An Oregon loss would've made the night sweeter but after watching Sparty and Mizzou get manhandled and drop from the unbeatens, it was relaxing to sit back and watch Ohio State methodically dismantle an overmatched Gopher squad. There's still plenty to accomplish during the bye week, specifically getting healthy, praying for the safety fairy to work some miracles with OJ and for special teams to become more consistent. Still, there were obviously much more goods than bads when the clock struck zero on Ohio State's 24th win in the last 25 tries against Minny.
Devier is here
Personally speaking, coming into the game DeVier Posey was probably the 3rd most frustrating player on offense behind Shugarts and Adams. Posey's resume of drops, alligator arms and penalties wiping out a big play or two had earned him a spot in my doghouse. Basically, he enraged me at times because I felt he was underachieving versus his true potential much more than anyone else on the offensive side of the ball. Now, I'm not saying he's been awful - just not living up to what I thought he would do this year. Even though it was Minnesota, could Saturday night have been a turning point?
Posey led the team with six receptions for 115 yards and a hauled in a 38 yard TD with :24 left in the half giving OSU a 31-7 lead killing whatever bit of spirit the Gophers had left in the tank. In the decisive first half, Posey caught five of Pryor's 12 completions for 87 of his 158 passing yards. Posey got started early, taking advantage of a huge cushion hauling in a 14 yarder and a 12 yard pass on OSU's first possession, good for 26 of the 46 yards on the scoring drive clulminated by Pryor's TD sneak to make it 7-0 good guys. Posey also threw a great block on a WR screen to Dane triggering a 12 yard gain.
Posey was also a factor on OSU's second possession though he only caught one pass for four yards. Facing 3rd and 11 from the OSU 45, Pryor was forced to scramble to his left and picked up a crucial block from Posey paving the way for TP's 34 yard jaunt up the left sideline down to the Minny 21 yard line. Pryor would hit Saine with a TD toss four plays later giving OSU a 14-7 lead late in the 1st quarter.
Not done with what is hopefully a return to addressing the little things, Posey kicked off Ohio State's third possession hauling in a 19 yard out from Pryor thanks to focused hands and great footwork nearing the sideline. After the aforementioned 38 yard TD closed the half, Posey had one last big play in him. On OSU's first offensive drive of the 2nd half (missed FG), Posey hooked up with Pryor on 3rd and 13 thanks to a seldom seen catch and run. Posey caught the ball near the right sideline but reversed course toward the middle of the field to cap a 28 yard play to move the sticks.
I'm mindful it was Minnesota but hopefully Posey's complete effort featuring a season high in yards and a season 2nd best for receptions coupled with those key blocks will mean good things down the road. He does have three TD in his last four games after a four game TD drought.
Boom finally gets his hundo
It was a long time coming but the guy who seized the primary RB job finally and deservedly cracked the 100 yard plateau running for 114 yards on 17 first half carries. His spiritied effort behind a line that opened holes at a pretty consistent clip led to a robust 6.7 yards per carry and he's now rushed for an average of at least 4.6 ypc in each of his last four games. Even sweeter, Boom has a nose for the endzone. His 10 yard bust to paydirt to make it 24-7 gave him a touchdown in eight consecutive games. The kid has endured his share of naysayers during his time in Columbus but seems to getting better with each game, specifically showing better vision and a willingness to "leave the play" if he spots an opening elsewhere.
Boom got started early last night popping a 10 yard run on the third play of the game making a sharp cut left after finding the middle of the line clogged with traffic. I'm not sure he makes that cut back in September, instead plowing forward for a gain of maybe a yard. On OSU's next series, Boom carried seven times for 38 yards featuring a nice stiff arm on a seven yard 2nd and 5 carry while using great blocking from Boren, Browning and Stoneburner on three other totes.
Boom's most impressive series of the night came at potentially the most pivotal time as Minnesota found themselves trailing just 17-7 with five minutes left in the half. It was time to gain some separation and Boom answered the call accounting for all the yards on a 6 play, 62 yard TD march in which he carried five times gashing the Gopher defense for chunks of 25, 16, 6 and 5 yards before ending the drive with the 10 yard slash off left tackle. Boom's 16 yard run was probably the best of the drive as he shaked and baked past helpless Gophers. The Buckeyes moved to 16-3 in games when Boom goes for six. Also, props to Adams and Boren for springing the 25 yard burst. Good stuff from Boom and the left side of the line.
silver bullets suffocate gophers
Knowing full well the secret sauce to blowing up the Gophers is to stop Adam Weber, the Bullets did exactly that, sacking him five times, picking him off once, and forcing two fumbles while holding the career 10,000+ paser to just nine completions in 20 attempts for 162 yards. After surrendering 116 yards and seven points on back to back drives to open the game, the defense yielded just 54 yards the rest of the half, holding Minnesota to 14 offensive plays. Their final four possessions of the half unfolded as: 3 and out, 5 and out, 4 and out and a 2 and out thanks to a Chekwa interception.
