Following a game, our Buckeyes coaches grade each player’s performance.  This season, Urban has termed a winning performance a ‘championship performance.’  Those offensive players with a ‘championship performance’ last week included Braxton, Carlos Hyde, Zach Boren, Andrew Norwell, Jack Mewhort, Philly, and Devin Smith.

For Week Two, I’ll give my criteria for a “winning performance,” all of which I think will lead to a Buckeyes win this week and toward more wins later this season.  (The list is not by any means all-inclusive.)

1.          Faster Start by Buckeyes Offense

Just be honest … Even the most confident fan (raise my hand) had at least the slightest bit of doubt after watching the offense sputter in the first quarter against the Redhawks last week.  However, the commercial break came, I came back to my senses, and Braxton started the second quarter by leading a four play 63 second touchdown drive and a seven play touchdown drive in 2:22 after a three and out by the Miami offense.  All was good and the offense imposed its will on a less talented Redhawks squad for the remainder of the afternoon.

With that said, the Buckeyes are facing a different animal in UCF as the Knights have led Conference USA in defense the past three years and have been one of the top defenses in Division 1 (9th in total D, 16th in rushing D, and 23rd in passing D in 2011).  While yards and first downs may be harder to come by Saturday, I’m looking forward to the Buckeyes coming out firing on all cylinders and scoring two offensive TDs in the first quarter.  Two offensive TDs in the 1st  will earn a winning performance.

2.          Delay of the arrival of the Storm both on and off the field

(Not talking about the Storm who dominated the headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months)  After rushing for over 200 yards last week in its 56-14 drumming of the Zips, UCF brings a run heavy offense into the Shoe.    Starting for the Knights is Miami Hurricane transfer Storm Johnson after Latavius Murray suffered an injury in the win over Akron.  A winning performance will include the Buckeyes holding Storm to less than 70 yards.

I’m also hoping that Mother Nature either gets the thunderstorm or rain out of its system in advance of kickoff.

3.           Put up or shut up

While the Redhawks looked to spread out the Buckeyes defense in route to throwing 54 times, UCF is going to look to run the ball right at the Silver Bullets.  The difference in style should provide an early and often test for a relatively green, but talented, group of linebackers.  In addition, the Knights present the perfect precursor for teams like the fighting Bielemas later this season.

I’m looking forward to seeing the trio of Sabino, Shazier, and Grant keep the Knights ground game in check.  After giving up an average of 141.54 rushing yards per game last season, I would consider holding the stable of backs for the Knights under 100 total yards rushing a winning performance by our defense.  As a group, I am looking for a combined 25+ tackles by our linebackers, including at least three TFL in order to earn a winning performance (last week our starting three linebackers totaled 16 tackles, 0 TFL).

4.           Higher Completion Percentage from Miller

So, I admit it, I am a Braxton Miller defender to even the harshest critic, but I am looking for him to pick up where he left off last week.  Miller started last game 1/7 and ended it 14/24 (58%).  For those of us rusty in subtraction, that means that after the paltry start, Braxton went 13/17 (76%).

While I am not expecting Braxton to complete over 75% of his passes on a regular basis (although one can hope), I also don’t expect him to complete fewer than 60% of his passes either.   Good news for Braxton, he will face a similarly ranked defense this week as Miami (OH) was the 24th ranked passing defense last season while UCF was 23rd.  In his second game in the new offensive system, a winning performance from Braxton will include completing over 65% of his passes.

5.          Sacks

Last week, the Buckeyes only totaled TWO sacks (the only 2 TFL) while Miami had three sacks (7 total TFL).  The good news for Buckeyes fans is that both of the sacks came from true freshmen phenoms Noah Spence and Aldolphus Washington.  The bad news is that the Silver Bullets only had two sacks/TFL.

Not only do the Buckeyes need to limit the sacks and hits on Braxton which is almost impossible given the style of the offense, but the Silver Bullets also have to be able to create more unfavorable down and distance situations through sacks and other TFL.  As UCF was 100th in sacks last year, allowing one sack is the goal and would qualify as a winning performance.  And as for sacks/TFL by the Buckeyes defense, three sacks and/or eight total TFL is a winning performance.

6.          100 Yards Receiving, 100 Yards Rushing by Hyde

I cannot remember the last time we had a 100 yard receiver, but I’m ready for one this week and I’m sure I am not the only one.  Philly came close last week when he finished with seven receptions for 87 yards and a TD.  Here’s hoping Philly or Stoney break the century mark for receiving yard this Saturday.  A winning performance goes to any wr/te who totals 100 or more yards receiving this week.

Ok, ok.  I know that Braxton ran for over 100 rushing yards last week and you can call me greedy, but I want over 100 yards from a running back and not #5.  While I get as excited as any Buckeyes fan when I see Braxton running with the ball especially when he goes untouched, it is in the best interests of Buckeye Nation to keep Miller healthy by limiting hits on him.  Also, Carlos Hyde is the primary back until Jordan Hall returns, so his chances of having a 100 yard performance after that point will go down significantly.  Therefore, a winning performance to any running back in the Scarlet and Gray who rushes for over 100 yards.

7.          Under 200 yards passing

The Silver Bullets allowed 313 passing yards last week, albeit that the Redhawks ran a pass-first offense.  With a more balanced team comes more balanced numbers.  A winning performance by the Buckeyes will include limiting the passing yards to fewer than 200.

Despite the relatively high number of yards allowed by the Buckeyes, Travis Howard came away with two INTs and Bradley Roby would have had an INT if his foot was at least one shoe size smaller.  Both CBs were deemed to have earned a ‘championship performance’ last week by Coach Meyer.  I’m hoping that they have similar performances this week and are able to lockdown the UCF receivers.  An INT by either would earn that player a winning performance.

8.          A W by Air Force

I admit that I am a hater of all things related to that school up north so much so that I dressed in Oregon Ducks gear and attended the Oregon game that followed that school up north’s memorable loss to 1AA Appalachian State (I was also in attendance at the Buckeyes win that year when we chanted O-H-I-O around their stadium).  At the Oregon game, we quacked like we were cheering for the Mighty Ducks and we watched that school up north’s second consecutive loss to start the 2007 season.

I could go on, but you get the point.  I am one of those Buckeyes fans who cannot cheer for that school up north regardless of the circumstances.  At the hands of a SEC school or not, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of last weekend’s reality check.  Moving on, I think it is extremely unlikely that Air Force will be able to pull off the upset with a spread of 21.5 last I checked, but if Air Force gets the win, they’ll earn a winning performance in my book in addition to the record book.

Well, that’s all I have for Week Two.  What would earn a winning performance from you?


  1. Great stuff!

    I’m also looking for a skill position player to turn a modest play into a HUGE play…

  2. I think I’m most interested in #3 right now — the linebackers need to really step up. I remember a couple nice hits by the LBs last week, but nothing memorable. We need a Corby Jones-esque tackle this week.

  3. After O’Leary’s foot in mouth comment, I’m throwing out a ‘winning performance’ by those fans in attendance to include at least 4 false start penalties by the Knights. The Shoe should be rockin

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