Friday, September 02, 2016

25 Questions about the Big Nut

What is their body of work?

Look, there's no other way to put it.  This is one of the top 3-4 most successful football programs, year in and year out.

How many seniors and juniors on the two-deep?

This is a very young team.  They have 24 juniors and seniors on a depth chart that is more than 44 guys.  There are 6 seniors and 16 Fr.

Who are their returning statistical leaders?

Amazingly, they return no players who were top 20 nationally in any category.

What was their turnover ratio?

They were +3 last season.


 How is their QB play expected to be?

Real, real good.  JT Barrett will start at QB.  You might remember him from the year he stepped in as an injury replacement, set 17 school records and was the Big 10 QB of the Year as a FR.  You all know that he's a clear run-pass threat as well.  Actually, that's an understatement.  He was their 2nd best rusher last year.

What was their scoring and yards per play?

They scored 36 ppg which was #28 in the country on 6.3 yards per play.

Can they run the ball?

Well, obviously, Ezekiel Elliott has moved on to the NFL which leaves them with a lack of proven RBs.  Of course, Barrett was their #2 rusher this year.  They feature Mike Weber (freshman from Detroit Cass Tech) and a couple lesser used guys on their depth chart.  My expectation is that they will run the ball effectively.

Did they pass the ball?

Their passing was good but not great last year, at #39 in the country.  Barrett's efficiency was 139, which is also about 40th.  Barrett completed 63% of his passes and had 11 TDs over 4 INT, all of which is good.  The biggest thing is he had only 9.9 yards per completion, as compared to Matt Johnson with almost 13.

How was their run/pass balance?

They ran on 64% of their plays last year.  I'd expect something similar Saturday.

Did they convert on 3rd Down?

They weren't great on 3rd down, ranking 58th in the country.

Did they score in the red zone?

They were pretty good.  They scored 5.1 points per red zone trip, and were held by back whiffing 18% of the time.

Did they protect the quarterback?

It's average.  They gave up sacks on 5.8% of passing attempts.


Topline: Scoring and yards per play.

This is where things get real.  OSU was a monster defensive team last year, allowing about 15 ppg, #2 in the country.  They allowed 4.5 yards per play, which is really good.

Yes, they lost a ton of people from that defense and they are young.  In fact, they are starting precisely ZERO seniors, based on their depth chart.  Still, they are expected to be very good.  For example, their line is #15 in the country in Phil Steele and linebackers #10.

Did they defend the run effectively?

They were very good (3.4 ypc) and Phil Steele ranks their d-line #1 in the Big 10 and their linebackers #2 in the conference.

Could they be passed on?

They were 6th in the country in team passing defense efficiency last year.  Steele ranks their Dbacks #4 in the Big 10.

Did they get off the field on 3rd down?

They were good, though not by their standards.  They allowed 35% conversion, which was #29 in FBS.

Did they defend in the red zone?

They were good but not show stopping at this, with 4.9 points per trip.

Did they pressure the QB?

Yes.  They were 9th in the country in sacks...getting sacks on 9.2% of opponent passing attempts, which is very high.

Special Teams:


Their punter is really good.  They were top in the Big 10 in net punting.  He averaged almost 44 yards per attempt, 18 over 50, 26 inside the 20 with only 7 touchbacks.

Punt Return?

All their punt returners are new, but you know Urban and special teams.  With the players they have, you would have to expect them to be good at this.  They blocked two punts last year.
I'd rate every President of BG over this dope.


The depth chart lists Tyler Durbin as the PK and he did not try any kicks last year.


Again, the kicker is new.  Last year, teams started on the 21.  This is a danger area for BG's return unit.

Kickoff Return?

They returned only 17 kickoffs last season...!!...and, started at the 26 with no TDs.  Dontre Wilson is back from that unit...they were serviceable here but nothing special.

Miscellaneous: Overall atmospherics and intangibles.

Look, OSU is a 28-point favorite and probably should be. Every single player on BG's roster would have gone to Ohio State if they had the opportunity.  OSU has not lost to a team from Ohio since 1921, and that was Oberlin.  They have never lost to a MAC team.

The biggest mitigating factor is that they have come close.  Last year they beat NIU by 7 and in 2011 only beat UT by 5.  So, sometimes they win but they haven't always delivered the blow out.

OSU is young and they are playing a team that has nothing on tape to prepare for.  That works in BG's favor.  However, the youth of OSU's defense is mitigated by the youth/inexperience of BG's offense.  The best chance for BG to win this game is for the offense to be way better than expected and set a fast tempo for the game and keep OSU on its heels.

Let's not forget, though, that OSU may not have any seniors on defense, but they came from the top recruiting classes in the country.  They still have JT Barrett.  This is a very good team that has a chance to make the playoffs again.  They are really good at home.  This is a tall assignment from the jump and taller given the graduation losses from the BG offense from last year.

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