The Buckeyes didn't allow a 3rd down conversion until the opening possession of the 2nd half, a gift at the hands of a Hines facemask, and held Minny to 2/11 overall. The Bullets also held the Gophers to 2.3 yards per rush and forced three turnovers.
Nathan Williams continues to be my defensive MVP and he had a strong showing Saturday finishing 2nd with five tackles plus a sack. His backside pursuit of running plays continues to amaze me an he was at his all conference best on the Minnesota's second series of the 2nd half when he raced up the line to stop Eskridge after a one yard gain, then shut down a screen with a sure tackle on 2nd down before blowing past his defender, forcing another to rotate over, paving the way for Rolle's sack on 3rd and 5. Bring on the punt team. Newsome blocks it, Domicone recovers. 38-10.
Speaking of Rolle, he also had a big night leading the team with six stops, 2.5 TFL, a fumble recovery and 1.5 sacks. Fellow LB Andrew Sweat continued his emergence in Homan's absence assisting on five tackles. Johnny On The Spot Simon also had an athletic play scooping up a fumble forced by a Chekwa hit on Weber and raced 30 yards for the score. I definitely liked what we saw from the front 6/7 tonight.
Damned if you do, damned if you don't
After the Wisconsin meltdown, much of the fanbase was understandably miffed at the play-calling on OSU's first trip the red zone, a 1st and Goal from the three yard line, that featured an unimaginative Boom run up the gut with no lead blocker out of the Wildcat and two TP straight ahead runs for no gain.
Last night, looking to capitalize on Jordan Hall's nifty 70 yard punt return to the Gopher two, Tressel dialed up what most of us wanted to see during that fateful Wisky series, a Pryor rollout stretching the defense affording him the option to run or pass. Unfortunately, in what turned out to be one of his patented crazy, hot girlfriend moments, Pryor rolled right, saw FB Boren open in the endzone, hesitated, then inexplicably threw the ball after it was too late allowing Minnesota's Ryan Collado to step in front of the pass for a gift interception.
For even the most casual fan, it's obvious rollout plays such as this one down by the goal line can only involve the FB as a pass catcher if the play is executed in rhythm. With all the action rolling right, Pryor simply ran out of the real estate necessary to complete a pass to Boren and he has to know you can't double clutch that throw. At that point, he needed to tuck and run or look toward the trailing receiver - anything but attempting to hit Boren.
It didn't matter in this lopsided affair but I wonder if there will be any residual going forward? If OSU gets in a similar situation will the rollout be overlooked as an option based on Saturday's lack of execution? I don't want to read too much into one play but I hope Pryor's poor decision won't keep Tressel from possibly calling it again (versus predictably running straight ahead three times) if the Buckeyes are looking at 1st and Goal on November 20.
Acting as the thoughtful, grounded fans that we are, what concerns do you have as the Buckeyes head into the bye week? For me personally, as I size up the remaining teams on the schedule, I think I'm most worried about the safeties holding up. On Minnesota's first play from scrimmage, Weber used play-action and hit MarQuies Gray for 35 yards. Hines bit hard on the out portion of and out and up route allowing Gray to get almost five yards behind him. Luckily, the ball was well underthrown plus Torrence saw Hines was torched so he was able to come off his guy and keep the play from getting worse. I've got love for Hines but there's no question he's a better run stopper than a pass defender and he was burnt badly on this play. Hines also earned a facemask penalty on Minny's opening drive of the 2nd half helping the Gophers achieve their first 3rd down conversion of the night.
Two plays later, it was Orhian Johnson's turned to get abused. Facing 2nd and 10 at the OSU 39, Weber found Tiree Eure for 32 yards right down the middle of the field as Johnson allowed Eure to cut directly in front of him. The lack of recognition was extremely poor as it didn't appear Johnson had any other responsibility on the play. With the linebackers already showing a bit of a propensity to bite on play action in previous games, I expect Ferentz/Stanzi to attack the middle of the field, over the LBs and in front of the safeties quite often. Will Johnson, Hines and Gant be able to handle their assignments and prevent the big play? Consider me a little concerned.
Special teams, despite Hall's 70 yard punt return, a 34 yard KO return and a blocked punt for a TD remain a source of heartburn. Barclay missed a 21 yard chip shot and Basil's KO's routinely traveled to only the 10-ish yard line plus he shanked one out of bounds. The shank was somewhat tempered by Mike Patrick idiotically offering up how it was "an uncharacteristic mistake for the Buckeyes on special teams." Uh, okay, Mike. The Buckeyes allowed a 33 yard return to the Minnesota 40 on the opening kickoff of the 2nd half and on the KO following Newsome's blocked punt making it 38-10, they allowed a 38 yard return to the Minnesota 49. Finally, they surrended a 30 yard return after Simon's TD off the fumble recovery. This unit is far from out of the woods and after how the start to the Wisky game deflated the Buckeyes, you have to be concerned about what the special teams might screw up in Iowa City.