What's the story with OSU cornerbacks not looking back for the ball? Baver answers Mr. and Mrs. Gawel's questions - Purdue Week

Colin: Before diving into the defense, last week we talked about OSU suddenly having trouble running the football. Is it too late to add a package with the QB under center or a fullback, or is that just not how Urban rolls?

Baver: I would have to think they’ve worked with Haskins under center in practice and determined that this is not one of their better options. If we don’t see it this week at Purdue, then we probably won’t see Haskins under center at all this season. As for a fullback, I think you may see one in a short yardage situation here and there, but not regularly. I don’t know if OSU is tipping off some of the called tailback runs, but Dobbins and Weber are often running into tacklers the moment they get the ball. Seems to be a combo of the play calling and the run blocking. It has to be better Saturday night or this Buckeye team may very well have a “1” in the loss column come Sunday.

Colin: Nick Bosa completely dominated in what amounted to three halves of football this year. How bad does it hurt this defense knowing Nick will never don the scarlet and gray again?

Baver: It’s devastating. I guess we shouldn’t be too surprised. But with what we were hearing up until Tuesday, it sounded like there was a decent chance Nick was coming back this year. Bosa was the most dominating player in CFB the first 3 weeks of 2018. It hasn’t been the same without him. Chase Young is struggling with consistency, and injuries have slowed down several other OSU D-linemen. This is a huge loss for this Buckeye team.

Colin: Question from my wife: Our cornerbacks never seem to look back for the ball? Is that the proper technique or is something wrong?

Baver: It depends whether or not the cornerback/DB is in an advantage position with the receiver. Some coaches call it being “in phase” with the receiver. That is, being stride for stride with him, and/or basically on the receiver’s shoulder. Then, often coaches teach the DB to look back and attempt to locate the ball. But if the DB is not in the said advantage position, coaches often teach them to NOT look back for the ball. A coverage man turning to play the ball could allow a receiver that is running full speed to gain more separation from a DB that isn’t in phase with him. 

It actually appears that the OSU corners have been in that favorable position many times this season, but have not turned around to play the ball. And that has led to several big plays for OSU opponents. That’s a problem.

….a good question Mrs. G. : )

Colin: Enough doom and gloom, for all of our flaws the Buckeyes only gave up 14 points, Haskins is throwing for a million yards and we are undefeated and #2 in the country. How concerned should Buckeye fans be about Purdue? 

Baver: They should be very concerned…no doubt about it. And about every OSU fan I have talked to this week is worried things are beginning to fall apart. Jeff Brohm is one of the great offensive minds in the game, and the Boilers are capable of lighting up a scoreboard. True frosh Rondale Moore will likely cause OSU some problems. He is a danger to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. 

Problem is, Purdue is going to have to count on the weather to slow down this Buckeye passing attack. And that may happen to some extent, with 20 to 30 mph winds in the forecast. In the end though, I see the Buckeyes outlasting Purdue, just like they have done to several opponents already this year. I like Ohio State 38 to 27, with Purdue wearing down in the 4thqtr. 

Colin: Does Harbaugh finally beat Sparty and what other games will you be keeping an eye on this week? 

Baver: Dantonio lives for this matchup…and Michigan can really struggle away from home. Still Michigan St has so many problems, and Michigan is the better football team right now. Shea Patterson has made some big strides, and Michigan will be tough to beat going forward. I think Michigan gets the win and the 7-pt spread looks about right to me.

Then you’ve got ESPN GameDay headed to Pullman, Washington to see Washington St squad face Oregon, the GameDay crew’s first trip to Pullman. The Cougs have covered the Vegas spread in all 6 games this year and are 5-1 overall. On the other side, the Ducks Justin Herbert, the potential #1 overall pick in the next NFL draft, is lighting it up right now. But Oregon is off the emotional upset win over Washington last week, and are going to have their hands full with Wazzu’s Gardner Minshew, who has thrown for 400+ yds in 4 of his last 5 gms. I like WSU in the strong situation spot here to win and cover the 3-pt spread against the Ducks.