Still smarting from the 1894 loss to an Akron team coached by John Heisman (yep, that one), Ohio State ensured that they got the mighty Zips of Akron University on the schedule for this year. Apparently, some losses still smart even after five consecutive head to head victories and 113 years. I, for one, circled this game on the schedule the day I saw it.
Now that the Buckeyes have successfully vanquished their IAA foe, something Michigan was unable to accomplish, they are ready to step up to the big boys, the MAC. Akron has a long college football tradition, but it really isn’t a very interesting one. Charlie Frye holds most of their records, and frankly, enough ink has been wasted on Frye.
Ohio State brought their helmets and lunch pails to last week’s scrimmage and turned in a very workman-like performance against Youngstown State. The game was boring and completely ordinary. It was so ordinary, that it was actually hard to surmise anything about the Buckeyes prospects this year based on their performance. The game was so scripted (I think Coach Heacock should send Tressel a thank you card for sending him a copy of the script) that it had the continuity and flow of a practice. I was just waiting for the cameras to pan out so I could see the punters and kickers getting some work on the other side of the field.
Most coaches say that teams make their biggest leaps between the first and second week of the season, and Buckeyes fans are looking for some leaps this week. The performances turned in by the interior of the offensive and defensive lines were well short of expectations. It will be interesting to see what happens this week against the Zips.
During last Saturday’s scrimmage the Buckeyes lost defensive end Lawrence Wilson for the rest of the season. Early reports estimated that Wilson would miss 6-8 weeks, but the word in Columbus now is that Wilson will almost certainly seek a medical redshirt this year. The silver lining is that defensive end is probably the deepest position on Ohio State’s roster. Remarkably, the Wilson injury has led to heated battle for his play-time between sophomore Robert Rose and true freshman Cameron Heyward. Heyward turned a lot of heads during camp and through summer practice and will be pushing Rose (no slouch himself) for play-time all season.
Ray Small is not expected to play this week (again) and starting in his place at flanker will be freshman sensation Dane Sanzenbacher. Sanzenbacher is already drawing comparisons to Anthony Gonzalez for his heady, underrated play. I will withhold judgment until there is an adequate and statistically relevant sample space.
I guess I’ve stalled long enough, here are the Zips!!! Yay. What time is the Washington kickoff next week?
Akron beat a horrible Army last week in a nail biter, 22-14, on an efficient performance by first year starter Chris Jacquemain. The Zips were absolutely unremarkable in every phase of the game. I guess the most interesting aspect of the game was that the Zips were able to amass 133 yards on the ground in spite of replacing four starting offensive linemen.
Additionally, the Zips were able to hold Army to a mere 57 yards on the ground on 29 carries for a very respectable average of 2.0 yards per carry. The Zips appear to be a very good sparring partner for the Buckeyes based on these two facts alone.
The Zips return a veteran secondary that should test Boeckman’s accuracy, but I am not sure if their defensive backs will have the quickness and make up speed to effectively cover the Ohio State receivers man up, but they should be aided by sheer numbers.
The Zips actually play a nickel as their base defense, but it is a bit of a bastardized version featuring a “Rover.” It really isn’t a true nickel per se, and I have doubts as to how long they will actually be able to employ it against Ohio State. After last weeks lackluster performance on the ground, the Bucks will certainly be looking to pound the ball down the field, and I am not sure the Zips have the horses to stop the Ohio State running game with three linemen and three linebackers.
The Match Ups:
Ohio State Offense vs. Akron Defense:
The Buckeyes have an enormous size advantage on the line and a chip on their shoulders. Ohio State Offensive Coordinator, Jim Bollman, did not hand out the weekly Jim Parker Offensive Lineman of the Week Award. That is a pretty significant statement about the way the offensive line played, and I would expect a much better performance this week. Should we see another stinker out of the O-Line, it could signal the beginning of a very disappointing season.
The interior of the offensive line will be tested by Rutgers transfer NT Nate Robinson. Robinson is a pretty good player, but the Buckeyes should still be able to move the ball, and I expect to see Akron abandon the 3-3-5 defense early in favor a more “run prohibitive” alignment. Look for the Buckeyes to continue to hone the passing game, but also watch for the Buckeyes to place the majority of the emphasis on the run game.
Ohio State Defense vs. Akron Offense:
This is Jacquemain’s second start, and he is making it in front of 105,000. He has never seen anything like Ohio State’s defense and it will be interesting to see if he can make the reads and survive the pressure. Jacquemain will be aided by former Ohio State recruit, Dennis Kennedy, in the backfield. Kennedy was the second leading rusher in the MAC last year (behind some NIU running back), and should provide a nice test to an interior defensive line that showed a lot of vulnerability against the run last week against YSU.
Akron’s offensive line is replacing four starters from last year, and given how poorly they played, that may be a good thing in the long term, but a lack of experience is never a good thing when your team is physically overmatched. Ohio State’s defensive line should have its way with inexperienced Akron line, but who knows, after the way they played last week, anything could happen.
What too watch for:
Thirty something to some single digit number. Arbitrarily… Ohio State 37- Akron 4. Take Ohio State (-28) and the under (49).