Beyond the Hashes: San Diego State

By Chad Peltier on September 8, 2013 at 12:30p
Guiton didn't miss a beat

So that feels a little more satisfying, doesn't it? San Diego State was supposed to be a fairly formidable early season out of conference matchup, but the turnover prone offense kept this one at cupcake levels for the hungry Buckeyes. 

Last week the statistics assuaged many fans who were ready to write the season off after an actually solid first performance. This week's numbers instead likely just reinforce what you saw with your eyes: that the Buckeyes were hungry for perfection and the offense was in capable hands without Braxton.  

Differences in Efficiency

We all knew Kenny G was a smooth operator in limited spurts, but who knew that he could keep the offense humming through four quarters? The Guiton-directed offense was more efficient than last week's performance according to two efficiency metrics, including yards per point and points per play. 

Comparing our three metrics for efficiency, we see that the offense put up less prolific yardage totals, but was less prone to negative yardage plays and turnovers. The Buckeyes' yards per point totals improved over last week's 11.5, as did points per play at .588. 

These two metrics are highly influenced by both red zone efficiency, touchdown to field goal ratio, and turnovers, so it's easy to see why Guiton's relatively mistake-free day, combined with a perfect 3/3 red zone touchdown percentage, and fewer turnovers kept the offense ticking. 

  Yards/Play Yards/Point Points/Play
Offense vs. SDSU 6.4 (6.08) 10.6 (11.4) .6 (.516)

The defense was in many ways the mirror image, with the Silver Bullets having a slightly less efficient day according to yards per play, but a much better game when looking at yards per point and points per play. 

  Yards/Play Yards/Point Points/Play
Defense vs. SDSU 4.12 (5.08) 40 (15.8) .103 (.312) 

In fact, the defense's yards per point was over double its number against Buffalo (19.8), indicating that the defense did a great job limiting scoring considering the yards that the Aztec offense was able to put up. Again, the Aztec's four turnovers didn't help here (if only had SDSU kept Dingwell in longer!). 

A Pair and Three Spares

Back when Urban Meyer was first hired, the Florida blog Bourbon Meyer wrote Buckeye fans a primer on Urban's style of coaching. One of their pieces of wisdom was this about running backs:

Urbs won a lot of games with Florida using the running back as a tool, but either never used the tailback as a feature in the offense or never recruited a 20+ carry per game guy.

Urban seemed to prove us wrong last season by running Hyde early and often, almost becoming Urban's first 1,000 yard rusher. However, this week it seemed like Urban was more reluctant to consider Hall or any other back as the "feature back," distributing carries more evenly among the committee.

One week certainly doesn't make a trend – especially after Hall's 21 carries and 159 yards last week – but we'll have to keep a close eye on how Meyer utilizes running backs and whether Bourbon Meyer's warning holds up in coming weeks.

  Hall Elliot Wilson Smith Ball
RBSR 62% 67% 80% 67% 0%
It was not a good day to be an SDSU quarterbackThe defensive line had a great performance

Was the platoon style the way to go against SDSU? Probably, simply because it was a great opportunity to get younger guys some experience in an actual game, but also because all of the backs performed well according to the running back success rate (RBSR) metric.

Wilson hasn't broken off an 80 yard sprinting touchdown yet, but it's clear that he has the ability that everyone raved about during camp. Similarly, we finally got a chance to really see Elliot in action, and he made the most of his six carries.


Despite giving up 216 pass yards, I was impressed with the defense as a whole, which was noticeably better with Barnett and Roby back and a dominating defensive line.

  Tackles Sacks TFL FF INT PBU
Barnett 7          
C. Grant 6          
Perry  6         1
Shazier 5   1      
Reeves 5       1 2
D. GRant 4       1 1
Roby 4         1
Bennett 3 .5 1.5 1    
Spence 3 .5 .5      
Miller  2 1 1      
Marcus 2 1 1 1    

It's always good to see your linebacker core perform well, and especially Curtis Grant, who currently leads the team in tackles.

