Five Things: Northwestern

By Chris Lauderback on October 6, 2013 at 2:30p
60 Comments
Carlos asks the crowd, "Who's the biggest boss that you've seen this far?"

The talk all week was that this one could turn into a shootout and the game did not disappoint as Ohio State outlasted Northwestern 40-30 last night in Evanston thanks to a heroic effort from Carlos Hyde that sparked a 27-10 Buckeye spurt over the final 30 minutes. 

The win improves Ohio State to 6-0 on the year and gives Urban Meyer a perfect 20-0 career record in games in which his team blocked a punt. Oh, and the Buckeyes have now won 18 in a row since Meyer took over the program. 

On a wet track in Ryan Field, the teams combined for five turnovers and an amazing seven lead changes before Hyde's punishing display finally did in the Wildcat defense while Ohio State's defensive line ignited the Silver Bullets who, albeit in ugly fashion, finally put the brakes on a high-powered Northwestern attack, forcing two punts and two turnovers amidst drives leading to a touchdown and a field goal. 

Braxton Miller was far from sharp but came up big down the stretch and the secondary, toasted once again, relied on a spirited effort from C.J. Barnett, who did his best to do offset rough nights from Pittsburgh Brown, Bradley Roby and Tyvis Powell. 

With a much-needed bye week looming, let's take a deeper dive at Five Things that stood out in the dramatic win Evanston. 

EVOLUTION 5

Whether we like it or not, there's little question the development of Braxton Miller hasn't been quite as dramatic as advertised over the summer by Urban Meyer and Tom Herman.  

That said, it's also fair to note the MCL sprain he suffered on the opening drive against San Diego State in week two has had a lingering effect – as much mentally as physically. 

Last night, on a soaked surface that frankly didn't seem to present any foot-traction issues for the players, Miller looked tentative and generally out of sync for the majority of the game though he absolutely showed up when it mattered most. 

Miller pretty much admitted he played scared at times thanks to the knee and it showed, especially in the 1st half, as he completed just 7/15 throws for 99 yards with an interception with another 42 yards on the ground but with a costly fumble. 

He came out slinging, connecting on his first five throws, but went just 2/10 the rest of the half. 

He made poor reads in the run game, nearly threw a pick in Hyde's direction on the opening possession leading to a field goal, coughed it up deep in OSU territory on the 2nd possession, missed Chris Fields on what should've been a gimme touchdown two possessions later and tossed an interception – his arm hit as he let it go – to cap a dismal half in which the Buckeyes netted zero offensive touchdowns. 

Miller had a tough time hanging on to the football in EvanstonMiller's "clutch" overrode his "derp" but he's clearly playing with fire

Trailing 23-13 after Northwestern put together a field goal drive to start the 2nd half, Miller led the Buckeyes to the Northwestern 7-yard line in just six plays but Braxton would again fail to secure the ball on 1st and Goal, his third turnover of the night. 

With Miller's game in shambles, Meyer turned to Hyde in an effort to keep OSU in the game and he responded though the Wildcats still led 30-27 with just over nine minutes left in the game. 

Then Braxton woke up. 

On the most important possession of the season to date, starting at the OSU 19-yard line, Miller went to the well and led the Buckeyes to what proved to be the game-winning score. 

Carlos Hyde scored the decisive touchdown from seven yards out but Miller was fantastic on the drive, connecting on 4/4 throws for 64 yards with a 4-yard run mixed in giving him 68 of the 81 yards on the march. 

He found Hyde in the flat on 3rd and 4 for a 1st down, Philly for nine yards on an out route and Hyde again in the flat for 11 yards just before the touchdown but it was his heady play on 2nd and 1 from the OSU 40 that really turned the tide. Scrambling left with his eyes downfield, Braxton could've easily jogged for the 1st down but instead, he casually sucked up the defender and lobbed a perfect strike to Philly who was able to turn up the sideline and race for 38 yards, advancing the Buckeyes all the way to the Wildcat 22. It was simply an outstanding play from a guy who'd looked mentally on his heels for virtually the entire night. Huge play. 

