Five Things: Penn State

By Chris Lauderback on October 28, 2012 at 3:00p

It looked like it might be a typical B1G low-scoring slugfest with both Ohio State and Penn State committing mistakes amidst a punting exhibition for much of the first half but once Braxton Miller finally got a feel for things late in the first half, the floodgates opened. 

9-0. How sweet it is

In what felt like a spurt by a basketball team where momentum is clearly seized, the Buckeyes used a 28-3 run over the last six minutes of the first half and the first 15 minutes of the 2nd to run away from the Nittany Lions, 35-23, last night in a raucous Beaver Stadium. 

The net 25-point blitz by the Buckeyes saw them completely take over the line of scrimmage, allowing Braxton, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith to find running lanes while the Bullets picked up a pick six and excepting a 73-yard field goal drive, held the Lions to two total yards in their other three 3rd quarter possessions. 

Another impressive takeaway from Beaver is how the Buckeyes once again received contributions from the non-headliners on the roster. Evan Spencer was huge. Rod Smith did work. Adam Griffin made a key play. Nick Vannett had another 20+ yard grab and on and on. 

At 9-0, with a bad Illinois squad coming to town it's a great time to be a Buckeye but before we turn our attention to the Illini, let's take a quick tour of Five Things that stood out in a truly Happy Valley. 

One to Grow On?

As usual, Braxton put up another gaudy stat line last night with 277 total yards – 73% of the team total – highlighted by 134 on the ground despite -25 yards on four sacks amidst a tough night throwing the football. 

Miller gashed PSU for 134 yards on the ground with 2 TD

Miller connected on just four of his 12 throws in the opening half and looked bad doing it.  

After an opening three and out featuring what looked like a bad decision on a 3rd and 2 read/option, Miller nearly threw two pick-sixes on Ohio State's second possession. After a Penn State punt gave OSU the ball back, Miller killed another drive with a poorly thrown ball intended for Devin Smith on 3rd and five. I'll spare you the rest of the details. You get it. He was all over the place throwing the football and though I think Spielman grossly over exaggerated it, Braxton did look a little tentative in the pocket. 

Of course, he would soon shake the on-field doldrums and start exposing a pretty talented Penn State defense, but what impressed me the most about Braxton last night was his leadership. 

Often a reserved guy on the sidelines, it seemed to me Braxton went out of his way to demonstrate more leadership in a tough environment. He was consistently in the ear of teammates in between possessions and even when he was staging his tribute to Bauserman in the 1st half, he had the same stoic look on his face as he did when he was breaking Lion ankles in the 3rd quarter. 

And what about that throw to Stoneburner? Up 28-16 in the 4th quarter, looking at 3rd and 4 from his own 28 and just 6/18 through the air to that point, Miller confidently stepped into a perfectly thrown ball to Stoney over the middle. Stoneburner only had a half step on his man and Miller's ability to thread the needle allowed Jake to keep on stride and outrun the four Lion defenders for the 72-yard score. It was an incredibly confident throw from a kid who looked like Ricky Vaughn for much of the night. 

Another example of what could a moment of growth was his willingness to slide or step out of bounds to avoid unnecessary hits. It definitely looked like last week's trip to the hospital got his attention. It's often tough for a young, elite competitor to realize that not always going for that last extra inch of yards is the right thing to do. Sometimes there has to be a seminal moment in order for one to gain clarity and hopefully the ugly fall against Purdue was Braxton's. 

Bullish on the Bullets

Despite the known trouble spots that we discuss week in and week out, the Buckeye defense continues to show a knack for making plays when it counts and controlling the line of scrimmage against the more physical teams. 

Simon recorded one of Ohio State's four sacks

Last night, the Buckeyes put their focus on stopping the run and did exactly that, holding Penn State to 32 net yards rushing on 28 carries, or 1.1 yards per rush. The stats are helped by four Buckeye sacks for -37 yards but even if you throw those out, the Bullets held PSU to 69 yards on 24 carries, or 2.9 yards per carry. 