The defensive line rotated liberally (partly due to Adolphus Washington's first quarter groin injury) and was rewarded for it, getting a lot of production from guys like Steve Miller and Jamal Marcus. Noah Spence continues to make a name for himself as a pass rusher, leading the team with 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFLs, as well as the most tackles for defensive linemen. I'm sure Washington will have something to say about this when he returns. 


  • It's never good to have more than two three-and-outs in a game, as more than two is highly correlated with losing. The Buckeye offense had two – one at the beginning and one at the end of the game. 
  • Similarly, four of the offense's twelve drives ended with less than ten total yards, which is much higher number than Herman would prefer. Two of those failed drives were in the fourth quarter. 
  • Bosa, Burrows, Trey Johnson, and Vonn Bell all made an impact as freshmen against SDSU.
  • For having "the best tight end tandem in college football," I'd really like to see the pair get more passes thrown their way. Heuerman in particular looks dangerous in the intermediate passing game. 
  • Both Guiton (92.9) and Braxton (96.2 for all of two plays) finished with over a 90 according to ESPN's Quarterback Rating (QBR). How many teams have backup quarterbacks that can manage a 92.9 QBR? 
  • The Buckeyes held on to the ball for 32:08 (compared to last week's 32:04), averaging 27.5 seconds per play (28.3 against Buffalo). 

Comments Show All Comments

BuckeyeinExile's picture

I'll preface this with saying my coaching experience doesn't go farther then xbox, however I guess before we get too worried about Urban/Herman using all the weapons we need to remember what Urb did with time to prepare against us in the Desert.
I don't think we will see some plays until Wisconsin/Northwestern and even then I wouldn't be shocked if he saved a few plays especially for TSUN in the way that Woody focused a bit of every practice against them. By the end of the season this offense is going to be a disgusting cornucopia (if I spelled that right) of yards and points.
On another note, darn glad to see C Grant doing well and leading the team in tackles no less, I don't think that would have been the case if Shazier had played the whole game against Buffalo, but still marked improvement. Great to see Reeves bounce back and get a pick last week also. I think he'll still have a bright future. And speaking of bright futures Joey Bosa is a manchild! There are still some depth issues on D but so far things are headed in the right direction.

dan_isaacs's picture

Bosa is gonna be a beast.  Jamal Marcus was unblockable, though it was in garbage time.  Looked a lot like Thaddius Gibson.  :)

Dan Isaacs

Chief B1G Dump's picture

I know schedules are made (mostly) far in advance. Cal was supposed to be good, Vandy backed out...but man this schedule is boring. Bring on the B1G already.
Anyhow, this is pretty much on par with what youd expect. get a nice lead...then keep it vanilla and not tip your hand for the bigger games. With that being said, I dont think stats even matter at point. We're basically playing 4 preseason games and/or glorified scrimmages.
Good on for Kenny G and also for working in players now. If the frosh keep on their current trajectory, we are going to have some lethal weapons for years to come. Theyre going to need their sea legs as the chase grinds on. I started peeking at the UGA/SCar game in the 3rd qtr of our game. Glad we have at least 1 big boy OOC scheduled in the foreseeable future. Those Texas and USC games were so sweet. We just ended up with a snoozer slate of OOC opponents this year.
Until we face a decent opponent, I have a hard time seeing a true barometer for this team.

Geraffi's picture

I think Urban's/Herman's goal is to get as many players live reps as possible before the B1G season gets under way. The running back rotation will settle in, especially one Hyde returns. Then I expect to see these younger players involved in so creative formations and play calls. They'll be experienced because of their early play in the OOC part of the schedule. 

holtzy's picture

Wait a minute...Washington got injured?  How did I miss this?  Details please...

gravey's picture

Groin.  Early in the game. Said to be not a big deal, but that remains to be seen.  He was on the sidelines with no pads much of the game.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Chad.  Nice to see how well Curtis Grant is coming along!  The D is coming together.  Big test going out west coming up.  I think it will be a great challenge for them and they will do great. 
Go Bucks!

pjtobin's picture

I was impressed with all the young talent that kept getting playing time. I thought they all played well. Reeves had a few bad plays, or misreads, or whatever. But his int made up for it. He is only going to get better. 

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

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

The running back by committee is going to intrigue me this whole season. I wonder if eventually we could have six running backs get carries per game.