Each week after re-watching the Ohio State game I bring you my take-aways from the game in a little something I call the Buckeye 12-Pack…
No.1- As always, a win is a win. The Buckeyes are now 6-3 on the season, 3-2 in Big Ten play. That win makes them eligible for a bowl game. At least until we hear something back from the NCAA regarding sanctions.
I do expect the Buckeyes to be slapped with some kind of bowl ban. It would be pretty hypocritical of the NCAA to ban them this year after allowing them to play in last year’s Sugar Bowl, but do you really expect anything less from the NCAA at this point? It wouldn’t shock me if they were slapped with a two year ban either. What has surprised me is that we haven’t heard from the committee yet. I was under the impression we should have heard from them in late September or October at the latest. There are three games left in the regular season. Any postseason ban would include the Big Ten title game, and as of right now the Buckeyes are operating under the guise that they have a shot to make it to Indianapolis. Can you imagine the NCAA announcing sanctions during Michigan week? I can.
No.2- The let-down game. You could see it coming a mile away. Big win over Wisconsin, followed by a 1-8 Indiana team. No matter how much you talk about staying focused and not looking past an opponent, with a young team like Ohio State this was bound to happen. Honestly, it was a learning experience they needed to go through just like all the others. Was this one close enough to help them down the road? Maybe. Time will be the judge there.
No. 3- Three, hundred yard rushers? Wow, that hasn’t happened in a while. In fact, it hasn’t happened since 1989. (Carlos Snow, Scottie Graham and Dante Lee. No, I didn’t know that off the top of my head.) In all the Buckeyes ran for 403 yards. Herron (152) Miller (146) and Hyde (105) accomplished the feat. That’s good for a 7.5 yard average for the team.
No. 4- Big play offense. The Buckeyes won Saturday with the big play. They had runs of 81 (Miller) 48 (Herron) 47 (Hyde) and 40 (Herron) yards. Miller’s came on a 3rd and 12 QB draw. He wouldn’t have gotten it without a little help from a Dan Herron block either. There were pass plays of 26 and 25 yards as well. All totaled, the Buckeyes had 7 plays of 20 yards or more.
No. 5- It wasn’t all rosy on offense however. Indiana recorded 6 sacks and 9 tackles for loss. In other words, it was kind of a feast or famine day. On at least 2 of those sacks, the defender came off the edge absolutely untouched. Now, the offensive line is to blame for a few of these sacks, but as we’ve seen this season, Miller needs to learn to identify blitzes and make quicker decisions with the ball. I know, he was playing in the state playoffs this time last year. I get that. At some point though this is about him surviving to play another day. He took a viscous hit as he was throwing the ball this week on his hip. I thought for certain we might hear this week that he had missed some practice because of it.
No. 6- Carlos Hyde stepped in for the injured Jordan Hall and ran hard. He could have ran smarter. It’s hard to criticize a guy that averaged 7 yards a carry, but the truth is if he would have been just a little more patient and ran with a little more vision he could have had more. At least twice he could have bounced runs outside for big yards instead of pile driving himself into the middle of the line. It is a hard thing to learn, I know. Buckeye backs that figure it out have distinguished careers.
No. 7- Herron’s ceiling. I had a couple discussions during the game about Dan Herron’s potential. For one thing, it is a shame that he wasn’t available all season. I do think that he could have made a difference early on. I also wonder what kind of hype he might be getting. I don’t think that Herron has star potential in the NFL, but I do think that he would make an excellent third down back. He has 3 more games to put something on tape for scouts to be impressed with.
No. 8- Enough offense, let’s get to the defense. This unit was apparently unaware that the game started at noon. A real lack-luster sleepy start to the game for the defense. If not for John Simon’s excellent TFL on 3rd and 3 at Ohio State’s 16 yard line, the Buckeyes could have very well started that game down 14 to nothing instead of just 10.
No. 9- Watching the first half I had nightmares thinking about Denard Robinson. Five yards here, seven yards there. Indiana was running the read option to perfection against us. Fortunately, the Buckeyes got their act together in the second half and put the clamps down a bit. We know that they can defend the run. They kept Wilson and Martinez in check earlier this year. But for a moment, they had me going.
No. 10- What was troubling (again) was the play of our linebackers. Indiana ran the ball 49 times. Andrew Sweat had 9 tackles. He did his part, although he did bite on a fake when Houston ran the wildcat up the gut for a TD. Sabino and Klein COMBINED for 2 tackles.
No. 11- John Simon had 10 tackles, 3 for a loss and 1 sack. Jonathan Hankins had 7 tackles. Studs.
No. 12- The secondary made me scratch my head again this week. Way too many deep passes over the middle of the field. Where exactly are the safeties? Especially on that 34 yard TD pass in the third quarter. This is becoming a disturbing trend.
No. 13- Have to give you a bonus one this week, because I haven’t mentioned anything about special teams. Jordan Hall’s absence was noticeable. First because I didn’t have any heart attacks watching someone try to field a punt in the middle of seven defenders, and also because the return game was non-existent. I guess you take the good with the bad. Devin Smith filled in for Hall on kickoffs, and Fields watched punts get downed.