Offensive line – Everything starts up front.
I am going to cut the line some slack from the outset this week given
their injuries. That does not mean
I do not expect excellence, it just means I understand lines are a work in
progress that take time. As far as
their run blocking, the OSU line shows great skill.
They have been doing so all season and appear to be improving a bit each
game (they will need to in order to win the Big Ten).
They were able to get the yards and the push off of the line of scrimmage
whenever they so chose. As usual, I
was a bit disappointed in their pass protection of Krenzel. He is too often rushed and forced to scramble.
When he has a wide receiver open up late in a play, his chances of
hitting him are greatly diminished if Craig is forced to scramble for his life.
They looked better this week than last, but I wonder if that is simply
because of the talent differential (Cincinnati is a better team than Indiana at
Grade – B
Quarterback – Like last week, Ohio State came out
throwing the football and trying to establish a passing attack.
Like last week, they were not very successful.
I do not know if this is a timing issue where WRs are not running crisp
routes or if Craig takes a while to warm up.
Either way, this is a serious problem for the Ohio State offense.
It causes them to sputter and the other team starts to believe they can
hang with the Buckeyes. Once Craig
settled down, he looked solid today. He
seems to throw very well over the middle of the defense, and I think Buckeye
fans need to appreciate his ability to progress through his reads to hit the
running backs. Craig showed great
touch on the fade to Jenkins for the touchdown, and the timing pass over the
middle to Michael for 27 yards was just what Ohio State needed.
Throw in his ability to scramble, and Craig more than made up for his
lackluster passing in the first quarter. What
about Scott McMullen? Three passes
to the TE and 6 for 6 for 66 yards and a touchdown to lead the Buckeyes down for
their final touchdown. He showed a
very nice release and made solid decisions.
Rather than going for the huge play, he displayed patience and the
willingness to let all of his weapons fire into the IU defense.
Grade – B+
Running Backs – Great blocking by the fullbacks as
usual. I am going to throw out a
huge thanks to these guys and some serious praise.
They hammer the defense, take on charging linebackers, and even go
against defensive linemen to allow the tailbacks to gain some serious glory.
This is a team game, and without our fullbacks hitting their blocks,
Clarett, Ross, Riley, and Hall go down in the backfield (not to mention Craig
and Scott as well). Clarett had his
usual superb performance. Playing
only 3 quarters, he accumulated 100+ yards and three touchdowns. He showed great presence to reach the ball across the goal
line, and his refusal to be tackled by the first defender is just unreal.
I wonder how many tackles he has broken this season?
Ross and Hall showed some nice skills with their runs as well.
Ross established himself as the second back last week, but I still really
like what Hall brings to this offense as well.
He hits his holes and squirts through very quickly, and that is bound to
catch some defenses by surprise late in the 4th quarter in a close
game this year. Riley had a couple
of carries late in the game which lead me to question if he could not be
starting somewhere else in the Big Ten this year.
Truly, OSU is LOADED at tailback.
Grade - A
Wide Receiver –
Two things that should be pointed out for this unit today…
1. Yards after the catch.
Vance in particular showed serious ability to spin back against the
pursuit after the catch and gain some serious yards.
2. Blocking. The
Ohio State wide receivers are asked to develop in all facets of the game (which
helps with professional aspirations). Beyond
those two statistics, the wide receivers did not display the dropsies and
Jenkins and Gamble continue to impress.
Grade - A
Tight End – This group put up their best numbers thus far against Indiana. I expect we will see more receptions as the season progresses and defenses try and take away Jenkins/Gamble and Clarett. Look for the coaches to continue to use them not only to support the running game but also to keep the linebackers honest. Excellent job by the tight ends in both blocking and receiving; add another weapon to the Ohio State offensive machine…
Grade – A
Defensive Line – I was a bit disappointed in the guys up front, but again – I am going to cut them some slack with the injury of Anderson and Peterson being nicked up a bit. Scott had his sack a game (and maybe more – the box score is not out yet). Fraser really showed his ability to get pressure on the quarterback today with pressures, batted passes, and a forced fumble. Peterson and Smith also hassled the Indiana passing game with sacks. Though they allowed some pretty large holes to be opened for IU running backs in the first series, give credit to the defensive line for shutting those down as the game progressed. It was not a dominant performance perhaps, but they did get the job done.
