Beyond the Hashes: Michigan

By Chad Peltier on November 25, 2012 at 12:00p

So how many of you predicted that the Buckeyes would start the Urban Era undefeated? 

There's still work to do and room to improve next year for a potential national championship run: the passing game needs to be more consistent, the defense can't give up big plays and must work on tackling, and we can't have as many punts blocked. 

As Ryan comes totally unblocked...The OSU passing game was extremely efficient

But for now that talk is premature – we can just enjoy every last second of this season's perfection. 

We've witnessed Braxton Miller thrive in the offense he was born to run, Hyde prove that a big power back can work in Meyer's offense, and John Simon end his legendary career with a four-sack effort against Wisconsin. 

This team transcends the numbers that follow – we can't quantify Simon, Boren, or any of the other seniors' effort and dedication to Ohio State this season. So, let's mostly just feel good about the numbers 12 and 0. 

The Offense

The offense was largely able to move the ball on the Wolverine defense, but uncharacteristically struggled getting touchdowns out of drives.

  1D 3D 4D Yards Pass Rush TO Penalty QS Sack
vs. UM 22(21) 30% - 396 189 207 1 9-74(84-774) .371 4

This is most apparent with how often Drew Basil saw the field. Basil came into The Game with just six attempts on the year and left with eleven, converting 4/5.

Further, the Buckeyes averaged just .371 points per play against the Wolverines. While this was a full .1 points higher than against Wisconsin, it is indicative of an offense that was inefficient in the red zone and repeatedly shot itself in the foot.

The Buckeye offense was largely able to move the chains against the Wolverines thanks to an extremely efficient performance by Braxton and a Certified Wolverine KillerTM day by Hyde.

While Miller usually requires some big runs in order settle in and open up the pass game, Herman and Meyer dialed up effective passes even though Braxton didn’t attempt many designed runs early. Braxton passed for 189 yards against the number one-ranked pass defense in the country with rollout passes and packaged inside zone/hitch routes. 

However, untimely penalties combined with turnovers – including Corey Brown’s muffed punt and Braxton’s fumble – pushed the Buckeyes into repeated third-and-long situations. The Buckeyes’ nine penalties for 74 yards was three more than their season average.

Further, Michigan DC Mattison dialed up some devastating overload blitzes to Braxton’s weakside in passing situations, which resulted in four sacks.

Penalties were undoubtedly a problem throughout the year and this wasn’t the offense’s most efficient performance, but we must keep in mind that this is just year one of a completely new offense.

How beautiful is it that this is a “rebuilding year” and Braxton was just a sophomore? Next year is going to be a lot of fun, Buckeye fans.

The Clock. The Buckeyes completely controlled the clock for almost 37 minutes of the game, limiting Michigan to 47 total plays.

  Time of Possession # of Plays
vs. Michigan 36:50 70
This Season 30:20 70
Last Season 30:41 62

I’ve repeatedly insisted that the time of possession battle was often overrated, but it was key here, as the Buckeyes were able to run 23 more plays than the Wolverines.

The Buckeyes end the year with a TOP of just 21 seconds less than last year and an average of eight plays more per game.

Hyde probably broke this tackle for 12 yardsHyde's running powered the offense over Michigan

The Defense

The clichéd “it was a tale of two halves” storyline could not have been more applicable than for the Buckeye defense, which completely shut the Wolverine offense down in the second half, preventing them from crossing the 50-yard line.

The Silver Bullets came out like it was still the first half of the season, allowing two big plays because of poor tackling.

If not for Gardner’s throw to Roundtree and Robinson’s run (in which Howard and Bryant tackled each other) then we’d be looking at a much different ball game.

Michigan was able to average .446 points per play, though this is entirely because they only ran 47 plays, two of which were for long touchdowns.

  1D Yards Pass Rush TO TOP TFL Sack INT 3&Out RBSR QSand
vs. UM 13(19) 279(360) 171(243) 108(116) 4 23:10 7 4 1 2 37% .446

The Wolverine offense ended with 37% successful carries, but nearly every successful rush was Denard’s during the first half as all other rushers were held to -14 yards. Further, Denard was limited in the second half for some mysterious reason, rushing four times for -2 yards.

