games of 2012 list. I think it might have been #7, which is ridiculously low.

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

If they had only been able to tell us that Braxton's injury wasn't season-ending at the time, that ending would have been one of my top three happiest Buckeye moments of all time. B Mill's injury dampened the mood, but I was still jumping around like a madman in my house, alone mind you, from the 47 second mark through the subseuequent overtime.

cinserious's picture

That Roby gif had me mesmerized for about 2 minutes straight. I cant wait till The Game already!
I'm liking the fact that our young D-linemen now have the opportunity to straight up kick Kyle Kalis' A__! There WILL be blood on the field.

Gone ham, be back soon...

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

I hope we go in 12-0 and they go in 11-1 or something like that and there is a full team vs team jumping shove fight at midfield before the game, with Shazier just throwing players five yards, two at a time.  After 7 minutes or so that will get broken up, but, to continue the CB/WR fight tradition:
How cool would it be if early in the game Roby and a mishigan WR go at it a la Gamble and Manningham, or Boston and Woodson.  I would wanna see Roby get in a sick jab under the facemask before the offsetting 15 yard penalties.

OneOfOver475000's picture

I need a refresher on the Gamble incident.  Manningham graduated H.S. in '05, Gamble was drafted in '04.  Maybe Arrington?

Buckeye419er's picture

That Roby gif had me mesmerized for about 2 minutes straight. I cant wait till The Game already!

Agreed

gordon38's picture

I have to say, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Roby's MOXIE!!!!!  And notice when he shoved the MI player, how far back the guy went...LOL!! 

buckskin's picture

Now that shove by Roby is one that will ALWAYS be approved the The Ohio State University!!!!

rkylet83's picture

If Darrell Hazel is sporting a well groomed pornstache on gameday I don't like our chances against Purdue.  I have a feeling he'll be channeling the gods to bless him as they did Danny Hope.  

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

I'm pretty sure they just spike our Gatorade with a highly inebriating mix of Quaaludes and LSD swiped from the campus chem lab.  The Buckeyes need to guard their drinks like college girls at Delta Sig parties while in West Lafayette.

rkylet83's picture

Based on how we've looked our last two trips there I tend to agree with us being drugged.  Luckily Coach Coombs blood stream is largely Red Bull and battery acid so drugs will have no effect.  At least we'll have a coach! 

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

I just fear that a coach won't do us much good if Braxton is having problems throwing because he doesn't want the ball to land outside of the kaleidoscope routes our receivers are running, because anybody who runs routes and leaves rainbow-colored trails like that is either gonna score a TD or is about to pop like a firework.
Coombs just needs to teach the boys how to play dehydrated for 3 hours.  That way we still beat the crap out of Purdue instead of playing while tripping and almost lose/choke.

jaxbuckeye's picture

I just don't get all the hype with Gardner.  I know he was highly recruited.  But in the handful of games I've watched, he was pedestrian at best.  I just don't see the same thing when I watch him that I do with great quarterbacks.
Also, don't get the hype with Jake Ryan.  He's decent but his name is thrown around like he's a top 10 linebacker.  Must be the Michigan thing.
Can't WAIT for our defensive line to feast on some Kalis.  What was that about blood?????

blueinsconsin's picture

Gardner showed a lot of potential last season in those 5 games, and going from QB to WR and back to QB would be hard on anyone.  Getting through that is pretty dang good.  A full off season as QB and a consistent style will help him have a good season.  He still needs to really prove it, but so far I'm optimistic.  
I don't know what you mean about Jake Ryan, the dude is really good, no question there.

Not here to troll...Go Blue

jaxbuckeye's picture

I'm thinking Gardner has no where to go BUT up.  His throwing was horrible in the games that I watched.  Whether it's moving around from position to position or not, if he duplicates that he won't be the starter for long.
As for Ryan, his name is constantly in the news which leads me to the question: why?  He averaged nearly 7 tackles a game (88 for the season) with a total of 3.5 sacks and 0 interceptions. 
By comparison, Shazier averaged nearly 10 a game (116 in 1 less game) with 5 sacks and 1 pick six.
One of these is a solid player the other an impact player.  Which one is that?

blueinsconsin's picture

I think you're highly underrating both players, especially Jake Ryan.  Gardner completed nearly 60% of his passes and 9.68 YPA, I'm not seeing horrible passing there.  Keep in mind, he also came back to QB after playing WR, so some rust needed to come off and getting back into the swing of things was going to happen - he did very well for the situation he was placed in.

