The Buckeyes passed their final test by defeating California 35-28 before they head to East Lansing in two weeks (sorry UAB.)
But, they have failed to put together a full, 60 minute effort that would leave fans confident after a game. Urban and his staff have a lot to work on the next two weeks before the B1G slate begins.
After a Braxton Miller to Jake Stoneburner touchdown with 13:30 left in the second quarter that gave the Buckeyes a 20-7 lead, the offense did not score again until the 8:31 mark in the fourth quarter. It should not take seven drives to score against a Cal defense that does not have B1G type talent on that side of the ball.
There were some positives though; Miller had his first real taste of adversity and led the offense to game leading and game winning drives. After a Zach Maynard touchdown with 12:26 left in the fourth quarter, Miller orchestrated an 11 play, 75 yard drive that took four minutes off the clock which was probably the drive of the year so far. The drive concluded with a three yard, Tim Tebow-like jump pass to Stoneburner, who caught his second touchdown of the day.
Following a Brendan Bigelow 59 yard touchdown run to tie the game only 21 seconds later. Miller then found a wide-open Devin Smith for 72 yards and the game winning touchdown. It was very good to see Miller face adversity before the conference schedule begins and succeed.
What the Buckeyes need to work on:
- Missed tackles. This has been the biggest issue for the silver bullets this year and it has led to big plays by the opposition. This defense is lacking a sure tackler at linebacker and this is something that we as Buckeye fans are not used to.
- Bigelow, Cal’s backup running back who had 2 carries the first two games, had FOUR carries for 160 yards and TWO touchdowns. No, that was not a typo. Bigelow’s magical 81 yard touchdown run included a missed tackle in the backfield by Nathan Williams then Doran Grant four yards past the line of scrimmage, then Ryan Shazier missed on the sideline. This is unacceptable. His 60 yard touchdown later in the game also was a result of sloppy tackling, with Etienne Sabino and Orhian Johnson missing easy tackles.
- As I said in my preview, they had to watch Chris Harper (number #6) in the screen game. On third and three in the first quarter, he took a screen pass 19 yards for a touchdown. CJ Barnett lined up about seven yards off of the line of scrimmage and Harper went untouched for the score to put Cal up 7-6. One would think that on third and short Luke Fickell would call for press coverage and that should get cleaned up this week.
- Braxton Miller needs to take more shots downfield, his receivers are proving themselves every week, why not keep the defense on their heels and keep them honest?
- When Cal went down 20-7, that was OSU’s chance to put them away for good. Instead, the offense took their foot off the gas; the defense got lazy with their tackling and started taking stupid penalties. What could have been a blowout, turned into a major scare at the ‘Shoe.
- Sandwiched between Miller’s two touchdowns in the fourth quarter that won the game for the Buckeyes, he threw an awful interception that could have cost them the game. It was 3rd&7 for the Buckeyes after Bigelow’s game tying touchdown and Miller took way too long on Evan Spencer’s banana route. Spencer had the corner beat a few seconds before Miller vastly under threw the ball. There was still 7:17 left on the clock in a tie game, Miller had good protection and could have either thrown the ball away, checked down to another receiver, or tried to run for the first down. Instead, he gave Cal the ball back with good field position and all of the momentum.
What looked good for the Buckeyes:
- It was nice to see Miller not take as many hits as he did the first two games. Miller rushed the ball 12 times and he also ducked out of bounds a few times. The fewer amount of times he gets hit, the better it will be in the long run. Or, he can just break a defender’s ankles and go untouched for a 55 yard touchdown run.
- Jordan Hall had a solid game for his first game back. He carried the ball 17 times for 87 yards and did not have any negative rushes. Once Carlos Hyde comes back, they’ll have both an inside and outside rushing threat at running back.
- Both Philly Brown and Devin Smith are playmakers. Philly Brown plays more of the Percy Harvin role, as he lines up in the backfield, motions in and out and can basically play more than just receiver for the offense. Devin Smith on the other hand, can go up and catch the ball in traffic and is more of a prototypical, solid wide receiver. Smith ran a simple go route and Miller hit him with a great back shoulder ball that Smith made the adjustment to for a 25 yard touchdown in the first quarter. He has great field awareness and can go up and get the ball over many defensive backs.
- Coming into the game, the pass rush was non- existent with only three sacks total in the first two games. They doubled that number with six sacks versus Zach Maynard. Fickell drew up some excellent blitzes, including Bradley Roby’s 11 yard sack in which he exploded off the edge and basically went untouched for the sack. Sabino followed up Roby’s sack with one of his own later on in the drive to force a punt.
- Bradley Roby did an excellent job in coverage and in run support all game, he really has stepped up this year and is arguably the best defender on the team. Keenan Allen finished with 9 catches for 80 yards, but Roby contained him and did not give him anything after the catch. When the opposition runs sweeps to Roby’s side, he constantly blows the play up by either making the tackle or taking on the lead blocker. He is the type of player that can do everything and he will be getting even better as the season goes along, which is a scary thought for B1G quarterbacks.
- The pop pass that was ran successfully on the goal line twice for touchdowns adds another wrinkle to their short yardage offense. The defense bought the Miller fake, freezing their linebackers and that left Stoneburner wide open for a touchdown. With that play now on film, a linebacker will now have to stay with Stoneburner on the goal line, which will lead to easier Miller touchdown runs and vice versa.
Ohio State welcomes the University of Alabama Birmingham into the ‘Shoe this Saturday, which will serve as a warm up for Michigan State and the rest of the B1G schedule coming up. Hopefully the offense will execute and the defense will clean up some of their issues this week.
Thanks to J. Winslow for the photos