Well Buckeye fans, we are halfway home to the end of the 2011 season. Standing at 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the B1G, this year has been some dizzying highs (winning the Sugar Bowl) and far too many lowest of lows. The real question is where the Ohio State Buckeyes grade out for the first half of the season and keys to improvement. Players and coaches will be broken down and evaluated on their performance so far. So, listen up scarlet and gray clad coaches and players. Professor Schmidbauer is here to hand out some first half grades.
Breakdown: Anyone wondering what kind of faith the offensive coaches had in Braxton
Miller got a pretty good idea as to how much last Saturday in Champaign. The play as a whole has been pretty poor sans two games for the Buckeye signal callers. Joe Bauserman’s initial start against Akron was a solid debut for the resident geriatric of Ohio State. Braxton Miller’s first start against the Colorado Buffaloes was a nice debut as well. The rest of the performances have been lackluster, and I think we would all agree that is putting it kindly. Now the team is officially Miller’s and it seems like the Buckeyes can ride him as far as the freshman can carry them, well assuming there is not a strong wind anyway.
Area to Improve: If there is one key to the Buckeye season reaching eight or, dare I say, nine wins, it has to be the passing game. Ohio State proved you can win a game by only completing one pass, but it goes without saying we don’t want to see if the team can accomplish that feat again. Braxton Miller has not been able to consistently make throws in big spots in games yet, and opponents know that. You can believe that a serviceable passing will be a necessity to reach a New Year’s Day bowl game. Read More
The Buckeyes managed to put together a decent 17-7 win on the strength of some great defensive play, and some solid running from the offense.
Seriously, who needs a passing game? It’s not like anyone really asked for it anyway.
Lower The Boom. I don’t think the balance was quite right, but you simply cannot argue with 23 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown for his first appearance after suspension. It would have been nice to see a bit more Carlos Hyde in this one, but I’ll take a 100 yard rusher and a win any day.
Solomon’s Wisdom. We got him involved, and he was involved quite a bit. Unfortunately, he wasn’t involved in good ways from what we could see. Clearly Thomas was suffering from the rust.
No Injuries. The jury is still out on Travis Howard, who was injured during his interception return. That may be the only significant injury of the day.
Smooth Jazz. OSU was never in control enough to risk putting any other quarterback in the game, nor were they forced to do so due to injury or poor play. Braxton Miller got the job done and did everything that was necessary to net the win.
NFS. Well, apparently abbreviating it managed to keep JB Shugarts from false starting! That’s something! Too bad we had 2 or 3 other flags for it too…
The Buckeyes travel to Urbana-Champaign this weekend to take on the undefeated Fighting
Zookers Illini. What do the guys here at the BBC want to see this weekend?
Lower The Boom. I don’t know if it means special teams or in the backfield, but Daniel Herron has waited long enough. The challenge will be in finding out how to balance his touches with Jordan and Carlos, both of whom have demonstrated amazing persistence and talent over the past half season. Wishbone, anyone?
Solomon’s Wisdom. I know he’s recovering from leg injury, but the last time we saw him was making a game saving INT in the Sugar Bowl That Supposedly Didn’t Happen. With Williams out for the year, it’s time to get him involved.
No Injuries. Please… play hard, but stay healthy.
Smooth Jazz. Kenny G, come on down. This would either mean that Ohio State has the game in control or that Braxton is getting a breather (not injured, see above) and he’s getting valuable backup time. Joe B, we love you, but it’s time to move on. It’s not you, it’s us.
NFS. Maybe if I abbreviate it. Ed. – Yea, right. Keep dreaming.
Closing out our trip to Lincoln for the matchup between the Huskers and Buckeyes. And now, it gets ugly.
“It’s tough to watch your spouse’s favorite team play yours. Your excitement is tempered by the fact that it’s killing them inside.”- Mrs. Mali
I’ll be honest… for the first half it was difficult to keep my excitement in check, particularly because I was seated on the Nebraska home sidelines and because of what my wife mentioned above. But- the first two quarters were so glorious, so wonderful, so Buckeye Football… it just felt good. After months and months and months of bad news Fridays and “expose’s” and debates, after being looked at with pity by gracious home fans, after being sold as an 11.5 point underdog and somehow believing that wouldn’t be a bad bet… to witness the first half of football yesterday in Lincoln was about enough to restore my hope in the goodness of the world. Read More
Again, as is becoming typical for these posts, I’m certain the answer is no. At least this time we had an entertaining first half.
