Ohio State football notebook: Offense prepares for another three-man front

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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It’s another week, and it’s going to be another 3-3-5 defense for the Ohio State offense, especially the line, to decipher with San Diego State visiting Ohio Stadium on Saturday. Right guard Marcus Hall said there is a benefit to the back-to-back challenge.

“San Diego State has a lot of athletes on their defense,” he said. “I mean, not taking away anything from Buffalo, they did, too, but that definitely prepared us for this defense.”

Not that all 3-3-5 defenses are equal.

“It was a big benefit (going against Buffalo), though it was a different look from what we’re seeing this week,” coach Urban Meyer said. “It’s such an abnormal defense, but it’s not really because a lot of teams now do it (three-man front). The coaches have got to do a good job, too, making sure they see it enough so it’s not that unusual.”

Hall said, “I think we’re better suited this week to go against it, and to make less mistakes.”

The problem against Buffalo might have been leaping to a 23-0 lead and then “we kind of let our foot off the gas pedal,” Hall said. “We talked about that as a whole offensive unit. So we’ll be focusing on starting off fast like we did, then keep maintaining it.”

Crowded backfield

Jordan Hall is the likely starter at running back, coming off a career-high 159-yard, two-touchdown game, but as for No. 2, “I’m not sure,” Meyer said.

But he indicated that Rod Smith, who is coming back from a one-game suspension, has earned spots on a couple of special teams (punt and punt block), and “that’s a good sign he’ll get in the game” as a running back.

The pecking order could be “Rod Smith, Bri’onte Dunn, Warren Ball … Dontre (Wilson) and Ezekiel (Elliott),” Meyer said. Then he corrected himself by saying Wilson “is more of a receiver right now.”

Upon further review

The special teams will be looking for consistent high marks across the board against San Diego State because coordinator Kerry Coombs said the opener “was a mixed bag.”“The three penalties (one on a punt, two on returns) were critical and costly and unfortunate,” Coombs said. “I thought the dynamic nature of the kickoff team was important, because there were a lot of first-time players and nonstarters on kickoff, and we had had some issues in camp that they cleaned up and I thought they really played well.”

Wilson had a 51-yard kickoff return, and Coombs expects punt returns to be better when Corey Brown catches the ball cleaner. Coombs said kicker Drew Basil did well each time called upon, “and I thought our punter (21-year-old Australian freshman Cameron Johnston) survived and did what we asked him to do.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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