The No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes begin life without Braxton Miller on Saturday. Miller was a three year starter for the Buckeyes, and a Heisman favorite going into his season year. Unfortunately, shoulder trouble sidelined the superstar quarterback for the year. Some believe the Buckeyes have nothing to worry about, however, nothing is certain until you see the replacements perform on the field.
When the Buckeyes travel to play the tough minded Navy Midshipmen, the Big 10 super power better bring their hardhats and tackling expertise. No matter who Navy plays, they will test the dexterity of the opponents defense up front. Last season, Navy averaged 325 yards rushing per game, and they have the talent to gash the defense.
Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds is a big time threat in the running game. Reynolds controls the option offense and is adept at making the defense look silly at times. He finished the 2013 season with 1346 yards rushing.
On the flipside, the Buckeyes have no experience at the quarterback position, but they have to talent to match what Navy brings to the table. For J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones, Saturday will be their first time playing significant snaps in college. It’s a good thing they have plenty of talent around them.
The Buckeyes also lost Carlos Hyde to the NFL, but they will showcase the talent of all purpose back Dontre Willis. In 2013, Willis accounted for 460 yards from scrimmage. By Saturday, he could be a household name beyond Buckeye Nation.
For both teams defensively, the game will come down to tackling and miscues. Ohio State can’t afford to let Navy get in a rhythm offensively. If that happens, you will see Ohio State guessing where the ball is at instead of watching their cues.
Pay attention to the first down efficiency rate. Ohio State will love to keep Navy behind the chains and force the heavy run team into a passing team. The Midshipmen averaged 85 yards through the air last season. They finished with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. They know where their bread is buttered and they plan to stick with their strength.
We will see a renewed and hungry Ohio State team after sustaining two losses in a row. It will be hard to envision the Buckeyes facing a three game losing streak after starting the Urban Meyer era with 24 straight wins.
Ohio State 34