Expectations and Exaggerations: Army West Point

Staff, Special To
Buckeye Grove
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Associated Press

Last week was a rough week in predictions and for some of our expectations (and as for exaggerations, those by rule are rarely going to land).

Now we look ahead to Army West Point, a game that the Buckeyes need to regain their winning way but also will be tested with some looks that they are not familiar with on a weekly basis.

Will this be the week we see a backup QB see any snaps? Will Army look to pass more than five times in a game to try and test the Ohio State secondary? Will Ohio State remember to run its running backs?

We don't have all the answers to these questions at this point but we are going to make our expectations picks and then go for the reach goal with our exaggerations. Maybe one will ring true this week. Probably not.

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Kevin Noon - Army West Point will rush for 300 yards

This does not mean that I am calling for any sort of upset, this is just standard operating procedure for a team that is going to run, run, run. Army West Point ran for 339.5 yards per game last season. Last year Army West Point only ran for 229 yards in a 44-6 loss to Notre Dame but that was without Ahmad Bradshaw at quarterback and I just believe that Bradshaw is a more talented runner than either Malik McGue or Chris Carter were at quarterback last season in Bradshaw's absence for that one game. The second part of this prediction is that I believe that Army will have less than 15 yards passing in this game so that impressive 300 yards of rushing will be about the extent of what Army West Point gains. Bradshaw is not the type of quarterback that Richard Lagow or Baker Mayfield is and his hope is that his receivers run past defensive backs and play pitch-and-catch. Ohio State's defensive backs have shown many vunelerabilities this season but running is not one of them. Ohio State will not get beat deep which means that maybe an occasional short pattern may be there but don't count on any back shoulder fades.

Colin Gay - J.K. Dobbins continues to shine

You could say that J.K. Dobbins was underutilized against Oklahoma. With only 13 carries, he rushed for 72 yards and brought in his first career touchdown. He averaged 5.5 yards per rush, showing that he should be one of the main weapons of the Ohio State offense.

Dobbins could be one of the main targets against Army as well. In its last game against Buffalo, the Black Knights gave up 119 yards rushing and a touchdown, allowing back to average 5.2 yards per carry.

However, both of the offenses that Army West Point has faced in the first two games of the season were not as balanced as the Ohio State offense could be. Expect Dobbins to lead the Buckeyes in rushing for the third straight game to start his college career and possibly eclipse 100 yards yet again.

Nick McWilliams -  Ohio State’s passing attack

Ohio State will need to show growth in the passing game, and Army presents an opportunity to get some big yards through the air. Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson both said they wanted to have better balance on offense, so this won't be an air raid kind of attack.

Ohio State enjoyed success through the air late against Indiana late, after the physically superior team wore down the other side. Army will not beat any team on skill alone, so the only way Ohio State fails to put up good numbers in the pass and run games is by beating themselves, or if the everything falls apat like it did against Oklahoma

I expect an improved look in J.T. Barrett’s decision making, after Wilson said the approach of his quarterback has been “business-like,” and Wilson challenged himself to be better at play calling. The wide receiver position looked out of sorts in both contests, but there should be no issues in finding open space this time around.

Barrett tossed six touchdown passes after the loss to Virginia Tech in 2014 against an opponent that was heavily outmatched (Kent State), but I don’t think it will be quite the same performance against Army. I foresee a solid 250 yards and three touchdowns through the air for Barrett, and a much more fluid and efficient offensive attack.

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Kevin Noon - Army West Point will not complete a pass

Earlier I said that Army West Point will be held to 15 yards of passing but lets up the ante a little bit. Ohio State's pass defense is going to play an inspired game as the corners are on an island and they are not out there defending NFL type receivers (Simmie Cobbs) or being picked apart by a serious Heisman contender (Baker Mayfield). Bradshaw has been held to one completion twice in his passing career, at Temple (2016) and at UConn (2015). The Buckeyes have more talent than either of those two teams. They just need to show it. Sure, maybe a trick play could see a running back throw a pass but the Buckeyes will have to be disciplined to stop that as well, but the more I type here, the better I feel about my prediction that this could happen.

Colin Gay - Ohio State rush defense allows under three yards per rush 

This may not seem as much of an exaggeration. Just think of what this Army West Point offense is, though.

This is the second ranked rush offense in college football. The Black Knights have averaged 514 yards rushing per game this season. Last week, against Buffalo, the offense ran 74 plays on offense. 66 of those plays were on the ground.

The Ohio State defensive line has a reputation to uphold. After giving up only 17 yards rushing to Indiana in the season opener, the Buckeye rush defense allowed only 2.8 yards per rush against Oklahoma last weekend.

Even if, on paper, the rushing yards column of the stat sheet may not look so good, this Ohio State rush defense will take away the only path to success for the Black Knights offense.

Nick McWilliams - Chris Worley’s out of body experience 

Linebacker was not the strongest position against Oklahoma, but players like Chris Worley won't have a choice against a triple-option offense.

There will be plenty of runs up the gut, right at one of the longest tenured players on the defense. Chris Worley has a big responsibility in slowly down Army running back Darnell Woolfork. The 5-foot-9, 235 bruiser is the definition of a power back and is a throwback to old style fullbacks.

Woolfork will not wow anyone with his speed, but he is a load to take down. Worley is arguably the best tackling linebacker on the team, and he has the chance to show that off against the Black Knights.

After watching all three linebackers move out of proper tackling lanes to try and force plays rather than let the game come to them, Meyer and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano have most likely been keeping a close eye on where their linebackers run on each practice play. Linebackers who stay home are linebackers who make plays.

And make plays is exactly what Worley will do on Saturday. With so many opportunities, and the leader of the defense looking to bounce back from the loss to the Sooners, I'm going out on a limb for 22 tackles, and even a recovered fumble against the Black Knights.

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