December 28, 2009
Opportunity is there
LOS ANGELES - The duo of Lamaar Thomas and Taurian Washington have combined for a total of eight career receptions during their time with the Buckeyes. Both players have also been in the center of many transfer rumors as of late but all of that is going to have to be put to the side on Friday when both receivers are going to be thrust into the forefront on one of the biggest stages in college football.
The loss of Ray Small and Duron Carter took Ohio State's No. 3 and No. 4 receivers out of the mix and Flash and T-Wash were the next two guys on the totem pole and will now have to get it done and help the Ohio State offense from bogging down in a one dimensional quagmire.
Small and Carter combined for 28 receptions on the year up to this point and they will be missed in the offensive scheme but by all accounts their spots have been filled nicely as things progress.
"I think the coaches have a lot of confidence in Flash and Taurian," running back Brandon Saine said. "I really haven't noticed much of a difference. I think we can play the same style game with the athletes that we have."
Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman will still have his two main pass catching threats with DeVier Posey and with Dane Sanzenbacher but now the Buckeyes will have two guys thrust into a much larger role in the offense especially if the Buckeyes want to try and empty the backfield and put multiple guys out in patterns.
"The more reps those guys get the more the more they improve," Bollman said. "Certainly on their behalf to get the additional repetitions they have been doing good."
But it is not as if the two have gone without reps in practice but there is something to be said about preparing for a game that you know you will get into and that you will be expected to play a significant role in the offensive work.
Don't expect Ohio State to get away from what it does best and that is running the ball but nobody believes that the Buckeyes will run the ball exclusively. But tendencies show that the Bucks run the ball 2-1 over passing it (512 runs, 276 passes= 65-35 percent). Will that clip be the same on Friday? There have not been a lack of reps as the season has progressed and everyone knows that the offense is not going to reinvent itself over the span of an off-month.
"As far as picking things up there was really nothing new for them to get because they have been taking just as many reps as I have all year long," Sanzenbacher said. "They are in a position where they know what they are doing and I think they are comfortable doing it. I think they realize now that they are a little bit more important in the game plan and doing it."
Not all of the pressure will be on Flash and T-Wash however and the buckeyes are going to need other players to step up and pick up some of this perceived slack that will be left.
"We have been working a lot with two tight end sets," Sanzenbacher said. "Obviously we have two tight ends that can make plays so we want to get our playmakers on the field so they will be in there a little bit."
Terrelle Pryor will have to be able to find his two new (old) targets in the game. Has he had a chance to build that intangible that develops between quarterbacks and receivers of being on the same page?
"To throw to those guys I have to have faith in them and I do have faith in them," Pryor said. "I am sure if they catch the ball that they will make a play."
The fact that Small's career is over now isn't lost on Pryor and he misses No. 82 out there running patterns.
"It sucks not having Ray Small out there because he is such a playmaker and he didn't get to show up," Pryor added. "The opportunity is there for T-Wash and Lamaar Thomas and also DeVier and Dane have to step up a lot more."
There is one more often overlooked receiving threat on the team in Saine and he would be more than eager to break off on a wheel route and pick up some big yardage via the air.
"Hopefully, I like to get out in open space and catch the ball," Saine said.
But at this point it is all just speculation as to how everyone will perform and the game is not being played on Monday in a hotel ballroom.
"The true test will be on Friday when it is real and see how they respond and see how things are going," Bollman said.
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