Grade – B
Linebackers – Matt Wilhelm is just clutch.
As much as I like Doss, the players the defensive unit will miss the most
next season are Matt Wilhelm and Cie Grant.
Wilhelm did a great job in sniffing out the QB keeper deep in Ohio State
territory. Pursuit of the football
from sideline to sideline was excellent. Reynolds
stepped up his play a bit this week with several tackles, and the freshmen A. J.
Hawk just looks like a keeper to me.
Grade – A-
Secondary – Let's break this unit down player by
player. Donnie Nickey had a
workmanlike performance. He had a
very nice contain tackle to keep Indiana from breaking a long play. Michael Doss had both good and bad in his performance.
He continues to show a bit of a weakness with his pass defense, but he
made an absolutely great tackle in the open field on the IU running back.
I expect Doss to shine as Ohio State begins Big Ten play against teams
who are more inclined to run the football.
EJ Underwood showed some great tackling and discipline when he wrapped
the wide receiver that Doss and Carpenter did not.
He also made a poor decision when he allowed the IU wide receiver to get
behind him for a possible touchdown had not the pass been dropped.
Dustin Fox played the best game of our defensive backs again today.
He is going to make it very difficult for the coaching staff to move him
from that position. I
also saw Jacobs, McNutt, Salley, Allen, and Everett – who although they did
not excel, received valuable playing time.
After saying all of that nice stuff about this group, I must confess that
I am a bit disappointed at how easily teams continue to move the ball against
them. Indiana is not exactly Florida or Miami, and yet they had
success through the air. This needs
to be addressed and corrected. I am
of the opinion that as of right now, the secondary needs a talent infusion to
face teams with multiple wide receiver sets.
I am hoping that can be addressed in this upcoming recruiting class with
a couple of blue-chippers who want to see immediate playing time.
Grade – B
Special Teams – Another great day for Kyle
Andrews, and another absolutely fabulous day for Mike Nugent. Last year's ‘whipping boy', Nugent is now 9 for 9 with
field goal attempts on the season. Today,
he hit a 51-yard kick, and it would have been good probably from 55+.
Though it most often goes unnoticed by the fans, I also want to commend
the blockers in front of Nugent. I
have yet to see someone even get pressure on him during an extra point attempt
or field goal try. That speaks to
the mental focus and their discipline to take out their assigned man.
Great job gentlemen. Special
teams coverage on kickoffs and punts continues to impress.
Today, a huge hole opened in the middle of the coverage, but Underwood
was standing right there to plug it. Kudos
to E.J. for staying in his lane and forcing the IU returner into the waiting
arms of other Ohio State tacklers. His
discipline may very well have saved a touchdown.
The punt block by Fox was a better play than most realize in my most
humble of opinions. The reason I
say this is that even if Dustin misses, he took an approach angle that would not
have gotten him flagged for roughing the punter.
Though the only great return we saw today was by Nickey on a fake punt (a
great call), this was an overall great performance.
Grade – A+
Coaching – Last week I awarded these men a giant
raspberry. This week, I must say
that I was impressed. Defensively,
the coaches made adjustments that kept Indiana out of the endzone for most of
the second half. IU did score a
late touchdown, but I want to extend a thumbs up to the coaching staff on that
one as well. What?
Yep, I want to praise the Ohio State coaches because they are allowing
the reserves to play in pressure situations.
It would be all too easy to pull the freshmen and backups when the other
team threatened to score, but instead we are seeing the coaching staff leave the
young players in the game to give them coachable moments.
This will pay off in a big, big way for the Buckeyes not only in the
coming seasons, but it might even pay off this season if a starter is hobbled
with an injury. Offensively, I did
not like our coming out passing again today after what we saw last week. I really think Craig needs to be given a while to settle into
a game before he is asked to throw deep passes.
What made this sinking feeling go away today was that the coaches
recognized this problem rather quickly and began hammering the football into a
soft IU defensive front. With the
occasional pass mixed in to keep the defense honest, the offense began churning
out yardage. The best call of the
game was the reverse to Gamble, and again – I think it was better than what
most realize. This is the kind of
call that a coaching staff has to set up with a progression of calls and a clear
strategy. After a steady dose of
Clarett, the Hoosier players were ripe for this little deception because of
their overpursuit. Great call.