Michael Jordan

Ohio State / C

Tim May
tmay@dispatch.com
Michael Jordan [Adam Cairns/Dispatch]

Michael Jordan knows the attack is coming.

The Michigan State defense is partial to pressuring the A gaps, the spaces on either side of the opponent’s center. Jordan got a taste of it a year ago at left guard as Ohio State ripped through the MSU defense on the way to a banner day running the ball.

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This time, on Saturday at Michigan State, Jordan will be at center, his position all season. He makes the blocking calls and he knows it will be paramount to get them right against the Spartans — No. 1 nationally against the run, at 71.7 yards per game — who use blitzes and line stunts to try to create confusion in the midst of the line.

But pressure?

“I feel the most pressure on Tuesday and Wednesday of practice,” Jordan said. “Then, by the time it’s game day, I don’t feel any pressure because I’ve seen it so many times, it’s like I’ve been there before.”

Michigan State makes no secret of its intent. The desire, as coach Mark Dantonio used to put it when he was defensive coordinator on Ohio State’s 2002 national championship team, is to affect the quarterback.

“They just blitz the A gap,” Jordan said.

That’s likely to be the case even more so in this game, because for the first time in Urban Meyer’s seven years as Ohio State coach, the Buckeyes feature a pocket passer in Dwayne Haskins Jr., not the dual-threat type of Braxton Miller and J.T. Barrett.

Moving Haskins off his preferred launching spot will be the goal for the Spartans, best done by applying pressure up the middle.

“Their No. 1 pressure is the internal pressure, which they’ve done for years, and that’s right where it’s going, between the guards and center,” Meyer said, also referring to left guard Malcolm Pridgeon and right guard Demetrius Knox. “We’re big, strong, physical guys in there with Knox and Malcolm and Michael Jordan … and Michael Jordan has gotten better and better at it throughout the year, for a first-time starter there.”

Jordan knows his awareness and communication with Pridgeon and Knox will be vital.

“I just have to keep my head up so I know what’s going on,” he said.

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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