As we are all consumed with this weekends game we did a little Q&A with Matt over at the great Buckeye blog Buckeye Commentary.
These are our questions to them. Their questions to us can be found here.
1. I think Beanie Wells is going to play and probably be effective…but if for some reason he can't go or if he is ineffective who gives you the best chance for the running game to be efficient?
Short answer: Brandon Saine. He backed up Beanie last season and the coaches made an effort to incorporate him the MNC game. Boom Herron has been more productive this season because of Saine hamstring injury, but I think they should go with the more battle-tested guy.
Long answer: The real question is, does it matter after Beanie? I think the second best running back on the team is Terrelle Pryor and, like Ohio State, Southern Cal has struggled with mobile quarterbacks. I am not saying that Ohio State wins with Pryor under center, but if Beanie is (or goes) out, the Buckeyes have a better chance of winning with Pryor in there.
2. Being a Jets fan, I was happy to see Vernon Gholston come to the Meadowlands. How does his replacement Lawrence Wilson stack up?
Believe it or not, Lawrence Wilson was receiving more hype prior to the 2007 season. He was a celebrated recruit from Akron that decommitted from Notre Dame after Willingham's dismissal. He has been very productive so far, and when paired with sophomore Cameron Heyward (son of Ironhead Heyward) they make a nice pair. You will definitely hear his name on Saturday night.
3. I know you don't have a lot to go on so far this season, but Boeckman struggled at times last season where have you seen him improve so far this season?
Uh ... nowhere (see previous answer). I am not looking to take cheap shots at Boeckman, but you could make a compelling argument that he has not beaten a top tier team. Maybe, Penn State last season depending on your view of the Lions. He blew it against Illinois, was not allowed to pass against Michigan, and was totally overwhelmed against LSU. The strange part about Boeckman is that he has all the tools to be great. He is big and smart, and has plenty of experience. He just does not seem to grasp the intricacies of the game in the way that elite quarterbacks do. He holds onto the ball too long, which to me, indicates that he does not sense the rush because he has been coached up to throw it away. Nothing makes me more nervous than 3rd and long.
4. Outside of Wells possibly being out or less than 100% what other concerns do you have about how the Buckeyes will perform on Saturday? (An example…I am concerned that SC may be too amped up and commit a number of stupid penalties.)
I will take the opposite angle. I am nervous that the Buckeyes will be too tight considering their last two high profile Games (Florida and LSU). In some ways, the new 10-point spread helps them a little. If no one is going to give them a chance, including Vegas, then maybe they will let it go. That includes the coaches. If they get an early lead they need to blitz more, not less. What do they have to lose? Every fan in America could see the Buckeyes get tight last season when they had a 10-0 lead on LSU. If they get that same lead this week, I am hopeful they will keep pressing the gas. Of course, the players take their cues from the coaches so maybe Tressel needs to go for some fun plays early.
5. What is the one thing the Buckeyes MUST do to win this game?
This is cliche but they have to win the line of scrimmage. The Ohio State offensive line (a perceived strength coming into this season) has to handle the USC front four. If USC gets pressure without blitzes, it is over. Remember, even at its best, this Ohio State offense is a not a quick-strike attack so long drives are the friend of both the Buckeyes' offense and defense. Likewise, on defense the Ohio State defensive line has to hold its own. They do not have to pour through the Trojans' line (a perceived question coming into the season) but they have to win some of the battles. Otherwise, USC will establish the run and Sanchez will be able to throw at will.
6. What's your prediction?
The last time the Buckeyes deserved to lose to an in-state school? 2002. The Ohio State defense is capable of giving USC fits. Can Boeckman orchestrate enough points to escape from LA? Ohio State kicks 5 FGs and wins 22-21.