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Three things to watch: Ohio State versus Tulsa

OSU sophomore wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) makes a jumping catch during the second half of the Buckeyes’ season opener on Sept. 3 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 77-10. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

OSU sophomore wide receiver Terry McLaurin (83) makes a jumping catch during the second half of the Buckeyes’ season opener on Sept. 3 at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes won 77-10. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo Editor

In their first game of the 2016 season, the Ohio State Buckeyes burned the scoreboard with 776 yards and 77 points en route to the team’s victory over the Bowling Green Falcons.

On Saturday, coach Urban Meyer may learn a few more things about his young group when the Buckeyes matchup against the Tulsa Golden Hurricane in Ohio Stadium.

OSU asserts identity

Image, reputation and identity are three words similar in principle, but different in meaning. Coach Meyer opened this past Monday’s press conference by stating the quality his team should be most concerned about.

“What we’re going to spend all our time on is our what our identity is,”Meyer said. “What really counts is what’s our identity, what’s your identity as a player and that’s the truth.”

An OSU team coached by Meyer has always been identified as a favorite to win the Big Ten, and often times a likely contender for the national championship. Even without Meyer, the expectations for the Scarlet and Gray were sky-high.

Meyer’s team’s identity with a fast-paced offense and a physical presence at all positions at defense. In the first game against Bowling Green, the Buckeyes displayed their speed and their ability to quickly decipher an opponent and break that team down mentally.

Meyer doesn’t want his players to be concerned with what people think of them — their image. He said that a player or coach can’t always control what is being said about him, but the player or coach can stay true to what he knows and perform up to capacity.

On Saturday against Tulsa, OSU is going to continue to rely on players like redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, junior H-back Curtis Samuel, redshirt senior center Pat Elflein and others to solidify the identity of the Buckeye offense as one of the most potent offenses in the NCAA.

Wide receivers clean up their act

Nine Buckeyes caught passes against Bowling Green totaling 417 yards, but Meyer wasn’t all too pleased with the receivers after watching film the following day.

“I don’t think that the technique of our wideouts was where it needs to be, even though they did make some very good plays,” Meyer said at Monday’s press conference.

Barrett mentioned there were some missed assignments by the wide receivers against Bowling Green. Redshirt sophomore Terry McLaurin said that Saturday’s game against Tulsa is an opportunity for the receivers to assert themselves and continue to grow.

“We work every day. We strive for perfection,” McLaurin said. “We always say effort overcomes mistakes. We may have missed an assignment but we score because our effort is so strong.”

The OSU receiving corps is a deep and talented one with parity throughout the depth chart. As an individual, McLaurin said the parity in the unit brings out competition and a responsibility to perform on every down.

“We take pride in having a deep rotation,” McLaurin said. “We expect no drop off from the ones to the next guy in rotation. Everybody is expected to compete and execute at a high level.”

Defensive line faces another fast offense

It took OSU the better part of three quarters to land its first sack of the season, Commemorated by a shrug from freshman defensive end Nick Bosa on his first career sack. Albeit the Falcons snapped the ball within 10 seconds of them getting to the line of scrimmage, Tulsa may be even faster this week posing another difficult task for coach Larry Johnson’s defensive line.

“They like to run the football. (Their quarterback) is a great decision maker. He gets the ball out quick,” Johnson said. “We have to adjust our pass rush again … We got a challenge on Saturday.”

OSU heads into the matchup with Tulsa without redshirt junior defensive tackle Tracy Sprinkle who underwent season-ending surgery on his patellar tendon. Redshirt freshmen Dre’Mont Jones and Davon Hamilton are queued to fill the void left when Sprinkle went down with injury.

Now entering their second games as Buckeyes, Jones and Hamilton will have to leap over the learning curve just one week before the season’s early showdown versus Oklahoma.

“I think we have to use our hands more. I thought we did at times but I thought we could do it more,” Johnson said. “Our pass rush is related to how long they hold the ball and we have to make sure they hold the ball.”

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