Second Thoughts: FAMU

Ohio State's last tuneup for Big Ten play was a laugher, but there were still a few noteworthy items noticeable on a second viewing of the game. We talk running backs, linebackers and more in this review of the Buckeyes 76-0 win over Florida A&M.

I considered not taking the time to watch Ohio State's 76-0 victory over Florida A&M, but it is football after all, so I figured it couldn't hurt anything.

The second viewing re-enforced the view the Buckeyes have a lot of useful running backs, a smart backup quarterback and a very effective offensive line with useful backups at pretty much every position.

We probably shouldn't draw too much from this game given that the level of competition turned out to be pretty much as expected, but any of us who remember some of the ho-hum efforts some of Jim Tressel's teams used to put forth against lesser teams can appreciate what went on last Saturday.

As I thought they might, the Rattlers eschewed their preferred two-back, pro-style offense and spent pretty much the whole game with "11" personnel in the shotgun. I think their quarterback has the skill to be a solid dual-threat quarterback, but he is not a consistent enough passer at this point in his career.

The Buckeyes responded by playing a lot of what's become their "traditional" nickel personnel with four linemen, two linebackers and five defensive backs, which is noteworthy because the game at California saw a near complete abandonment of that alignment in favor of one of two different dime packages we haven't seen before this season.

This made plenty of sense because the Golden Bears offense is much more pass-oriented than FAMU's, but it also made me wonder what the coaching staff thinks of its linebackers given that we had never seen them play only one at a time before last week.

The result this time around was many more snaps for Curtis Grant, and he handled them fairly well. I still don't see an overly aggressive approach from him, but on the bright side he didn't look lost either. Ideally I think you want more than a gap-filler at middle linebacker, but the formula might work for Ohio State as long as they have Ryan Shazier and Christian Bryant to help.

On offense, we saw a super-efficient Kenny Guiton and a super-charged Carlos Hyde. Guiton continued to take what the defense gives him, though I think hesitation cost him on his first-quarter interception. There wasn't a lot to work with, but he had Jeff Heuerman breaking somewhat open immediately on his break but held the ball and continued to roll out, giving the cornerback a chance to sink back into Heuerman's route after watching the receiver on the quick flare out. I'm not sure if it is even part of his progression, but Devin Smith was free on the backside, too.

Hyde showed why he is the best back on the roster because he runs with a certain nimble violence that can't be taught. He hits the hole hard and has the power that Jordan Hall lacks without giving up a ton of speed or elusiveness. Hyde's most impressive run was a 21-yarder where he beat an unblocked safety near the line of scrimmage with a spin move then accelerated up the field.

As for the rest of the backs, Rod Smith ripped off a couple of nice runs after starting slowly, and Ezekiel Elliott displayed the balance and agility that might make him the perfect back for this offense down the line. I was also impressed with how Warren Ball hits the hole and keeps his feet moving.

The offensive line was under a great deal of pressure but held up well for the most part. Marcus Hall had a couple of negative blips, but it is hard to nitpick. I think Guiton helped out by getting rid of the ball quickly when he needed to as well, though he took a few hits.

Other observations:

  • On the first series, Joey Bosa continued to display his potential as he took on a double-team at the point of attack and held his ground while Grant and Christian Bryant filled the hole. Those will be handy skills to have this week against Wisconsin.

  • On the second play of the game, Tyvis Powell showed the kind of quick reaction to a screen Urban Meyer mentioned was lacking for the team against Cal, but the freshman overran the ball carrier, leaving C.J. Barnett to clean up for him, which he did very well.

  • I only saw it once, but on the first third down of the game, it looked like Shazier lined up at Viper with Joshua Perry replacing him as the lone linebacker in the dime set.

  • Jordan Hall displayed why being short can be a good thing as a running back on his first touchdown run. He took a hit at the point of attack but was able to churn through it because the tackler couldn't get low enough to get leverage on him.

  • I'm still a little puzzled about what they are doing with the swinging gate point-after formation since they don't show it every time, but perhaps that is reflected by what they think of the competition. It's certainly enough to get it on film and make the other team spend time preparing for it, but I always thought the point of the formation games was to put the pressure on the defense every time to line up where it needs to. At any rate, Guiton made the right read because FAMU wasn't lined up right to stop the quick pass to Hall. He only failed to score because he cut back to his right into where two tacklers were coming from the middle of the field. It was wide open to his left, where OSU had them outnumbered badly.

  • Chase Farris was impressive as a full-timer at three-technique for the first time. Nice job using his hands to disengage and shows a little burst getting up the field.

  • Tommy Brown had a couple of nice downfield blocks on two of Hyde's best runs of the day.

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