September 20, 2012

Q&A: Breaking down the Blazers

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio State football team will face its final test before the start of Big Ten play when it takes on UAB in its final out of conference game of the season on Saturday. In hopes of getting a better understanding of the type of squad that the Blazers will be bringing to Columbus, we took some time to talk to Larry Powell of to get his thoughts on this Saturday's matchup.

BG: Throughout the first three weeks of the season, the Buckeyes have proven to be susceptible to giving up big plays on defense. Do you think that the UAB offense is capable of creating such plays, and if so, who are some of the playmakers that could haunt Ohio State?

LP: UAB does have a big-play capability, but it hasn't come out too much so far. On offense, keep an eye on quarterback Jonathan Perry and wide receivers Jackie Williams and Patrick Hearn. On defense, freshman Jake Ganus has an eye for the ball.

BG: Like the Buckeyes, the Blazers are currently undergoing a transition with a first-year head coach in Garrick McGee, but undergoing change at UAB is obviously different than doing so at Ohio State. The Buckeyes seem poised to finally put together a full 60 minutes of action under Urban Meyer. What can UAB do to keep the game close on Saturday?

LP: UAB would like to win the game, but their real goal is to use the game to get ready for the Conference USA schedule. They'll take this game as an opportunity to work on some areas that will be important for the approaching conference schedule.

BG: One positive for the Buckeyes this season has been the play of Braxton Miller, who already finds himself on Heisman watch lists after three games. None of Ohio State's first three opponents have been able to contain him so far, especially on the ground. What will the Blazers try to do to stop No. 5?

LP: They're hoping for a team effort that produces a swarming defense. Despite the 49-6 loss to South Carolina last week, UAB was effective at targeting Marcus Lattimore and keeping him to less than 100 yards rushing. The problem, of course, is that they still might not stop Miller and, if they do, they'll open other opportunities for Ohio State.

BG: UAB's offensive line coach, John Peterson, spent the last eight years of his career coaching Ohio State's tight ends and serving as the team's recruiting coordinator. Do you expect his familiarity with the OSU roster to present an advantage at all for the Blazers?

LP: Maybe. It will at least give UAB an idea of what to expect. But UAB's line is still young and inexperienced. The question becomes whether they can grow up quickly.

BG: After facing South Carolina last week and the Buckeyes this week, do you expect this games against top-20, BCS automatic-qualifying schools to better prepare UAB for conference play or could it potentially shatter the Blazers confidence?

LP: That's exactly what the UAB coaches expect. There is still a feeling among the UAB coaching staff, despite the 0-2 start to the season, that they are still competitive for the C-USA championship. That has been the goal for the teal all along.


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