The Ohio State Buckeyes may have realized their Week 2 matchup with the Virginia Tech Hokies looks much more daunting following the season-ending injury to QB Braxton Miller, but OSU better not look past their season opener, either.
Even before Miller’s injury, the Navy Midshipmen had a good shot at beating the Buckeyes in Baltimore. Navy was already set to trot out a very experienced offensive line (85 combined career starts), more senior starters and a higher percentage of returning offensive yards than Ohio State.
Now, OSU will need to play a fantastic defensive game to keep this from becoming one that requires them to rely on new QB J.T. Barrett to keep pace. That will be an issue, as Navy’s triple option offense is unpredictable and highly effective. In 2013, the Midshipmen converted more than half of their third down attempts — good for sixth in the nation.
Navy returns six players who rushed for at least 200 yards last season, including QB Keenan Reynolds, a 1,300-yard rusher who finished with 31 rushing touchdowns in 2013. The Midshipmen also have six players who averaged more than five yards per carry.
Furthermore, there are lingering questions about the Buckeyes’ offense, with or without Miller. Ohio State has a mini rebuilding project on their hands on the offensive line after losing three starters and does not feature the same experienced offensive firepower that they did last season after the losses of RB Carlos Hyde (1,521 rushing yards, 7.3 rushing yards per attempt and 18 total touchdowns), all-purpose star Jordan Hall (536 rushing yards, eight touchdowns), WR Corey Brown (63 receptions, 771 yards and 10 receiving touchdowns) and WR Chris Fields (six touchdowns).
Take away Miller (2,094 passing yards, 1,068 rushing yards and 36 total touchdowns) and those departures look even more drastic.
OSU may get by the Naval Academy based on the pure depth they have acquired as a national power, but then again, this wouldn’t be the first time David defeated Goliath.
I won’t say I told you so.