Not surprisingly, one of the big issues at today's press conferences was getting the defense off the field on third downs. I wrote about it for tomorrow.
To me, the key is to get pressure on the quarterback, no matter what it takes. I know defensive coordinator Kevin Cosgrove did do some blitzing at Penn State, to no avail. Mostly it was linebackers, and they just didn't get home. But the Gophers, in my opinion, have to continue trying. Because the key to slowing Ohio State has become pretty clear. Get pressure on Terrelle Pryor and he will make mistakes.
The Gophers aren't going to do that, consistently, by just rushing four linemen. I look for some pretty creative blitz packages this week. The last thing the Gophers need is for Pryor to get comfortable early.
On the other hand, you have to figure the Buckeyes are going to do just about everything they can to take the pressure off Pryor. In the hyper-critical world of OSU football, there are already some calling for Pryor to be benched. I'm sure the Buckeyes are going to try to out-physical the Gophers with the running game.
I know the Gophers' defensive statistics aren't very good. But, against Penn State, first and second down was OK. And even with PSU converting so often on third down the Gophers defenders never quit. I still think holding the Lions to 20 points on their turf on a day when the Gophers offense wasn't doing it's part is not bad.
Meanwhile, on offense, the Gophers have to sustain some drives. Fourty plays just isn't going to cut it. Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch told me today he very much wants to get receiver Eric Decker the ball more often and earlier. Decker is clearly a leader and somebody Fisch wants to get going quickly, believing that can only raise the confidence of everyone else on the offense. I'll be interested to see how he accomplishes this.
That said, it would be nice to see another receiver step up.
Some other items:
-Even though Trey Davis is ready to go, the Gophers are keeping D.J. Burris No. 1 at center. Davis will back up at both center and right guard.
--Coach Tim Brewster sees a similar level of athletic ability between the PSU and OSU defenses.Ohio State, though, blitzes more
That's about it. Have a good night.
Burress first in depth chart/ davis backup both guard and center