It is Ohio State week, and that means the Buckeyes are looking for revenge for Purdue Harbor. The writers at the Buckeye Battle Cry contacted me earlier this week for a Q&A, and Eric was kind enough to answer my questions about the Buckeyes.
Ryan Kerrigan has owned Terrelle Pryor like no one else in the conference for two years running. How much respect will you be giving him on Saturday?
As much respect as we possibly can. Our offensive line got used and abused by J.J .Watt - a relatively unknown name for the average Buckeye fan before last saturday night. If J.B. Shugarts (Right Tackle) and Mike Adams (Left Tackle) perform like they did against Wisconsin, Kerrigan could be in for a very big game.
It also doesn't help that Pryor seems to be a tad gimpy after a quad injury a couple weeks ago against Illinois. He appears to run tentatively and seems to think a little more about the defenders, as opposed to simply running for the gaps. It's slowed him down quite a bit, which may make things easy for Kerrigan to get a shot at him.
Strangely, Purdue has been very competitive against OSU the last two years, losing 16-3 two years ago thanks to a blocked punt TD, plus last year's upset. Are OSU fans concerned?
Surprisingly, no. You would think after being horribly exposed by Wisconsin we would be more worried about facing an opponent that beat us last year. Especially when that opponent has been more successful this season than last.
I think the key is the loss to Toledo earlier this season. Most Buckeyes saw that and likely wrote Purdue off as a guaranteed win. They're probably also under the impression that the Buckeyes will come out of the gate fired up after last weeks loss and with a mindset of revenge for last season. That may or may not be the case depending if the loss of their primary season goal (National Championship) is basically lost at this point.
I'm a little bit more worried about it, but I'm also a child of the John Cooper era of head coaching. Coop made horrible pessimists out of a large number of Buckeyes.
Some have said Wisconsin duplicated Purdue's formula last week: They let their D-line dominate, got disciplined linebacker play, and forced Pryor to be a pocket passer. Can Purdue do the same on Saturday?
Wisconsin did not simply force Pryor to be a pocket passer. During the Indiana game, Pryor did not run at all. His only carries (3 for -19) were flat out sacks. In that game, Pryor was as much of a pocket passer as he has ever been in his entire career and he picked Indiana apart for it.
Sure, you can argue that it's Indiana and that they don't have Wisconsin's defense but that's precisely the point. Pryor is a great pocket quarterback these days. Simply forcing him to throw isn't enough. In order to stop the Buckeye passing game you must get pressure in the backfield (which Wisconsin did) and cover the Buckeye receivers well enough to force them into mistakes and make Pryor's passing decisions harder (which Wisconsin did).
Yes, Purdue can likely do this, but they're going to need a near perfect game from their defense on all fronts. They'll definitely get what they need from the defensive line, but I'm not certain the secondary will get the job done. We'll have to wait and see.
How much different is Rob Henry from any other quarterback you have faced this year?
No offense, but Rob who?
In all seriousness, no-one in Buckeye country has really heard of Rob Henry so far. Heck, I had completely forgotten Marve was out until you mentioned this question.
Compared to the other quarterbacks we've faced thus far, he is easily the greatest dual-threat we've yet faced. The only other quarterback who had even remotely similar run-pass ratio (near 50%) was the Ohio Bobcat's backup Quarterback Boo Jackson. His stats for the game - 5/8 passing for 69 yards and a touchdown and 3 carries for 4 yards. Not the greatest day in the world but solid. The starter was better on the ground, but wasn't as much of a threat through the air with 4/9 passing for 13 yards and 2 interceptions and 10 carries for 53 yards.
Obviously that was Ohio, though. I expect Henry will have a better day - though it's hard to say how much better. I figure he will give us a great look at how our defense will handle Denard Robinson later in the year.
The Buckeye defense does regularly practices against a dual threat quarterback in Kenny Guiton. Kenny G was the quarterback that most Buckeye fans thought would end up in the #2 quarterback slot behind Pryor going into the season. Unfortunately, that never materialized.
Will Ohio State be a little desperate on Saturday or angry?
I alluded to this answer above, but I'll knock it out of the park here. There is absolutely no question that this team is going to come out angry and wanting blood. Coupling the brutal slap back to reality Purdue gave us last season with the goal-and-soul crushing loss to Wisconsin last week, the Buckeyes are going to be dangerous in this one.
In fact, I give a non-zero chance for an appearance of Evil Tressel. He's made a couple of revenge visits, including his first - a 50-3 beatdown of Northwestern in 2005 (after the 2004 overtime loss). If the Buckeyes come out in super aggressive mode and start to find serious success on offense, I have one word of advice for you - run. Fast.
What are Buckeye expectations going forward, especially since they no longer control their own destiny even in the Big Ten?
Simply to win.
As Woody Hayes famously said "Nothing cleanses the soul like getting the hell kicked out of you." After a loss like that, all expectations have been cleansed. Now, the only thing we expect is to win and hope that things will take care of themselves in the end. To be honest, they probably won't, but thats not going to stop us from crossing our fingers and hoping.