Ohio State is at its best when the Buckeyes are running the ball. To say that Todd Boeckman has been a bit unreliable in his last few efforts would be very kind; his pocket presence has recently begun to bear a striking resemblance to Charlie Frye. Early in the season we all marveled at Boeckman's courage in the pocket and his willingness to take the big hit in order to deliver the ball down the field, but recently his poise has been characterized more by his happy feet and throwing off his back foot than by the deep balls that led the surprising Buckeyes to so many early season wins.
Offensively, the Buckeyes hopes rest on the shoulders of Chris Wells and the offensive line's ability to open holes and get Chris Wells to the next level. This is the same tired analysis that you will read on every web page for the next four weeks, it is so general that it must be true, and so obvious that it is useless.
The Bayou Bengals are at their best defensively when they are stopping the run, just like every other team in the country, and they will be aided in that endeavor by the return of a healthy Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey can dominate a game like no other tackle in the game today. He is a stout run defender and a terrific pass rusher, but contrary to popular belief he is not the only player on the LSU defense. Dorsey gets a lot of help from the guy on his left, as a matter of fact, Tyson Jackson is probably every bit as responsible for Dorsey's success as Dorsey himself.
Jackson is such a feared pass rusher on the left side that Dorsey can rest assured that the opposition's left tackle will have to flair out to meet him, opening B-Gap and leaving Dorsey a guard's outside shoulder with no help from the tackle.
LSU's Base Defense:
LSU plays your run of the mill 4-3 with Glenn Dorsey primarily lined up as a single gap, three technique defensive tackle (lines up between the guard and tackle) and Tyson Jackson lined up in a 5 or 7 technique, either playing outside containment (7/9 technique) or less frequently playing C gap depending on the formation. Both players line up on the left side of LSU's defensive line, which puts them on the right side of Ohio State's offensive line against Kirk Barton and Ben Person.
Ohio State's Offensive Line:
Typically when running the ball, the Buckeyes use a combination of different blocking schemes with one or two consistencies, they prefer to run the ball to the left, and they prefer to do it between the center and tackle through A or B gap. The Buckeyes guards, particularly Steve Rehring, are very active and pull well. Typically if you see the Buckeyes run to the right it will be to a strong side right formation with Steve Rehring leading the way, pulling from his left guard spot.
These basic truths about Ohio State and LSU's line play tells you that Ohio State should have hope in game planning to run against LSU's impressive defensive line. Remember, the Tigers were still 13th in the nation against the run even after giving up over 300 yards to Arkansas, so running the ball against them is no minor feat.
The Game Plan:
If the Buckeyes attempt to run delays, reverses, and draws (fortunately they don't very often) their gooses are cooked. The line will not hold and Glenn Dorsey will emerge from the right side to disrupt the play in hurry. Dorsey is an exceptionally aggressive one gap defender, who will make some big plays, but these facts do make it possible to game plan for him.
In chess there is an idea called the space left behind. Too often novice players will be caught up on what an opponent is doing when they press the attack, and they ignore the spaces left behind as their opponent moves across the board. You can rest assured that Dorsey will be attempting to penetrate B gap on the right side in nearly every play leaving a space behind, an enormous hole in A gap. Now if the Buckeyes are successful in executing an inside trap on Dorsey, he will either have to stay home or LSU is going to have to gamble a bit and bring that safety up.
Normally an inside trap like the one above relies to a great extent on the center making a great block on the 1 technique tackle, but due to Dorsey's aggressiveness (and the space left behind), then A gap should be available as long as the center is able to get a piece of the inside tackle, and Cordle would be aided by Wells initial move to the left on the counter.
Tendencies are also on Ohio State's side in this match up. Typically, the Buckeyes run the ball to the left side behind Alex Boone and Steve Rehring, and the Buckeyes do not run counters and draws (typically) to the left, so the Buckeyes should essentially just be able execute their normal game plan and in doing so run away from Dorsey. Beanie Wells does not dawdle in the back field long (like Mo Wells), so on a running play to the left, he should be long gone before Dorsey arrives on backside pursuit. Dorsey is so aggressive in getting into the backfield that there is very little probability of him making beyond the line scrimmage from the backside.
So, although LSU does have a fantastic front four including the second coming of Warren Sapp, I do like the Buckeyes in this particular aspect of the match up. This will require LSU to bring the eighth and ninth defender into the box and take chances with run blitzes, from there it will be on Todd Boeckman and company to keep LSU's defense honest. If he can the Buckeyes should be able to move the ball in chunks. If he plays like he has lately, well let's just hope the line can handle those extra defenders.