Each week I rewatch the Buckeyes game and give you my takeaways from the game in a little piece we like to call the…
First things first- I am away this week and therefore was not able to rewatch the game. This week’s six pack will have to be from my original impressions of the Ohio State game. The Buckeyes won 29-15. Let’s get started…
1) Poor Tackling. The lead item from last week’s game is the same for this week. And that isn’t good. That optimist looks at the game and says “Ohio State didn’t give up a defensive touchdown, what problem does the defense really have?” I watched that game and thought “How are we going to keep good teams out of the end zone?”
It isn’t just tackling in space, it’s wrapping up. It’s taking good angles to the ball carrier. This is something I never thought I’d say about a Fickell coached defense. It is something that we’ve said about the defense for the second straight year though. Is it just a coincidence that Vrabel is a key assistant coach during both of these years? I hope so.
2) That’s all we got is one sack? Last week week the defense stepped up and put big time pressure on the QB after a relatively quiet start to the season. Against the Blazers, Buckeye defenders got to the opposing QB one time, and that was a blitz by Grant. Hankins was very good in this one, but we haven’t seen John Simon make many big plays. Actually, I can’t think of a single ‘big’ play he has made all season. Against UAB he had one solo tackle and 3 assists. Williams and Goebel both had better production, and they both missed some plays with injuries in the game.
Believe me, I’m a John Simon fan. I’m just waiting for him to break loose in a game and do what he did all least season.
3) The Running Game. A much better game from Jordan Hall in his second game back from injury. His 105 yards on 17 carries meant less wear and tear on Braxton Miller, and that is a great thing. In addition, Rod Smith made a bit of noise with his work inside the red zone. His 12 yard run to the 1 foot line showed some of why he was offered a scholarship, but I would have liked to see him put his shoulder down and fight more to make it to the pylon on a run like that. Fortunately, they were able to punch it in. The running game will need to be a big part of the plan this week on the road against Sparty. Hopefully Carlos Hyde is able to go and give the Buckeyes a bit of a change of pace.
4) Special Teams. Wow. It’s amazing that Urban Meyer has just gone out of his way to let everyone know how much he loves the special teams and considers them such an important part of the game that he coaches them himself. It’s amazing because of how many breakdowns that unit has had already this season. This week there was a comical blocked punt returned for a touchdown. It was particularly comical because the announcers made a big deal of saying how Meyer was trying a new punt protection formation this week, and then the snap and block happened. Let’s go back to the drawing board on that one huh?
Aside from the blocked punt, the coverage units gave up a 35 yard kick return, and a 20 yard punt return. Then there was the onside kick, which nobody was ready for. Conference play starts this week. We’re kind of out of time to get this right.
5) Braxton Miller. Very happy that Miller only ran 11 times this week. It appeared to me that Meyer was holding Miller back by gameplan against UAB, and if that is the case, I applaud the move. Use the game to try and get the rest of the offense jump started. While I was happy to see Hall and Smith get some work from the tailback spot, I was disappointed in the passing game. Philly Brown and Devin Smith caught 4 passes each, but that was about the end of the production in the passing game. A couple of Jordan Hall receptions out of the backfield. Not much else.
6) Big Challenge. This week the Buckeyes face their biggest test of the young season with a trip to East Lansing. The linebackers are going to be huge in this one. Will they step up and stop Le’veon Bell? The junior leads the conference in rushing yards with 610 in 4 games. He is a load.
Fortunately for the Buckeyes, Michigan State has been worse putting pressure on opposing QBs than Ohio State. This is a winnable game, even on the road.