An offense. For the first half, and the first OSU drive of the second half, we saw an offense that was more than up to the task of moving the Buckeyes down the field. They scored 27 points and gained more than 300 yards, including 250 on the ground. And then Braxton got hurt, and Bauserman came into the game, and that was that.
Me not jinxing the OSU offense by asking for silly passing numbers. Success! I think. We got a touchdown to Jake Stoneburner, and had a competent passing game – again, until Bauserman came in.
A pick six. Orhian Johnson got a pick, but he wasn’t able to turn it into six. Surprisingly, Martinez passed the ball much more effectively against our secondary than he was able to do against Wisconsin. Credit Nebraska for sticking with the running game to make the passing game effective.
Taylor Martinez – Wisconsin Version. Yea, we definitely didn’t get the Wisconsin version of Taylor. We got a much nastier, much more effective variety.
The return of the aggressive, angry offensive line. They certainly looked that way in the first half. The run blocking was fantastic, and the pass protection was run to perfection. Not surprisingly, the line was unable to effectively block for Bauserman, probably given how long Bauserman likes to hold on to the football.
The Buckeye offense under Miller looked much improved in this game. While the Buckeyes focused primarily on the running game, they used smart passing plays, including delayed outlet passes to the flat, and even a screen play, to counter the Nebraska defense. In fact, OSU ran a beautiful screen pass to Jake Stoneburner for their only passing touchdown of the game – a 32 yard scamper that saw Stoneburner get touched only when he reached the endzone. OSU also used a combination of other nice run counters to force the defense to the wrong places and open up huge holes.
Unfortunately, after taking a 27-6 lead in the game, OSU began to face a stiffer Nebraska defense. Either the offense failed to make appropriate adjustments at halftime, or the Cornhusker defense simply made better ones. In fact, it’s possible that OSU went to a more conservative approach that allowed Nebraska to more easily anticipate the OSU offense. Either way, the Bucks began to struggle to move the football. On a scamper play that would have resulted in a first down Braxton Miller, who continues to not protect the football on running plays, fumbled the ball on his own 23. Nebraska went on to score a quick touchdown and the comeback was on.
Eric and Joe get together on this week’s radio hour to discuss the trials and tribulations facing the offense following the Michigan State game. They also talk about the latest suspensions and express the frustrations most Buckeye fans are feeling, along with their feelings towards Gene Smith. Lastly, they talk about Nebraska and what the Buckeyes need to do in order to pull off the win in Memorial Stadium.
For the opponent’s preview, Eric is joined by the excellent HuskerDan of HuskerMax.com. They discuss Nebraska, along with their recent addition to the Big Ten and the welcoming committee laid down by Wisconsin.
All this and more on this week’s Radio Hour!
Note: At the time of the recording, we believed Corey “Philly” Brown would be fully ready to play. Currently his status is listed as “Day-to-Day”, and while there is a chance that we will see him on the field, it’s not as certain as we claim in the podcast.
Well, by this point, I’m pretty certain things like 406 punting yards are pretty entertaining. But that’s only because we all know that at this point laughter is all that is left.
Let’s see how the crew did.
Return Of The Burn. Jake Stoneburner did catch two passes for 8 yards. We even tried to go for him in short yardage routes!
Hungry Hankins. He scooped up a fumble that he may have consumed. Does that count as hungry enough? In fact, the defense as a whole was very impressive, particularly up front. The Buckeyes D-Line completely devastated the MSU running game, leaving them with only 71 total yards.
Defensive Score. And we still don’t have one, though the defense did prevent a couple of scores with their turnovers. There were also two near pick-sixes, but near pick-sixes don’t put points on the board.
Special Teams Savvy. Special Teams was fairly pedestrian today, though Jordan Hall did have a couple of exciting returns to give us decent field position. Not that the offense could do anything with it, of course.
Need I Say More?. Shugarts, as usual, led us off with the false start party. He was, however, not the only one today.