One of the reasons why USC jumped to #1 in the polls after the first week was because of the play of Mark Sanchez. His solid, though not perfect, performance against an over matched Virginia team opened a lot of peoples eyes that, provided he stays healthy, Sanchez will be the starter for the foreseeable future.
While it was great performance it wasn't without it's flaws as Trevor Matich pointed out yesterday.
Those are little things that can be fixed but they could be devastating aginst a much better Ohio State defense. Sanchez knows he is going to get the kitchen sink thrown at him.
Mark Sanchez knows what’s coming Saturday. He also knows his older, wiser receiving corps is ready for it.
USC’s quarterback expects Ohio State to play a wider variety of pass defenses than Virginia, which mostly used a conservative zone that Sanchez picked apart in the top-ranked Trojans’ 52-7 season-opening victory Aug. 30.
The No. 5 Buckeyes mix zones with man-to-man coverage, the latter their defense of choice when blitzing. And they blitz a lot.
"They’ll bring some stuff we haven’t prepared for," Sanchez said after Tuesday’s practice. "They have an intricate defense. We just have to be ready to think on the move."
Notice Sanchez said "we." He isn’t the only who must recognize when the rush is coming. It’s incumbent on the receivers to see it too and break off their routes accordingly.
Of course the "we" is talking about is the receivers.
If the receivers are going to live up to their expectations this has to be the game that they all break through. For the receivers there can't be any dropped passes on easy plays. There can't be lapses in technique in regards to protecting the ball and there can't be any second guessing even if they know a big hit is coming...just hang onto the ball and buckle up. For Sanchez he can't force the ball into coverage or throw it behind his receivers as we saw a couple of times against UVA.
Sanchez trusts his receivers, that's fine, but that trust has to be built over time and games so he has to relay on making good decisions on his end. He can't put too much on the receivers ability to make plays if his effort doesn't start out as his best.
Being named starter early on helped in building that trust as Sanchez took charge of the offense but now he has to build on that foundation with solid performances in real games. As the UVA game showed I think he is on the right track, he just needs to tweak a few things like those that Matich pointed out to complete the process.
Here is Sanchez on the Petros and Money show yesterday.
The Chess match has begun...