Don’t forget to check out the rest of the Buckeye Blogger Network Preview Coverage of California vs. Ohio State.
– The Silver Bullet takes a closer look at C.J. Anderson and the Cal Running Game.
– The Men of the Scarlet and Gray try to make sense of the OSU secondary against the Cal passing attack.
– the Buckeye Blog takes a look at Ohio State offense, specifically the tailbacks and if Jordan Hall can make an impact.
– The Buckeye Battlecry fills everything out with a look at the Ohio State air game.
Our analysis of Coaching, Special Teams, and Intangibles begins below.
When it comes to coaches, the balance will almost always tip in the favor of the men wearing the Scarlet and Gray. To say that Ohio State has one of the best college football coaches of the modern era under that headset is an understatement. Only Nick Saban has more crystal footballs in his trophy case and Urban Meyer came to Ohio State with the singular intention of closing that gap and overtaking Captain Houndstooth.
Yet before Meyer can realize his dream, he has to get through California and Head Coach Jeff Tedford first. At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be any tall task. California is 1-1 on the season with a heartbreaking loss to Nevada in the re-opening of Memorial Stadium only to bounce back late in a game last week against Southern Utah that should have been put away in the first quarter. Having been a resident of the Bay Area for going on 6 years now, I have had the opportunity to be surrounded by Cal analysis.
Cal fans, even though they are few in number outside of 50 mile radius of Berkeley, are no less vocal about the failing and missteps of their coach as any other program. Tedford has seen great times with world class quarterbacks, but has so far been unable to string more than a few seasons of winning football together. The (Other) Game has been as lopsided for Stanford in recent years as the 2000’s were for Ohio State against TTUN.
Through it all, however, Coach Tedford has continued to pull in quality local and area recruits and continues to attempt to put his best team on the field each Saturday. I have personally seen him do wonders with so little that Kirk Ferentz would be insanely jealous. I saw Tedford weather a protest that threatened a new practice facility and then have to turn around and play in San Francisco for a year while the decrepit Memorial Stadium was rebuilt, remodeled, and brought into the 21st century. A part of me was sad to see him lose his first game in the New Memorial.
In short, Tedford has done the best that he conceivably could given the circumstances he was surrounded by. That still won’t satiate the talking heads from around the Bay though. As with any program, wins are what matters. Tedford has been trying to string them together by playing a bit of “Moneyball” with his program and getting lower ranked guys to go to Berkeley, then coaching them up.
Then he gets guys like Keenan Allen, who spurned programs like Alabama to go to Cal. Allen is the star of the Cal return team, taking punt return duties in addition to his WR job. And boy is he good at it. It may not matter how far inside the 10 Ben Buchanan tries to pin him, Allen has Ginn-esque return moves and speed to match. The Buckeyes will want to keep it out of his hands, which will mean scoring on just about every drive so that Brendan Bigelow is handling the ball instead of Allen.
The Golden Bears have weapons on the flip side of the return game as well. Punter Cole Leninger is not slouch, with four punts out of 10 total inside the 20 yard line, contrasted with Buchanan’s 3 out of 9 punts. Where Cal struggles is with the field goal unit. Kicker Vincenzo D’Amato is 4/5 on the year in FG makes and has had an extra point blocked. By Southern Utah. On Ohio State’s sideline, Drew Basil is still waiting for that second field goal attempt, but is perfect on the season in extra points.
The Freak Show should be able to harass both the punter and kicker and could even see a block or two in the Special Teams game. Cal will be starting what is, to them, a 9am game. This means that most of the guys are going to be up at what would be 6am their “normal” time. Conditioning and focus will play a big factor in Cal’s game on Saturday, but if they come to play, don’t be surprised when you hear “Maynard to Allen for a big gain” several times.
As for intangibles, for visiting teams, one thing is usually enough: Ohio Stadium. But when you add in the jetlag, the early start time, the numerous personnel injuries, and Urban F. Meyer, the odds begin to sway massively in Ohio State’s favor.