Thursday, October 7, 2010

OFFENSIVE SCHEME WILL LIKELY HINGE ON TIGHT END'S STATUS

Jake Stoneburner by
The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — With all of the offensive talk this week being about quarterback Terrelle Pryor's strained left quad and the Buckeyes running game woes, there hasn't been much attention being paid on perhaps one of the most important cogs of the Ohio State attack — Jake Stoneburner.

Stoneburner, who injured his ankle during the Buckeyes 73-20 win over Eastern Michigan two weeks ago, may not be able to go again this Saturday against Indiana. According to OSU tight ends coach John Peterson, the Buckeyes will not know Stoneburner's playing status until at least later today.

Stoneburner's status is important because the Buckeyes' offensive scheme is basically dictated on whether the athletic pass catcher is in the game. If he plays, it allows the Buckeyes to spread it out and beat teams in the air. If he's not, then the Buckeyes tighten things up.

Just look at last week's game at Illinois where Stoneburner didn't suit up and they had to go with sophomore Reid Fragel, a more traditional run-blocking tight end with size and strength. The Buckeyes were in ground mode from the opening gun, well before Pryor tweaked his quad. The wind may have played a little bit into it, as well as it being the team's first game away from home, but most of it can be attributed to the absence of the dynamic Stoneburner.

Simply said, if people want to see the more wide-open attack that they witnessed in the first four games of the season, then they better hope No. 11 is ready to go.

"From a blocking standpoint, I think we'd be fine," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said about the possibility of not having Stoneburner on Saturday. "From a linear route running standpoint, we'd be fine. I don't know if some of the movement things and working around defenders and experience of reading coverages and all that ... Reid's got a little ways to go.

"We probably won't split him out a whole bunch, where we're not afraid to do that with Jake because he's had experience out there, but Reid's been fine. Would I like to have them both back? Absolutely."

We'll know more perhaps later today.