Along with five stops from Johnathan Hankins, former fullback Zach Boren and Ryan Shazier were spectacular in run support, among others.

The strong night stopping the run – the longest PSU carry was nine yards – helped the Buckeyes put pressure on McGloin to come through, which is something they didn't think he could do coming in regardless of what his season stats looked like. 

With Penn State trailing and unable to move the ball on the ground, Bradley Roby had another All-American type performance with five stops and four pass break ups. Though PSU WR Allen Robinson toasted Travis Howard and Christian Bryant a few times, he couldn't find much room to operate when locked up with Roby. 

Roby was absolutely ridiculous in the 2nd half. He made a fantastic tackle on Penn State's 2nd possession of the 3rd quarter, stopping Zach Zwinak for a four-yard gain on 3rd and goal to force a field goal try that allowed OSU to keep the lead at 14-10. 

Two possessions later, Roby broke out blanket coverage on both 2nd and 3rd downs to force incompletions and a punt. 

His night was still far from over as he successfully defended two more throws two possessions later, including one in the end zone that allowed him to showcase his makeup speed and ball skills. 

With the line doing work, a reconfigured LB unit showing signs of life and Roby assigned to the opposition's top receiving threat, things are starting to fall into place for a defense that clearly has limitations but is getting it done when it counts. 

Legacy Night

Big wins on the road typically see contributions from unexpected sources. 

Last night, a couple key contributions came from Buckeye legacies Evan Spencer and Adam Griffin. 

Nursing a 14-10 lead midway through the 3rd quarter, a Miller interception gave Penn State the ball at the OSU 44 but the Bullets rose to the occasion, quickly forcing a 4th and 9 at the OSU 43. 

Recognizing a potential fake just before the snap, Griffin turned and raced upfield, catching up to intended receiver Derek Day. Forced to lob the ball over Griffin, punter Alex Butterworth couldn't thread the needle and the incompletion, thanks to Griffin's handiwork, gave the Buckeye offense great field position.

Looking to capitalize on the short field, Braxton rushed for two yards on 1st down to set up 2nd and 8 at his own 45. Rolling left, Miller found Spencer on a short dig route. Spencer did a nice job catching the ball away from his body and quickly turning up field for 13 yards and a 1st down at the PSU 42. 

Five plays later, facing a crucial 3rd and 4 from the PSU 22, Miller again found Spencer, this time on a slant for another 13 yards to the PSU 9-yard line. 

Miller would score three plays later, giving the Buckeyes a 21-10 lead that was aided by the clutch contributions from Griffin and Spencer. 

Stabilizing Force

An already struggling linebacker corps was thrown for a loop following the win over Nebraska when it was learned senior captain Etienne Sabino would be out 3-4 weeks with a broken fibula. 

Boren and Shazier led the Buckeyes with seven tackles apiece 

Despite the win, the defense had just given up 437 yards, giving up 13 plays of 10+ yards including two over 70 yards with the culprit often being poor tackling and execution from the linebackers. 

Sensing a need to do something drastic, Urban moved fullback Zach Boren to linebacker and the decision has paid off in spades. 

That's not to say the position group has become world beaters because they are still a patchwork lot, but there's no question Urban's bold move has helped solidify the middle of Ohio State's defense. 

For Boren's part, he's proven to be a solid run stopper, often knifing through traffic to bring down a ball carrier – something Storm Klein just doesn't have the instincts or quickness to consistently accomplish. He's got a long way to go in pass defense but considering the timing of the move and the length of time that's passed without him playing the position, Fickell must do what he can schematically to keep Boren out of coverage whenever possible or at least pay special attention to potential matchup problems. 

What I don't think is a coincidence is how Shazier has really started to blossom since Boren joined him on the defensive side of the ball. 

Shazier seems to play his own position with much more confidence and I wonder how much of that is because he no longer has to worry so much about what his sidekick is doing. 

