The first week and the anxiety associated with it are over. The ice is broken. It's officially the "Urban Meyer Era" at Ohio State. Now it's time for the Buckeyes to settle down and start playing football. Not just walk on the field and play as it comes, but real Buckeye football.
From the start of the game to the final whistle, Ohio State must control the game. They must set the tempo with the first play, and keep that control throughout. Central Florida is a good team, but they should not be any match for the Buckeyes. If the Bucks want to shut down the nay-sayers (and there are plenty of them), then they need to show everyone how they can take control and manage the tempo of the game from the beginning.
There are plenty of Buckeye haters still out there. They made their presence very well known after last week's big win over Miami University. Sure, you expect the typical and over simplified "big deal, they beat Miami", and there was plenty of that from people who don't understand the complexity of a coaching change at this level. But there were plenty who went into in-depth analysis to explain the faults that exist with the Buckeyes. Fair enough. But was it really necessary to bash Urban Meyer or continue to trash Coach Tressell (who has been gone from the program for over a year now)?
Today Ohio State can take the first step toward making the critics squirm.
Both teams had big wins last Saturday. Ohio State won 56-10. Central Florida defeated Akron 56-14. Looking at the total yardage gained in those games gives us a hint as to how today's game is going to go. Central Florida gained 386 total yards against Akron. By contrast, Braxton Miller alone gained 368 yards against Miami, 161 of those yards were rushing yards. Expect Central Florida to do no better with their efforts to contain the young Buckeye quarterback.
With spectacular receivers like Devin Smith whose one handed end-zone grab brought down the house last week, and hard nose running back Carlos Hyde on the field, this game doesn't require a lot of in-depth analysis. Central Florida is good, but they will not be able to match up with the talented Buckeyes. The only thing that can defeat the Buckeyes in this game today is the Buckeyes themselves.
The mental game that the Buckeyes showed in the first quarter last week could have been part of the anxiety of the first game under a new head coach, or it could have been an indication of something a little more serious – confidence. This seemed to be much more of an issue on defense than on offense. Even after the offense got its footing last week, there were still plenty of times when the defense seemed to lose its bearings. Missed assignments and players unsure of where they were supposed to be happened far too often in that game. Had it not been for multiple balls dropped by the Miami receivers in the game last week, there might have been a very different score at the end. Ohio State is going to have to stay focused on defense and not give Central Florida the same opportunities that they gave Miami, because Central Florida will take advantage of them.
There's little doubt that Urban Meyer pointed this out to Luke Fickell after the game last week, so solidifying the defense and understanding assignments should have been the focus of defensive training all week long. We'll find out today.
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