The Silver Bullets came to play against Akron. Their offensive counterparts.. they're still working on some things. On a day in which the Buckeye offense continued its sloppy play with 5 turnovers and a safety, the defense displayed depth and punch in shutting out the Zips, holding them to 69 yards of total offense as Ohio State dominated Akron 20-2.
The score may not have been as indicative of how one-sided this game really was, but to put it in perspective, if the Buckeyes had last season's offense, the score could have easily been 112-0. Of the 69 total yards mustered by the Zips, 34 came on their opening series as they converted just 2 of 16 third-down conversions. At one point, the Buckeyes had held Akron to 13-consecutive three and outs on offense, including 4 that came immediately after the offense had turned the ball over. To be fair, Akron punter John Stec did blow up to the tune of 14 for 575, setting a Zip record for most punts in a game.
Despite the incredible play out of the defense, the offense did little to prove that it's capable of scoring touchdowns on a consistent basis. At halftime, with the Zips trailing 3-2 (attach witty baseball reference here), and after having given up a safety on what was essentially a 3-yard loss, panic buttons around Buckeye nation were no doubt getting pounded. The offense did put together a couple of nice drives in the 2nd half and Beanie got cooking late, but the offensive line still isn't dominating the way it should be and mistakes, whether in the form of penalties or in the form of turnovers, continue to haunt the team.
The schedule has been a blessing for the inexperienced Buckeyes, and here's to hoping they have their mistakes out of them before squaring off against a Washington squad that suddenly looks dangerous and more than capable of handing the Buckeyes their first loss of the season.
Early on, the offense appeared to struggle with Akron's 3-3-5 and the Zips were able to get penetration. Mix in a few fortuitous bounces on Akron punts and you have the conditions under which Akron could hold a first quarter lead, 2-0. The safety, the first given up by the Buckeyes since the 2005 Texas game, was upheld after replay and seemed to put the stadium into a state of shock. After Todd Boeckman threw interceptions on consecutive passes to bridge the end of the 1st quarter and the start of the 2nd quarter, flashbacks of the Appy State miracle came to mind. Whatever was said to the offense at halftime seemed to work at least a little as they promptly put 17 points up in the 2nd half.
Boeckman did have the 2 interceptions, but one was a receiver slip, while the other was on him for forgetting that defenses have a position called "safety". He did complete 2 more touchdowns, bringing his season total to 4 and showed that he's more than happy to look to other receivers if defenses attempt to take Robo away, but his numbers did take a hit from last week, going 14/23 for 131. Chalk that up to a rather exotic defense employed by the opponent and slightly better athletes than he faced last week against Youngstown State.
Backup Robbie Schoenhoft saw limited action in the 3rd and 4th quarters, but the offense seemed to stall under him. However, he did contribute to the turnover party by dropping a fumble after he took off from the pocket. Check yourself Lil' Belisari, fans want to see pockect smoothness unless you're good at scrambling. Troy Smith was good at scrambling. Guys like you and Karsatos, not so much. The other backup, freshman Antonio Henton saw garbage time at the end of the 4th quarter.
Beanie Wells got his first 100 on a respectable 20 for 143, with nearly half of that coming on one drive in the 4th quarter when the Buckeyes had started to wear down the Zips. The Vest mentioned that drive was the first time he'd noticed Beanie squaring his shoulders to the hole and he may have had some technique problems early on. Much like last week, a lot of his early problems were on the line and here's to hoping that the Parker award goes unawarded for the 2nd straight week. Their didn't seem to be a sense of urgency from the line with guys just walking back to the huddle at the end of plays and such.
The coaches planned for Wells to get 20 carries with 10 each going to Mo Wells and Saine. Saine ended up getting 9 for only 28, but did get his second career touchdown on a nifty dump pass from Boeckman 6 yards out. Mo Wells had 7 carries for 12 yards. If you take away Beanie's big drive, the per carry average across running backs points back directly at the offensive line.
On the outside, Brian Robiskie continues to prove why he'll be an all-conference selection this season finishing with 4 for 82 with a touchdown. The touchdown, his first of the season, came on a gorgeous pattern to the corner of the endzone. You can tell Robo is a smart kid and takes pride in his route running. Great route running is always what made Santonio Holmes so dangerous. If Ted Ginn ran Santonio's routes, he would have had 5000 receiving yards last season. Scratch that. What am I saying.. that's crazy. I mean 10,000 yards.
Brian Hartline was a little more involved than he was in the opener against YSU, catching 6 for 43 and rushing for 9 yards. I was a little disappointed, however, to see that the Father of Our Country, Taurian Washington only had 1 catch for 4 yards after his electrifying score last weekend.
Tressel summed up the work of the defense best when he said they "dominated the game". They've yet to yield a touchdown this season and should rightfully require all members of the offense to refer to this Akron game as the first shutout of the season. The two leading rushers for Akron were backup quarterback Carlton Jackson (3 for 10) and running back anf former Buckeye recruit Dennis Kennedy (8 for 15). Akron wideout Jabari Arthur went from 11 receptions for 125 yards against Army last weekend to 4 for 32 against the Buckeyes. The defense recorded its first turnover on the season and 3 sacks in a truly dominating fashion.
Robert Rose earned his first career start at defensive end in place of the injured Lawrence Wilson, but it was Baby Ironhead, Cameron Heyward recording 3 solo tackles and his first career sack. The Gun show also chipped in with a sack, giving him 1.5 on the season. Freshman linebacker and 11W favorite Thadeus Gibson saw action as a stand-up rush end on some third downs and took some of the heat off of Anderson Russell by dropping an interception that hit him in the hands.
For the 2nd straight week, linebacker James Laurinaitis led the team in tackles, with 7, including a 10-yard sack. Backer-mate Marcus Freeman had 6 tackles, including 1 TFL. Sophomore linebackers Ross Homan and Austin Spitler continue to show signs that the linebacking corps is more than in good shape when Laurinaitis and Freeman ultimately move on. Homan had 2 TFLs and a pass break up, while Spitler had a TFL and seemed to be everywhere at times.
The secondary wasn't really challenged much on the afternoon as Akron didn't throw downfield. Jamaria O'Neal did turn in a fine play stripping the ball from Akron's Kennedy in a move similar to Clarett's pick of Sean Taylor in the 2002 Fiesta Bowl.
I liked the A-Russ lateral to Saine on the opening kickoff and hope to see more of that as the season goes. Saine's speed applied to a change in direction on the field can be disastrous to opponents.
Tressel will sleep easy tonight as Ryan Pretorius continued his start to a solid season by connecting on 33 and 37-yard field goals while also going 2-2 on PATs and driving 2 kickoffs into the endzone for touchbacks. One thing the Bucks can work on is the kick coverage. It's never a good sign to see your punters making touchdown-saving tackles against MAC opponents.
OSU won their 20th straight regular season game and 14th in a row at home... The Buckeyes had 2 more turnovers than the Zips had first downs... The announced crowd was 104,314 and broke a streak of 7 straight games of at least 105,000 in attendance... Buth Reynolds, an Akron native, was honored as the honorary captain... Former fullback and points factory Pete Johnson was honored at halftime as part of the 2007 class to the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame... Under Tressel, the Buckeyes are now 49-3 when leading at the half.