Quite the weekend I had… First, i’ll apologize for the week of silence for the most part. As most of you know, I went to hang with some USC buddies for the Stanford game. Quite the ride to sitting in the HCs office watching practice on Thursday, to being at LAX and receiving word he was let go. Maybe it was my fault, but either way a good experience.
Secondly, I really haven’t had a chance to watch much of the Buffalo game or deeply analyze Fordham. But with that said, I think there’s some stuff we need to be looking for and some stuff that we need to see.
I’m going to start off with a story from some outside perspective. I had a ton of time to listen to podcasts on the way back, but one of them I listened to was a Fantasy College Football contest that went into some Nebraska stuff. They basically talked about Wan’Dale doing incredible things at Kentucky, and his co-host said “and how about his replacement at Nebraska, Toure is scoring a ton of points for owners the last two weeks.” The other guy goes “well, exactly, how’d he do when he faced his only B1G team? He was basically blanked except for his first catch. Anyone who thinks they are better off with Toure than Robinson at Nebraska should check back in to reality.”
That was really interesting to hear from a national pundit with no dog in the fight except just judging talent (albeit through fantasy points). I think Toure is a good slot guy, but I would agree that anyone who thinks we are better off might need to check their fandom a bit. But I only say that from the standpoint of we need production against B1G teams and Oklahoma. I don’t really care how our guys do against Fordham and Buffalo.
Which leads me to our game against Oklahoma (and quite frankly with Northwestern and Michigan State as well). I tried to give a warning in some of my other previews, but we can’t get too high on the Fordham and Buffalo wins, how we do these next 3 games are going to define our season. Fordham and Buffalo were our 2 easiest games according to FPI. Purdue and Illinois were our next two. We lost to Illinois, and the current FPI only has us winning 2 more games this season (Northwestern and Purdue).
These next 3 games are going to be tough… in my opinion we need to go 2-1 to get to a bowl game. Before the loss to Illinois, I thought we could go 1-2 during this three game stretch and still get there. So if we chalk Oklahoma up as a loss, we need to win against Sparty and Northwestern. Few factors there, as we will have back to back road games and Sparty looks pretty decent so far. Luckily they will be coming off a tough game against Miami, so hopefully they are beat up (and we aren’t). Further, can we look efficient and well coached against teams that aren’t Fordham and Buffalo? Will we revert back to bad turnovers, penalties, and special teams? Will our defense still look as formidable as it has been against teams with a pulse?
So let’s go into our defense and what we may see against Oklahoma. One of the things i’m curious about, is i’ve had multiple people tell us how strong we look on the lines, but we just can’t move. So teams may want to do more outside zone against us, as guys like Stille, Robinson, and Daniels are very good up front and straight at us. But our linebackers like Reimer, Henrich, and Kolarevic are very athletic and probably better running side to side than straight on. So what will the opposing offense do? Are they going to go straight at our linebackers that aren’t as physical? Or are they going to get our DL running sideways? Basically this quote will be about our DL, but it doesn’t work for our LBs anymore:
I quite honestly think it will come down to what we do on the back end in our secondary. Does anyone remember us playing Ohio State last year? We did ok against the run, but our corners were playing 10 yards off to not get beat and Justin Fields just diced us up. Backtracking a bit, it always bothered me that teams like Northwestern and Minnesota could dial up defenses to keep them in the game, then I watch us just play to not get beat against teams like Ohio State and now Oklahoma. Will Chinander have our DBs up and challenging the Sooner WRs? Or are we going to play off against them like we did against Ohio State? Rattler can do everything Fields did against us, so us playing aggressive could get ugly. But at the same time, it’s really our only chance to pull an upset.
But what will our offense do? Remember against Ohio State, we went right down and scored on their ass. It’s why i’m always so confused with Frost. As many of you know, I consider him one of the best offensive minds in football. What we practice all week gets us down the field to score, but once the defense in the B1G adjusts we seem to really struggle. I’ve posted this before, but our second half struggles against P5 teams are very concerning. We were 4-5-1 in 2018, 3-6-1 in 2019, and 1-6-1 in 2020. To start 2021 we are 0-1. Now, everyone will say “if we didn’t miss the extra point if we didn’t do this we win!” My problem there, is it has been happening. We can keep talking about one score losses but if they keep happening, isn’t that who we are? What i’m getting at, is if we have any chance, we are going to have to adjust sometime in this game. I actually think we hang with them for a bit. But how do we adjust?
Also, against Ohio State, our OL could not get a push whatsoever. We struggled with 2 NFL draft picks on the line. We now are younger on the OL with less talent as of now (not saying later, but freshman Corcoran isn’t as good as Jaimes for example). So quite honestly, i’m curious what Ohio State will do and here is what to watch. Does Ohio State play with some two high safety and let their front 7 defend our run without extra players in the box? So first series do we see two high? Or do we see them playing tight man coverage out there and forcing Martinez to throw. They think they have the advantage everywhere, so who are they going to lean on? Their DBs to stop us one on one with more in the box? Or help the DBs with safeties and let their DL/LBs take over stopping the run?
Sorry for the delay in preview and quick write up, I just threw this together. But let’s see what we can do!
Oklahoma 49 Nebraska 24