Jason joins us again with another review of the roller coaster that was this week’s game:
Have you caught your breath? Did you wake up this morning feeling a little better about yesterday’s Buckeye win? I hope so, because despite a myriad of defensive issues and an offense that at times was stuck in the mud, the boys are 3-0 and looking ahead now to Alabama-Birmingham at The Shoe this Saturday. For as angry as some aspects of the Buckeyes performance made you, you have to admit this one was pretty exciting as a spectator!
Ok, we’ll start with the bad since that’s what everyone wanted to focus on during and at the conclusion of yesterday’s 35-28 win over California. I can’t recall an Ohio State defense that tackles this poorly and takes such horrible routes to the ball carrier on the edges.
It makes my head hurt seeing guys fly to the ball and put a shoulder on someone and expect them to just go down. Football players are taught at a young age to parallel their shoulders, lift their head up, wrap with their arms and drive with their legs. It really is that simple. See what you’re hitting and wrestle it to the ground. Etienne Sabino, Christian Bryant, CJ Barnett and, unfortunately this week, Ryan Shazier I’m talking to you.
And how in the world is it possible that we see these guys chasing running backs from behind just a few yards across the line of scrimmage in the manner that we do? Are they that completely out of position or is it the angle they take to the ball carrier? I have to assume it’s a little bit of both but for the most part it appears to me to be the latter.
A lot of people blew up my twitter account during the second half with comments on how badly Luke Fickell was calling the game. I can’t speak to that, and honestly neither can any of the people claiming his defensive calls were wretched. I can tell you undoubtedly that in the first half he did an excellent job of mixing up his blitzes and keeping the Bears guessing where an attack was coming from. I can agree that, yes in fact it appeared as though they went away from that strategy in the second half. However, it doesn’t in any way indicate that Fickell was calling a bad game. His players were in positions to make plays, the problem is that they were either taking terrible angles to the ball, getting caught in the wash or being blocked.
It’s pretty apparent to me that there are some issues with communication in the back seven. How can a guy like Keenan Allen run free between Etienne Sabino and Chrisitan Bryant while both watch him go by and then chase? This type of communication breakdown has to be cleaned up or it’s going to cost them a game.
Here’s the spot where I tell you once again (but you already know) how special Braxton Miller is and how much he means to this offense. Whether making plays with his feet or finding guys down field this offense, and to an extent the entire team, goes as Braxton Miller goes. He had yet another video game move on his 55 yard touchdown run in the first quarter. I loved his poise coming back after throwing an interception to lead the troops down the field for the game winning score late in the fourth quarter. The touchdown pass to Devin Smith was a back shoulder bullet. The young man is growing up in front of us. He is going to be a dangerous weapon once he fully understands Urban Meyer’s offense and realizes his full potential. Brax on Brax on Brax. #XBrax360
Got your running back?
Jordan Hall returned to the lineup and made his first start of the 2012 season. Most thought he’d see limited action or at most be on a “pitch count” for the amount of plays he would be in on. Urban Meyer decided to nix those suspicions and go with Hall exclusively for the duration of the game. Jordan looked good at times and a little rusty during others. All told he finished the day with 87 yards on 17 carries.
What we didn’t see was him utilized in the “Percy Harvin” role most experts anticipated him to fill. I’m sure that will come with time. I’d like to say it was because they were easing him in to action, but the lack of carries (0) for Bri’ontee Dunn and Rod Smith lead me to believe that was not the case. In any event, look for Jordan Hall to be a big part of the offense in two weeks when Big Ten play begins in East Lansing against Michigan State.
Was anyone else at least a little surprised at Meyer not giving any carries to Dunn or Smith? Honestly, I was shocked. Let’s hope this isn’t a developing story of these two guys losing favor with the coaching staff. And not to slight to Smith, but especially Dunn who showed some solid potential in the first two games.
The defensive line played like men and absolutely dominated the Cal front seven. I realize that Brendan Bigalow broke off two long scoring runs, but refer back to my comments on the angles and lack of tackling for an explanation on those. Jonathan Hankins and Garret Goebel stuffed the center of the Cal line and forced anything and everything to the edges.
Nathan Williams must get healthy and be ready to go weekly. His impact on the pass rush can’t be overstated and the way he frees up John Simon on the other side is invaluable. Instead of being able to line up a tight end on Simon to help the tackle or chip him with a back, they have to respect Williams coming off the other edge thus negating a constant barrage of double teams on 54.
I loved the” Tebow jump pass” call on the goal line for a touchdown, even if Braxton didn’t jump. We finally got to see that play and not throw up in our mouths a little from it.
Ben Buchanon is an all-world punter and bailed the offense out quite a few times yesterday. I don’t talk about kickers much, but Buchanon deserves a mention for his play this week. He was called upon and came through with flying colors.
Wrap it up
Don’t let this one get you down fellow Buckeye fans. Yes, at times it was difficult and somewhat maddening to watch, but the fact remains they are 3-0. Maybe in the past a performance like Saturday would give us reason to worry that the issues are large and possibly insurmountable. But I promise you, the communication problems can be fixed in the film room and the fundamental issues can and will be worked out on the practice field. It’s probably going to be another very Bloody Tuesday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Metallica track of the week
Giving up 500 yards of offense to California is hard to forgive. So, let’s go with an all-time favorite of mine, Unforgiven! Here it is live from the Orion Music and More Festival at Bader Field in Atlantic City, New Jersey!