Rain won't dampen offensive approach

Joey Kaufman
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Raekwon McMillan (5) walks off the field following the Buckeyes' 17-14 loss to the Michigan State Spartans in the NCAA football game at Ohio Stadium in Columbus on Nov. 21, 2015. (Adam Cairns / The Columbus Dispatch)

The conditions were ripe for an upset the last time Ohio State lost to a Big Ten team in its home stadium.

It was 2015 when Michigan State upended the Buckeyes on a last-second field goal in the Horseshoe, after a downpour on the late November afternoon had turned the game into a low-scoring slog.

Ohio State might have to account for weather when it hosts Wisconsin on Saturday, a possible obstacle for its high-scoring offense that has been humming through the first seven games.

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The latest forecast from two days before kickoff showed a 90 percent chance of rain at game time, along with winds reaching 10 mph. Estimates have total rainfall about a half-inch.

Coach Ryan Day was aware of the latest weather reports when he spoke with reporters Thursday, but said there are only so many adjustments to make in the leadup to the contest.

“We have to make adjustments as individuals, guys who carry the ball,” Day said. “Other than that, we’re still going to have the same game plan regardless of the weather, unless it’s just completely brutal.”

The conditions aren’t as likely to be as significant as they were against Michigan State in 2015, which also approached freezing temperatures and had wind gusts that were above 20 mph.

Day also recalled a late-season win over Illinois in 2017 when rain was a significant hurdle in the second half, noting that it was hard for the quarterbacks to take the snap from center.

“In those situations, you've got to be a little more conservative,” Day said. “If it’s just raining, we have our full arsenal.”

Some of the individual preparation in practices involve so-called “wet-ball drills,” in which players familiarize themselves with dampened footballs.

The Buckeyes have dealt with little rain this season, only during its blowout win over Miami University on Sept. 21 when the game was ended with 2:40 left due to lightning.

The prospect of rain is most likely to impact Fields and his targets in the passing game, though he didn’t expect much of an issue, noting that the receivers were “very comfortable.”

The Buckeyes have largely been mistake-free this season. Fields has been intercepted just once. Only nine teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision have committed fewer turnovers.

Tackle Jones likely

won't be redshirted

Day said freshman offensive tackle Dawand Jones “probably” will appear in more than four games this season rather than pursue a redshirt.

Under a new NCAA rule implemented last season, players can appear in up to four games and still qualify for a redshirt.

Jones has appeared in three games this season, including last week at Northwestern, pushing him close to the cutoff mark.

“We want to get him in some of these games when we can,” Day said. “His ceiling is very high. We want his development to continue.”

Jones is one of the biggest players on Ohio State’s roster — listed at 6 feet 8 and 360 pounds — and in addition to serving as a backup lineman, he has been used on the field goal block unit, where he could continue to play a role during the latter half of the season.

When Chase Young blocked a field goal attempt against Cincinnati last month, Jones occupied enough blockers to leave a hole, allowing Young to get into the backfield and bat down the kick.


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