The defense stepped up with Simon out, forcing three fumbles(!), one interception, four sacks, and seven tackles for loss.

With the brilliant second-half performance by Fickell and Withers’ crew, the Buckeye defense actually outperformed their season average in pass and rush yards.

Special Teams 

Special teams were largely uneventful for the Buckeyes (the unfortunate roughing the kicker penalty was on the same punt as Corey Brown’s fumbled return), but I’d like to recognize Buchanan for his excellent final day as a senior.

Buchanan averaged 44.3 yards per punt and was able to pin all three within the Michigan 20. Because of his punts, the Buckeyes were able to flip the field the few times they did need to punt, completely dominating the field position battle throughout the game.

Player Analysis

Braxton Miller. I was extremely impressed with how Braxton threw the ball yesterday, as he went 14/18 for 189 yards and a touchdown and it looked like those numbers could have been as high as Herman and Meyer wanted them to be.

  Comp/Att % Yards TD INT Rating
Miller 14/18(148/254) 78% 189(2039) 1 -(6)  

Braxton had his most efficient day through the air so far this year, completing 78% of his passes, only two of which were rated as “difficult” or “uncatchable” (the other two incompletions being throwaways).

Braxton was particularly efficient throwing on the run and throwing the hitch on the packaged read, as ESPN noticed:

Braxton’s continued development as a passer will be key next year, so it’s encouraging for him to go out on such a high note.

Running Backs. Braxton didn’t see as many carries against Michigan (the box score attempts is deceiving with four sacks) largely because Hyde was so successful both inside and outside the tackles.

  Atts Yards YPC RBSR EX PLays YPC-Ex Plays
Hyde 26(185) 146(970) 5.6 62%(60%) 15, 17 4.7
Miller 20(221) 108(1341) 5.4 46%(54%) 42 3.5
Dunn -(25) (133) -      
Boren -(11) (33) -      
R. Smith 1(32) 4(215) 4.0 100%(75%)   4.0
C. Brown 1(10) 21(96) 21.0 100%(90%) 21
Hall -(40) (218) -      
Guiton - (2) (16) -      

Hyde ran with power through first contact, recording a very impressive 5.6 yards per carry and 4.7 yards per carry after removing his two explosive plays. We’ve known that Hyde was effective on inside zone, but I was particularly impressed that Hyde ran with surprising speed and shiftiness on inverted veer, which took Hyde outside the tackles.

Braxton struggled running early with Michigan’s overload blitzes and spies, failing to have a successful carry until his sixth rushing attempt. However, you can only contain Braxton for so long, as he burst for 42 yards in the second half.

Wide Receivers. Wide receivers coach Zach Smith must have done something special this week, as the Buckeye receivers only had a single dropped ball on the day (on a difficult pass by Braxton, nonetheless).

  Yards Catch Rate
Spencer 9 (136) 1/1 (12/20)
D. Smith 63 (618) 2/3 (30/53)
Stoneburner 9 (269) 1/1(16/25)
C. Brown 95 (669) 8/8(60/78)
Boren (42) (5/7)
Heuerman (94) (9/13)
Hyde 8 (51) 1/1(7/9)
Reed (13) (1/1)
Vannett (122) (10/14)
Hall (31) (3/3)
M. Thomas 5 (22) 1/1(2/2)
C. Fields (55) (4/6)
R. Smith  (55) (2/2)

In particular I have to give a shoutout to Corey Brown for turning in a perfect 8/8 game and a career-high 95 yards. Brown was easily the team’s most consistent receiver throughout the year with a 60/78 catch rate. He led the team with 669 yards after some had written him off for having the dropsies in his early career.

Next year will be about identifying the third and fourth receivers (the “playmaker” position in particular), as the top two of Brown and Devin Smith are solid, and Heuerman and Vannett are effective tight ends.

