Postgame Grades

     Before we go into the grades for OSU, allow me to say that the Bearcats had my attention and now they can also claim my respect.  Cincinnati acquitted themselves well today.  They stayed with their game plan and nearly pulled off one of the largest upsets of the year.  In the end, I think the talent gap was just a little too much for them to overcome, but make no mistake - Cincinnati was literally within an inch or two of taking home the victory.  This team will be a tough out for whoever plays them this fall, and Gino is going to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country by his senior season if he continues to improve.

Now to OSU...

Offensive line.  This unit proved it has a long, long way to go before they can be considered a top group.  They are just fine in run blocking, but their pass blocking in the first half was horrid.  To correct this fatal flaw, the coaches for Ohio State had to engage in max protect formations.  This resulted in more pressure on Krenzel because there were fewer receivers able to be released into the pattern.  The line MUST improve on their pass protection if Ohio State is going to challenge for the Big Ten title.

Grade - C

Quarterback.  Craig Krenzel finally showed some poor decision making in the first half of this game.  With many of his passes off target and multiple interceptions, Craig was clearly the second best quarterback on the field today through three quarters.  What I will say is that Krenzel's second half was solid.  He did not beat his team, and he showed some very nice running ability (once again).  Not only did he pick up a critical long run for a first down that resulted in a field goal, but he stuck the ball into the end zone when he had no right to do so.  Overall, his performance was average.  If he hits his receivers early on and does not throw the interceptions, then perhaps his late game heroics are not needed.  I give him an A for his guts and overall second half performance and a D- for the first half.

Grade - C

Running Backs/Fullbacks.  Maurice Hall was absolutely creamed by the Cincinnati defensive player.  Brutalized.  Along with the hit put on Nickey on special teams several games back, those are two of the best hits I have seen this year.  No exaggeration.  As for Ross?  Lydell did Ohio State proud today.  Without him we lose.  It is pure and simple.  So, Ross should take a bow for his performance.  He held onto the football, he was willing to hit the pile for tough yards, and he ran to daylight whenever possible.  He even had a first down on that 4th and 1, but was denied by a rather nearsighted referee.  Brandon Joe played huge today, especially with his block that allowed our wide receiver (Gamble) to gain a first down late in the ball game.  Hall gets a C (fumble), Ross gets an A, and Joe gets an A.

Grade B+

Wide Receivers.  Today this unit played large.  I saw only one blatant drop, and that was by Bam Childress.  On the other hand, I saw some very nice grabs by Vance, Carter, and Gamble.  How about those yards after the catch?  Great job by the wide receivers finding holes in the defense and being a solid target for Krenzel.  Gamble played HUGE with not only a great performance on offense but he brought home an interception on defense as well.  Incredibly – Gamble was on the field in our closing stand to help bring home the victory. 

Grade – A+

Tight Ends.  Contrary to popular belief, OSU is trying to find ways to get the ball to our tight ends.  The problem for right now is the lack of pass protection available from our porous offensive line.  As we build depth and improve the line, we will see more and more passes to the tight end.  OSU threw one touchdown pass to our tight ends today and would have had a second if the quarterback had been able to hit him in the numbers.  The blocking by the tight ends was stellar.  Again, tight end is a position where you have to be willing to block.  Check out the NFL.  Even the tight ends with all the catches block when needed.

Grade – A-

Defensive Line. This unit played well, but they were a disappointment in getting pressure on the Cincinnati quarterback in general.  Whereas in previous games Ohio State had been able to bull-rush 3 Dlinemen and sack the quarterback, the Buckeyes were forced to rely on blitz packages to flush Gino Guidugli.  Scott's hit was just beaaaaaaaauutiful and may have actually been the game winner for Ohio State – long before that 4th quarter stand at the 15.  Simon Frazier played well, and we did stop the run cold with the exception of a long first quarter run by DeMarco McClesky.  Anderson and Peterson played well and plugged the middle.  They managed to get the job done today, but overall as a unit were not terribly impressive.

Grade - B

Linebackers.  When playing a spread offense such as the Bearcats, when you do not hear the names of the linebackers called over, and over, and over, and over again – that can be  a good thing.  Today our linebackers did a fine job sticking with tight ends, running backs, and even wide receivers.  Cie Grant showed once again just how valuable a linebacker with true corner (or at least safety) speed can be.  Wilhelm played solid.  Reynolds' play appears to have improved somewhat. 

