The Ohio State Buckeyes will take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the national championship next Monday. The game is set to be played at 8 ET although there is a contingency plan set. This would feature the game getting pushed back a week if COVID forces either team to shut down. The biggest question heading into the game is if Justin Fields is going to be healthy. Although I think there is a greater cause of concern in the coaching battle.
Ryan Day is a great coach and there is no doubt about it. He has led the Buckeyes into the playoffs in back to back years and is 1-1 so far. His only loss, while he has been a head coach of the Buckeyes, was in that playoff game against Clemson last year. In the rematch this year the Tigers were unable to keep up with OSU. Justin Fields was able to lead his team into the next round despite getting injured early in the game. Ohio State was able to stay firmly in control because their offense stayed ahead of Clemson’s offense which is also a testament to their defense. The defense from the Buckeyes was really good even though they let up 28 points. That was a given based on the fact that you are playing one of the best offenses in college football. We have seen the OSU defense stifle weaker opponents and it was good to see them be able to stop a better team.
All of this brings me to the title of the article: is Ryan Day ready. We have seen the offense and defense play well and the last piece is coaching. He has been a great coach so far, but he is still playing with mostly Urban Myers players. Ryan also is going to go up against the greatest coach in college football in Nick Saban. He is going to have to make big adjustments and calls that will mess with Alabama. If you run the same stuff against this Bama team you are going to get beat. The biggest game that brings everything into perspective is the game against Indiana. The Buckeyes gave up a lead and put the Hoosiers right back into things because Indiana adjusted and they didn’t. Even when the Buckeyes are leading they should still be looking over the shoulder to see exactly what Bama is doing. Glancing in the review mirror every chance they get. Because eventually they are going to change like all Alabama teams have. This change will send them right back in the lead and possibly the win.
OSU has the capability to mess with a great Bama team. The biggest question is can they pull it off? Targeting the outside and turnovers will be the biggest key for the offense and defense. One of the more simple things on the defensive side is keeping everything in front of you. Let the 7 yard runs happen. Let the 6 yard passes happen. Just don’t let Bama lure you to sleep for them to be able to take a deep shot with all your players playing up. On the other side it is pretty simple. Keep Fields on his feet. The longer you can keep him upright, the longer you will be able to have a chance. On the other side it is pretty simple. Let your play makers keep doing what they are doing. Stars have emerged in Bama, let them keep playing how they have been playing all year long.
Top Picture from Sports Illustrated