Defense. The second half of the game saw almost every member of the Silver Bullets record a big play, showcasing the young talent that will be back next year for a potential title run.

  Tackles TFL Sack FF FR PBU INT
Boren 9 2.0 1.0   1    
Roby 8            
Shazier 5 2.5 1.0        
Barnett 5            
Bryant 4     1   2  
Hankins 3            
Howard 2       1    
Bennett 2 1.0 1.0 1     1
Sabino 2 .5          
Washington 1 1.0 1.0 1      
Williams 1       1    

Boren was maybe the player of the game on defense, recording a team-high nine tackles, two of which were for loss, one sack (Boren could have run over an elephant with that hit), and one fumble recovery.

Young lineman Adolphus Washington was credited with a sack, tackle for loss, and forced fumble, while Spence and Schutt were constantly gang tackling Denard, Rawls, and Vincent Smith in the backfield. Spence was in with Shazier to stop Denard’s fourth-down conversion attempt in the third quarter.

The defensive line and linebackers stepped up in the second half as Michigan attempted to run Denard on second- and third-and-short (speaking of which, why did Al Borges completely move away from using Denard and Gardner together? Why didn’t Denard attempt even a single pass to constrain the defense that knew he would run?).

Also encouraging, Christian Bryant had two really excellent pass breakups in a row in the fourth quarter. Bryant, Roby, Barnett, and Doran Grant will (likely) all be back next year in what figures to be a solid secondary.

I’m extremely encouraged for next year, as even though the defense loses an incredible, selfless player in Zach Boren, the heart of the team in John Simon, an actually respectable corner in Travis Howard, and very solid multi-year starters in Goebel, Sabino, and Nathan Williams, there is a lot of playmaking ability coming back next year.


Comments Show All Comments

Baroclinicity's picture

I, admittedly, was one of those 8-4/9-3 guys at the beginning of the season poll.  Chad, can we find that poll and display it for comparison?
I'm also encouraged by what I hope will be a smooth transition on the D-line despite losing some key guys.  Washington, Schutt, and Spence look like they're ready to go for the most part.

When you're holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

Excellent post. Love all the Stats. 

NitroBuck's picture

Defineitely a great post.  I'm new here...tired of the anti-Buckeye hatred on CBS, so this is refreshing.  I hedged on my preseason prediction, saying I would be very surprised if the Bucks lose more than 2 games, but would not be surprised if they run the table.

Ferio.  Tego.

Hovenaut's picture

Great breakdown, I'm sure yesterday will remain excellent reference material heading into 2013.

For a half it felt like 2006, and then it got 1974 all of a sudden.

Per usual, the game was won in the trenches. Mr. Hyde with the ball and the front seven shutting down sun and blue when they had the rock.

Couldn't ask for a team finishing undefeated with things looking to only get better. What a difference a year makes.

Go Bucks.

nvbuckeye's picture

As one of the few "homers" who dreamed big last August I predicted 12 - 0 this year.
It is now 10:43 am on the west coast and the skunkweasels still suck!!! 

cinserious's picture

I am very excited about '13 and a possible championship run. The secondary will stay mostly intact, the linebackers shoud continue to improve, and we have plenty of talent on the d-line. Losing Hankins will suck though if he decides to go pro. As for the rest of the eligible underclassmen, I know they will be hungrier than ever to go all the way next year and Urban will piss them off and motivate them to get the most out of every individual. Next year's mantra will be 'we got jobbed' and 'theres unfinished business' and 'lets do it for the '12 seniors'. Urban and his coaching staff will have them all playing at an even higher level than this year. I can't wait!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

MediBuck's picture

Losing Hankins will definitely thin us out inside, but the ridiculous speed and athleticism we have coming from our young edge rushers will have B1G quarterbacks trembling in their boots each week!

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Hank is a good defensive lineman, but I wouldn't call him pro material yet. He needs a little better speed and improving his pass rush. His senior year will make him better and a high-round NFL draft pick.

cajunbuckeye's picture

He's being projected as a top ten pick in the first round

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

thorvath22's picture

No Boren, no Sabino, no Klein.

im a little concerned abiut the linebackers...unfortunately Shazier cant play all 3 spots.

