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Buckeyes set to head west

• Ohio State will need to slow down California’s up-tempo passing offense

September 12, 2013
By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz , Times Leader

Ohio State will be California 'Dreamin' this weekend.

The No. 4 Buckeyes will take their 2-0 record and make their first road trip of the season when they trek to Berkeley, California to take on the 1-1 Golden Bears Saturday night at 7.

This weekend marks the Buckeyes' first trip to Cal since 1972 and first time for a regular-season game since playing at USC in 2008.

Many national pundits believe this could be a 'trap' game for the Buckeyes because of the Golden Bears' up-tempo, wide-open offensive attack that can be extremely tough to prepare for in just a week's time.

Plus, when you throw in the fact that junior quarterback Braxton Miller has been listed as day-to-day all week after suffering a sprained MCL in the first quarter of last week's 42-7 romp against San Diego State, you could see why there's such a belief.

However, all week Meyer has talked as if Miller is expected to play and the Buckeyes departed for the west coast this morning to try to get acclimated to the three-hour time change as much as possible as early as possible.

"We've got to manage this trip really well," Meyer said. "We'll need all able bodies to be ready to go."

The Ohio State defense will certainly be tested by a Golden Bears' team that averages 104 plays a game under the offensive attack guided by Sonny Dykes, who is in his first season with the Golden Bears.

"It's going to be a great atmosphere," Meyer said. "I hear (Cal's) new stadium is incredible. It's going to be a pass-happy, fast type of atmosphere."

To prepare for the Golden Bears, the Buckeyes obviously haven't spent much time looking at last year's film, which was a 35-28 OSU victory in Columbus. Instead, the players and coaches have been looking at what Louisiana Tech ran the last several years when it became one of the most prolific offenses in the nation.

"This is really a completely different story (than last year) defensively," Meyer said. "We did a summer preliminary scouting report, which you always do on the first three opponents, and I am sure there's a bit of carryover, but we'll watch some of the cut ups from Louisiana Tech."

The Golden Bears' offense is led by a true freshman at quarterback. Jared Goff is leading the nation in passing yardage after two weeks with 930 yards. He has thrown only four touchdowns.

He was bothered by pressure and threw a couple of interceptions in the Golden Bears' season-opening loss to Northwestern.

"I think (Goff) has a good grip of the offense and this is one where you just call plays and you go," said OSU co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers. "He doesn't seem overwhelmed at all with running what they do. They just run plays, but if they see some kind of look they don't like, they'll look to the sideline to get a different play."

Bryce Treggs is the Golden Bears' top receiver with 21 receptions. Jackson Bouza, Stephen Anderson and Chris Harper are penciled in as the other starters at wide receiver.

The Buckeyes are well aware of the Golden Bears' top running back. Brendan Bigelow had a huge game in Columbus last season, scoring touchdowns on runs of 81 and 59 yards as the Golden Bears nearly rallied to upset OSU.

A big key for the Buckeyes on Saturday will be getting pressure and they did a good job of that last week against the Aztecs. Defensive lineman Michael Bennett was the defensive player of the game. He was a menace from his tackle spot.

"I keep telling you that Michael Bennett is our best practice player, the correlation between that and performance is obviously high," Meyer said. "I was very impressed with our defense last week. There's a lot of things can fix, but I liked our energy. We were too soft on zone coverage and, at times, we were too soft in man coverage."

The secondary was back at full strength last week with Bradley Roby back off suspension and C.J. Barnett returning from an injured ankle. Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant played well at linebacker.

Noah Spence has recorded 1.5 sacks from his end spot. The status of Adolphus Washington is still up in the air. He injured his groin last week.

The Buckeyes' offense, despite not having Miller for more than seven plays last week, was still impressive as Kenny Guiton stepped in and did more than yeoman's work.

"It's an incredible case study of arguably one of the greatest that I've been around as far as your backup quarterback is elected captain," Meyer said. "I wonder how many times that's happened. There's a lot of respect for Kenny Guiton about everything. He distributed the ball very well, moved it around."

Along with Guiton, who threw for 152 yards and two touchdowns, Meyer was pleased with how much more Philly Brown was involved in the offense. He caught six balls for 73 yards and two scores.

Jordan Hall was steady with 75 yards and a score on 13 carries. Freshman Dontre Wilson scored his first collegiate touchdown. Rod Smith also returned from a suspension.

This is expected to be the final game that the Buckeyes are without Carlos Hyde, who was suspended for three games.

The Golden Bears' defense was been giving up yards in big clips. They've allowed more than 500 total yards in each of the first two games.

Northwestern threw for 299 yards, while Portland State went for 308 yards through the air.

Hardy Nickerson Jr. is the Golden Bears' top defensive player. He had 11 tackles last week. Michael Barton leads the team in tackles for the season with 17. Kameron Jackson had an interception for the Bears last week.



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