1) GROUND GORDON– You aren’t going to be able to completely shut down or stop Heisman Trophy candidate Melvin Gordon, but you must be able to slow him down and then bring him to the ground so he doesn’t rip off any big runs against you. He’s rushed for 0ver 100 yards in 11 of 12 games this season and he’s run for over 200 or more yards in 5 games this year, including his 408 yard – 5 TD performance against Nebraska. He has racked up 2,260 yards – 26 touchdowns and has an 8 yards per carry average. He also has 3 TD receptions. He is the focal point of the Badgers offense. Contain him and force Joel Stave to beat you with his arm and your chances to win increase dramatically. This is by far the most important part of the Buckeyes game plan on Saturday in Indianapolis.
2) JONES DISTRIBUTING COMPANY – In his first collegiate start, sophomore third string quarterback Cardale Jones needs to realize he doesn’t have to try and do it all himself. He has plenty of playmakers around him and his main job will be to get them the ball in any way possible. Whether it’s a hand off, shovel pass, option pitch, a deep ball down field, get the likes of Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Mike Thomas, Jeff Heuerman and other the pigskin and let them do what they’ve been doing all season. If Jones tries to do too much that’s when turnovers happen and that’s the most important thing he cannot do, “TURN THE BALL OVER”! He needs to “VALUE THE FOOTBALL”, “PROTECT THE PIGSKIN” at all costs. He needs to know it’s OK to punt the football and then try and score the next time they get the ball. If he doesn’t turn it over, like I mentioned earlier, the Buckeyes chances of winning this game against Wisconsin increase dramatically.
3) URBAN ADJUSTMENTS – Urban Meyer, with a quarterback making his first career start, plus at least 13 freshman or sophomores starting and a bunch of other “utes” playing key roles, mistakes are going to happen. Meyer needs to recognize them quickly and make the proper adjustments if the game plan isn’t working. This is do or die time for the Buckeyes. Last year Meyer was outcoached in both the Big Ten title game and in the Orange Bowl, he can’t let that happen again, especially with so many young players in prominent roles. Don’t wait until half time to make changes or adjustments. If in-game moves need to be made, make them immediately. (i.e. – don’t be afraid to put true freshman linebacker Raekwon McMillian in for Curtis Grant and let him play most of the game. McMillian is the better player. Don’t be loyal to fault just because the Grant is a senior.)
4) BE SPECIAL – There are three parts to a football team and the one that gets overlooked the most is special teams. This game could be won on special teams. So make sure you win the battle with this unit. Field the ball cleanly on kicks. Stay in your lanes on punt and kick coverages and make the fundamental tackles instead of going for the highlight hits. Know your blocking assignments and communicate on all punts, field goals and extra points. Flip field position on punts with good hang time, ball placement and coverage. The momentum of so many games can change because of a big special teams play.