45buckshot's picture

+1 I did actually vote 12-0, and I think they can do 14-0 next yr. but this is my biggest concern too (of blocked punts, Braxton's decreased production, tackling, and losing most, if not all, of our starting DL).
Boren, along with a healthy Williams and some changes in scheme, turned around this defense--without which we would not have been 12-0. Who replaces him? Shazier also seems to function with someone solid in the middle, and Grant evidently is not it. (maybe try him strong side?)
Somehow in the spring we have to find a true MLB. If we can do that, I think UM3 will fix the rest...

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

Menexenus's picture

   <<<<<  This!  Suck it, Hoke!  Go home and cry, and next year we'll do it again at your place!

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Dougger's picture

excellent. i seriously thought they would go 12-0!! positive thinking guys! 
buckshot, i think those guys next in d-line are ready. diesel, spence, and schutt have played well when they've needed to.
another chance for curtis grant to step up next year.. in your educated opinions, if we land a couple of good lb or two (mitchell) how often do we see a true frosh lb do well? I can't think of any OSU ones that immediately come to mind.
let's go bucks.

I like football

Dougger's picture

for some reason i can't upvote you, but yes good call!!

I like football

ziplock007's picture

Why OSU should'n't be 12-0
Big issues during 2011

  1. A Defense that couldn't tackle
  2. Returning an O-Line that couldn't block, didn't know the snap count, and held a lot
  3. No WR depth
  4. An offense bereft of life, coherency, or competency
  5. Special Teams units giving up big gains

Wow, I guess coaching matters afterall.  If you don't believe me, how about one more year of the Fickell-Bollman Head Coach-Offensive Coordinator combo?
9 Months off to recruit... then opening day. Woot!!!

buckeyedude's picture

Anybody know the stats on false starts- 2011 compared to 2012?



osubuckeye4life's picture

I believe I guessed 9-3 or 10-2 before.
My thoughts was MSU, Neb/wisky, and an ooc that they shouldn't lose against.
Chad, I've enjoyed your stats this season. Keep up the good work!

buckeyemondo's picture

devin smith = poor man's randy moss:  decent vertical threat, but doesn't give max effort unless his number is called & is not a great route runner.
really wish we were able to land the kid who went to maryland.

buckeyedude's picture

Much has been made about the move of Boren to FB to LB. And he did terrific with it. But how about some love for Reid Fragel, also? He changed positions, and I'm not sure the O-line would have been as successful without him. There was much debate here on whether he should start or that true freshman, Taylor Decker.
I think know that Urban Meyer did the right thing there, moving Reid to RT.



gumtape's picture

There will be healthy competition for the open mike and Sam spots. I think Curtis grant and josh Perry will get the first look but one of the currente true freshman like david Perkins or Jamal Marcus could also step up. Remember how long it took Sabino to turn into a decent player. I hope the coaches figure out how to light a fire under the linebacker asses next year like what warriner did with he o line this year.

High and tight boo boo

pjtobin's picture

Jamal markus is a beast. I'm stoked about him lighting up some rb for loss. I was a 10-2 guy. Now I'm a " all urban does is win" type of guy. Love your write up as always. 9months? Oh crap that's a long time. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

nickma71's picture

You could see the failures coming on 3rd down when it was an passing down, and designed runs by Miller were called up, and everybody on the Michigan defense knew it was coming.

input4u's picture

I was on here before THE GAME last week and touted our Red Zone Offense was one of the best I can remember.  Scoring many TD's.  I said if we get a short field we would do really well. 
So we kicked 4 FG when we only kicked 6 all year....LOL  but the "D" did everything it could in 2nd half with field position to make this a win that should have been by at least 2 TD's.....  UGHHHH
I will take any win no matter how ugly, especially against TSUN.  But to compete with top tier SEC teams these things will have to come together and make teams pay...