3 quarters of PSU and 2 of Illinois, here it goes.
They run multiple sets. They can go from an I-from to 5-wide gun. They seem to like to start from power sets and work into the spread formations. They like to run a formation where they have a TE, a wing, and another TE to the same side. They will run to strengh out of this formations, but will also motion the wing to the weak side, and run towards motion. They only ran play action once out of this formation. They like to run iso, trap, belly and counters out of their standard I-formations. Pretty basic stuff. Out of their spread formations, they like to throw more than they like to run. They like to run the read option in the gun with double tights. I never saw them throw out of this formation. I also saw the speed option a couple times out of the spread formation. Their passing game consists of a lot of little option routes. The wide receivers just run to space between defenders and Pryor hits them on a three step drop. Illinois actually did a better job defending this than PSU. They ran smash routes a couple times against Illinois where there is a guy short in the flat, and a second receiver running a corner route behind the corner and in front of the safety. I expect to see this route several times tomorrow agasint our cover 2 scheme. Against PSU they ran double posts once, and also ran a 2 vertical route against one side of a cover two. They got a big gain out of it. They also like to run short underneath crossing routes. They ran one reverse with Robiskie against Illinois, but other than that they don't try to fool anybody.
Their O-line is good, but they are not by any means a dominate unit. They had a lot of trouble against PSU getting to the second level. Most of the time, LBs were able to get to the ball carrier and bring him down. They were better against Illinois, but stil had some trouble. If we had great linebackers this would be a good matchup. They will open some holes occasionally, but I think we can do a decent job of containing their power running game. #70, their right tackle is a liability in pass protection. Graham needs to have a big game against that guy. PSU was able to drive that guy backwards all day. He was better against Illinois, but still not that impressive.
Their receivers are good but not spectacular. It seems like Robiskie is their go to guy. He has great hands and can get open, but he is not the gamebreaker type. I see problems with these guys running short routes between linebackers. They find space very well and don't drop many balls. This could lead to a lot of third and 6 conversions. The safeties also have to be ready for the smash route.
Their big play guys are Wells and Pryor in the backfield, obviously. Wells will break every arm tackle. We really need to get a shoulder pad on this guy to bring him down. Pryor is most dangerous when he breaks contain. Not only is he a running threat, but is also very good during scramble drill. He will find the open reciever on the run. However, he is only average when he stays in the pocket. If his first read isn't there, he struggles. We really need to get pressure on him, and try not to let him break contain. That probably sounds like a broken record.
This is really just an ok offens in my opinion. I think the D can hold up ok against them if they don't repeatedly get put in bad positions.
They run multiple fronts. They will run both a 3 and 4 man front. Out of their three man front, they usually blitz at least one. If its 3rd and long with a 4 or 5 wide receiver set, they will drop 8 into a 3 deep coverage. They started blitzing more out of both fronts in the second quarter of the Illinois game. Out of the 3 man front, they will bring a guy off the edge and roll the strong safety down into the box while playing a 3 deep coverage behind it. If they bring more than one guy out of the 3 man front, they usually play man behind it. Other blitzes they like out of the 3 man front are a guy coming off both edges, two LBs up the middle, and they also showed a corner blitz a few times. Out of the 4 man front against Illinois, they put Freeman up on the line inside of the DE. They will run cover 2, 3, and man.
Their Dline is solid. Heyward is a very good player, but they don't have a dominant pass rusher like Gholston from last year. They held their own against PSU, but nobody really stood out. Illinois had a lot of success with their outside zone play early in the game. They were able to get these guys sealed, so there may be some hope we can run the ball. I only saw them stunt once or twice, and they did slant some to the strong side.
Their linebackers are also pretty good. I think Freeman is the best of the goup. He looks pretty athletic. Both him and Laurinites are good tackers. As I said before, Illinois had success with their outside zone and were able to get the linebackers to over pursue. When PSU or Illinois got lineman to them, they were able to drive them back for the most part. They did get off some blocks, but I think that if we can get lineman too them, we will be able to sustain blocks downfield. They seem to be pretty good in space against the pass, but I did not see them challenged much over the middle.
The secondary is also very good. I think this is the worst matchup for us. The corners are physical and do a good job of jamming guys off the line. We have not been good this year with getting releases off the line of scrimmage, and we don't beat man coverage consitently enough. I think they will be sitting on our slants and hitches, and it could be tough for the passing game. They generally play a man over every receiver. Against Illinois, they only had a safety over #2 on the weakside, so that could be a situation where we have an advantage on the bubble by alignment. Outside of that, we are going to need great blocking on those plays. Also, if they are blitzing and playin a lot of man, we could get a good mismatch with Odoms on a safety. I think we will see a lot of the formation where we have twins on both sides bunched together. PSU ran this formation a few times, and OSU put their corners and OLBs way out to the twins. That left only 5 in the box with a safety creeping down. We have to be able to run out of that formation against that front. If they have to pull those OLB's back in a little, that could lead to some other things.
Overall, they have a good defense, and an ok offense. We are obviously going to have to play our best game to win. But we have a shot, thats why they play the game.