One drive doesn't erase the visual of a tentative Braxton Miller being a key factor in what could've easily been an Ohio State loss but the object of the game is to win and Miller's clutch play went a long way toward keeping the Buckeyes perfect. 

The question now is where does he go from here? With a week off, can he finally let go of the knee injury and start to realize his promise? Or will we once again be wondering what is wrong with #5? 

DRAWING THE LINE

In what was often a painful performance to watch turned in by the Silver Bullets, particularly by the secondary, the defensive line came up big against Northwestern's electric attack.

Sparked by the beasts in the trenches, Ohio State held the Wildcats to 94 yards rushing on a paltry 2.2 yards per carry, and bottled up a very talented Venric Mark, holding him to 60 yards on 17 carries. Getting solid though not spectacular penetration for much of the night helped hold Mark to just 3.5 yards per pop with a long of eight yards. 

The unit also racked up four of the team's five sacks. Joey Bosa led the charge with two sacks, one forcing a punt late in the 3rd quarter as OSU trailed 23-20 and the other on Northwestern's last gasp possession two plays before the true freshman jumped on a wayward lateral providing the game's final margin. Bosa racked up five stops total, furthering his resume as the squad's Most Valuable Freshman. 

Noah Spence also picked up five stops and though he registered just 0.5 sacks, he was consistently in the backfield applying pressure and chasing quarterbacks from the pocket. 

Michael Bennett has been a difference maker in the trenches

Michael Bennett, though the numbers show just two tackles and 0.5 sacks, was an impact player in my eyes. 

The junior from Centerville constantly created push up the gut, helping free up Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant to combine for 20 tackles. 

Though Ohio State seemed to blitz a good bit of the time, I thought the front four did a solid job of creating organic pressure and typically when the two Northwestern quarterbacks had all day to throw, it was when the defensive staff chose to rush just three guys, something my lack of coaching experience simply can't understand. 

And how about Jamal Marcus? He's quietly putting together an outstanding season, typically making an impact on the rare snaps he receives. He made an outstanding play late in the 2nd quarter, sacking Trevor Siemian on 3rd and 6 from the OSU 9-yard line, forcing the Wildcats to settle for a field goal and a 20-13 lead. Think about it, 27-13 at the break was nearly reality if not for Jamal's gigantic play. 

SECONDARY STRUGGLES

Through six games, it's hard to know what to make of Ohio State's secondary. 

Coming into the season, the group was pegged to be a strength of the team – not just the defense –  thanks to a pair of returning senior starters at safety in Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett, an All-American and projected 1st round pick at corner in Bradley Roby and an emerging cover guy opposite him in Doran Grant. 

The group lost Bryant to ankle surgery following the Wisconsin game but the struggles predated, and go far beyond, that particular issue. 

Roby - so far - hasn't had the type of season he envisionedRoby has struggled to duplicate last season's success

Last night, Northwestern quarterbacks completed 11 of 13 passes for 144 yards and a score in the 1st half and finished with with a statline of 25/31 for 343 yards with two touchdowns against one interception. It seems unfathomable that a team could complete 81% of its throws against Ohio State for an entire game so what's the deal? 

I'm not a coach but a few things certainly come to light even for the most casual fan. Where it gets difficult is the whole "which came first, the chicken or the egg" part. 

On one hand, it's easy to criticize the coaching staff for instructing players to give up to 10 yards of cushion as a team dinks and dunks down the field, sometimes while the D shows just a three man front. 

On the other, when you've got Roby struggling mightily to perform up to lofty expectations while Pittsburgh Brown is showing he's nowhere near the level of Bryant and Tyvis Powell is showing his youth, not to mention it's not like Shazier and Grant are known as pass coverage specialists, does it make sense to play the press coverage fans consistently clamor for? 

