November 23, 2012

Tale of the Tape

class="st_facebook_hcount" displayText="Share">displayText="Email">

Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

Untitled Document

Head Coach:

Brady Hoke

2011 Record: 11-2 Big Ten


Ann Arbor (Mich.)

Kickoff: 12:00 pm EDT Television: ABC Location: Ohio Stadium (102,329)

When Ohio St. has the ball...

  • Rushing Defense: 151.36 Ypg. (51st)

  • Passing Defense: 152.09 Ypg. (1st)

  • Scoring Defense: 18.09 Ppg. (17th)
  • Rushing Offense: 245.45 Ypg. (9th)

  • Passing Offense: 180.82 Ypg. (100th)

  • Scoring Offense: 38.18 Ppg. (18th)

  • Michigan Defensive Backs

    Ohio State Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)
    When did the Wolverines all of a sudden develop a solid pass defense, the No. 1 ranked pass defense for that matter. The numbers are a little deceiving but that is not an attempt to take anything away from Michigan. On the downside, the Wolverines do not intercept a lot of passes nor do they face a lot of passes, of the top-19 teams on pass defense the Wolverines have faced the least number of passes of any team. But with that being said the Wolverines are only giving up one TD per game via the air and rank No. 30 in the nation in pass efficiency defense. Thomas Gordon is not one of the league's biggest safeties at 5-11, 208 but he can hit and he is the 3rd leading tackler on the Wolverines. Ramon Taylor is the youngest of the group at cornerback but along with Gordon has two picks for the (Sun) Maize and Blue. On the whole the entire secondary is not overly large but they are doing something correct according to the numbers. Braxton Miller is coming off of his worst game of the season despite the Buckeyes getting the win in Madison (Wis.). Miller only had completions to four different pass catchers and that won't work against Michigan this weekend. Corey Brown has had solid games this season and then some games where he and Miller appear to be on different pages and the disparity has been even worse with Devin Smith. Smith has been a clutch player at times at the end of games but there have been several passes thrown his way this season that have been drive killing drops. Really the biggest way that the Ohio State offense has evolved is the working of the tight ends in Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman. The two have combined for only 17 receptions on the season but it seems that Miller has more confidence in the tight ends and opponents still have not managed to take the TEs out of the game for Ohio State.

    Michigan Linebackers

    Ohio State Running Backs
    The Wolverines are ranked lower nationally against the run than the pass but have given up fewer TDs on the ground (eight) and gave up five of those TDs against Alabama (2) and Air Force (3). The problem for the Michigan run defense is that mobile QBs have given them some issues throughout the years. But the defense has come a long way with the play of Jake Ryan and Kenny Demens with the pair giving the Wolverines a much more fundamentally sound crew than we had seen in Ann Arbor (Mich.) in years past. Teams are running a lot more than passing against Michigan and as in most cases, more runs mean more yards but the Wolverines have only allowed more than 4.0 YPC once in their last nine games (4.28 against Northwestern) but did allow bigger game against Air Force (4.08 YPC) and Alabama (5.52 YPC). Ohio State has averaged 5.53 YPC through the season and 5.4 YPC in Big Ten play. The Buckeyes ran for 139 yards last week against Wisconsin, for comparison Braxton Miller has rushed for more than 139 yards four times this year alone and Carlos Hyde has done it two times on his own. The good news is that while the Badgers may have had some plans on how to slow down Miller from running the ball, that doesn't mean every other team can do that because it comes down to personnel and the Badgers and Wolverines are set up very differently in the front seven. In retrospect the Buckeyes admitted they would have liked to have run Hyde more in the game against the Badgers (only had 15 carries) and that should be fixed this week against a Michigan defense that may yield a little bit more against the run than the pass. Ultimately it all comes down to what Miller is able to do with the read option and last year Miller showed success in running (even with only 16 carries) going for 100 yards. Expect to see a bigger diet of that.

    Michigan Defensive Line


    Ohio State Offensive Line
    The Wolverines (like the Badgers) have a pair of 300-pounders at defensive tackle and are led by Will Campbell in the middle. Quinton Washington is a load at 300 pounds on his own and is backed up by true freshman Ondre Pipkins, a player who will add a lot of fuel to the rivalry with some of his words towards Ohio State.Craig Roh is a big defensive end at 6-foot-5, 281 pounds but the Buckeyes may try and attack on the side of the field that former Cleveland (Ohio) Glenville Tarblooder Frank Clark is on. The Wolverines are not as disruptive up front this year as they were in years past (97th in sacks, 54 in TFL). A quick look at the stats may lead people to believe that the line is not playing well with allowing 2.36 sacks per game but when you remember that the Ohio State offense is based on the read-option then you have to realize that sacks are just part of the game. This will be Reid Fragel's last game with the Buckeyes and the question has to be asked 'what if' Fragel played line for more than one season. This game will be far from a walkover for the Buckeye line but if the line plays to its ability it should be able to keep Miller upright and give the offense a chance to make some plays.

    When Michigan has the ball...

