Ohio State Football Notebook: West Coast Trips Not What They Once Were

By Kyle Rowland on September 10, 2013 at 5:00p
California's not so golden.

It used to be going west was a monumental trip for Midwestern boys. The luster has been lost since the inception of the Bowl Championship Series. All of a sudden, the Rose Bowl didn’t become the end of season goal for Big Ten teams. The national title game eclipsed the Granddaddy of Them All.

Ohio State has played in the Rose Bowl Game exactly twice since the 1985 season. That number would be much higher without the BCS. The Buckeyes have played in the BCS National Championship Game three times and made multiple trips to San Diego, Phoenix, New Orleans and the state of Texas during that time period.

“My only experience with [going west] is when I was at Notre Dame going out to USC,” Meyer said. “You would think that would be the biggest thing in the world and I used to sometimes wonder. I would imagine it is. I don’t know that.”

It’s a personal opinion for many. Wide receiver Philly Brown left no doubt about his feelings on the trip. Brown said he’d never been to California. Asked if he was excited about seeing some of the world famous destinations in the Bay Area – Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Alcatraz, etc. – Brown didn’t give off the slightest bit of interest.

The team arrives in California on Friday – they’ll be headquartered in Oakland. Consider the challenge of staying focused while stationed in an exotic locale easy for Brown.

“I don’t think there’s anything there anyway,” he said. “California is not a special state.”

Running In Place

When you think of a Sonny Dykes-coached offense, passing and getting plays off quicker than a basketball team come to mind. But the run game is also an important staple.

Through the first two weeks of the season, true freshman quarterback Jared Goff leads the nation in passing yards. It has Cal fans excited after a couple down years. Still, Dykes is looking for a more balanced approach. The Bears averaged 2.6 yards per carry against Northwestern and only 3 yards against FCS foe Portland State.

With Ohio State traveling to Berkeley this weekend, Cal will need more than a pass-happy offense to derail the Buckeyes’ defense. Ohio State ranks 18th nationally in total defense, allowing 269 yards per game and ninth in rush defense, yielding 68.5 yards per game. Goff has thrown for nearly 1,000 yards in two games, while the Silver Bullets are giving up just over 200 passing yards.

Dykes called the Bears’ rushing offense a “concern” and said inconsistent line play has been the issue.

“We’ve got to raise our level of play,” he said.

The Silver Bullets were on target.Life was miserable for both San Diego State QBs on Saturday.

Necessary Roughness

The defense’s play during the second half of last season left many excited for the possibilities ahead in 2013. Through two games, one can argue that the defense has been the better unit when compared to the offense.

Coming off a complete 60-minute domination of San Diego State, Meyer said the defense was forming into "the kind of defense that I dream of seeing.” It starts in the trenches, where the Buckeyes have been able to add depth and rotate fresh players in. It’s given them the upper hand against subpar competition so far. Against Cal, the depth will become an asset due to the Bears ability to run around 100 plays per game.

“Our defensive line is playing at a very high level right now,” Meyer said. “I don’t want to jinx them. They are not perfect at all. As a matter of fact, they are very poor in some things they do. But as far as effort, energy, enthusiasm, esprit de corps, that whole unit is playing [great].

“I have to give credit to their coach, Mike Vrabel. They play like Mike coaches and I imagine the way Mike played here. It's just a high energy, intense, very close knit group. They are buying what he’s selling. That’s very much a positive right now.”

Starters Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, Michael Bennett and Joel Hale have receive just credit. Behind them, though, has been a plethora of production. True freshman Joey Bosa and Michael Hill have adapted well to the college game, and junior Steve Miller replaced Washington on Saturday after he suffered a groin injury. All Miller did was come up with a sack.

Almost exactly one year ago, the Silver Bullets allowed 512 total yards and 28 points to Cal. Running back Brendan Bigelow finished with 160 yards and two touchdowns on four carries.

“It was very, very poor tackling and very poor leverage on the football,” Meyer said.

It’s caused some angst in the lead up to this season’s game. But Meyer and Co. noted the Bears’ offense is structured completely different than last year.

