Beyond the Hashes: Buffalo

By Chad Peltier on September 1, 2013 at 11:15a
The defense probably performed better than expected.

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. 

Curtis Grant is an intimifating man. Grant went all out - even without a helmet - for the defense

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:

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
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. 

  Tackles Sack TFL INT PBU
Shazier 7   1   1
Grant 7   .5    
Bryant 7        
Spence 6 1 2    
Powell 5        
D. Grant 5       2
Brown 4        
Reeves 3       3
Tanner 3     1  
Bennett 2   .5    
Washington 2   .5    
Hale 2   .5    

Some thoughts on the defense: 

  1. 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). 
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
  4. It was great to see the freshmen, including Vonn Bell, Trey Johnson, Cam Burrows, and Joey Bosa make contributions. 

PAce Watch

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. 


Comments Show All Comments

Kevbo714's picture

11W articles make me feel like a more intelligent fan...

Tom Crean listens to Nickelback...

AJW_16's picture

::Power Thirst voice:: MATH - AGGHHHH - YOU'LL BE GOOD AT IT!

"Sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you." 

mtrotb's picture

Reeves is not a frosh on your point #4.  Plus he got burned so many times yesterday and had a stupid personal foul penalty.  It was one of the worst performances I have ever seen by a cb here at OSU.  Luckily Roby is back next week.


gumtape's picture

Reeves did okay for his first start. Remember last year when doran grant started one game and was just okay. The experience will serve him well in the future.

High and tight boo boo

Chad Peltier's picture

I think it's pretty understandable that Reeves was picked on - he was in his first start, playing with a lot of emotion and trying to do a little too much. This resulted in missed tackles and bad reads. He'll be great with more experience. 

CC's picture

I'm rooting for Curtis Grant but I couldn't help feel bad for Spence not getting his 2nd sack on the play where Grant's helmet came off.  It was a frustrating play where Grant was agressive and it's hard to stop that.
A step in the right direction for Grant even with the blown coverage on the TD pass.

wojodta's picture

That penalty is so stupid. What's Grant supposed to do? Just stand there and watch. The play ended like a second after his helmet came off so I have no idea why they called a penalty there.

Will in Arizona's picture

Yes, that's what you are supposed to do.  His helmet came off and he went for a tackle - there was clearly an opportunity for him not to do so.  The rule is for his safety and I'm sure it is difficult to follow in the heat of the moment, but if you watch enough, you will see more players following it than not.

Unky Buck's picture

To me, it's not so much the rule in and of itself, but the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that nets 15 yards and an automatic first down. How was Grant acting in an unsportsmanlike way? We definitely want the players to be safe, but to penalize them that severely for reacting naturally to a play on the field seems a bit egregious and overreacting.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

Normal Buck's picture

They had to call the penalty, but the thing that frustrates me is you could argue a guy is more likely to get hurt if he just stops cold in the middle of 21 other guys going full speed.

andyb's picture

That's a great point...what if he just stops like he's supposed to and gets cracked in the skull because he was just standing there? Then someone could seriously get injured. I really think there should be one grace allowance...if the player can then not keep his helmet on for a second time the penalty should be assessed. 

Will in Arizona's picture

It's also an unsportsmanlike penalty to crack the guy.  But if he doesn't stop playing, why shouldn't you crack him?  It has to go both ways.

gravey's picture

The sky is falling!  The sky is falling!   I can only recall a few opening games in the last 10 years when the comments section wasn't a pit of misery.  Everyone's expectations are absurdly high every matter the youth, injuries, suspensions, jitters, reality.
Thank you for the stats to help keep my fellow Buckeyes off the ledge.  

Buckeyeneer's picture

I don't know what you are talking about, Gravey. I had Bauserman winning the Heisman after the season opener, 2 years ago.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

FROMTHE18's picture

I think Washington's stat line was a little disappointing. Not suggesting he played poorly, just expected better numbers there.