Not here to troll...Go Blue

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

Now OSU players actually see a reason to fight back when scUM players talk sh*t or shove them.  I remember that stretch from 08-2010, and even arguably 2011 as that year's game had little postseason implication,  where it was like mishigan players acted like little teething puppies trying to piss off Buckeye players as much as possible.
In return, the Buckeyes kept their cool, because there is no reason to hit a puppy.
But now it's time to brawl again! I can't wait!  This rivalry is 95% of the way back to where it belongs.  Looking northwards for that other 5%.

Red Shirt Ensign's picture

Devin Gardner, the next great September Heisman Candidate!!  Go Bucks!

"Statistics always remind me of a fellow who drowned in a river where the average depth was only three feet." - Coach Woody Hayes

 

otrain2416's picture

Man watching that Roby gif just gets me fired up I love the hatred

 

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

YES! This is what I was referencing above thanks for posting it!

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

David Boston - 1   Charles Woodson - 0

M Man's picture

Charles Woodson =

  • Big Ten Championship
  • National Championship
  • Heisman Trophy
  • Super Bowl
  • Pro Bowl
  • Next stop, Hall of Fame

Cheers.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I'll give you Woodson - he is hard to dislike... Howard, on the other hand, is a complete douche bag!!!  Sorry, can't pay a compliment to TSUN without countering with an insult!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

cinserious's picture

Lovey-dovey time is over. With Urban and Hoke-a-mania at the helm, its time for this rivalry to reach new nasty hights and hatreds. Before,during, and after The Game!

Gone ham, be back soon...

ChicagoBuckeye33's picture

Looking at that clip it was crazy how Boston was somewhere around Roy Hall size but with Santonio speed.  I know there were accusations or proof or something of PEDs, but im sure quite a few players back then took them.
Regardless, he was a freak of nature.
Or was it Glenn with the roids?  It was somebody I have never been a big NFL fan and I know they were at that point in their career when the story broke.

bigbadbuck's picture

I love the pic of Roby versus the 3 "wannabes"......Come on Aug31st!!!!!

Battles are sometimes won by generals; wars are nearly always won by sergeants and privates. Football is no different, the guys down in the trenches win the games, not the coach.            

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

The ultimate cruel twist of fate I believe TSUN is going to go through is in the fact that Flounder Hoke is pulling in the recruits and raising their hope, however, as in all tragedies, he is at best, a .500 coach and will slowly but surely crush their spirits deep into the ground!  Game after game after game last year he was completely out coached - especially in The Game!  All to the delight of the Buckeye Nation!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

awlinBrutus's picture

I like our class thank you very much. Hoke vs Meyer pffffffffffft  Meyer is running over the BIG!!!!
 
 
 

MICHIGAN STILL SUCKS

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Michael.  Down the stretch Purdue always seems to be a challenge no matter what their record is, so I'll be keeping a close eye on this one.  Illinois looks to be really bad again, hope they continue that streak.  Indiana is developing on offense, if they ever get a defense they will be tough.  The huge game is of course The Game!  Can't wait for it!!
Go Bucks!!
 

ScarletNGrey01's picture

The opening quote is much better than the one you DON'T want associated with your team, "We have met the enemy and he is us".

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

pjtobin's picture

Lets do the whole village ! I hate to get over confidant, and be like a SCum fan predicting that " this is our year". I think it is though. I'm very excited. I think we win em all. As someone said before " how sweet would it be to beat mushagain twice in one year?"  I would be loving that. Would they fire hoke if it happened?

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

awlinBrutus's picture

scUM will end up 8-4 Hoke is loyd carr II

MICHIGAN STILL SUCKS