“Different offense, different personnel and a little bit different scheme,” co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said. “I think this offense is totally different than last year’s offense. I think Coach Dykes is more of the fast paced, get the ball out quick type offense, so we have to have a little bit different plan than last year’s plan. I don’t think we even looked at last year’s tape.”

Pole Dancing

Experienced head coaches pay little attention to the polls. Two weeks into the season, Ohio State has fallen one spot in the Coaches Poll, from No. 2 in the preseason to No. 3, and one spot each week in the AP Poll, from second to fourth. With potentially 11 games left before the bowl, Meyer is on the side of unconcerned.

“It doesn’t impact us, and I can’t explain it,” Meyer said. “So I think at the end of the day, everything’s going to work out. The best teams will be up there.”

Oregon and Clemson moved past the Buckeyes in the AP, while the Ducks also jumped to No. 2 in the Coaches Poll, which is part of the BCS formula. Oregon has racked up impressive offensive numbers in its first two games, and Clemson defeated then-No. 5 Georgia. 

September isn’t the time to fret, though.

“No, we’re not worried about polls,” Brown said. “We know if we keep winning, they can only drop us so far. How far down can you drop an undefeated team?”

It’s possible an answer could come in December if the Buckeyes, Ducks and Tigers continue piling up victories. In the final year of the BCS, it’d only be appropriate to end with controversy.


Comments Show All Comments

Haybucks's picture

Just keep winning and winning with great defense to make the Bears one-dimensional!  D-line can stop their run and a fresh backfield leaning on the pass.  Except for the long flight our guys should get comfortable handling an inferior team. No penalties and wrap up to tackle!  
Since Guiton and Miller are proven to run our schemes, the offense will be just fine with a two-quarterback rotation.

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


Buckeyevstheworld's picture

The last time Ohio State was in California , they were "shocked" :/

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

BassDropper's picture

I dont think they were shocked to beat Oregon.


Buckeyevstheworld's picture

I guess you didn't get the Wichita State pun. :/

"YOLO" = I'm about to do something extremely ignorant/stupid & I need an excuse to do it.

Oldschoolbuck's picture

Yes, well done Buckeyevs... That b-ball game was the emotional equivalent of a "shocker"!
I'm not buying UFM's response to the question about dropping in the polls. I would take that PERSONALLY! And I would make sure my TEAM took it personally. Given his psychology background, you can't tell me he hasn't used being dropped in the polls to motivate these confident, proud, elite athletes.
What did he say last year about playing with a chip; how he wanted an angry team; a team with something to prove?

BassDropper's picture

Nope lol and I foolishly thought you were referring to the USC game...The football season just started and basketball wont be on my mind until about a week before tip. 


Doc's picture

Business trips.  That's how they have to look at away games.  Take care of business and watch out for distractions.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

SilverState's picture

“California is not a special state.”

As someone who lived there for a few years, this is a great quote. Too many people there believe/promulgate the contrary.

Seabass1974's picture

I concur with this. I've lived there also and it's as close to living in hell as one could get, just with nicer scenery.

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

dwcbuckeye's picture

I do beg to differ with Philly Brown on California.  I have lived in SF for about 10 years and am Lov'in it.  Agree that the Bucks need to treat this as a business trip.  Totally psyched about the game on Saturday.  This will be my first trip to Berkeley and my two little ones will be wearing their Buckeye jerseys.  I will be sporting the old school Keith Byars jersey.  Go Bucks!

causeicouldntgo43's picture

SF is cool, but the Bucks will be in Oakland. No distractions there unless you enjoy criminal activity............ 

mshaf's picture

I have lived in California since 1980 and it is a special state. I still miss the four seasons and especially the fall in Ohio when the leaves are changing and the cold weather starts. Our four seasons out here are fire,mud slides,riots and earthquakes.  Hope the Buckeyes treat this like work and take care of business. I am stoked to see them play out here in Berkeley. Go luck to our Buckeyes !

cinserious's picture

The team arrives in California on Friday – they’ll be headquartered in Oakland. Consider the challenge of staying focused while stationed in an exotic locale easy for Brown.