OSBuckeye222's picture

I'm not sure why so many are disappointed by the defensive lines stats. Licata threw a lot of quick passes and never really gave our D-line a chance to rush him.... I too however was expecting better numbers!
I was more disappointed with the right tackle, Taylor Decker. I know he's only a sophomore and was making what I beleive to be his first career start, but it seemed like every time Miller was on the ground it was because Decker couldn't hold his block. I hope he's able to improve he pass blocking over the next few weeks!

dan_isaacs's picture

In his defense, it was his first start, and he had one of the top OLBs in the country to block.  But yea, he looked bad.

Dan Isaacs

dan_isaacs's picture

In his defense, it was his first start, and he had one of the top OLBs in the country to block.  But yea, he looked bad.

Dan Isaacs

cplunk's picture

Also in his defense, he was getting beat by a probable top ten NFL draft pick who is about to become the all-time NCAA leader in tackles-for-loss.
Tough situation for anybody, let alone a first time starter.

boojtastic's picture

Boy, this is a change in tone from the post-game commentariat's perception of a defense that is lost at sea.
(I agree with Chad, for the record)

Dips's picture

Did anyone else feel like Armani played terrible?  Just my opinion, wanted to know what everyone else thought.  Seemed like they were picking on him all game.

Sabi's picture

Will someone tell me if Reeves did the right thing in tackling the Buffalo guy at the end zone and eventually scored a touchdown, shouldn't Reeves instead be looking for the ball and try to intercept or hit him and not giving the guy a tackling hug?

Baby Jesus is a Buckeye fan!!

THEBEAROSU's picture

I was not impressed. Defense looked like a clown show.  If not for the two long runs by Hall he was a complete bust.  The offense needed the raw power running of Carlos Hyde in the middle. I expected big yardage against Buffalo. I watched Cal last night. They will pick our defense apart.


andyb's picture

"If not for the two long runs by Hall he was a complete bust."
If chicks had dicks, Grandma would be Grandpa!!!

Unky Buck's picture

Hahaha, nice!
It's the classic move of those trying to dumb down the significance someone has...take away the great things that one does to make everything else seem smaller in comparison.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

DefendYoungstown's picture

Cal will NOT pick us apart, as long as we don't do that soft zone crap.  We need to apply pressure early and often on young Goff and we will rattle him.  Cal also lacks a D that can stop the run, we may run for 300+ yards on them.

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

D-Day0043's picture

Conversely, our offense must have an answer for the blitz. When Buffalo started blitzing, we had no counter and the offense bogged down. I think I saw one quick slant and it was incomplete and the one screen they tried to run resulted in a pick 6. The only thing that had some success against it was the QB rollout, and Braxton ran into pressure a couple of times.
There is no reason we shouldn't beat Cal by 28 if we get these things fixed. Everyone is panicking about the defense, but with virtually 2/3 of the defense being first time starters, they did pretty well. They have got to quit playing soft coverage though.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

DefendYoungstown's picture

Agreed, we're also not going to be playing against an All American LB like we did against UB. Hopefully the O-Line begins to gel by game three and we open up the playbook more so than yesterday.  I want to see this double secret DIAMOND formation. 

What we can't do in the air we'll do on the ground.

FROMTHE18's picture

See, we all know this (put pressure on Goff), but will Fickell? Thats what it boils down to. I haven't once been impressed with our defensive strategy with him as HC or DC. There hasn't been a game where I've thought, "we out coached them defensively". Have to get by SDSU first, but if we employ soft coverage against cal, itll be a long day. I think we would win still but it wouldnt be pretty. At which point, Im ordering a pizza to Fickell's house as he could use the pep talk.

FROMTHE18's picture

Also, is the picture in the main picture of this story photoshopped? I swear our DBs dont play within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

Michael Citro's picture

Not photoshopped. Look at the down marker and distance to make.

Scott K's picture

Damn, beat me to it!

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

FROMTHE18's picture

should have put it in italics, i was  just being sarcastic

Bradyhokescholesterol's picture

First game since November, no all-American CB, no starting tailback. Not a poor performance. The only thing that needs to change is maybe hitting up the whole team with iv drips during the Skull Session.

faux_maestro's picture

Also missing our captain safety, our 2nd (or3rd) string RB, and our starting center was limited to 17 plays. Not a great performance but not bad either. Plenty of stuff to work on, and we will be getting many of those players back next week. 
Also, Lou Tepper is UB's DC/LB coach. Anyone who lived through the late 80's/early 90's should remember that name from our futility against Illinois at that time. Dude coached Dana Howard, Kevin Hardy and Simeon Rice.

