5 Answers: Eastern Michigan at Ohio State

Jordan Hall looks for Terrelle Pryor

Ohio State's 73-20 defeat of Eastern Michigan proved to have more interesting subplots than might have originally been expected. We take a look at the Ohio State running game, the Eagles on both sides of the ball, special teams and trick plays.

1. Will Ohio State get its running backs in gear?

Although the Buckeyes ended up with 342 yards rushing, the passing game remained the focus while the starters were in the game.

Herron carried 12 times for 55 yards and a touchdown while Saine toted the rock three times for 11 yards and third-stringer Jordan Hall posted two carries for 15 yards while playing with the starters.

That was mostly a matter of how the Eagles chose to defend.

"A lot of teams like to throw an extra guy in the box with us, and that's probably going to stop soon because (quarterback) Terrelle (Pryor) has been playing well," center Michael Brewster said. "They got us a few times today on short-yardage runs when it was just the extra guy in the box. It's things that are easy to fix. We'll take care of that.

"Our running backs have proved themselves throughout last year, and they've even made some really nice runs this year. They pass protect a lot, too, so they're keeping guys off Terrelle, but their time will be coming, and when we need it, they'll be ready."


2. Can Eastern Michigan get anything going on offense?

The Eagles entered the game ranked 91st in the nation in scoring (20.7 points per game) and 87th in total yards (332.0) but had surprising bouts with success against Ohio State's injury-hampered secondary.

EMU quarterback Alex Gillett completed 13 of 22 passes for 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

"All of us are pretty disappointed in our play today," said senior linebacker Brian Rolle, who had three tackles and broke up a pass. "You don't see too many smiles on the face of the defense. This is the first time I feel we didn't get a win on the defense this season."


3. How will Ohio State handle the Eastern Michigan defense?

Quite well.

The Buckeyes scored their most points in a game since an 83-point effort against Iowa in 1950. Not only were the 73 points the most in the Jim Tressel era, they were more than ever scored by an Ohio State team under the guidance of the program's previous three head coaches - Woody Hayes, Earle Bruce and John Cooper - as well.

The 645 total yards were the most in the Tressel era, too.

Pryor spearheaded the effort with his fourth day of passing for at least 200 yards and running for 100 or more as well.

Tressel advertised the Eagles as a blitz-heavy team, but Brewster said they brought pressure less than the team expected.


4. What will special teams look like this week?

By most accounts, Ohio State had its best day of the season on special teams.

The Buckeyes entered the game with the worst net kickoff average in the Big Ten (39.0) but held the Eagles to less than half that (18.6).

Only Michigan had been worse in gross kickoff distance, but freshman Drew Basil averaged 66 yards on his 12 kickoffs Saturday, besting the team's 59.2-yard average in its first three contests. Three of Basil's kicks went for touchbacks.

Ohio State also blocked an point-after-touchdown kick, but there was one hiccup: EMU's Ryan Downard returned the only Buckeye punt 27 yards in the third quarter.


5. Will Ohio State throw out any unexpected wrinkles?

As is becoming the norm for this type of game, the Buckeyes unveiled a gadget play against an obviously overmatched foe.

Last season it was a wide receiver reverse pass, and this time around it was a halfback pass from Jordan Hall to Pryor for a 20-yard touchdown.

"Coach Tress said if I dropped the ball to just keep running through the tunnel and don't come back," Pryor joked afterward. "It's all fun and games, but at the same time we're trying to accomplish something and get better."

Ohio State also kept the Eagles off balance at times with a no-huddle offense.

"It's a lot of work during practice," said wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who tied the school record with four touchdown catches. "It almost becomes frustrating during practice because it's tiring to do that every day. We're out there and they keep calling our hurry-up offense and we're like, ‘Can we give it a break?' But obviously it pays off in game time."

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