Again, I don't pretend to know what the answer is to keep the Buckeyes from hemorrhaging yards through the air as it relates to coverage schemes but one thing that would help the cause is better tackling. 

I lost count as to how many missed tackles Roby and Brown turned in and I think Powell also had a one or two. It's one thing to give up a reception, that's going to happen, it's another to compound it by giving up a ton of YAC, and that's exactly what this group is doing. Roby, in particular, seems too hell bent on making the big play, often diving with his head down with unfavorable results. 

I will say I thought Barnett turned in a pretty solid effort last night, leading the team with 11 stops, many in sure-tackling run support. 

The bye week couldn't come at a better time, giving the staff a couple weeks to revisit what the plan should be to trigger improved performance from the secondary. 

HYDE AND GO PEAK

Hyde's amazing performance has already been covered at length by 11W and other outlets but you can't have a Five Things without mentioning his ridiculous night. 

Held back more by the play-calling than anything Northwestern did, Hyde rushed for just 56 yards on 10 carries in the opening half but went buckwild in the 2nd, running for 112 yards on 16 carries with three touchdowns to produce a final stat line of 26 for 168 on the ground with another four for 38 through the air. 

Frankly, those receptions were every bit as important as the runs. Two, in particular, were clutch plays on the game-winning drive. He reeled in a 6-yard flat pass on 3rd and 4 to keep the drive alive and four plays later, he snagged an 11-yarder on 2nd and 6 from the Wildcat 18 to set up his decisive 7-yard sprint left to pay dirt. 

Showing determined heart, Hyde just kept coming at the Wildcat defense, invigorating his teammates along the way. 

All Aboard: Hyde carried the Buckeyes to victory

The kid took a ton of shots but just kept getting up. Hyde went to the sidelines a few times as he looked dinged in the ribs or sternum or whatever, as evidenced by the staff pulling the front of his shoulder pads away from his mid-section but when he could, he made the famous Denard eating gesture letting Urban know he wanted the rock. 

Beyond scoring all the offensive touchdowns, Hyde accounted for 55% of the team's yardage in the 2nd half and averaged 6.5 yards per carry on the evening. 

On the season, which is basically 2.25 games considering he had just five carries against Florida A&M, Hyde is averaging 6.2 yards a carry with 90% of his carries coming against an always physical Wisconsin squad and Northwestern on the road. 

Basically, if last night didn't convince you Hyde deserves all the carries he can handle when a game has yet to be decided – no matter what you think about Jordan Hall's talents rushing the football –  I don't know what to tell you. 

The icing on the cake last night came during the post-game presser when Hyde broke down reflecting on how his humbling suspension hurt the team and what he's learned from it.

That's the name of the game of life. Learn from your mistakes and come out a better person on the other side. Props to Hyde on what feels like tremendous personal growth. 

A HAT TIP IS IN ORDER

I intended to use the last Thing on Philly Brown recording the first 100-yard receiving game of his career (6/127) since it doesn't seem that long ago that he was a huge liability on offense thanks to a nagging case of the dropsies but Kyle already covered that for you

So, instead, I want to give a shout out to Pat Fitzgerald and his program. 

Looking to build off a 10-win season, Fitzgerald and the Wildcats had already earned my respect but in a time where the B1G is the red-headed stepchild of the power conferences, there's no question Fitzgerald is more than doing his fair share to take the stain off the league. 

Think about it, the school, based on its academic standards, is supposed to be the doormat of the conference yet the squad could absolutely be the best team in the Legends division depending on how Michigan, Sparty and Nebraska evolve over the year. 

If nothing else, Fitzgerald has made the program relevant and they even took down an SEC team in last year's Gator Bowl. 

Despite the obvious recruiting disadvantages, he's got some legit players especially at the offensive skill positions and while I supose it could possibly be the fact Ohio State just escaped their upset bid, I think I'd rather play anyone else in the B1G championship than have a rematch with the Wildcats. 

