Week 12 Game Preview: Ohio State at Wisconsin

Posted: November 17, 2012 in UME 2012
OSU 10-0   WISCONSIN 7-3
Wisconsin in Flux?
This year marked the coaching “staff’s biggest turnover s/’06” according to reputed football writer Phil Steele. I know this, Bielema is a defensive guy and was not the one responsible for Wisconsin’s great offense the last couple of years. That was mainly due to OC Paul Chryst, who is now Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Panthers. Chryst learned his trade at Oregon State under the wide open offense started by spread guru himself, Dennis Erikson. Under Bielema, Chryst was a bit handcuffed, but worked his magic well. Especially when mobile QB, Russell Wilson, came on board at the behest of Chryst.
Just to let you know how little Bielema understands offense, he expressed glee at the hire of this year’s OC, Matt Canada, saying that Wisconsin will continue to run the Pro Offense. Running the ball with big RBs and Lineman doesn’t equate to a Pro Offense. The schemes of Chryst were rarely Pro Schemes. At the least, the game planning and overall feel of the offense wasn’t what you see in the NFL, unless you are just watching after the handoff. In fact, Wisconsin runs it a lot more than NFL these days. Wisconsin was more of an Old School College/ new school Power Spread hybrid than it was a Pro Offense. Chryst mixed up the formations and sets brilliantly. He used motions and play action like a Power Spread expert and also could Spread the field for the pass. And he tried to use Wilson’s legs as much as possible under a coach like Bielema.
Now I am not saying Bielema is all bad.  He’s a great Defensive coach and proved that at Kansas State. This is why Barry Alvarez, another defense guy, liked him so much. And Bielema has also proven to be a very good Head Coach. He just doesn’t understand offense. Luckily for him Canada does. Canada ran a REAL pro style offense back in the day, then learned much more spread elements at Indiana and Northern Illinois. Indiana tended toward Passing Spread. NIllinois Spread Option. Canada also said he’s studied Chryst’s stuff. Not a bad guy to learn from. So in the end the offense is still pretty much the same, atm. A mix of power football from different sets. Some old school 2 RB, 2 TE power college football stuff, to Power Spread running and passing.
The bigger problem for the Badgers this year is graduation. The biggest loss being their star QB Wilson. They still have big Monte Ball and are a good team, they just are not a great one. And the overall offensive scheme still doesn’t use enough Power Spread and will not as long as Bielema is there thinking he’s running a Pro Set. They are good, but not good enough for Schemes + Talent like OSU – even in a down year.
What I’d Like to See
Yes, you heard that right – undefeated in a “DOWN” year. Urban Meyer has said it repeatedly -this team is not that good. But his coaching staff and schemes are and of course our talent – mainly Tressel talent – is 2nd to none.
During my live commentary of our last game I mistakingly said we still are not running enough of the no huddle. Well, going on 2 hours sleep (yes I’m the Tennis Crier too), I made a pretty blatant error. We certainly were running the no huddle – the whole game! Not much Hurry Up (~10s), but at least the standard No Huddle(~20s). That’s great news because that shows that  Meyer at least has some confidence in our Defense, which btw, finally didn’t give up a load of points after OSU gets a big lead.
For this game I would simply like to see more of the same. The PS concept and schemes can certainly cover for a lot. But against top notch teams that execute, it can’t cover all. Too many mistakes and bad play, won’t necessarily cause a loss, IF the team is talented enough. But it will make a loss much more likely, as we experienced thru most of the year with games that really shouldn’t have been that close. So against Wisconsin, we need to start off well again, continue to execute better, and make sure to keep up our passion and concentration on Defense, no matter how many points we may be ahead.
I must admit I have not followed Wisconsin that closely this year. At the start of the year I figured this was our greatest chance for a loss – being in Wisconsin and they way Bielema has continued running the program since Alvarez retired. But with the coaching and player turnover, I knew that we had a shot. If we had played this game before the Penn State/Illinois games I would have had serious doubts. But our improvement over the last 2 games bouys my confidence. Plus, 2 weeks of planning with our great coaching staff will also be a plus for the Buckeyes.
It won’t be easy – at least early – as we deal with a hostile crowd and our continued understanding of the first Power Spread ever at Ohio State. But we weathered the crazy crowd at Penn State and Nebraska and I expect we can do the same here. As long as Bielema concentrates on “no mistakes” and holds the offense close to the vest, like Penn State, Wisconsin hopefully won’t take advantage of any earlier mistakes by OSU. They will think they can win a low scoring slugfest. But once the offense starts clicking – and it will, the schemes and talent are too good – then they will be down big before they know what hit them. And our Defense is more experienced now at keeping up the pressure.
Plus, there’s an injury update. OSU gains a LB and Wisconsin loses one. And we aren’t talking depth here. Sabino, OSU’s best LB at the start of the year, is back from a long absence and Borland, who is Wisconsin’s best, is out. The PS idea covers the “star-crossed” concept by employing the “Team” concept. But certainly, an extra LB to help provide depth for Wisconsin’s run game and one less for Wisconsin to deal with our Spread Option No Huddle schemes will make some difference here.
This may still be the one loss I expected (also Nebraska), but if I had to pick, I think we will win and it may not even be close in the end. Too much is going OSU’s way right now – even the injury factor – for the first time this year.
Welcome to the Power Spread, Coach Bielema. Even if you get the Buckeyes today, you better run and hide next year, son. The Urban Meyer Experience (UME) is here to stay my Big 10 friends.

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