Five questions to ask about Ohio State – Purdue

1. Can Ohio State control its emotions? Common sense suggests the Buckeyes were already fired up to play Purdue after their embarrassing 26-18 loss last Oct. 17 in West Lafayette. Ind. Now, following a loss at Wisconsin after only one week ranked at No. 1, the team will be chomping at the bit to take the field. Coach Jim Tressel preaches a communal mentality to his team, but obviously, he doesn’t know what each player is thinking. “We talk a lot about what we should be collectively thinking,” Tressel said. But “I’ve never pretended to know what every individual is thinking.” 2. Will the OSU offensive line handle Purdue’s version of J.J. Watt? Wisconsin defensive end J.J. Watt wreaked havoc at times last Saturday against the OSU offensive line, finishing the game with four tackles and two sacks. The men who man the trenches will get no off-day on Saturday against Purdue’s Ryan Kerrigan. In last season’s game, Kerrigan tortured the Scarlet and Gray offense for nine tackles and three sacks. So far this season, Kerrigan has six sacks despite being the focal point for opposing teams’ offensive lines. 3. Is ‘Boom’ Herron ready for a No. 1 running back role? Even though Dan Herron and Brandon Saine continue to be listed as co-starters on the team’s depth chart, make no mistake about it, Herron is now the featured back. In the last three games, Herron has carried the ball 54 times. In that same span, Saine has rushed the ball eight times, including no carries in the past two games. As OSU heads into its eighth game, the offense seems to be more comfortable with Herron carrying the load on the ground and using Saine as a hybrid wide receiver. 4. After a subpar showing last week, will the OSU defensive line rebound? Before the Wisconsin game, the OSU defensive line had held its own through the first six games of the season. Things changed Saturday night. Wisconsin manhandled the OSU defensive line at times and surrendered 184 yards on the ground to the Badgers, 104 of those to 2009 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year John Clay. In most years, OSU rotates about eight players along the defensive line to keep fresh legs in the game and create a solid push on the line. In the first quarter, Wisconsin embarked on a 19-play, 89-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown. The only player substituted for one of the starters on the defensive line during that drive was freshman Johnathan Hankins. “I can remember many times we’ve talked since last February that one of the concerns was that five of our eight in our eight-man rotation were graduating or going out early,” Tressel said. “What you get into in a ball game like (last Saturday) is, is it the right time and the right place to put someone in?” 5. Are injuries becoming a serious concern for the defense? The “Silver Bullets” have quickly become the walking wounded. They are already without safety C.J. Barnett and hybrid linebacker/safety Tyler Moeller for the season. Barnett’s replacement, Orhian Johnson, is banged up. Moeller’s replacement, Christian Bryant, has a foot infection that requires hospitalization until at least Friday, Tressel said. Starting linebacker Ross Homan will be out a few weeks with a foot injury. His backup, Dorian Bell, suffered a concussion against Indiana and is still out. Although Tressel essentially said the next man in line needs to step up, the injuries are not only depleting the defense but also the special teams, where many of the backups play. The last thing a struggling OSU special teams unit needs is new and untested faces.

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