60 Comments

Comments

bucksfan92's picture

As troubling as the leaky secondary has been this season, it is nice to see us completely shutting down the run game.  I think if we just tighten up coverage our pass defense will improve as well.
Another positive from last night - for the first time this season I didn't panic when Philly was back to field punts.

Seattle Linga's picture

Great write up = Pat F. should get a lot of credit like you mentioned, for having his team prepared to play. We certainly could have played much better but the next few weeks should prepare us for the run at the end of the season.
Any suggestions for the secondary ????? 

Knarcisi's picture

Yeah, apply more pressure to disrupt their QB and get out of that damn soft coverage. 

Knarcisi's picture

My 5 things, outside of the obvious with Hyde, from bad to better:
1. B. Miller cost us a lot of points (18) with 2 fumbles and a really bad throw that night.  Let's hope it's out of his system.
2. I'm not a Fickel basher, but he better start figuring out a lot more quickly that we are far more effective when we blitz and play tighter man rather than a 3 man rush and sitting in soft zones. 
3. This team was uninspired and got outplayed and outcoached in the first half.  The way we responded to pull this out, this team shows that it has tremendous guts and character. 
4. The OL played tremendous.
5. I'm delighted by the play of our DL.  They were the strength of the defensive unit the last few weeks and are getting better and better.,

bucksfan92's picture

Regarding the defense.  I can't help but wonder if the co-DC situation is leading to our struggles on that side of the ball. Generally when you have 2 chiefs, that means no one is in charge.

HYDEYOKIDS's picture

Just from stray comments by the coaching staff. It feels like Urban, Fickell, and Withers have different visions on what they want the defense to be. If there is a lack of consensus that could explain the strangeness of our defensive schemes

Seattle Linga's picture

There was more than one play last night were our OFFENSIVE LINE just were toying with their defensive front. No wonder CH went off in the 2nd half.

Knarcisi's picture

I saw this early.  Knew we could pound them, hence all the frustration with the mistakes and soft coverages on D.  I said early that Hyde better see the ball 30 times.  26 carries, 4 receptions. 

Bamabucknut's picture

You made the points  I would have but better.
point #2 cannot be stated strongly enough.Northwestern got about 450 total offense against out defense !!
Northwestern.
 

dlb72osu's picture

Everyone here is entitled to their opinion, as long as they express rants as opinion and not as a veiled "threat".
To quote, "...Fickell...he better start figuring out a lot more quickly that we are far more effective...blah, blah, blah" Or what? You gonna fire him? Suspend him without pay?
When are the fans going to realize that they are not as smart as the coaching staff? Please, please read Ross as he breaks down the plays for us and explains, pretty much in layman terms, about what the hell we are watching.
UFM has expressed himself, more than once, about his trust in Vrable, Fickell, Coombs and Withers. Does he want to see better defensive play? Of course. We all do. But I think that the play we see in front of us is not based on a bad or weak coaching staff. I have a feeling that these coaches are playing with the hand they are dealt and trying to draw the schemes based on the players strengths.
In the years ahead, as the recruiting cycles continuously strengthen our roster depth, we should see improved play in all aspects of the field. Our fears look silly in retrospect. Last year it was the receiving corps. In the spring and summer it was the front seven. Now it's the db's.
Let's collectively giggle like children and totally lose ourselves in the moment and stop looking for the turd in the punch bowl.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
- Invictus

kdogg72's picture

I agree with your comment, but I would like to pose this question. Just because you don't have the players to fit the system doesn't mean you cannot excel at fundamentals. Great players make great plays because they are gifted. But great players make easy plays look easy because they are disciplined. We hammer our coaches and ride our players. So what gives are we undercoached or are we less talented?

45has2's picture

Considering Fick is Co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach and Withers is Co-devensive coordinator AND assistant head coach, shouldn't Everett be taking as much or more of the responsibility?

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

Jugdish's picture

Hyde became a grown ass man last night. His punishment was tough, but it makes you wonder if MoC and some others had been subjected to something similar. Would their lives have been changed? My heart went out to the young man last night as he toiled with his punishment and how it affected "his brothers". You have many fans in your corner El Guapo and you deserve it.