  • Rushing Offense: 194.55 Ypg. (36th)

  • Passing Offense: 200.55 Ypg. (95th)

  • Scoring Offense: 30.82 Ppg. (48th)

  • Rushing Defense: 116.82 Ypg. (17th)

  • Passing Defense: 250.09 Ypg. (84th)

  • Scoring Defense: 23.00 Ppg. (34th)

  • Michigan Skill Positions (QB/WR/TE)

    Ohio State Defensive Backs
    Will this be the Devin Gardner position or the Denard Robinson position, or a combination of both? Both players are able to do different things with Denard being a much better runner than passer (think a lot of jump balls come passing) while Gardner is a much better passer (and not all that bad of a runner). If you believe the game notes then Robinson will start under center but we know those things can change at a moment's notice. Jeremy Gallon leads the team in receptions and receiving yards and has been a favorite of Gardner in recent games. Devin Funchess leads the receivers with five TD receptions and Gardner has four as a receiver, keep in mind that he can catch the ball and has had several practices as a receiver throughout the year and some sort of Robinson to Gardner play could be in play. The Ohio State secondary will be in for a tougher challenge this week than last and will be in for a tougher game plan if Gardner is under center. Bradley Roby could be playing in his final game with the Buckeyes but a chance at a National Championship in 2013 could bring him back. Travis Howard was picked on for most of the Wisconsin game and look for the Wolverines to try and seek him out and throw at him and test him in his final game with the Buckeyes. Orhian Johnson will be on the field a lot as the nickel back and will have to continue to play at the high level that he is finishing up his year with. Christian Bryant is going to be the X-Factor in this one, as long as he plays under control he will do great things but he has been known to let emotion overtake good sense.

    Michigan Running Backs

    Ohio State Linebackers
    Okay, so we put Denard Robinson in this group, to heck with the printed depth chart. With Fitzgerald Toussaint out for the year the running situation was turned upside down. Thomas Rawls and Vincent Smith are listed as the two running backs on the depth chart but Rawls has 240 yards on 52 carries and Smith has 76 yards on 27 carries and the two have combined for six TDs (Smith's two TDs came against new to FBS UMass). Really this is going to come down to what Denard is able to do and what the play calls are. There is no denying that Robinson is one of the most dynamic runners in the league and in the nation, he runs more like a running back and gets most of his yardage after he makes first contact which is very different from how Miller gets his yards for Ohio State. With no defined running back at this position however, it is hard to give the Wolverines any sort of edge here.

    Ryan Shazier would have been the defensive player of the game against Wisconsin if not for John Simon with his 12 tackles and 3 TFLs. He is going to have to have to play at that same level against a team that has speed to burn. Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino will both be playing their last games as Buckeyes, both taking strange journeys to this point, Boren playing 90-percent of his career on offense and Sabino taking a rare late career redshirt season. The Ohio State run defense has a whole was pushed last week against Wisconsin and gave up a lot of yards but only 1 TD via the run and came up with a highlight reel play when Shazier knocked the ball out of Montee Ball's hands to deny the Badger RB the rushing record on his own. Ultimately this will be the battle that determines the outcome of the game.

    Michigan Offensive Line
    Ohio State Defensive Line
    The offensive line has done a solid job of keeping the Michigan QBs upright in only allowing a sack a game on average and an offense that rushes for close to 195 yards per game on the ground. Taylor Lewan is the best of the bunch for the Wolverines and could make himself some money in the NFL when his career is done. Elliott Mealer is one of the league's 'biggest' centers at 6-foot-5, 308 pounds. Experience is one of the greatest assets that an offensive line can have and the entire line is comprised of seniors and Patrick Omameh has 40 career starts at right guard. For as good as Michigan's offensive line may be this year the Ohio State defensive line is playing better. John Simon had four sacks against the Badgers and the rest of the line has played better as the defensive coaches have dialed up the pressure. Johnathan Hankins is another player who 'could' be playing in his final game and if this is his last game there is no better opponent for him to face other than the Michigan Wolverines. Notre Dame racked up three sacks against Michigan while Alabama and Nebraska were all able to get back to the QB. The Buckeyes will need to get to Gardner if he is under center because he is the stronger passer.

    Special teams matchups...

  • Net Punting: 36.00 Avg (81st).

  • Punt Returns: 9.29 Yds/Ret (54th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 22.25 Avg. (52nd)

  • Field Goals: 15-18 (83%)

  • Net Punting: 35.84 Avg. (83rd)

  • Punt Returns: 10.87 Yds/Ret (28th)

  • Kickoff Returns: 19.67 Avg. (87th)

  • Field Goals: 4-6 (67%)

  • Michigan Special Teams

    Ohio State Special Teams
    Games can be won or lost with special teams and the Wolverines have been solid on special teams to date. Brendan Gibbons has been solid in the place kicking role while the return game has been a little bit better than the middle of the pack. Will Hagerup has not had a strong year this year (granted he had his struggles last year against Ohio State as well). The Buckeyes will likely pick a punt or two to try and come after and block. The Buckeyes got a special teams TD last week with a punt return touchdown but as with most weeks, Ben Buchanan will need to have a strong game punting the ball if he is called upon. The weather forecast is saying that winds can approach 15 mph so there will be that much more emphasis on driving punts (but it won't matter if they don't get off cleanly). If Ohio State can play 'even' in special teams then its chances of winning should be pretty high.


    ...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!