Well, there is in fact football happening today.
We worked with out friends at Land-Grant Holy Land to talk about Indiana football’s matchup with Ohio State.
Matt Tamanini had the answers to our questions:
A consistent gripe I’ve heard with Ryan Day is his playcalling. Not that it’ll do much, but what’s the deal there?
I have angered a lot of Ohio State fans for nearly a year now for calling for Day to give up playcalling duties. It’s not that I think he is a bad play caller, I actually think he is one of the best in the country, but there are so many responsibilities on a head coach that properly preparing to call plays has to take a back seat. It’s tough to be studying film and innovative schemes and designs when you have to handle all of the administrative responsibilities that come with being the CEO of a major college football program.
Because of this, we have seen Day’s play calling get stale as time has gone on and him become more stubborn to adapt mid-game. Now, of course, given the weapons at his disposal, it hasn’t resulted in a complete offensive breakdown, but the potential is there in the biggest moments of the season.
Not coincidentally, the OSU offense tends to make really good adjustments at halftime, and I have to wonder if that is because your old friend Kevin Wilson is able to get with Day and go over what he’s seeing from the box.
What’s the defense’s turnaround under Jim Knowles looked like? What about the offensive line under Justin Frye (no reason!)?
In both cases, the difference has been getting rid of passive, out-dated philosophies and instilling a creative and aggressive approach to schemes. On defense, Ohio State had been stuck in a single-high, man-to-man defensive approach for years, no matter who the opponent or Buckeye players were. Knowles has adjusted that to a 4-2-5, safety-driven defense that has the flexibility to bring in additional linebackers against run-heavy teams, move defensive linemen around, and allowed the secondary to attack both against the run and pass.
On the offensive line, Hoosier great Justin Frye has first and foremost put the players back in their natural positions. Last season, Ohio State played with four tackles on the offensive line, including two moved inside to play guard. That was less than effective against the best defenses that the Buckeyes played, because the tackles weren’t quick enough to get to the second level or do any kind of pulling.
The guards this season are still the weakest spot on the line, but that has more to do with both Donovan Jackson and Matt Jones being in their first years as starters. Nonetheless, Frye’s creativity with the line has been a marked improvement over recent seasons. The line is excellent in pass blocking, but still needs to sure up their run-blocking.
What has kept the running backs from being effective on the ground lately?
As I was just saying, the blocking is certainly part of the problem, and so are injuries. Both TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams have been in and out of the lineup on a nearly weekly basis. I also think that the Buckeyes have approached the run game fundamentally wrong all season.
They were humiliated last season by poorly hey run the ball against Oregon and Michigan, and they spent the entire offseason talking about how they were going to be tougher this season and they have set out to prove that with positioning the running game as a power-focused component of the offense that is an equal of the passing game.
The problem is that OSU’s running is in no way built to be a power-attack and it is light years away from being anything even approaching equivalent to the passing game. Far too often, Day has insisted on running to set up the pass, only to have the rushing attack fail to establish any type of reliability or success. With a quarterback like C.J. Stroud and the mix of dynamic wide receivers, the Buckeyes should be throwing to set up the run, and allowing Henderson and Williams — who are both incredibly capable backs — to get yards as a change of pace.
Where should I go to eat in Columbus after watching this football game?
Man, I don’t live in Ohio anymore, so the one place that I would go following a game would be Tommy’s Pizza on Lane Avenue about a half a mile from the stadium. I wouldn’t call it a hole in the wall, but it’s not exactly a fancy place, it’s just a campus institution that serves up some of the best Columbus style pizza. Donato’s and Massy’s are also very good versions of Columbus pizza, but there is just something about Tommy’s that feels quintessentially Ohio State.