Your mom told me she wants a Dicken Cidar.

will0327's picture

Herman & Urban really keep the offensive play calling under wraps they didnt really call that much different plays wouldnt be surprised if they told Braxton not to take off as much in this first game.


will0327's picture

And chill on the defense they had 9 new starters today and really 10 because Ryan went out with cramps for a while ...give them some time


BKLYN_Buckeye's picture

More concerned re: the soft coverage. But with Roby & Barnett out, maybe that was by design. If we continue to give that much cushion, the Cal game will be very painful to watch. I thought Bosa was great and Trey Johnson looked solid. Not worried about our DE's- it seemed like Buffalo made a game plan to get rid of the ball as quickly as possible. I was hoping we would see Mitchell & Apple out there. 

cplunk's picture

If we give that much cushion to Cal's style of offense, we will lose that game. It would be very embarrassing to be one of Cal's three or four wins this year. That soft cushion is literally the only way possible to lose to Cal.
I'm comfortable that the coaches know that

Will in Arizona's picture

Definitely hard to get pressure on quick outs and slants, which was the majority of Buffalo's passes.

mb5599's picture

That's why we need to play more press coverage. that will give our pass rush a chance of getting to the QB.

Big B

D-Day0043's picture

Anyone know the scoop on Corey Linsley? I read something that Meyer said he was only going to play 16 or 17 snaps. If so why?

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Scott K's picture

 From Doug Lesmerises: Starting center Corey Linsley, coming back from foot surgery, played less than 20 snaps, as planned, after missing chunks of preseason camp, 

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

D-Day0043's picture

the line looked amazing when he was in there. People don't realize the importance of the center position. They are the QB of the O-Line. They weren't sliding protection properly after he went down. Herman should have compensated for this in his play calling though.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Bamabucknut's picture

My wife asked me why I wasn't screaming and yelling throughout the game(as I usually do).
Ever have left overs for dinner(and they weren't very good the FIRST time around ?) That's what I felt watching the Buckeyes yesterday.

Buckeye_in_SEC_country's picture

I wasn't overwhelmed or underwhelmed by OSU yesterday.  It was just an average game for me.  I'd like to see our offense be a little more explosive and really hammer teams when they're behind.  Our defense wasn't impressive to me either.  I was expecting Spence and Washington to dominate.  I believe the short quick passes took them out of the game, but I still expected more.  Unlike most posts I've read on 11W, I thought Curtis Grant looked lost.  He seemed out of place to me and if we are going to see freshman mistakes from a LB, I'd rather see them made by a freshman (Mike Mitchell).  I think over the first 3-4 games our young guys will grow up some and become accustomed to the speed of the game.  Hopefully by B1G play our defense will be ready to overwhelm opposing offenses. 

lsjSnail's picture

Thanks for the stats!!

Chad Peltier's picture

You're welcome! And I'll have some of the first fruits from the charting project data later in the week. 

zbd's picture

Keep reminding myself this was against Buffalo......didn't know they even had a football team until yesterday.  However, was impressed with Kenny G, Jordan Hall and the hint of how good Dontre Wilson, Joey Bosa, and the other freshmen will be.  

bigbill992001's picture

As pointed out over at CBSSPORTS, the best player on the field wasnt wearing red.    After that pick-6, Miller was average to death.    Something like only 3 completions after that.

ScarletGray43157's picture

No one was wearing.  One team had scarlet, but no one had red.  

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

Curtis Grant didn't stand out to me in terms of being all over during the game, but his numbers tell a different story. I would have never guessed he was our co-leading tackler.

BeijingBucks's picture

I am not sure why no one pays more attention to that 1st quarter when our team was focused, Linsley was in and Urbz wasn't trying new things.
That team was a beast.  I'm almost glad they didn't waste 4 quarters of that kind of play they would just be complacent in the next couple games when it is important.
Emotion is the hardest thing to train.  Adversity is probably the biggest thing Freshmen have never faced in practice.  
This is gonna be a real fun year.

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton