Ok, my apologies for missing the last two weeks of Six Packs. Was away in training for work. You know, that whole have to pay the bills thing. At least the Bucks didn’t lose while I was gone…
1) Disconcerting Defense. It has to be said, and up front this week. What was that? Forty-nine points given up to the Hoosiers? Almost 500 yards of total offense? How about the last two weeks? Can you believe 87 points surrendered, 352 rushing yards given up and 918 total yards against Indiana and Nebraska?
Here’s what is really concerning me. We have two absolute studs on the line in Simon and Hankins. Williams, Goebel, Spence and Washington aren’t too shabby themselves, but we can’t get any kind of consistent pressure. We have a secondary with glimpses of superior talent, but we give up way too many big plays in the passing game.
I get that the linebackers aren’t strong as a group. I fear however that this is a bit more than that simplistic of an answer. By the way, your leading tackler for the Buckeyes Saturday? Zach Boren.
2) Running Wild. Thank goodness for the running game. Braxton Miller averaged 6.5 yards a carry and that was the worst of the group. Take it. Lost in Carlos Hyde’s big game and strong runs was the play of Rod Smith. I thought Smith brought a huge lift to the team when he had a chance to carry the ball. He looks hungry. He looks like he really wants the ball, and is willing to run through brick walls once he has it. You have to think Urban’s persistence earlier in the season is starting to pay off. If Bri’onte Dunn doesn’t want to get buried behind Smith next season, he better take notice and do the same.
Hyde was outstanding though. He and Miller put the team on their backs and carried the load. Miller toted the ball 23 times. Too many again.
3) Passing (Too) Fancy. Braxton’s interception in the end zone was a horrible decision. Just absolutely a bad idea. But it is also the type of play that he makes every once in a while. In fact, when you look back at his career, many of his best moments come when he is improvising in the passing game. So as poor a decision as it was, you have to let him make those mistakes. You just hope that as he matures he will realize which plays have small windows for success, and which have none.
4) Special Teams Folly. Ugh. enough already. Can someone please explain to me what was so horrible with the traditional punt formation that we had to switch to this monstrosity? At least we evened the score with a blocked punt of our own.
I just keep waiting for some team to beat that kick-off formation while we’re talking about the special teams. Everyone on the same side of the field? All it would take is a poor kick closer to the middle of the field as opposed to the sideline and wouldn’t the returner be off to the races? We almost saw something like it when Indiana’s returner started towards the center and cut back to the sideline for a 60 yard return.
5) Solid Line Play. The offensive line was a huge question mark coming into the season, but they have improved as the season progressed. Let’s face it, you don’t run for 353 yards without some holes being opened.
It isn’t just the line though. The receivers have done as good a job as I can recall in blocking both at the point of attack and downfield.
6) No Falling Alseep. I can’t help but think that the end of the game was somewhat a product of the players letting down their guard. With a 52-34 lead, you do assume the game is in hand. Apparently the Buckeyes need to be reminded you have to play the full four quarters.
This also applies to looking past opponents. I would hope that the defense in particular would be looking forward to getting back on the field for a chance to put that bad performance behind them. But looking past Purdue, or Penn State in Happy Valley is a mistake. Should the Buckeyes arrive at the Wisconsin game 10-0? Yes, they should. That doesn’t mean they will by any stretch.