To say Hawaii has a challenge when they go on the road to take on No. 1 Ohio State is an understatement, but we still want to know the Buckeyes. We reached out to Chris Kopech from Land Grant Holy Land to give a inside look at the Buckeyes.
1. After one game the quarterback situation worked well against a decent defense against Virginia Tech with Cardell Jones being the guy under center, but Braxton Miller and JT Barrett saw time on the field at various positions. Is this the plan going forward or will Urban Meyer show different looks with having more than one, if not all three, playing quarterback if nothing else to put it on film for Big Ten play?
The really interesting takeaway from the Virginia Tech game is, and continues to be, what will Meyer do with all this talent. To wit:
- Monday night was a showcase for Miller at the H-Back position, but that might have been because of suspensions to Jalin Marshall, Corey Smith and Dontre Wilson.
- Ezekiel Elliott was invisible, save for his wonderful 80-yard scamper in the first half (which was, like, the fifth best highlight of the evening for either squad), due mostly to that dreaded BEAR DEFENSE RAWWRRRRR that Bud Foster threw at the Buckeyes.
- Cardale Jones was the same guy we now know more of and love that he was months ago - always a threat to turn a sack into a 7-yard gain, or a last second bullet to a barely open target...even with that goofy fumble from the Oregon game still playing in the back of our minds.
- And then JT Barrett came in and looked perfect in limited, somewhat mop-up duty at the end, only doing so because Jones got the start.
So is this the plan moving forward? It might be for a bit longer. Adding the receivers back to the lineup for Hawai'i will only give more options, and I think Meyer and new OC Ed Warinner like the idea of experimenting with live ammo, especially with F+/- probabilities higher than 99%. I expect we'll see a more standard stable of offensive talents once the conference slate gets started.
2. Norm Chow has been hyping up QB Max Wittek who is a one-and-done USC transfer but he was just OK against a bad Colorado team. However, Ohio State somewhat struggled with Virgina Tech's Michael Brewer in the game, what did he do to move the ball reasonably well against the Buckeyes?
Give Michael Brewer all the credit in the world: In his 6+ quarters against Ohio State over the last two years, he's had a lead in five of them. No other QB on any other team has come close (even mighty Bama only led the Sugar Bowl for the first two quarters). So Brewer's got both the goods, and the Buckeyes' number. For the sake of competition, I'm upset that he was taken out of the game, but... I'm glad that's likely the last time he'll line up against Ohio State.
How did Brewer do it? He made plays on 3rd down, just like last year (VaTech was 8/17 versus OSU's 3/9 on Monday) and he trusted his receivers to make plays - Sam Rogers beating Eli Apple like a drum, and Ryan Malleck fooling everyone for his wide open score. Wittek will have to do the same, and get lucky, too (all 17 first half points came after TOs by Ohio State).
Of course that also takes into account that Joey Bosa didn't even play in Blacksburg, so who knows what might have happened with Brewer, and what might happen with Wittek with that new wrinkle added.
3. The one player that has the talent to make some waves for Hawaii is wide receiver Marcus Kemp, so give us a scouting report of the defensive backs on this Buckeyes team.
This is a really deep defensive backfield, and that's going to make star receivers really have to shine to make an impact. Eli Apple is as shutdown as a sophomore can be, and will likely draw the matchup in question more often than not. But his weak-side counterpart, Gareon Conley showed signs of brilliance against VaTech. The safeties are even more terrifying, with Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell as two of the hardest-hitting DBs in the country. Powell has a nose for the ball as well, with 5 INTs to his name over the last two years, including one last week. There just isn't a lot of room to operate because these four starters really cover every inch.
But no one is perfect. Look at Apple getting juked out of his mind by a freaking FB:
Not a good look. If a receiver can get DBs to bite on moves or guess wrong then you can take advantage of that. That's what Hawai'i will have to do.
4. What is an area of weakness that Hawaii might be able to have some success against Ohio State, or is there any?
It's a cliche, but the reason the best teams in the country go down is because the team that did the taking down took advantage of every single mistake. Against Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes struggled in the TO margin (-1 for the game, and giving up VaTech scores after the Elliott fumble, and the Jones interception). That's what helped VaTech to a halftime lead. When the Buckeyes stopped making mistakes (and the Hokies started to) is when the script flipped. Hawai'i will have to take advantage of each mistake, and make none of their own, to stand a chance.
5. The big question people want to know, will Ohio State cover the 40-point spread?
God, I hate spreads that high. On the one hand, yeah, sure, the Buckeyes should cover fairly easily, at least on paper. On the other hand, beating a team by 40+ is just a really tall ask (unless the opponent is Wisconsin in a conference championship game). Bosa returning, and the other suspensions ending only add to the likelihood that the Buckeyes can cover that number. I actually like the Over/Under of 59.5 here more, for your just-for-fun sports gambling needs. But, twist my arm: take the Buckeyes and lay the points. And pound the over.