- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There are a few defensive tricks up Ohio State’s sleeve to slow down an offense that is trying to push the pace.
The Buckeyes can tap the brakes before the snap by shifting formations, sliding around to show different looks up front, faking blitzes and trying to cause confusion.
After the play is over, they can take their time pulling off the pile, a bit of gamesmanship designed to keep teams like Cal from sprinting back to the line of scrimmage and firing off another one as quickly as possible.
There’s also plenty of work that can be done on the practice field well before kickoff even arrives on Saturday to make sure the Buckeyes are equipped to handle the tempo. But those reps are about building depth and changing personnel to make sure they can keep up -- not about learning properly how to fake an injury to bring things to a complete stop.
“When they’re running that many plays, any advantage you can get, any edge knowing what you’re doing going out there is going to help,” linebacker Joshua Perry said. “It’s just going out there and playing the game we play.
“There’s going to be none of that faking stuff.”
The new-look, fast-breaking Golden Bears didn’t waste any time in suggesting an opponent used theatrics to break the stride of an offense that has been averaging 97 plays per game, with first-year coach Sonny Dykes expressing some frustration at Northwestern for what he apparently perceived to be an unusual amount of injuries in a season-opening loss.
And while the Wildcats adamantly denied any acting was involved in knocking off Cal, they wouldn’t have been the first team to try that tactic in an effort to disrupt the flow of a system designed to wear out defenses and exploit mismatches.
But there are more honest ways of dealing with a high-volume offense like the Buckeyes will be facing on the road this weekend, and they won’t be spending any time on the practice field working on how to sell an injury.
“There’s just little stuff like getting off the pile slower, stem around a little bit, make them make checks and stuff,” defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. ““It’s just little stuff. You want to confuse them so maybe they have to call timeout instead of just running it down the field.
“I think in the NFL they would fall down and fake an injury, but we’re not really about that.”
The Buckeyes might have some more subtle ways to throw down speed bumps for an offense. But they won’t be hobbling out of the way to bring it to a complete stop.
4dDan Murphy and Austin Ward