Five Things: Cal

By Chris Lauderback on September 15, 2013 at 2:30p
Buckeyes, Buckeyes everywhere

On a Saturday when virtually the rest of the B1G teams was embarrassing the conference, once again Ohio State carried the flag as the Buckeyes employed their backup quarterback and still scorched Cal for 608 total yards, including a ridiculous 332 on the ground, in a 52-34 road win, improving to 3-0 on the young season. 

Luckily for Ohio State, Kenny Guiton chose the Buckeyes over Prairie View all those years ago. Making his first career start, Guiton dismantled an admittedly horrific defense in place of an injured Braxton Miller, giving Buckeye fans even more confidence in the unflappable captain. 

Meanwhile, a Buckeye defense still trying to replace nine starters from a year ago illustrated that they, not the backup quarterback, represent the biggest question mark as to whether or not this team has the potential to play for a national championship. 

Ohio State rounds out the non-conference slate with a layup next week in Florida A&M but before we turn our attention to the Rattlers, here are Five Things that made yesterday's win a memorable one. 


Again, Cal's defense is definitely a joke but I'm to the point where there's no such as thing as hyperbole when it comes to Kenny Guiton. He's like the anti-Johnny Football which is refreshing to at least a few of us left on this planet. 

While they'd never admit, some backup quarterbacks would be anywhere from nervous to terrified at the thought of making their first start on the road – against a junk defense or not – knowing a loss or potentially even a close/sloppy win might be enough to knock his team out of contention for a national title yet Guiton was in total control even as the quarterbacks came out to warm up. Dude was rocking a grin and bouncing around like he was a middle schooler who'd finally made it to 2nd base. 

Less than two minutes into the game, it was obvious why Guiton's pregame swagger was on swole as he found Devin Smith for a 90-yard touchdown which just so happened to be the longest play from scrimmage in Ohio State Football History. In history. And this was from a guy who is a backup for a reason.

Film says he doesn't have a strong arm and particularly struggles with the deep ball yet he made an absolutely perfect throw on the his 2nd snap of the day after taking just three previous road snaps in his career. 

Amazingly, the throw was merely an appetizer as Guiton went on to produce 276 yards and four touchdowns through the air with another 92 yards on the ground, giving him 368 total yards – the 6th best day by a QB in OSU history – against a defense that actually spent time preparing for him.

He seemingly did everything well, running the option to perfection, most notably when he kept the rock and raced 33 yards run on 4th and 1 to the Cal 5-yard line setting up a touchdown on Ohio State's first possession of the 2nd half to make it 38-20 good guys. 

Besides the pinpoint strike to open the scoring, he hit Smith again for a 47-yard touchdown, Chris Fields in stride on a rollout to his right, and finally Philly Brown for a 6-yard score on another perfectly placed ball toward the back left pylon. 

Even a few of his incompletions were beautiful as he smartly threw away a ball on 1st and Goal instead of forcing the issue allowing the Bucks to score three plays later. The only real blemish on his afternoon was a botched read/option in which he got a little to greedy attempting to recoil a handoff to Jordan Hall resulting in a fumble but even that didn't hurt the team as Christian Bryant recorded an interception on Cal's ensuing play from scrimmage. 

Urban heaped much deserved praise on KG following the game, going as far as to say Guiton will still see the field when Miller is healthy. It's hard to tell when Meyer is speaking emotionally versus factually so it will be interesting to see how the situation plays itself out over time. As for yesterday, Kenny was King and it was fun to watch his on-field greatness nearly match his greatness off it. 


With Guiton stealing the show, a dominant performance by the offensive line didn't quite generate the buzz it deserved. 

Tackles Jack Mewhort and Taylor Decker will surely grade out well as they helped guys like Dontre Wilson gain the edge but to my untrained eye, I felt like LG Andrew Norwell, C Corey Linsley and RG Marcus Hall played out of their minds, repeatedly creating Volkswagen sized holes on inside runs by Guiton and Hall. Linsley did have a few janky shotgun snaps (channeling senior year Mike Brewster?) but the group yielded zero sacks while triggering a rushing attack that piled up a stellar 332 yards on 55 carries, good for 6.0 yards per pop. 

Hall did ball.Hall, somewhat quietly, amassed 168 yards and three touchdowns

After having paved the way for 137 rushing yards (6.2 ypc) in the 1st half, the group was even more impressive in the 2nd half. 

With the Buckeyes up 31-20 at the break and Cal very much aware Urban and Tom Herman might look to run the ball more often to keep the Sketchy Bullets off the field, the Bears still had no answer. 

