That’s all there is to it. That game was simply ugly.
In a game that was a lot closer than it seemed it should be during the 2nd quarter, the Buckeyes evaded the Cal Golden Bears 35-28. California did an excellent job of keeping the game close until halftime before putting in their 46 defense as an adjustment to confuse the Buckeye offense. The result was a motivated Cal team that managed to take the lead early in the 4th quarter. The Buckeyes regained control only to see it get tied up again. A final deep shot over a corner and safety that had bit on a possible Braxton Miller run gave Devin Smith the go-ahead Buckeye Touchdown.
This team has a long way to go before they’re going to be anything like what Urban Meyer wants to see on the field. The defense still seems to have communication problems, and also struggles to tackle. This is not the kind of defense that’s going to do well against the Big Ten at this point. They need to really get it together if they want to be even a half-way decent OSU defense. That said, it was the defense that had to dig deep at the end and stop California to secure the victory. They have it in them, but it isn’t quite there yet. Hat tip to Christian Bryant for picking up the interception to secure the victory.
Props to Jeff Tedford and company for their great gameplan, including the confusing use of the 46 defense. If not for their field goal kicker missing three shots during the course of the game, this might have been a different story in the end.
As for the offense, it has its moments. It is pretty clear that they aren’t 100% there on understanding the system, but they’re taking the steps towards getting there. At some point, this offense is going to be insane – but that may not happen until next year.
1. Plenty of sacks. Bradley Roby got it going with a great blitz. That was followed shortly by Shazier up the gut of the offensive line. There were 6 total sacks on the day, a much better effort compared to what we’ve seen.
2. Bradley Roby by himself. Solid play all day long – only negative was his dropped pick six late in the first quarter. Made a great pass breakup late in the 2nd half. Roby ended with 9 tackles (7 solo), 2 tackles for loss including 1 sack, and 2 pass break ups.
3. Great passing from Braxton Miller. Some great playcalls on the 2nd scoring drive allowed Braxton to hit a pair of beautiful passes to Stoneburner and Smith. He struggled late in the 2nd and during the 3rd quarter, but got it together again in the 4th. There’s still work to be done (the missed throw to Philly Brown was a footwork problem) but he’s definitely an improved passer. He ended 16-30 for 249 yards 4 TDs and his first interception of the year.
4. Improved play from the D-Line. Seemed to be angrier, hungrier, and out for pain. Simon managed to break Zach Maynard for a few plays in the first half in a hammer and anvil play with another Buckeye. The unit also picked up a sack on a 4 man rush from Garrett Goebbel, and again from John Simon. The sack by Jonathan Hankins on Cal’s last drive was a thing of beauty right when we needed it most. Solid.
5. Play-calling on offense – when we don’t over think it. When the coaches just want to get it done, the offense hums like an F-22. When they start getting cute, the offense looks like a burning wreck falling from the sky. The play calling is there, and it is an absolute thing of beauty when it’s working.
1. Receiver drops. Early on, they prevented the Buckeyes from picking up first downs. All told, there 3 drops on 4 Braxton’s first incompletions. The receivers started to get it together a little better later, but there’s still a little bit of the dropsies from last year.
2. Penalties. Absolutely atrocious penalties. There are no excuse for extra curricular activities in the backfield, nor for yanking a receiver down by his facemask after a catch. Add to that the dumb penalties that keep you from scoring – false starts for example – and you have a block of problems to work on.
3. Tackling. Oh dear god defense, wrap up the ball carrier. Two, count it two, long touchdown runs – including the longest touchdown run against a Buckeye defense in Ohio Stadium history – were the direct result of poor tackling. This cannot continue.
4. Coverage over the middle. This is still an issue it seems. We gave up a long one over the middle above CJ Barnett’s head, and a short one over the middle on 3rd down in zone coverage.
5. Offensive adjustments against the 46. Cal didn’t switch into the 46 until the second half. The Buckeye offense, not surprisingly, struggled terribly with it – especially when it started taking away Braxton Miller’s escapability. They sorted out eventually, but it took far too long, and wasn’t a perfect solution.
The Buckeyes will next take on the Blazers of Alabama-Birmingham in Columbus next week. You’ll be able to catch the game at Noon on the Big Ten Network.
Unless you’re on Dish Network, unfortunately.