Grade – A-

Cornerbacks.  Whoa Nellie.  This group showed up to play today.  With the line not getting pressure consistently, there was a great deal at stake in coverage.  After a shaky initial drive, the cornerbacks were exceptional.  Superb.  Were I to nominate a single unit for the best overall play of the day (outside of special teams), this one gets my MVP.  Underwood performed magnificently.  Sure, from my vantage point in front of the TV – I likely missed a few mistakes somewhere on his part…but that kid was SOLID.  He will be everything recruiting gurus claimed.  He is very close to being a shut-down cornerback right now.  My guess is that by late October, Underwood will see fewer and fewer passes thrown his direction.  Fox also did a fine job, stripping the ball, defending the pass, and even supporting the run (with a touchdown saving tackle).  Nickey appeared to be in position for most of the plays.  Allen's interception was so large that I cannot express it.  On the other hand, Doss frankly disappointed me a little bit.  Either he or McNutt were out of position for that big reception by Cincinnati.  My guess is that it was Doss.  Further, Doss slacked off in his coverage on another play – allowing Gino to rifle in the ball for a first down instead of being run out by the defensive players chasing him.  In the end, I saw a great deal to be proud of from the secondary today.  We still need some help back there for next season, but I think we will be at least serviceable this year and maybe even good.

Grade – A-

Special Teams.  This unit stepped it up today.  Nugent proved that last year was a fluke once again.  He hit anything and everything for points.  His only mistake came with a kick sailing out of bounds for a penalty, but in comparison with his performance for the entire day this is minor.  The kickoff coverage team pinned Cincinnati back deep in their own territory.  As for the Gamble kickoff return?  I am still searching for that penalty.  96 yards?  Wow.  From here on out, I would like to see Gamble back there returning kicks and punts.  I would like to see Doss doing what he does best – blocking kicks.  Kyle Andrews deserves mention for his longsnapping again today.  It was boring…exactly like you want him to be.  Give me Andrews and no excitement with high snaps, low snaps, and big gaffes. 

Grade – A

The Freshmen.  Solid play today from EJ, but he is really the only one I saw with significant playing time.  Maybe that was because I was busy pulling my hair out for most of the afternoon?  At any rate, Underwood showed up in a big way.  OSU will come to love this guy over the next few seasons.  I would love to have a few more players at the corner position with his abilities so Fox can be moved back to his more natural position at safety, but that is the future – not today.  The special teams play was nice with excellent tackling and blocking all afternoon.  I am hoping this is the start of a trend rather than the proverbial flash in the pan.

Grade – A  (A+ for Underwood.  B+ for the rest of the guys)

Coaching.  I know these guys have forgotten more than I will ever likely know about football.  I know that.  I really do.  At the same time, I must say how disappointed I am with the playcalling.  I do not hang this near defeat on Ohio State's players.  The offense obviously needs more work in pass protection.  At the same time?  West Virginia ran for over 330 yards last week on this same Cincinnati defense.  Why in the world did Ohio State decide that they had to come out and "establish the pass?"  What were they thinking?!!?!?!  If I were Cincinnati, my recipe for defeating Ohio State would have been…


1 cup of humble for the defensive line with solid protection of Gino

3 cups of turnovers with fumbles and interceptions

2 cups of foolishness by Ohio State coaches with too many passing plays

1 cup of turnovers by Gino (and no more – two spoils the recipe)

2 cups of courage and pass rush by our defense

1 cup of stupid penalties (such as personal fouls on 3rd and 1, holding on second and short, and false starts near the goal-line)

Mix well and wait until you can see the filling boiling under the crust

Remove when crust is brown and serve it to Ohio State.

In my most humble opinion, Ohio State's coaching and poor play calling were the root of the problem today.  The coaching staff seemed to believe that they could work on the passing game without having to worry about Gino and the Bearcats.  Foolishness.  They are lucky that their players came up BIG with interceptions and scrambles (by Craig).  Ross would have put this game away in the second quarter had the coaching staff come out running the football.  The ONLY way a defense as small as the Bearcats stays in this contest is IF the coaches decide to play pretty offense and pass the football.  That is exactly what we did, despite outweighing the defensive front of the Bearcats by some 50lbs per man.  As I told (actually hollered to) those I was watching the game with today?  If we lose, it will be because of our coaches and the playcalling.  On the other end of the spectrum, our defensive coaches did a fine job.  Underwood's substitution was masterful.  Playing Gamble at corner was either a move of desperation or a stroke of pure genius (I suspect it is a little bit of both).  There were some broken tackles, but to hold the Cincinnati offense to only 19 points is quite an accomplishment considering the defense was on the field far, far too long today.

Grade – D+ (F- for the offensive play calling.  A- for the defensive substitutions, etc.)

     Every season, teams fall because they are not prepared to play on a given Saturday.  Today Ohio State was lucky.  Pure and simple.  We were badly outcoached on the offensive side of the football.  Incredibly outcoached.  Cincinnati showed great heart.  Ohio State's defense, special teams, and pure grit on the part of Craig Krenzel and Ross pulled out our victory.  I am taking this game for what it is.  It is a victory.  Ugly?  You bet – almost as ugly as a Michigan cheerleader.  Putrid?  It smells like aged limburger.  Yet it goes down in the books as 1-0.  This moves the Buckeyes to 4-0, and hopefully it will teach them some valuable lessons as well.  Next up?  Indiana.

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