Ohio State would score touchdowns on three straight possessions to open the 2nd half, running the ball on 21 of 32 total snaps. The three drives totaled 196 yards with an impressive 76% of those yards (148) coming on the ground to the tune of 7.1 yards per carry. 

Bad defense or not, you gotta love those numbers especially when everyone in the stadium knows what's coming. 

As a final tip of the cap to the coaching staff and the hogs up front, as noted by Jason earlier, Ohio State has now four games of 300+ yards rushing under Urban Meyer while the program had seven such games in the previous 10 years. 


I touched on it earlier but I don't think it's a stretch to say the defense, collectively, is the achilles heel of a Braxton-less Buckeye squad. It's easy to assume Guiton would struggle against top flight competition because we've never actually seen him perform against such a foe, meanwhile the defense has a built in (legit) excuse to struggle early as they work through replacing nine starters from a year ago.

Interestingly, a veteran secondary that returns three starters showed that last week might have been a bit of fool's gold as freshman QB Jared Goff lit up the Buckeyes for 371 yards through the air with three touchdowns against just one interception in 53 attempts.

That's not to say the Cal offense, and Goff especially, won't make a lot of defenses look silly at times this season but no matter what Meyer says positively about the Bullets' performance, he can't be pleased.

The secondary did register five pass breakups but had their fair share of missed tackles and bone-headed plays highlighted by Bradley Roby playing two-hand touch on WR James Grissom, allowing him to race 61 yards to paydirt.

Upfront, Michael Bennett, who is enjoying a spectacular season thus far, jumped offsides to negate a Pittsburgh Brown interception and Cal capitalized on the following play burning Ohio State for about the 10th time in the game on either a bubble or throwback screen cutting Ohio State's lead to 24-14 late in the 1st quarter.   


Other lowlights included Ryan Shazier (who did make 11 stops, forced a fumble and recorded a sack) being whistled for a personal foul for destroying Goff as he pulled up near the sideline. It was a slightly questionable call but RDS knows better especially on the road and Roby playing what felt like one of his least impressive games as a Buckeye. 

In the 1st half alone, the Bullets surrendered 291 yards, 20 points and scoring drives of 74, 82, 64 and 60 yards. 

The good news is that guys like Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, and Bennett appear to be creating a surge and the defense even picked up three sacks and a couple hurries against an attack that often employed 0-2 step drops on a bevy of screens and other assorted quick hitters. 

The bad news is that only the most rose-colored glasses see more than one linebacker playing above average football over the first three games (I know only 1 saw the field much of yesterday) and this year's team won't receive a boost in the form of a high-caliber guy suddenly emerging via a position switch to solidify things in the middle. 

I'm not saying this defense can't emerge into an above average unit considering the amount of guys seeing their roles and responsibilities greatly expand but without making tremendous strides, they could eventually put too much pressure on the offense to carry the team to victory. 


The Buckeye offense continued its 1st quarter dominance piling up 24 points on its first 24 plays. In fact, the offense led 21-0 just six minutes in, running just 11 plays. 

The outburst gave Ohio State 68 total points in three combined 1st quarter's this season while the Bullets have surrendered just 14 points giving OSU a crazy +54 mark in the opening 15 minutes of their first three games. 

In the first two games however, that out-of-the-locker-room intensity didn't carry over after intermission with Ohio State playing both Buffalo and San Diego State to a 7-7 draw in the 3rd quarter. 

Yesterday, behind their backup QB, it was totally different story as the offense posted three scores on three possessions in the 3rd quarter, stretching a 31-20 lead at the break to 52-27 entering the 4th quarter. 

As noted above, this lack of sleepwalking after the break was even more sexy as it was obvious Ohio State intended to lean on the rushing attack to pad the lead and keep the defense on the sidelines. The back breaking drives effectively took the few Cal fans in attendance completely out of the game and put that much pressure on the Cal offense to try and keep pace. 

Maybe it was the Guiton factor and/or maybe it was the simple fact of playing on the road in a game much tighter than they'd experienced to date but it was great to see the Buckeyes come out with some fire – and sustain it – for the balance of the quarter. 


Though the collective fanbase can sometimes be guilty of doing or saying some pretty derpy things, which is common among any fanbase as they do represent a cross section of society, the passion and support offered up by Buckeye fans truly is second to none. 

PWNEDThe Cal Bear was a converted Buckeye fan hours before kickoff

Yesterday was just the latest example as Ohio State fans invaded Berkeley, filling 50% of a stadium situated some 2,400 miles away from Columbus. 