Remember to get your wolverine spade or neutered. TBDBITL

WC Buckeye's picture

He looked very much like another of my favorite Buckeyes last night - Keith Byars. Taking shots, breaking tackles, making sure-handed catches in space and then punishing DB's.

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

Evansvillebuckeye's picture

I for one, am a little bit more concerned about the IU game than I was a few weeks ago...

bucksfan92's picture

I'm not.  PSU is just now starting to feel the pain of their sanctions.  Plus the game is at the Shoe, and we owe them for making a blowout last year appear like a real game with those ref-aided garbage time points last year in Bloomington.  This is a revenge game and the Hoosiers will get their doors blown off.

BUCKSOMIES's picture

I agree Bucksfan.  We need to beat them like they stole something!

cjmgobucks's picture

THIS ^^

"When I look in the mirror, I want to take a swing at me."
Wayne Woodrow Hayes

KLF Buckeye's picture

I second JUGDISH on Carlos Hyde. As I watched his emotional post-game presser, I felt for the kid. There are times when you wonder if a young athlete "gets it" when a punishment is handed down. No doubt in my mind Carlos gets it. It made him a better young man and maybe a better football player. Really glad to have him.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

When your O-line and D-line play at the level they are playing at, it's hard to lose a game, no matter how crappy your secondary looks. I would prefer to not watch them give up 10 yards to the WR every time, considering it completely goes against Urban's "aggressive mentality." When you're facing teams throwing mostly 3 step drops, you need to trust your "confident" secondary to not get burnt. I think this is fixable, as well as the turnover issues. Good, tough fought victory. 

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

CUBS's picture

I think if NW can play like they did last night for the rest of the season, they should meet OSU in the B1G title game with only 1 loss. Now, that may not happen as the Cats have to pull of a few tough wins down the stretch beginning with a trip to Madison but I believe it will and I think it'd be a hell of a rematch. Obviously hypothetical, but think about an 11-1 NW team vs a 12-0 Ohio State team in the B1G championship...thats SEC-caliber folks. 

OurHonorDefend09's picture

No offense, but I do not want that to happen, whatsoever. I knew playing NW once on the road was not going to be fun and after going to the game last night, I definitely don't want to see OSU play them again this year. Their stellar play will definitely help out the B1G though, so that is much appreciated. 

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

CUBS's picture

I can see it from an OSU fan's perspective in that it was a 'too class for comfort' game and a rematch would present similar problems. If NW can get to Indy then I think it benefits OSU, NW, and the B1G. I think you'd have another prime time match up for OSU to add to its resume if they are unbeaten and attempting to win votes to get to the BCS title game. NW would be in a position to get either the automatic or at-large BCS spot which then puts 2 B1G teams in the BCS, something that didn't seem likely going into this year.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

Exactly. The cliche that "it's tough to beat a team twice" is my cop out for this situation. Beating NW and theoretically Michigan twice does not sound fun. Give me Nebrasky or MSU any time.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

lsjSnail's picture

Give Meyer more than a week and I think the championship game doesn't look anything like what we just saw. NU's A+ game lost to OSU's C- play.

bucksfan92's picture

I'd be fine with a rematch.  That was OSU's worst game of the season and there is no way that would happen twice against them.  NW has a tough way to go to get to Indy, though, but honestly there isn't a B1G team that worries me.

stittracer99's picture

Agreed that the best case scenario for us to get into the championship game is for NW to win out and have a rematch in Indy. If that happens the 'Cats should be ranked somewhere around 10th and would be our signature win on the season right when we have to influence voters the most. And let's not forget that they had just came off a bye week last week and were scouting us hard against Wisconsin. Give Urban another shot at them with each team on equal terms and we win again. Plus our secondary will have another six games to grow up before hand.