He clearly wasn't worried about covering for any teammates last night as he terrorized the Penn State offense with seven tackles, two TFL, a forced fumble, two sacks and a pick-six. 

With Noah Spence coming along and Boren giving the staff a solid run-stopping partner with Shazier, Fickell is also now able to insert Nate Williams at various spots off the line of scrimmage in passing situations, which is really putting the second level defenders in position to play to their strengths. 

I guess we shouldn't be surprised. I mean, before the season even began Urban did say he planned to use Boren in ways he hadn't been used before.

Between the Tackles

While the offense is clearly only going to go as far as Braxton takes it, there's no question Carlos Hyde is having a solid season doing dirty work between the tackles. 

Hyde is providing inside runs that free up Braxton outside

It was tough sledding last night but Hyde did help take some hits off Braxton as he carried it 22 times for 55 yards and a touchdown.

Through nine games, that gives him an even 600 yards rushing on 126 carries, good for 4.8 yards a pop, with 10 rushing touchdowns. I think most of us would've gladly signed up for that to this point, especially when you look back on his strong efforts in key games like Nebraska (28/140, 4TD), @Indiana (22/156, TD) and the OT win over Purdue (19/91, 2TD).

Even on a more plodding night, his ability to run inside not only saves Braxton some hits but also forces the defense to respect the middle of the field, allowing guys like Braxton to more easily exploit the edges. 

Last night, Hyde teamed up with Rod Smith to give Penn State something to think about other than slowing Miller. 

Smith spelled Hyde on a few possessions and tallied four carries for 48 yards, including a key 28-yard run on the scoring drive that put OSU in control up 28-10 late in the 3rd quarter. 

Combined, the duo gave Urban 26 carries, 103 yards and a score from the tailback slot. 

If Hyde can keep grinding and Smith continues to impress, the pair could carve out a very important shared role knowing two B1G slugfests are all that stands in the way of a perfect season, assuming the Buckeyes can dispatch of lowly Illinois next weekend in the 'Shoe. 


Comments Show All Comments

Ohio1St81's picture

What's with the pictures that make everyone look like they have leprosy or something? 

I knew our defense had some big plays but seeing them all listed here is really encouraging - Roby, Shazier, Boren, everyone stepped up last night, and we are really seeing true improvement. That's why so many were frustrated through the Indiana game, despite the fact that we were winning. We didn't see the comprehensive, fundamentally sound teamwork we saw last night, so hopefully we'll see the same consistency these next three games. 9-0 seems so much better when we finally have real reason to believe that 12-0 is possible. "We're 9-0" is no reason to think we'll be fine. "We're 9-0 and we are finally putting solid defensive performances together" is. 

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gravey's picture

It's the new 11W "Michigan Pox" filter.  Like it?

buckeyemondo's picture

one thing i hope braxton can learn in the offseason is to get rid of the mentality that he can make up for early mistakes in the 1Q.  while you can't win the game that early, you can certainly lose it.  couple throws there that brax was late on & you could say should have been pick 6's.
but you take those lapses in mental toughness with the sheer athleticism that was displayed on his TD run in what i can only describe as barry sanders-esque.

buckeyedude's picture

The main thing I'd like to see BM learn in the offseason is to progress through his receivers, instead of locking in on one receiver. He has to become a better passer. So many times he waits too long to throw the ball, and when he does throw, he doesn't "lead" his receiver. He throws the ball where the receiver is right now, and then by the time the ball gets to the receiver, it's behind him. This takes lots of practice, practice, practice, and something that he has to work on with his receivers after the season is over.



TatumRuled's picture

Once again, SI gets it right  ::chuckle::
(PS Click to pic #3)

"Hell, Woody didn't recruit me; he recruited my mother!" -Jack Tatum                       

Scott K's picture

I <3 Joe Burger!

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

Seabass1974's picture

Haha, yeah one of the ESPNU announcers called him that for their highlights. I think it was Charles Arbuckle. I screamed at the t.v. F-Ya! Joe Burger is an animal!!!