Though a large contingent was expected, it looked as if even those expectations were exceeded as a scarlet-clad stadium rocked O-H-I-O to the delight of Urban Meyer and company. 

As he should, Meyer gushed about the contingent on hand:

“I’d like to thank our fans. I expected it just from years ago I remember on the road trips there would be a bunch of Buckeyes in the stadium. But hats off to all those scarlet and grays who travelled across the country. I’ve got the feeling there’s a bunch of California Buckeyes out here, too.

“What an environment... That was fun to watch.”

It's easy to take such a following for granted but yesterday was a great reminder not to do so, no only because of how OSU fans turned out but also in comparison to, for instance, the type of inconsistent and embarrassing support other historically relevant programs like Michigan are forced to endure. Props, Buckeye fans. 


Comments Show All Comments

njclebuckeye5's picture

That play by Roby (who I thought played outstanding for the most part) on the 61 yard TD was so annoying. Just wrap up, and it's a 30 yard 1st down. Unfortunately, I agree with the assessment of the linebackers. I'm really pulling for Grant and Perry, though. 
I will say that Cal has some weapons and while the D needs to improve we shouldn't be too down.

Lobs it to the endzone... Touchdown Devin Smith!!

Hovenaut's picture

Nice writeup Chris.

3-0, with a, ahem, chance to go 4-0.

We get some folks back next week, from either injury or otherwise.

The offense is a high performance machine, no matter who is at the controls. The line was as good as I've seen it in some time.

The defense....not as horrible? I guess the mistakes are evident, but I expect proper adjustments/progress down the stretch. Still believe in the talent in that unit.

Couldn't help but smile, even at tough spots during the game, whenever crowd shots were shown. Way to represent, Buckeye Nation.

Here's to a good week of practice ahead, with injuries improving and rust shaking away.

Bringeth thy Rattlers.

KBonay's picture

Fantastic environment to play in. You could see the players building on the 'home crowd' atmosphere. Great day to be a Buckeye. 

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

There were a lot of positives from yesterday's game.  Definetly some things to work on.  Overall, it is always a good trip to go out west like that and come home with a W.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the D responds over the next few weeks especially when we play Wisconsin and Northwestern.  Great to see all of the red in the stadium!  Just showed how awesome and widespread Buckeye Nation is! 
Go Bucks!!

Ultrabuckeyehomer's picture

That was as exciting a game as one could ask for in this non-conference season. Kenny, Hall, The O-line and the wideouts played outstanding.  The defense, not so much. Now, don't get me wrong, I understand Cal is going to score on lots of teams, but there is no way this team is winning a national title with this defense.  Still can't tackle in the secondary on a consistent basis. We can still win the BIG and a BCS game, but imagine having to face Oregon or Clemson, or hell, even Bama or LSU with this D right now. 
I'm happy with the direction of the team and excited for another successful year, but I think we are still one year from truly being a title contender

D-Day0043's picture

I have a sneaky suspicion that Fickell is on a short leash this year. I think Meyer felt obligated to keep him after he took one for the team. After a couple years the fan base may not be quite as emotional about Fickell, and that could possibly open the door to replace him if the defense doesn't show improvement throughout the year.
With that being said, Fickell is a great Buckeye and I hope that he can get the Silver Bullets back to form.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

misterbulbous's picture

Did anyone else notice that Kenny G's second TD pass traveled at least 60~65 yards in the air?  

MassiveAttack's picture

Oh yeah, I noticed.  It seemed almost like it was the opposite in air time versus YAC, compared with the 90 yard bomb.

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

Harold's picture

Roby is a pimp...but did NOT play like one last night. He had a couple of nice diving tackles but struggled in coverage. It happens sometimes...not the end of the world. He was beat more times than the stats will show due to a couple of bad throws. He dropped a pic. He had quite a few tackles...cause his guy caught the ball. Great news for Buckeye fans...I doubt he has another game like this again.

NOTE: I love Roby...and remember that my grade would be a lot higher for another corner...Roby is NOT just another corner.

Ahhh, the smell of Chris Spielman's Dirty Socks...

lax20's picture

Hats off to the D-Line.  These guys had pressure on Goff all night and in some cases with only a 3 man rush.  Mike Vrabel gets a buckeye leaf for this game.  He did a remarkable job in getting this line to get a lot of push on Cal's O-Line.  Let's keep up the progress.

