Week-Eleven Game Thoughts: OSU Offense

Ohio State lost a 17-14 heartbreaker to Michigan State Saturday that snapped their long winning streak. The offense was non-existent throughout the game, and played terribly in the loss.

- Urban Meyer is one of the greatest coaches in the history of football, and takes a back seat to only Nick Saban as the greatest coach in the college game today. He is an offensive genius. A guru on that side of the football. I don't think you could find too many people that would argue that point. Yesterday was not his finest moment as a head coach. It happens to all of them, Yes even Saban. As a fan, you want the winning streak to go on forever, but that isn't sports. It's also not life. 

- Mark Dantonio is a GREAT college football coach. I never thought I would ever write that, especially after some of the maddening losses early in his career, but those days are over. I wrote in my preview that Michigan State is the one team in the conference that's not scared to play Ohio State. It's pretty evident today just how true that statement is. He deserves much respect. He has made Michigan State elite. Their recruiting is way better now, so he's not going away soon. 

- Under Meyer, it's been mostly seashells and balloons for Ohio State fans and the record speaks for itself. There have been problems on both sides of the football throughout his four years, but being a great coach he solves them. Head coach is a lot about problem solving. He's one of the very best at this. But if there's been a constant in his time at Ohio State, it's when things get tight he refuses to throw the football. Other than last year, where he threw it all over the field against everyone with a second and third string QB. The same guys were there this year, and they again reverted back to being scared to throw. 

- To me, and it's just one opinion, yesterday's loss is stunning because it happened without Connor Cook. No way could I ever envision Michigan State winning that game in the way they managed it. I've written often that the best way to play Ohio State is to punch them in the mouth, and out-physical them. Michigan State didn't just punch Ohio State in the mouth. They beat them up, made them crawl into a fetal position, and cry uncle. That was a physical beating. And that's still a great way to play football, even in the spread era. 

- J.T. Barrett was awful yesterday, and this comes from a huge fan. To me, and there's no way to prove it, the DUI killed this team because that week off set Barrett back too far. He was just hitting his stride, and had to take a week off. That forced the offense to go back to the quasi pro-style mess with Cardale. And then come back to the zone read against Illinois. He played scared and tentative yesterday. Not a good way to play Dantonio's guys. He should have been replaced in the second half, by Jones or even Braxtron Miller. They were never going to throw with J.T. anyway, so either put in someone who you trust to throw or put in your best runner at QB. 

- I hate to blast play-calling, and I almost regretted doing it last week, but yesterday was so bad it was almost funny. The shovel pass to Nick Vannett was rich. Why not Braxton or Curtis Samuel or Dontre Wilson? When they needed to grind out some first downs late in the game after Michigan State had them backed up, look at the play calls: A bomb to Mike Thomas, your slowest wideout on first down. Really? When has he beat anyone over the top in his life? What was the chance at success there? 1 in 50? Now you are behind the chains, AND YOU NEED 10 YARDS. Second down they run J.T. into nowhere, adding to his 15 carry/44 yard day. Now it's third down AND YOU MUST GET 10 YARDS. Run the little pop pass/handoff to Braxton into a mass of defenders. How about throw a few 10-yard passes? 

- Zeke Elliott. Hated to see the post-game scene. Sometimes you can be right, but yet be so wrong. I hate the 5-wide set, and went off on a rant last week about it. IT takes your best player out of the game. Except of course, when YOU physically remove him from the game. He was ignored when they needed him most. They never ran him outside at all. Only ran him inside with power a few times, with varying success. Never threw to him at all. Why they tried to win without their best player is crazy, and I have no answer for that. He has a right to be mad, but he should not take his coach to task publicly like he did. 

- The offensive line was bad most of the year against bad teams in pass protection, so that is my explanation for why Ohio State never even had throwing the football in the game plan yesterday. If you can't block Illinois, you aren't stopping those monsters from Michigan State from killing your QB was the thought process. Of course, every other team on MSU's schedule threw the football on them all year, and they did it without having the line Ohio State has. You have to throw to beat Michigan State. That's how they were most vulnerable. But Ohio State was too scared to try. With two or three NFL O-linemen. If Chase Farris can't pass block, and he surely can't, then he needs replaced. Simply put. If he needs help, keep a tight end in with him or have Zeke stay in and help in pass protection. When Boren and Price can't hold up, you need to scheme to help them. You cannot just ignore passing the football totally. 

- With the wide receivers, go look at the stats because you will NEVER see these stat lines again in college football. Nick Vannett: 3 catches for 9 yards. Mike Thomas 2 catches for 8 yards. Curtis Samuel 1 catch for 4 yards. Braxton Miller 1 catch for 3 yards. That is pure panic and pure fear at having to throw the football. To see four studs have 7 catches for 24 yards is funny. It's really hard to average less than 4 yards per catch. Jalin Marshall screwed things up by exploding deep and going 2 for 22 yards. Barrett completed 9 passes, and 8 of them were for 6 yards or less. That is hard to do. You have to really think about 8 pass completions out of 9, under 7 yards to realize how absurd that is. 

- In football, teams get beat. Even Alabama. Sometimes it's turnovers. Sometimes it's just that the other guy was better on that day. Rarely is it coaching. Players make plays. To Meyer's credit, he sure hasn't lost much at Ohio State. When you can remember each loss vividly, that means you rarely lose. The first loss to Michigan State was the fact that the Spartans wacked them right out of the gate, and played a great game. Ohio State ignored Carlos Hyde offensively in the second half and was lost offensively, and got beat by a better team on that day. The Clemson loss actually was a game that Ohio State played their tails off and lost when some breaks went against them. No argument with that loss as it was two good teams fighting to the end. The Virginia Tech loss was once again on the offensive staff, as they had no clue how to attack Bud Foster's Eagle defense.

- Number-four was Saturday, and again you have to give a ton of credit to Dantonio and the Spartans for being deserving winners. But the offensive staff certainly laid their biggest egg of the last four years, and the staff has to own this one. I hated hearing him state it publicly, but Zeke was 100% correct in his point of view. The offensive staff never gave the team a chance to play well in this game. They didn't trust Barrett throwing the football. Didn't trust the offensive line in pass protection. And didn't trust Zeke to carry the load running the football. They went with a single-wing attack and hoped the QB could run for yards behind 10 blockers. When that didn't work, and it was apparent early it wouldn't work, they just accepted their fate and took the loss without adjusting anything. 

- Where do they go from here? I would guess people will give this team up for dead, assuming they've given up and quit on the season. The comments after the game by players and coaches were certainly embarrassing and definitely conveyed the thought that all is lost. But this is the Twitter Era, and EVERYTHING gets blown out of proportion because of it. As fans, you now hear things you never used to hear. But they were always being said in private. I certainly don't think this team is dead by any means.

- Where do they go from here? They need to beat Michigan, and that's not going to be easy. Tough games never are. Then they need help from Penn State. There's no chance the Nittany Lions will beat Michigan State, right? That would be like Michigan State coming on the road and beating Ohio State without Connor Cook playing. There is still a lot for this team to play for. They can still win the Big Ten. They can still get to the playoffs. They can still win another national title. Things need to break right. And of course, they need to do their past as a TEAM. 


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