If you were like me, then your "meh" meter would slowly rise throughout the day, followed by a "no, but it's the first game," and "actually that's a very strong performance from Shazier/either Grant/Hall/etc."
That's why it's important to look deeper in to the statistics – even though my (and maybe your) gut reaction may have been a confusing mix of underwhelmed and impressed, the raw numbers might help with a fuller understanding of the team's performance.
Any Way You Look At It
In its 32:04 minutes holding on to the football, the Buckeye offense went from looking world class to extremely mediocre throughout the course of the game, but the data suggests that yesterday was actually an improvement on last year (in parentheses below).
Especially based on the latter two efficiency metrics, the Buckeyes turned in a very solid offensive performance that looked worse than it actually was due to the fumble, interception, and turnover on downs from the second quarter. These drive killers pushed down the yards per point number, even though the yards per play and points per play were solid.
After a lousy second quarter performance, we hardly saw the offense in the second half, as the Buckeyes had over twice as many possessions in the first half (9 compared to 4).
|Yards per Point||Yards per Play||Points per Play|
|Off vs. Buffalo||11.5 (11.4)||6.76 (6.08)||.588 (.516)|
The defense was similarly efficient, especially considering that seven of the Bulls' 20 points came off of Khalil Mack's pick-6 (the whole game I yelled at the T.V. for him to just graduate and go to the NFL already). Compared with the Buckeyes' efficiency ratings, the Bulls' offense took more plays to get points, had less points for each play, and had fewer yards on each play than the Buckeyes.
Furthermore, the Buckeye defense performed better than they did on average a year ago. While last year's defensive statistics dropped significantly after poor showing against Nebraska and Indiana, this is an encouraging start.
|Yards per Point||Yards per Play||Points per Play|
|Def vs. Buffalo||19.8 (15.8)||3.85 (5.08)||.194 (.312)|
A Successful Re-Debut
The new and improved and returned-to-running-back Jordan Hall had a career day, pacing the offense with an efficient and explosive performance. Meyer raved all about Hall's running recently, saying, "Jordan Hall is the best running back on our team right now. And so he’ll have to lose that spot. I’m talking next week, the week after, whatever. He’s a tailback at Ohio State. He’s earned that right."
Hall proved him right with two explosive plays for 49 and 37 yards, as well as an especially efficient first half performance.
On Thursday I said that we should expect Hall's Running Back Success Rate (RBSR) to be approximately 67%, but just under half (49%) of Hall's carries ended up being efficient.
On the boom/bust to steady efficiency scale of running back performance, Hall actually tended towards the former, which I didn't expect.
I decided to break his performance down by possession, with Hall's total number of carries for that drive in parentheses. This pretty clearly demonstrates Hall's unexpected boom-or-bust explosiveness, but it will be interesting to see how Hall and Rod Smith share the load next week:
|RBSR||67% (3)||100% (4)||0% (2)||0% (1)||100% (1)||0% (1)||0% (1)||38% (8)|
Hand it to the Defense
With just 13 points scored against them, I came away impressed with the defense's overall performance. Especially with Roby suspended, Barnett injured, and both Shazier and Perry limited for parts of the game, the unit felt cohesive against the admittedly poor Buffalo offense.
Some thoughts on the defense:
Ohio State 40, Buffalo 20
- Doran Grant looked great and it seemed like Reeves finished with more pass breakups maybe because he seemed to be targeted more often than Doran (the charting data should help us here).
- Did it seem like Noah Spence had a quietly great day? With six tackles, a sack, and two TFLs, that's an excellent start for the sophomore defensive end. Otherwise I felt a little underwhelmed with the pass rush and sack totals, especially after predicting 3-5 on the day. That might have been optimistic considering the defense's strategy.
- How about Curtis Grant? It's always great to see two linebackers lead the way in tackles because it means that the defense is playing cohesively and the secondary isn't too involved in run support. Grant seemed to be playing much more fluidly than we've seen him in the past.
- It was great to see the freshmen, including Vonn Bell, Trey Johnson, Cam Burrows, and Joey Bosa make contributions.
The Buckeyes held on to the ball for 32:04 and ran 68 plays, good for an average of 28.3 seconds per play. Last season the Buckeyes averaged 25.8 seconds per play.
It was clear that Meyer and Herman intentionally varied the pace throughout the game, especially extending the Buckeyes' second drive of the third quarter in to a seven minute clock eater. On average each drive lasted about two and a half minutes, but they showed the ability to eat clock when it was necessary.