Eph97's picture

No offense, and I want NW to do well, but the best opponent for the B1G championship game for OSU would be if Nebraska got its act together and started looking good like it did yesterday against IL. In the voters minds OSU already beat NW, so a different opponent looks better.

buckeyepastor's picture

Totally agree.  If NW wins out and goes to the B1G title game, it will likely mean they are a top-10 caliber program.   But, in the minds of most of the country and the voters, it will be OSU playing a team they've already beaten.   Same with a one-loss Michigan team. 
 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

KeithByarsRightFoot's picture

Honestly, I think Northwestern is a completely worthy opponent for the B1G Championship. Venrick Mark is an absolute weapon and both QBs were very impressive.
But I don't see you guys getting past Wisky. It's not that Wisky is better--I don't think they are. It's that you guys will have to play a night game in Madison after your huge game against Ohio State. It's really, REALLY tough for CFB teams to get up for big games two weeks in a row, and it's even harder when you have to go on the road (at night) for that second game. Camp Randall is going to be a zoo.
Making matters worse, Wisky is coming off their bye week. They'll be rested and ready, with a well honed game plan. As a Northwestern grad school alum I'll be rooting for the Wildcats against Wisky. But it ain't gonna be easy.

SilverState's picture

Whether we like it or not, there's little question the development of Braxton Miller hasn't been quite as dramatic as advertised over the summer by Urban Meyer and Tom Herman.

If you contrast Miller's play thus far to last season, he's made much better reads going down through his progression, stays in the pocket longer, keeps his eyes down field more to extend plays, puts more zip in his throws, and has had less balls sail. His development has been quite dramatic. His next step is just becoming more consistent.
 

Buckeye Chuck's picture

Miller is improved over last season in the most important categories, completion percentage and yards/attempt. And that's without having the chance to pad his numbers against three really bad defenses.
The fumbles were a big deal, but aside from that, Miller's performance last night was dramatically overcriticized. 

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

OSUNEA1986's picture

Agree! Braxton looks fantastic! He makes few mistakes and has made amazing strides in mechanics, reads and accuracy. He was put in very difficult situations by the poor offensive scheme (scripted, predictable plays) and a NW defense with 2 weeks to study the scheme.
I'm repeating myself from other posts, but the goal line fumble and INT were the result of great defensive plays by NW. Rare, no miraculous, if ANY QB could avoid them. Braxton did not throw into tight coverage and from what I saw, made the right decision when more that one receiver was available and only misread the option 1-2 times (to my recall).
Consistency will come as the receivers learn how to help him by changing the route and/or coming back to the ball. They have just learned how to run their routes, but are not yet able to improvise to beat the defender (think Sanzenbacher). Next season should be amazing.
 

Maestro's picture

I would ask you to watch the game again.  Braxton looked mediocre at best last night.  He was off target on more throws that he was on target with.  He continues to guess on his option reads too often.  He didn't even effectively read his blocks on running plays last night which is something he almost always does well.  He played one of his worst games in the last 2 seasons last night.  He has certainly improved, but he still has a long way to go to be a Heisman type of player.

vacuuming sucks

WC Buckeye's picture

Definitely true, but I was encouraged to see him hit Hyde on a few relief valve passes. Those have been open in the past, and certainly were open Saturday night, so I would argue he is starting to check down better. The overthrows are a bit of a concern, but that may be mechanical stuff related to the knee injury, who knows.

"You might outsmart me, but you'll never outwork me"

avail31678's picture

I agree.  How did we go from the Wisconsin game where Braxton proved he is the undisputed starter to him not having developed nearly as much as advertised?  He had a bad game, sure.  But I don't think two fumbles negate his better passing.  I think he's making his checks better, looking down field better, and throwing better.

Seattle Linga's picture

Well said Silver State - wherever that is, watching the maturation process at times can be a little painful but the end result - this and next year will be awesome 

SilverState's picture

Thanks, I agree. The handle was just a result of not wanting to spend a lot of time coming up with one. Combining Silver Bullets and Ohio State.

