Here’s the thing: We didn’t look as good as we could have in that Idaho game. The turnovers, and porous defense stand out in particular. Relative to our recent past, it was fantastic. I don’t want to sound like the
I can’t remember the last time we blew an FBS team out.
Road games are tougher, obviously, and we’ll be facing a much tougher opponent. Whereas Idaho won only three games these last two years, Ohio hasn’t had much experience losing games–especially the ones at home. In fact, they’ve gone 5-1 at Peden every season back to 2009, in which they went 4-2.
The defense, Derek Thompson, and the coaching staff will all be tested this week. Defenses in 2013 need not pitch a shutout ; they just need to teams down. Offenses are prolific and fast and outside of exceptions like Alabama or Notre Dame no one is really successfully defending offenses consistently. That said, look for Ohio to attempt to take advantage of our secondary on long pass plays. NT allowed a 40+ and two 50+ plays against Idaho. If it weren’t for those forced turnovers, it could have been a more stressful game. Zach Orr and company do a great job of containing teams on short stuff but is vulnerable to a big run and long pass because of the aggressiveness of the front seven. It isn’t a terrible strategy if your offense can score some points to back up up.
Speaking of the offense, they were aggressive vs Ohio. I don’t know if we’ll see the same 4th down attempts. I suspect some of that was because they wanted to put on a show for the home fans — no one likes a punt. In Athens, we’ll likely see a more conservative NT squad. Hopefully they won’t need anything dramatic from the offense. Derek Thompson doesn’t need to put up the same stat line as he did last week, but he does need to put in a solid performance. What does that mean? Well, somewhere in the vicinity of 60% passing and no turnovers. That should be enough to keep the ball moving and drives alive. There was some evidence of Coach Chico having a longer leash this season (or feeling comfortable enough with Derek to give him a longer one). Getting the ball out to Brelan and Jimmerson will be key. Frank Solich knows this, too. The road games are where you find out who your real solid supporting cast is. Darius Terrell, Lynrick Pleasant, Carlos Harris and the other guys not wearing #3 had a good debut. We’ll see if they can continue that on the road.
TV: ESPN3 6pm Central
Watching Parties: Various.
Odds: NT opened as a 6.5 point underdog. As of last night the line went down to 4 points.
Prediction: North Texas 31- Ohio 27