Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Offense

Ohio State defeated UAB 29-15 Saturday in what could best be described as a lackluster offensive performance. With a swiss-cheese defense for the most part, Saturday could be the only game this season UAB sees an opponent stay under 30 points.

- Under Urban Meyer, Ohio State is totally changing their offensive identity, and they are totally hanging the defense out to dry in the process. Ask any defensive coach if he would rather have Meyer or Jim Tressel running the offense, and there's simply no doubt who they would pick. But, football doesn't work that way, and each unit has to stand alone and be accountable. The three-and-outs are really hurting this team, by not flipping the field position and leaving the defense on the field all day. It has to change.

- Ohio State had 11 possessions against a putrid UAB defense, and scored on four of them. This will be the last time this season UAB has this type of success, and they would probably relish playing this Ohio State offense every week, rather than the teams on their schedule. They will probably never again hold a team under 30 points and 350 total yards. Ohio State had exactly zero offensive plays go for 30 yards or longer. ZERO.

- In the first half, Ohio State started slowly, but found its mojo on the last three possessions of the half, scoring three touchdowns. The fumble recovery by Doran Grant at the end of the half gave Ohio State a gift score and it might have won the game. The three possessions to start the game were bad. They couldn't get much going trying to establish the run early, then said screw it and put the ball in Braxton's hands, which led to three scores.

- The second half started with UAB converting an onsides kick, which stunned the Ohio State return team, which should stun Ohio State fans. Hard to believe that possibility was never discussed at halftime, but it was played like it wasn't allowed within the rules. Add in the punt block for a touchdown, and the special teams were not special.

- The first three possessions of the second half were two three-and-outs, wrapped around a two-first down drive that went nowhere. On the fourth drive, Ohio State tore through UAB, going 80 yards and using up five minutes on the clock. The ball was spread around to different players, and was a thing of beauty. The next drive came after the defense got the ball back on the Grant interception. Ohio State had the ball in UAB territory, looking to put the knockout punch on, but went meekly away with another three-and-out.

- Braxton is the offense right now, and there aren't many other options. He didn't throw the ball particularly accurately against UAB, but he wasn't given a lot of opportunities either. It didn't seem like Ohio State knew if they should be a passing team, run the tailback in power, option-game, or let Braxton just take off and play street-ball. The only consistent factor on offense is that it has to be with Braxton initiating it. Saturday was a pretty disjointed effort, without any offensive rhyme or reason, but more a grab-bag. As long as the reach in and grab Braxton's number, it just might work.

- Jordan Hall had a decent day, with over 100 yards and a 6-yard per carry average. Longest run? The usual 14 yard play. He is a fine football player, and there's a place for him in this offense, but he's not a tailback. There were times he had the football with nothing but dead bodies around him, and he gets 14 yards. He is on a streak of having nearly 175 carries in a row, without having a run longer than 25 yards. That could be an OSU record. Saturday could have been a 250-yard rushing day by a great tailback. There were defensive players on the ground all day. But, there are no broken tackles, no missed tackles, and no tackles run past by pure speed. He can block and catch the football. He is not a playmaker, and has proved it over and over the past three years. Hard to believe it, but this offense needs Carlos Hyde. In reality, it needs a game-breaking tailback. Understand that the great Shaun Southward (WHO?) of powerhouse Troy put up 204 yards against UAB a few weeks ago.

- Devin Smith and Philly Brown were OK, but Smith left a few plays out there that he could have made. Jake Stoneburner was either out with an injury, stayed home, or they chose to not look his way, but he was a non-factor. Hard to believe they could play a game and not he not catch one football, but it's the truth. The traditional tight ends (Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett) were also non-factors in the passing game, which looked similar to last year.

- The offensive line had a few breakdowns in pass protection, but otherwise played a solid game. Put a big-time tailback in the offense yesterday, and all the sudden this line is getting praised for mashing UAB and letting said tailback go for 250-yards on the ground. I think this group is fine, and will continue to get better as the season wears on. An injury or two could cripple things, but that's true with 99% of the teams in college football.

- This is a new system, and it's a total change from the past, so growing pains are normal. They did not get better against UAB, and might have taken a step backwards. The one constant is Braxton, and he is a playmaker every team in college football would love to have. Not sure you could say that about any other offensive skill player right now.

- Where does Ohio State go from here as they begin play in the MAC Upper-Division? As I've felt all along, there isn't a team left on the schedule they can't beat, nor a team that can't beat them. The goal is to find a way to get to 5-0, then start worrying how to get to 6-0. There are eight games left, and I couldn't even begin to predict what the final record will be. It's hard to throw out educated guesses when the team is so inconsistent. Would it shock me to wake up in four weeks and see Ohio State at 5-3, just as much as it would at 8-0? Not at all. This is a year you get your system in place, and go from there. An undefeated season while getting the system in place would be quite a sight. As of today, they still have that chance.

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