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Today is Friday, Oct. 21, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.
Urban Meyer wants quicker start from offense
Ohio State is No. 1 in the Big Ten in total offense. Averaging just more than 300 yards rushing per game, the Buckeyes are also No. 1 in rushing. These impressive feats have not erased the problems the Buckeyes have had offensively, especially at the start of games. In their first three conference games of the season, the Buckeyes have been outscored in the first quarter 13-12. Although they do pick it up in the second quarter, averaging 20 points in the first half of their Big Ten matchups, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer said in his weekly call-in show on 9.71 The Fan that the Buckeyes need to come out with a vengeance, especially Saturday night against Penn State.
Meyer: "First five, six, seven minutes are going to be critical" in terms handling the wave propelled by the "White Out"
— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) October 20, 2016
As offensive lineman Billy Price talked about earlier this week, the key to that quick start will be running back Mike Weber and the rest of the rushing attack. The Buckeyes look to take advantage of a Nittany Lions defensive line that gives up an average of 208.8 rushing yards per game and has given up 14 touchdowns on the ground.
The passing defense, though, is a whole different ballgame. Ranked No. 4 in the Big Ten, Penn State has given up an average of 172.7 passing yards per game and has picked off the same number of passes (6) as touchdowns it has allowed through the air.
This is what Meyer is worried about. With the electric atmosphere during a “White Out” at Beaver Stadium, he is worried that his offense will be rattled if the Penn State defense creates some fireworks early in the game.
Meyer: "There was a stat one time that 70 to 80 percent of turnovers come after sacks" which must be avoided in hostile territory.
— Tim May (@TIM_MAYsports) October 20, 2016
This may not be a combination for a passing offense that was described by a caller as “all or nothing”.
At home, the unranked Nittany Lions are not looking to be embarrassed by another Top-10 team like they were when No. 3 Michigan crushed them 49-10. Penn State has the opportunity this week to be season ruiners. Ohio State will need to be on its “A” game to not let that happen.
The secret weapon
There is no doubt who the MVP is for the defense this year. No it’s not a member of the historic secondary, such as Gareon Conley, Marshon Lattimore or Malik Hooker. No, it’s not a member of the defensive line, such as Sam Hubbard or Nick Bosa. It’s the punter, Cameron Johnston.
Me: “Does my hair look ok?”
Cam Johnston: pic.twitter.com/0PWTdQA2bm
— Jeremy Birmingham (@Birm) October 15, 2016
Wait. He’s the punter. Exactly. A strong candidate for the Ray Guy Award for punter of the year, Johnston averages 50.8 yards per punt, a career high, consistently putting the opposing offense starting behind the 20-yard line.
Putting the defense in a position to succeed is just a part of Johnston’s job description.
“I enjoy going out there and be able to do your job really,” Johnston said. “It’s always good seeing the defense line up inside the 10 trying to stop them.”
Even though he doesn’t have many opportunities to show his abilities, Johnston just wants to make the most of his time on the field.
“It’s just a lot of fun,” Johnston said. “You practice all week for it, and with the way the offense is going so well, you don’t get a number of chances, so you go in, you want to make the most of it.”
Raekwon McMillan impresses Penn State coaches
Even though his name may not be called on a regular basis, linebacker and defensive leader Raekwon McMillan is getting attention from people on the opposite sideline.
OL coach Matt Limegrover says OSU LB Raekwon McMillan may be the best LB in the country. Said OSU front-7 every bit as good as Michigan's.
— Collegian Football (@psufootblog) October 20, 2016
This season, McMillan has 33 tackles with a forced fumble. Not much to speak of from the linebacker, but in an article from NCAA.com, McMillan said he’d rather the team do well than him personally.
“I’d rather have two tackles and them not score a touchdown,” McMillan said. “I’m not really worried about records or anything like that. As long as we’re up on the scoreboard, and they have less points than us, I’m OK.”
Mike Limegrover, the Penn State offensive line coach, also praised the front seven, calling it, “every bit as good as Michigan’s.” With that high praise, Limegrover must be preparing his line for a very tough task Saturday night.
Coming soon to Beaver Stadium…
“If you love your brother, if you’re going to sacrifice, it’s not about what you say,” co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell bellows. “It’s what you do. It’s always going to be about us.”
We will see Saturday night if the Buckeyes can survive another “White Out”.