Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Pete Thamel, and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Ohio State CB Shaun Wade saying ‘You already know who I want to go up against’ ahead of his likely matchup with Alabama WR and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith in the College Football Playoff Championship Game.
DAN WETZEL: Adding to the, quote unquote, "rat poison" angles, Buckeyes are not completely innocent here either. And we encourage it. Ohio State defensive back Shaun Wade came out and said, you know-- you already know who I want to go up against. I'm guessing that is a call out to DeVonta Smith. OK, gonna have to back that up, have fun. Bring your running shoes, Shaun.
Thoughts on that? Because that very well could be a key matchup in this game. Ohio State ranks 57th in the country in passing defense efficiency. And they're-- and Alabama can knock it all over. And they may get Jaylen Waddle back. We don't even know. But even if he's on the field that-- yeah. Pat?
PAT FORDE: Yeah, that's-- I mean, and the fact of the matter is too that Shaun Wade hadn't played well this year. He has not had a great season for a guy that came in as the premier defensive back in the country and, you know, actually fake opted out for a little bit to try to up the ante on the Big 10 to restore the season.
He might have should have stayed and opted out because he hadn't been great. And you want to put him on DeVonta Smith? You go ahead. I mean, he was getting a lot of criticism in the Clemson game from just playing soft the whole game, giving up big cushions. Like, his whole goal was just not to get beat deep.
And you give up cushions to Alabama, they'll kill you underneath. Now, if you get up too close, they'll kill you over the top. So this sets up as a problem for that-- in that area. I mean, really for both teams. I think both teams' pass defense is 100%-- not 100%, let's say 80% getable. And both teams can absolutely deliver big plays, you know.
I mean, the Fields-Olave-Wilson combination was absolutely incredible in the semifinal against Clemson. And now you throw in the tight ends that they've been adding into the mix. And Alabama has a lot to think about with the, you know, pretty pedestrian set of safeties back there. Patrick Surtain's fantastic at corner, but that's only one corner.
Josh Jobe's actually played well at the other corner. He was good against Notre Dame. But they-- that's the advantage of Ohio State. But on the other side of it, as you mentioned, Ohio State was 50-somethingth in pass efficiency defense. Well, Alabama's number one in pass efficiency offense.
I mean, they are just an absolute machine in that area. And Mac Jones doesn't make a lot of mistakes, their receivers don't drop balls, they run great routes, they're fast, they're strong. And then, yes, as you mentioned, Dan, you're going to add Jaylen Waddle to the mix maybe?
You know, we'll see if he plays, how much, how effective he is. But jeez, you put him out on the field and Kerry Coombs is like, OK, we got to account for that too. It's certainly giving Alabama-- or Ohio State, I'm sorry, one more thing to prepare for and think about.
PETE THAMEL: Well, for Shaun Wade, and again, we encourage smack talk here. We covet rat poison. If we had a happy hour, we'd have, like, rat poison buffets, right? So I certainly don't want to discourage Shaun Wade from talking his-- from talking his talk. But I will just recall the Penn State game where Jahan Dotson, who's a fine receiver for Penn State, but he did not win the Heisman trophy.
In that Ohio State-Penn State game, Mr. Dotson caught three balls on our friend Shaun Wade and finished that game. And again, they weren't all matched up with him, with eight catches for 144 yards, three touchdowns. I believe at least two of the touchdowns, remember, he had that one-handed catch down the left sideline, Dotson did, in that game.
So we applaud Shaun Wade for his, how should I say this, for his boldness and for giving us things to write about. I just have a little bit of hesitation in reality if he's matched up with Mr. Smith or Mr. Waddle upon his return.