Jack Burton's picture

IMO if we faced Northwestern in the B1G championship game it wouldn't be as close. Personally I'm glad we don't have to play Wisconsin again.

It's all in the reflexes - Me

Bobcat04's picture

As far as the secondary is concerned, what about Coombs?  I'm not trying to start an argument, but everyone loves him because he is fiery and a RedBull-chugging quote machine, but it's his unit that's basically been the defense's Achilles heel.  He has tons of talent back there, and it's not like these are world class wideouts that are consistently wide open.  The secondary is just frequently out of position.  Maybe it's lack of aggressive coverage being called, but when you rush 3 and drop 8 and the WR is still open by a mile, something is wrong.  Defensive line looks like it's growing up fast, LB's not named Shazier (who is spectacular) have been solid this year even if unspectacular, but teams are starting to figure out that the way to gain yards on us is to target the secondary.
  Don't get me wrong, I think Coombs's special teams units are doing overall very well this year.  I just think that if coaching is a culprit in hemorrhaging yards in the air, you have to look at the position coach. 
  Overall very happy with a win against a quality team on the road at night.  Felt very autumn-like, and I had a blast once they broke out the defibrillator and were able to get my heart running again.   

bigbadbuck's picture

Not even for a second do I blame Coombs. I think especially the last 2 weeks the defensive game plan was to make the other team play to more what they don't do rather than just allowing them to do what they do best. Also a depth chart is there for a reason, there may not be a perceived drop off in talent from one to the next but there is a drop off from an experience stand point. Christian Bryant to Pittsburgh Brown is an example of that, but it doesn't mean as Pitt gets more reps and more playing time he won't close that gap. Another thing I think is happening is that like the pros more and more teams are opening up the offense and throwing way more which then only amplifies any little weakness a team might have in the secondary. Also I thought Urban ran the special teams.

Battles are sometimes won by generals; wars are nearly always won by sergeants and privates. Football is no different, the guys down in the trenches win the games, not the coach.            

Bobcat04's picture

  I seem to remember reading earlier this year that, in his mission to delegate more coaching, he handed the "official" special teams duties to Coombs.  I'm sure Urban is involved, but I'm pretty sure that on paper, it's Kerry Coombs.  If not, I stand corrected.
  I agree with you that Bryant's safety spot was a problem from an experience standpoint.  On NW's first td, Brown got beat for position badly.  Someone suggested a little earlier that maybe we could put Tyvis Powell at safety, and maybe Vonn Bell at STAR just to up the overall athleticism, if we are going to lack experience anyway.  I just think that our secondary is a big (and scary) surprise this year, as it was supposed to have been the superior unit of the defense, and has been by far the weakest link.  Halfway through the season, it'll probably never be rock-solid, but I hope we see incremental improvements as we go, a la last year. 

FLAMikey's picture

Your question about Coombs is spot on. I can't remember when there has been as much busted coverage/confusion/blown assignments as we've seen this season and last. Many OSU fans around me at the game were discussing this, and there were several wondering if Coombs will be on staff next season if the current trend continues.

45has2's picture

Think back to when UFM was building his staff, Coombs was a last second replacement for the coach Urb wanted that backed out.

"I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people." -W.W. Hayes

BoFuquel's picture

Just shows what you can do when you have twice the talent of the other team. Pack your bags, we're goin' bowlin'. It's the post season for these Buckeyes. I'm lovin' it.$$$$$$ GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

chitown buckeye's picture

I'm in the camp of putting more pressure on the qb and go tighter man in the secondary. Having said that, I can see situations where the soft zones come into play and I'm ok with this if we make the tackle. That's my biggest problem with the defense is that we don't just step up and make the tackle. To me that defines a bend but don't break defense. Give them the dinks and dunks but keep them in front of you and make the tackle. We typically miss the tackle and give them another 5-7 yards. Tackling is my biggest frustration.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

And that's the real reason the defense isn't looking great right now.  Our defensive philosophy has not changed and it's just as effective as it ever was.  The players aren't executing.  In a scheme that is predicated on the other team making mistakes or lacking consistency, every mistake that is made by our defense opens the door and widens the margin of error for opposition.  That's exactly what needs to be fixed.  

