The Defense – Confidence Level 9
Ohio State statistically has had one of the best defenses in college football through two games. Granted, the Buckeyes haven’t exactly gone up against powerhouse offenses as of yet. This week’s opponent will present some challenges that they haven’t seen before.
Western Kentucky is led by quarterback Austin Reed, who enters Saturday’s contest having thrown for 589 yards through the first two games. The Hilltoppers air raid offense, made famous by the late Mike Leach, can give defenses headaches.
The high-octane and up-tempo approach of spreading defenses out has been used as a way for teams with lesser talent to even the playing field, which is exactly what Helton and Reed will look to do against the Ohio State football team.
It will be critical for the Buckeyes to make Reed uncomfortable in the pocket and force him into making mistakes. That means the defensive line is going to have to be fast off the ball. So far this season, the defensive line has only managed two sacks through two games.
Against a team like Western Kentucky, who will be moving at lightning speed, this is going to be a difficult task for the defensive front four. If they can’t get to the quarterback in time, they need to get their hands up and in the passing lanes. Batting down the ball on a pass is as good as tackling for no gain when playing a team like this.
This will be the biggest challenge Ohio State’s secondary has faced yet. Ohio State hasn’t given up the big touchdown pass this season and that will be challenged on Saturday. Keeping the Hilltopper receivers in front of them and knowing when to take a chance on breaking on a pass for a possible interception will be important. The Hilltopper passing attack thrives on aggressive defenses, but they are just as comfortable dinking and dunking their way down the field as well.
If the Buckeye defense can keep the Hilltoppers out of the endzone, and force them to kick field goals for the majority of the game, then eventually they will become desperate and will make a mistake. Look for Ohio State to give up some passing yards on Saturday, but if it only results in three points and not seven, then they are doing their job.