One of the key match-ups for Saturday's game against Ohio State will be Our offensive line against their defensive line. Of course its cliché to say that the battle will won in the trenches but this will be one of the most watched match-ups of the game.
SC has to make sure that the offensive line needs to give Sanchez the time he needs to get the play to develop. I know it sounds like a broken record but this week it is absolutely key. The OSU defense will throw a lot of things at this relatively new offensive line. They performed flawlessly against Virginia but this is a whole new level of talent.
Ends Lawrence Wilson (6 feet 4, 274 pounds) and Cameron Heyward (6-6, 287) and tackles Nader Abdallah (6-4, 300) and Todd Denlinger (6-2, 292) present an entirely different look than Virginia, a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Byers anticipates typical Big Ten smash-mouth style from the Buckeyes.
"They get big guys and they pound each other, that's what they do in the Big Ten," Byers said.
Like USC, Ohio State features outstanding linebackers. James Laurinaitis is in the middle flanked by Marcus Freeman and Ross Homan.
Ohio State intercepted four passes and recovered a fumble against Ohio. Co-defensive coordinators Jim Heacock and Luke Fickell are expected to turn the defense loose against Sanchez, who only a month ago suffered a dislocated left kneecap in practice.
This is match-up that concerns me the most. Wilson and Heyward are beasts and they are fast so they have to be contained in order for Sanchez to get things going. Like I said they are going to throw everything including the kitchen sink at Sanchez. He is going to get more pressure than anything he saw against UVA so he is going to have keep his composure if things get dicey in the pocket.
I know SC's O line sees some similar type play against our defense in practice but its always different in a real game. Combine their line with a stout linebacking corps led by James Laurinaitis and you can see how this will be the most important battle to watch.
The Ohio State Defense as a whole has come under some criticism for their lack of fire on the field lately and this was pretty evident against Ohio. But that is not enough for me to take them lightly.
Talk about split personality. Either they can’t adjust to game speed after 2 months off or the defensive plan has just been pathetic. If I see Ohio State try to keep USC in front of them by lining up in a line 15 yards off the line of scrimmage, I may turn off the TV. Give up a big play, who cares? Just do something. The defense has made exactly one big play in the past 3 losses (Malcolm Jenkins INT, give that man the ball). If we don’t see more physicality from the defense, we might as well sign up for a Miami failure. James Laurinaitis being taken out of a play by a LSU WR is embarrassing.
Yes they have had problems performing at the highest level in some big games but there is a history here between these two teams as we have battled it out before so I am not ready to dismiss them yet.
They have always had problems defending the spread and dealing with mobile QB's but that is not what we run so tOSU will be able to play a more standard defensive scheme against SC. If they get some pressure look for a lot of dump passes out of the backfield to Havili or McKnight.
Outside of the O line the key players to watch will C.J. Gable for his blocking abilities, Anthony McCoy to stick with his blocking assignments yet still be available for a quick dump pass or neutralizing the LB to give the running back some room to break through and of course Mark Sanchez to see if he maintains his composure and how his knee holds up.
A lot of people think that SC just has too many weapons not to win or that the weak link in the Ohio State chain is quarterback Todd Boeckman and his ability to make plays but to me its the little things and this will be THE key matchup that SC has to control in order for SC to win.