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

bigbill992001's picture

#14-That ball in one hand while diving across the goal line is scary.

grcunning's picture

One thing that bothered me was that Brax was still on the field with 1:30 to go and the game no longer in doubt. Not only was he in there, Hermann called a designed run for him in that series.  Wonder what we would we be saying now had he gotten his leg broken during garbage time.
KG earned a few snaps, I'm disappointed that he didn't get them.

NYC Buckeye's picture

I can't believe nobody else is talking about this...  I was thinking the same thing, Miller was like our clock eating back in the 4th quarter... very surprising...

joeygood's picture

lol! leprosy! It does look like that. Bad Photoshop filter. 

Scott K's picture

Wild Thing, you make my heart sing
You make everything.....GROOVY....

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

Poison nuts's picture

Give em the heater...

"Do not pass me, just slow down - I can move right through you" Superchunk - Precision Auto.

jestertcf's picture

juuuuuuuuuuuuuust a bit outside.


~Because we couldn't go for three~

buckeyeEddie27's picture

Tonite's broadcast is brought to you by.............ugh...I can't find it....The Hell With It!

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Abe Froman's picture

Hopefully this will vault Urbz to the front of the line for Coach of the Year.  It is still a travesty that Tressel never won one of those. 

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

jestertcf's picture

I love URB, but I think the K State coach wil win in a landslide.

~Because we couldn't go for three~

Abe Froman's picture

Yeah Jester, I was thinking just Big 10

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

I am still laughing at how incredible Braxton was at the QB optoin reads he made all game.  He completely had the defenders standing there with their, welll, parts in their hands as they were clueless to know who actually had the ball.  You could just see the frustration build into realization that they were completely out gunned.  It was a beautiful thing to watch!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Aesculus.'s picture

Can't say enough about Zach Boren.  He's taken our weakest starter(Klein) off the field and freed up Shazier to wreak havoc.  Looking forward, the key to next years defense is going to be finding someone to take over MIKE.  Gulp.  

nickma71's picture

I agree. He is doing what a traditional MLB should do. He fills that gap, and he does it in a hurry.

Scott K's picture

Man, the shadenfreude reading the recap over on BSD is utterly hilarious.  
It seems that they believe PSU would have steam-rolled the Bucks had it not been for the referees....
Delusional PSU fans being, well, delusional.
If you have BTN2Go, the holding call on the punt is at 1:13:13.  You make the call.  The guy grabbed the long snapper and pulled him down.  That's a hold.  It's not called very often, but it's a hold none the less.
Suck it Penn state.

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

TheHannimal's picture

There is a lot of belly aching over there about the refs and how much did the NCAA pay them.
I'm tempted to troll on BSD and say that the real kick in the nuts is that the NCAA used part of PSU's very own $60mil fine to pay off the refs.

That's probably the last time they'll be somewhat competitive fornthe next decade.

johnblairgobucks's picture

I'm tempted to troll on BSD and say that the real kick in the nuts is that the NCAA used part of PSU's very own $60mil fine to pay off the refs


Arizona_Buckeye's picture

They are just an angry bitter whiny little group of spoiled brats!  They are doing nothing but bitching and moaning about the refs.  It is damn hilarious and pathetic at the same time.  They are by far the most manic depressive group of people I've ever seen.  I'm in hysterics over the grades they gave some of their team.  Seriously here are their grades:
Defensive Line - B+
Linebackers - A
Defensive Backs - A-

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

BuckeyeSaab's picture

My favorite one from over at BSD...

And you know what? Maybe we can be nice to their fans, but Ohio State cheats at football. Cheating at college football is as despicable as objectifying women. And you know what else? O’Brien is going to beat these people more often than not.

There is so many levels of delusion in that in post I'm not sure were to begin.

I'm sorry for not being sorry.

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

There are about 1000 of those type ranting posts over there right now.  Seriously, they are getting closer to the birther stupidity every single day.