Buckeye Chuck's picture

One weird stat about last night's game: Northwestern had fewer incomplete passes (they were 25-31, which includes the ridiculous play at the end of the game) than they did failures on third down (they only converted 5 of 14, plus the big failure to convert fourth down). 

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

Silver Shotgun's picture

A rematch against NW seems harrowing at first blush, but consider the number of mistakes made by Braxton and co.  Would similar errors take place in a rematch?  I suspect not.  Also, credit to the Wildcat faithful for coming out in force, but a rematch on a neutral field might mitigate some of the Wildcats energy.  In short, I'd be excited to see OSU face a one-loss NW team in the Big Ten Title Game.
Also, 11W, I love the site, but why are all your photos filtered to look like they were taken in 1987?

Bobcat04's picture

I agree, I like us by a wider margin on a neutral field with a dry, fast track.  I think we had more missed opportunities and self-inflicted wounds that we can cut down on, than what NU did to stop us.  That said, we need to shore up the back 4 badly.   

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Also, 11W, I love the site, but why are all your photos filtered to look like they were taken in 1987?

Hipsters.

Toilrt Paper's picture

My recollection is, conservatives Tressel and Dantonio schemed up 50 different types of blitzes for Miami in 2002. GET WITH IT coacheS and ATTACK on defense.

stubbzzz's picture

I wish we'd do that every time we made it to the National Championship game.  that was so Awesome, and probably the biggest reason we won.

ScarletNGrey01's picture

Excellent synopsis of the game Chris including the strengths of the team and the challenges they face going forward.  Taking a more long term perspective, I think we fans will have some great teams in the seasons to come as top five recruiting classes keep cycling in, but as for this season, Meyer and staff are doing what they can with some great talent, one year of his system under their belt, but thin in the secondary.  Don't think the bucks are at the level of a Bama or the Ducks at this point, but perhaps they will earn the "most improved team" award by the end of the season and be ready to take on all comers.  This is a great time for the team to have a bye week, two weeks to rest up (physically AND mentally), heal up and get coached up.

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

NJ_BUCKEYE's picture

Where was Dontre Wilson last night?  He was on the kick return unit so he wasn't hurt. I thought some jet sweeps and screens would have provided another threat and/or look for the opponent to have to keep in mind.

Smanpoint10's picture

It bothers me that nobody has still taught Braxton how to properly tuck the ball when running. Most of his fumbles wouldn't happen if they were tucked correctly

buckeyemondo's picture

And how about Jamal Marcus? He's quietly putting together an outstanding season, typically making an impact on the rare snaps he receives. He made an outstanding play late in the 2nd quarter, sacking Trevor Siemian on 3rd and 6 from the OSU 9-yard line, forcing the Wildcats to settle for a field goal and a 20-13 lead. Think about it, 27-13 at the break was nearly reality if not for Jamal's gigantic play

you have to subtract the FG to add on the TD that never was.  would have been 24-13.

gobucks96's picture

Loved the dline play. everyone was questioning the line before the season, it is now the strength of the defense..
Northwestern has a heck of a ball club as well as a coach. Tip the cap indeed.

chibucks's picture

jamal marcus was a beast, he was clearing the way many times for the stunts to come around.  he was taking his guy way into the backfield - great energy!

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

It will be interesting to see how well Northwestern does against Wisconsin and Michigan State after we took the wind out of their sails. 
And if we get to the B1G championship game, all best are off regardless of who we play.  There is only 1 other coach in the college ranks that can prepare a team for a big game on Urban Meyer's level (maybe even better than Urban).  And it's most likely who we would play after beating the pants off in the B1G title game. 

Adolphus Washington is half grizzly bear and half dragon | Noah Spence kills quarterbacks, just to watch them die.