LILBUCKEYE's picture

The CBs need to stop playing soft coverage IMO
including roby, they were letting the cal WRs catch 5 yd passes because they were playing 10 yds deep.
was anyone else upset about this/ defensive play calling?

The Ohio State University '17

will0327's picture

Why in hell do think thats the CBs decision if youre mad at get mad at Urban or Coombs or Fickell or Withers ......thats all coaches decision they are telling them to play off 


lippertini's picture

Yes, it really bothers me, too.  I understand that you are less likely to give up big plays by playing soft, but there must be more than that to it.  By playing tight, you force the qb to take longer, opening up your pass rush.  With our d-line against almost every other team we play, I'll take that trade-off.  Michigan may be the only exception, with their tall, physical receivers and solid o-line.

InHartWeTrust's picture

Am I the only one who thinks Grant has played well when on the field this year?  Is he a top MLB in the nation at the moment? No, but I think he is more than just "serviceable", and will continue to improve as the season goes on.
DL was the big question mark going into the season. IMO, they are the strength now and everyone's worries can be put to rest.  Once we get healthy there again (Diesel and Schutt), I think they will be a top unit.
Our D backfield was supposed to be our strength, and I have to imagine (hope) that it will be strong as the season goes on.  Tackling issues are my main concern there, and honestly, at this point, I am torn on whether I honestly (without Scarlet shades) think that will go away or not.  Doran Grant knows how to tackle, that is for damn sure, as does Roby normally.  The safeties still seem to struggle, but they are senior captains and I have to think they will step up when necessary.  I don't think Pitt Brown should be playing, IMO.

Balkestud's picture

Being at the game there was a couple things i could see that on tv i wouldn't have...                                                                                                                                                   1. The secondary, most notably CBryant, were confused by cal's constant miss direction in the first half..even though they were in a really soft zone they still managed to get out of position...Bryant seems to eager to support the run and will bite hard on play action                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         2. Cal's QB is going to play in the league..his throws were crisp and often out of his hand WELL before the receiver made his break..that was a well oiled offense who will score on anyone this year
considering the youth of our D, I anticipate they will be playing much better by the end of the year..everything being said about our turnout at memorial stadium is true..we rang the entire stadium so loud that the cal fans were genuinely miffed and took it very personally..the local papers have run several articles admonishing cal fans for selling their tix..AWESOME

It gets kind of rough in the back of my limousine,



pjtobin's picture

Awesome to hear our fan base took over the stadium. Very cool. Thanks!

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

will0327's picture

Still not worried about anything sorry ......they still havent lost ....the D will be fine. Really happy and scared for the league you think Braxton isnt hearing all this chatter about Kenny being better or the team being without Braxton mannnnnnnnn an competitor like that doesn't need any motivation i believe Braxton is going to go on a tear when he gets back.
Kind of scary we havent even seen Braxton unleashed yet like the first game they told him to stay in the pocket ....good lord this offense hasn't even peaked 


Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

Chris - Great discussion, but I think taking the LBs not named RDS to task after this game is misplaced. Since the team was in dime so often, many times the only LB on the field was Shazier. To make the dime, and nickel, work, the Star must play well. That position blows up screens and must be a consistent and sure tackler.
But Tyvis Powell has been very mediocre at that position. I hate to say that because he's been a good Buckeye from the moment he was recruited, but given Meyer's focus on production through competition I have to believe Powell is under a microscope right now. 

Chris Lauderback's picture

I see where you are coming from on the LBs. I should've done a better job in explaining my thoughts on the LBs are after seeing the first 3 games, not the Cal game alone as I realize Shazier was the only one on the field for much of the game. I also very much agree on everything you said regarding Powell. He and Reeves in particular have failed to impress in the back five. 

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I'd love to know how much of Goff's 371 yards could be accounted for by yards after the catch. It sure seemed like a higher figure than it would be in the average game. He's a promising young player, but with the exception of the first touchdown (and the subsequent interception), he was mostly dumping the ball off and letting his receivers do the heavy lifting.
I thought our defensive strategy was actually fairly sound, but it relies on the "first responder" making the tackle.

The most "loud mouth, disrespect" poster on 11W.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Luke Fickell is the Defensive Coordinator and Linebackers Coach.  Everett Withers is the Assistant Head Coach and Co-Defensive Coordinator.  Not sure exactly what that means.  Who is in charge of the defense?  It seems to be Herman for the offense, he is the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach, although Ed Warinner is the Co-Offensive Coordinator and Offensive Line Coach.  I'm so confused LOL.

