One of the things that The Meshed One touched on Saturday night was the need for Ohio State to further diversify their offense -- break out of some tendencies. A lot of us have been beating that same drumbeat for a while and probably hardest in the direction of You-Need-To-Call-Some-First-Down-Passes. Well, how'd we do against Penn State in that category? Chris rounded up the first down calls and at first glance, the play-calling was pretty agreeable, really:
On first down, Ohio State called 11 runs and 12 passes.
Nothing wrong with that. But three of those passes were spikes to stop the clock. We're sitting at 11/9 all of a sudden, which still seems reasonable especially given the Purdue masterpiece that was fresh in our memories.
But what if we remove the 1st downs from the three drives in which passing was required (and expected)? That would be the last drive of the first half, started at the OSU 39 with 1:33 to play, and the last two drives of the game. The first of those came immediately after the Devlin touchdown and the Buckeyes with the ball at their own seven and needing a touchdown with a little over six minutes to play. The second of those drives, of course, was against a prevent defense.
So that leaves the meat of the game -- six drives independent of clock or score. In those drives, there were we still have the 11 runs called on first down, but the number of passes has shrunk to four. The Buckeyes passed on first down just 26% of the time. And this was with the running game stuffed from the start.
When diversity was shown, it worked. Pryor was sacked on one of those called passes, but finished 2/3 for 23 yards on the other first downs in that group. But the playcalling is the equivalent of sending the players out on to the field with their shoes untied. I'll say it again: the guy calling the plays should be thinking of the quickest way to get into the end zone and not about a punt you're trying to setup in the next series.
Anyway, the pickings were pretty slim this week, so instead, just some running commentary on a couple of shots