Buckeyes can finally focus on a pocket passer
Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
Relief isn't usually the sentiment that surfaces when a team studies the USC offense.
|Geoff Burke/US PRESSWIRE|
|USC's Mark Sanchez isn't likely to beat the Buckeyes with his feet.|
But when Ohio State begins learning the names and numbers of the Trojans' seemingly endless list of rushing threats, defenders can take some comfort in knowing quarterback Mark Sanchez isn't among them.
Loaded with talent around him and a bionic right arm, Sanchez can pick apart opposing defenses in many ways, but running the ball is rarely his method of choice. He has only 23 career rushing yards on 19 carries, an average of 1.2 yards per rush.
Sanchez still moves around decently in the pocket, but he doesn't fall under the label of mobile quarterback, and that could be a good thing for No. 5 Ohio State heading into this week's matchup at the L.A. Coliseum (ABC, 8 p.m. ET). Several mobile quarterbacks have caused problems for the Buckeyes' otherwise sound defense, which led the nation in fewest points and fewest yards allowed last season.
Trace back to the 2007 BCS national championship, when Florida freshman Tim Tebow did his thing against Ohio State, rushing for a touchdown and setting up others with his feet.
Illinois' Juice Williams flustered Ohio State last November at Ohio Stadium, rushing for 70 yards and throwing four touchdown passes in a 28-21 upset. Williams' running ability particularly stung in the fourth quarter, as he converted a fourth-and-1 and two third downs of seven yards or longer as Illinois drained the final 8:09.
The Buckeyes also struggled to contain Ohio backup quarterback Boo Jackson in Saturday's underwhelming 26-14 victory. Jackson had 55 rushing yards on just seven carries in the game.
On third-and-13 early in the second quarter, he evaded the rush and found Taylor Price for a 30-yard completion. Three plays later, Jackson converted a third-and-7 by scrambling for 10 yards. Jackson later scrambled for 20 yards on third-and-10.
"Those little mistakes we made today, versus USC, we may not win the game," Ohio State defensive end Lawrence Wilson said. "So we have to work on the little things, show some discipline."
Added linebacker James Laurinaitis: "We have somebody in our grasp, we've got to bring him down. If you're containing, you've got to keep containing."
The less-mobile Sanchez provides a new challenge this week.
"Completely different offenses," Ohio State linebacker Marcus Freeman said, "but at the same time, football is football. You've got to tackle. That's something we didn't do well [Saturday] and we're going to need to improve on for [this] week."