After watching tOSU "struggle" against Ohion on Saturday one thing is for sure...the Buckeye's missed starting RB Beanie Wells. It was no secret that Wells was probably not going to play after he suffered a foot injury against Youngstown St. but the manner in which he was finally scratched from the game left a lot of people pondering just what the real story was.
There were going to be questions about Wells' injury regardless but I would taken all the speculation out of it and simply said that as a precaution he isn't going to play against Ohio. Players like Wells have a certain vibe about them and the team reponds to how those types of players are performing. When those sorts of players are out of the game the team might react differently because the flow of the game is changed.
Before SC went to the running back rotaion it was pretty much Bush or White...pick your poison. If one of those two went down the other would pick up the slack but we all know loosing Bush would meant going back to a traditional running game that would have lacked the explosiveness and variety that Bush provided for us. Players are human so would it be a total surprise if the play on the field was affected when you lose your star player.
Wells fills the power back roll well but he can also break it open. The defense will have to do a solid job containing him while also keeping an eye on the receivers like Robiskie. Wells also provides a spark in pointing out his teammates short comings.
Running back Beanie Wells stalked the sideline with his injured right toe, waving his cap in excitement at replacement Dan Herron, providing water to the offensive linemen during timeouts and exalting his teammates with a halftime speech when they trailed, 7-6.
"He said that we were moping around with our heads down and that we didn't want it as much as they do," center Jim Cordle said. "Beanie can get you fired up. He's the best leader we have."
And the best runner. The run game wasn't frightening anyone without him, especially on a day when the line didn't play its best. The plan is for Wells to return against USC, and the Buckeyes proved how much they need him.
Here is Nick Holt's take on preparing for Beanie.
Beanie will be on the field no question, but will he be effective? We won't know that until the game is underway. So SC is will be prepared regardless. Even if he isn't in the game tOSU is still dangerous. They may lose a very important cog in their machine but they have other weapons as well. Not having Beanie may make them a little more predictable but not to the point of not taking them seriously.
One other thing to look for will be Terrell Pryor. He made not have made a lot of noise but he did just enough for SC to wary of him.
Either Jim Tressel was trying sneak Pryor through Ohio without giving the Trojans a good look or the kid was somehow hurt. And trust me, he wasn't hurt. In two quiet series, Pryor rushed five times for 37 yards (zero for two passing).
It's not like the Buckeyes couldn't have used him. Todd Boeckman struggled mightily at times either finding his receivers or getting his feet set behind a sometimes shaky offensive line. Boeckman also had several passes dropped. In the end, he did not look like a quarterback ready to go into the Coliseum and beat the Trojans.
Tailbacks Brandon Saine, Maurice Wells and Dan Herron are nice guys and OK runners, but they're not ready to punk the Trojans either. That brings us back to Pryor. He is the X factor next week. There's no doubt Tressel needs Wells to be healthy and play well, but conventional weapons might be useless against this USC defense. Boeckman is a stationary target.
SC has had their struggles with mobile QB's in the past, see Vince Young, Dennis Dixon and to a lesser extent Jake Locker. So hey will really need to stay at home and not over run some of these plays especially if Pryor is in the game. It doesn't take much to break him loose. Pryor isn't yet on the level of Young or Dixon but I don't want SC to be the team he breaks out against either.
Ohio State's win over Ohio on Saturday was hardly a thing of beauty and for a team that has been to two consecutive BCS title games they hardly looked like world beaters but that doesn't mean they won't be taken seriously. The SC coaching staff is already making sure that the team is not getting complacent.
But before the top-ranked Trojans split up into position groups to watch film of the Buckeyes, Coach Pete Carroll addressed his players about the hype that has been simmering for months and will ratchet into overdrive leading up to Saturday's game at the Coliseum.
"I did make them aware that this is a game that's different to a lot of other people," Carroll said when he emerged from the meeting in Heritage Hall. "To us it's the same."
Change nothing...treat this game like any other. The hype is for the pundits and the fans.