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Abe Froman's picture

One point for you sir!

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

Seabass1974's picture

Our long snapper never blocks. He hikes the ball and is almost always the first down the field to make the tackle. This is by design. I think they wanted to make sure he wasn't getting down their as fast and it was a call by PSU to take him out of those plays. He litterally grabs him and pulls him down.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

Scott K's picture

Exactly.  Which is a penalty.  End of discussion.  Was it a controversial call?  It's not controversial if it's the right call.  It was the right call.
Did it change the game?  Absolutely.
Suck it Pick Six U.

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

MAJbucksfan's picture

The best thing I heard all night, as we were exiting the stadium was... "your offensive line was really solid".  How many of us thought we'd here that after this game back during the spring? 

nickma71's picture

I was pleased to see the freshmen on the d-line getting quality playing time last night.

Nick's picture

They had a solid rotation on the line the entire game was nice to see

Run_Fido_Run's picture

The way they rotated defensive players seemed to be very smart, effective. I can't recall the specifics because PSU ran lots of hurry up and I'm not the most observant person to begin with. But the Buckeyes seemed to be able to rotate in about 2 players at a time on defense without missing a beat, without ever getting "out of balance," while playing a bunch of different DLmen.
It was like an elaborate but seamless choreography for a Broadway Show: I couldn't tell what was going on behind the scenes, but the performance on "the stage" was fun to watch. 

AC1972's picture

Did you just compare football to broadway? 

osubuckeye4life's picture
Another team effort in a very hostile environment. 9-0 and on to the next one.....

buckeyefanatic's picture

John Simon was clearly playing banged up and worn out late in the game; I love the guy so this is not me throwing him under the bus.  I didn't notice it until I rewatched the game this morning that Simon totally quit on that last PSU TD pass where they had aaaalllllll daaay to throw.  I was really surprised by it.

How many batteries does it take to beat Michigan football?   1AA
Want to beat Michigan? There's an App for that.

Boxley's picture

John simon was clearly playing hurt, just as he did last week. His knee is killing him on the plant, cannot go to his right very well at all. Still he takes up one-two offensive linemen every play, so he is still disrupting the line and he got a sack too.
I hope he gets rested over the next two weeks and is full force by the Wisky Meatchicken games..

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

Lovin the Braxton Wild Thing action!!!  Absolutely perfect!!!  JUST a bit outside!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

yankeescum's picture

Why in the name of all that's holy was this game not called the Battle of the Banned?

Alice in Aggieland's picture

Ha! That's a waaay better title than the "Ineligi-Bowl" retreads from last year's game against The U.

NoVA Buckeye's picture

I called that game the "Cash for Gold" Bowl.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

D. Anthony's picture

I thought we "turned the corner" after Nebraska, then be bogged down a little, now it looks like we may have turned another corner. Illinois and a bye week then two more corners to turn in Madison and in the Shoe vs meatchicken and we could be at the finish line undefeated! Wow! Even if we stumble somewhere I think Urban and this team have exceeded all expectations.

D. Anthony

BuckeyeFanInBoulder's picture

Shazier seems to play his own position with much more confidence and I wonder how much of that is because he no longer has to worry so much about what his sidekick is doing.

Amen.  I have wondered if this was affecting the safeties and Nate Williams all season.  I will be curious to see what the LBs look like with Sabino back.

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

ignore: wrong spot placement

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

JJB's picture

sooo... does this mean we can hold off on firing Luke?

Ann Arbor Buckeye's picture

I thought our defense played pretty close to lights out agains Penn State.  a huge improvement across the board from the entired defense.  If they can play like that the rest of the year I think we are unstopable. Other than a couple of plays they were damned impressive.  Having Boren at MLB has made a huge improvement.  Wait till we get the rest of the guys back and healthy.  We are also seeing big improvements from our freshmen rotating on Defense too.  Impressive turn around these last 2 games.

Yes there are two Buckeyes in Ann arbor on this site!