The will to win is not as important as the will to prepare to win. -- Woody Hayes

Geraffi's picture

I get it, all the concerns about the D, I mean. But I guess I'm not as worried as others. Don't get me wrong. It was frustrating to see huge chunks of yards given up, poor tackling at times, and some of our stars making mistakes, but that's exactly what Cal's offense is designed to create. Tired defensive players who make mistakes, miss tackles, and give up big plays. That's a very good offense with good skill position players, and a damn good gun slinger taking snaps. 
We won the game, it was never in doubt. We held up in the face of 90 quick snap, quick read plays. That's 19 more than A&M ran, 14 more than Oregon, and 28 more than Michigan! 
I'm good with it. 
Way to go Buckeyes!

gravey's picture

Was in that crowd yesterday.  Was nearly in tears with pride over Buckeye Nation!  What a game!  What a perfect college atmosphere!   How firm they friendship indeed!

BlockO's picture

The best thing about going 3-0 is the opportunity to go 4-0! Go Bucks!

"faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum)

Sean N's picture

I know the season is still young, but I am not impressed by the defense. I know they are young in places, but the poor fundamentals need to be addressed, especially the tackling. This was a problem all of last year as well and I hoped they would make it a priority. I think the buck has to stop with Fickell if there isn't some improvement over the rest of te season.


1. We haven't been at full strength all season yet are 3-0 and have scored 134 points
2. We were without Diesel and Tommy Schutt on the DL and still the DL got pressure
3. Roby isn't perfect. He was playing in his first meaningful game since the The Game last November. Cut him a little slack. I still trust the hell out of him.
4. Um, Kenny G can throw a deep ball.
5. OL was ridiculous
6. Enough with the complaints on the soft coverage. Ross said it in his breakdowns last week, you can't play man defense on a spread. You'll have LBs chasing WRs and people turning around to chase receivers when they should be watching for the run.
7. We fix our tackling the defense will be better than it was last year. It's still better than it was last year.
8. I pity FAMU.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

BeijingBucks's picture

I get that everyone is down on the D. But did you see their rushing yards total? They killed it compared last year.   This is the first time we have seen nickel and dime To this extreme.  I suggest that it's merely point that we haven't had to face this particular kind of attack before So they played off a little bit.
what is another pass only team we will face? As clearly it doesn't work without a balanced rush attack. 
I also don't get Maligning the LB's when we are playing DB packages. Wait til we play a run team like Wisconsin and you will likely fall in love with C Grant. 
I just can compare to last year.... And this year I feel our D is starting stronger and will still incredibly improve. 

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

scottynoshotty's picture

I totally get why kenny wanted to pull that football back out, if he got it out and pitched it dontre was gone

Well i like college and i like football...and im gunna keep doin em both cause they make me feel good!!!

dtanmango's picture

"before we turn our attention to the Rattlers" should be "before we turn our attention to the Badgers" :P


gobucks96's picture

Why can't we play like the we do in first ten minutes, for the entire game????
On the flip side, how many times (for how many years) has this team started slow? I'll still take the fast start over the slow start...

German Buckeye's picture

Jordan Hall sure looks like Emmett Smith in that pic - same body type, only a fraction smaller in height and a little lighter. 

MassiveAttack's picture


Upfront, Michael Bennett, who is enjoying a spectacular season thus far, jumped offsides to negate a Pittsburgh Brown interception and Cal capitalized on the following play burning Ohio State for about the 10th time in the game on either a bubble or throwback screen cutting Ohio State's lead to 24-14 late in the 1st quarter.

I thought it was Armani Reeves who had his interception negated by the Michael Bennet offsides/neutral zone penalty.

The Ohio State University - "Haters love us!"

stantmann's picture

The secondary did well, the one play referred too as Robey playing 2-handed touch was not Robey's fault, it was # 3's fault. There were 3 major problems, 1.) tackling again, by the linebackers especially. 2.) The inability of the defensive line to shed blockers. The latter surprised me as Fickel and Vrabel (along with Simmons and Finkes) were probably the best I've ever seen at shedding tacklers. 3.) The coaching - How many quick screens and slants to do you give up before you figure out that you can't lay the corners off 10 yards to a team like Cal? Cal got the majority of their yards because of YAC

BeatTTUN's picture

That was the closest thing to a home game I have seen on the road. It was a Buckeye Invasion of Berkeley. A lot of us California Buckeyes in the contingent also a few from Oregon. It was a great away game experience, doing the O H I O chant in a visiting stadium because we can is awesome.

Go Buckeyes Beat Michigan