TDG Readers: Jason from Eleven Warriors was kind enough to give us five keys for the Buckeyes this Saturday. Enjoy.
Normally I'd say you're catching the Buckeyes at a great time, what with all of the pessimism in Columbus related to some lackluster play of late. But changes in personnel and Tressel's attitude should prevent any type of let-down game. Besides, he's the anti-Pete Carroll: these are the ones he wins.
COME OUT ON FIRE
A lot of units have taken heat in Columbus lately, but probably none more so than the offensive and defensive lines. Tressel appointed himself assistant offensive line coach mid-week and did some uncharacteristic yelling and got in some guys' faces. The message with the Boeckman demotion was that no job is safe and members of both lines got plenty of pub heading into the season only to do little to earn those accolades in the first four games. If the Buckeyes come out and dominate the trenches, it could be a long afternoon for the Gophers.
KEEP PRYOR GROWING
It's going to be hard to top his four touchdown performance in his debut, but there's a reason we like to call him "LeBron in Cleats". Last week he proved to fans and opposing defensive coordinators that he is more than capable of getting the ball downfield and Tressel needs to continue to call plays that challenge him while also positioning his talents to best influence the outcome of the play. Whether that's rolling out, or setting up play-actions by running the option out of the pistol, the playcalling must continue its path towards diversification. The predictable run on first down is part of the reason defenses have had success with this offense.
GET BEANIE SOME WORK, BUT NOT TOO MUCH
Most fans are looking for anywhere between 10-15 carries out of Wells in his first action since the opener against Youngstown State. While the details of the injury haven't been made explicit, we're firmly in the turf toe camp and as such, there's that fine line that must be walked between getting him some much-needed reps and not re-injuring the foot. He'll be wearing a reinforced shoe, but his stiff-arm should be fully operational. Still, it would be a third major knife through the heart if he goes down again.
KNOW WHERE DECKER IS ON EVERY PLAY
Weber loves to go to Decker. That's cool, quarterbacks always have that one receiver they have full confidence in. He's a hell of a player, but if the Buckeyes can limit his activity, that will go a long way towards neutralizing Weber's effectiveness. It could also lead to more sacks and hurries as Decker will undoubtedly be the first read for Weber on most passing plays, and that extra second of hesitation after realizing he's covered could be enough time to make a play for a loss.
COVER THE BURNERS ON RETURNS
The Buckeyes figure to score some points in this game, but that will be of little good if they allow the Gophers to answer or put themselves in position to quickly answer with kickoff and/or punt returns. Stoudemire has the ability to take any return to the house and it's hard to deliver that knockout blow when your opponent is answering your scores with scores of their own or great field position.