Haha, Oakland, Ca. is an exotic locale alright. Dodging hookers, drug dealers, and gangbangers ought to be fun. And don't forget the pimps...

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

LeftCoastBuck's picture

Ive been out on the Left Coast for about 20 years. A few thoughts
I'll take Midwesterners over native Californians as friends any day of the week. Lots of poser-ism here...They're superficial to the extreme....ESPECIALLY USC alums.
I do love the weather in SoCal, but after growing up in Toledo, who wouldn't? Don't hate me for that.
Surfing is the best! So glad I learned how (long board)
There is always something great to do out here...you just have to contend with a million people on the freeway to get there.
There is simply nothing like the spirit of being a Buckeye out here! I am never afraid to respond to an O-H no matter where I am....especially if there are USC alums around.
Go Bucks!

"Have a Coke and a smile!.....along with $150 in UM football tickets"

KBonay's picture

Here since '97.  Went to the Rose Bowl and never wanted to leave.  Agree on most of what you said.  Although I do have some Scal natives that are great friends.  Where do you surf?  We might have to get together for a session.
The biggest thing I can relate back to Ohio natives is that we never have weather ruin our plans.  I can't tell you how many times rain ruined a weekend 'event' when I lived in Ohio.

LeftCoastBuck's picture

Manhattan Beach! None of my SoCal friends went to USC

"Have a Coke and a smile!.....along with $150 in UM football tickets"

KBonay's picture

We can agree on that!  I am in South Orange County.  If you ever want to hit San O, let me know!

LeftCoastBuck's picture

San O is a great spot...I dont mind glowing afterward :)

"Have a Coke and a smile!.....along with $150 in UM football tickets"

buckeyedude's picture

You left Toledo for California? Are you NUTS?
Surfing on a beach in southern California is on my bucket list.



LeftCoastBuck's picture

Yeah, as crazy as it sounds, I left the gourmet mexican food in TTown too (according to my dad, Loma Lindas and Venturas serve REAL mexican...the SoCal stuff is fake).
When you are ready to give surfing a shot, do it! Find a calm day, take lessons and make sure they've got a wetsuit for you. Dont worry about the sharks, they prefer to eat Wolverines so that their fur auto-wipes their asses on the way out :) 

"Have a Coke and a smile!.....along with $150 in UM football tickets"

MN Buckeye's picture

A great childhood friend lives in Whittier (LA area). When I visited her a couple of years ago, her front porch was fully adorned with Buckeye gear! It was awesome to know that you can take the kid out of OHIO, but you can't take the OHIO out of the kid!

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Great article Kyle.  The Bucks just need to focus on the task as hand and drive towards a victory.  I think in the end the Bucks have too much talent and will showcase it this weekend.
Go Bucks!!

DefendYoungstown's picture

Oakland is anything but exotic...

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

FitzBuck's picture

The dancers in Oakland disagree.  

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

buckeyedude's picture

This isn't a bowl game. Stay focused, Buckeyes.



Jeeves's picture

Here's wishing the Bucks a great successful trip out west. I think Mr.Brown might just find California to his liking and plan on a return trip in January.

pjtobin's picture

I'm glad that our players aren't concerned about the scenery. This is a big game. Not a vacation. After they stomp the sweat out of cal. And the game is over, then they can look at the palm trees or whatever. Just my thought on it. 

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

zbd's picture

Lock your doors if you drive through Oakland.

Davep160's picture

Although I enjoyed my trip to San Francisco I don't think it was overly special.   Unless you consider infinite homeless people, 3500 rent payments with no parking special.   Alcatraz was cool and all but special?  Not really.
I did however get pulled over so they could check to see how many illegals were in my car.  

osupolo's picture

With cal's passing game getting the ball out early, osu probably will not get a lot of sacks.  Hopefully Vrabel is teaching the d line to get some hands up  and bat those passes down. I'll be really pleased with 5 of them.