Ohio State v. Northwestern: Offensive Breakdown

By Ross Fulton on October 8, 2013 at 12:45p
63 Comments

Ohio State had little difficulty moving the football against Northwestern but turnovers and red zone inefficiency put Ohio State in a precarious position.

The Wildcats made the strategic decision to try and take away the Buckeyes' run and deep passing game. Northwestern sought to bend against Ohio State's offense until the Buckeyes reached the red zone. There, the Wildcats  shifted to cover 0 to prevent the Buckeyes from running the football. This strategy was effective in the first half in keeping Ohio State out of the end zone.

The Wildcats had difficulty stopping Ohio State offense in the second half, however, as Ohio State largely ran at will behind Carlos Hyde and the Ohio State offensive line. Nor could the Wildcats get third down stops once Miller and the Buckeyes discovered that Northwestern's zone coverage was leaving Hyde open underneath. And Miller overcame early turnovers to again demonstrate an ability to make plays when Ohio State needed him most.

Below I examine Northwestern's defensive strategy, what led to Ohio State's first half problems, the Buckeyes' second half adjustments and Miller and Hyde's performances. 

Doing the Limbo

Knowing they could not shut down Ohio State's offense, Northwestern instead focused on limiting where the Buckeyes are most efficient. Specifically, the Wildcats wanted to a) apply numbers against the Buckeye run game and contain Miller and b) prevent Ohio State from hitting pass plays over the top.

To do so the Wildcats utilized their 4-3 over defense. Northwestern sought to apply one more defender in the box then Ohio State had blockers, often having their defenders split the difference between the Buckeyes' tackle and slot receiver when Ohio State went four wide. When the Buckeyes aligned tight end Jeff Heuerman on the line of scrimmage the Wildcats generally put seven defenders in the box. 

Northwestern with Seven in the Box

In the secondary the Wildcats often played cover 3, frequently using a 3 man rush to play three deep and five underneath defenders. The deep defenders' primary goal was preventing Ohio State from getting behind them with the pass. 

Northwestern in Cover 3

Northwestern did an about face in the red zone, playing cover 0 with no middle of the field safety help. 

 

Spinning the Wheels

The Wildcat defense had middling success but initially accomplished its ultimate goal. The Buckeyes came out successfully throwing the football using play action often from trips alignments. Throughout the game Northwestern could not stop Ohio State throwing play action hitch or deep crossing routes. With the latter Brown works inside as if he is running a curl and then get depth at 17-22 yards. He will run to the area that is vacated by two deep posts from the opposite side of the field.

The hitch was a packaged play, meaning that Miller had a run/pass option post-snap. The Ohio State offensive line ran power from the pistol. Miller read the front side outside linebacker. If he played the run he would pull and throw the hitch. Ohio State has increasingly utilized packaged plays this season as the coaching staff grows more comfortable with Miller's ability to operate the read.

Ohio State also often brought a TE or WR in motion across the formation to successfully block back against the extra Wildcat defender in the box.

The Buckeyes bogged down in the red zone against Northwestern's cover 0, however. The Buckeyes sought to run lead plays with Braxton Miller to re-equate numbers, but the Buckeyes still did not have adequate blockers.

When Ohio State did throw the football, Miller missed an open Chris Fields. The result was that a Buckeye offense that has been very efficient in the red zone under Urban Meyer had to kick two first half red zone field goals.

Northwestern also prevented Ohio State from hitting a deep post or vertical route. The Buckeyes had several chances but could not convert. In so doing the Buckeyes' offense ran headfirst into Northwestern's deep safeties and drifted away from what was effective, namely running Hyde and play-action passing. 

Cleaning it up

The biggest issues into the early third quarter, however, was the most most obvious – turnovers – specifically Miller's fumbles.  Losing the turnover battle is one of the biggest predictors of losing the game, and it took all the Buckeyes' efforts (and a blocked punt) to overcome three giveaways.

Once the Buckeyes stopped turning the football over they were difficult to stop. This has several components with the dominance of Hyde and the offensive line being the most obvious. The Buckeyes repeatedly ran inside zone, most often on the left side behind Jack Mewhort and Andrew Norwell. The Buckeyes had success running zone slice blocking (a play Meyer adopted from his NFL film study last winter), with Heuerman blocking back to seal the cutback lane. The Buckeyes controlled the point of attack and Hyde took it from there, generally making the correct read and gaining yards after contact.

Hyde likely played his best game as a Buckeye, particularly in the vision he displayed picking holes. The Buckeyes began beating Northwestern's cover 0 look at the goal line with Hyde drawing Northwestern's defenders inside and then bouncing the run. 

To assist that effort Miller had one of his better games executing Ohio State's read plays. Northwestern often used various forms of scrape exchange on both sides to help defend inside zone read and inverted veer. The defensive end would crash down and either an outside linebacker would scrape around or a defensive back would come up to play contain. The goal is to confuse a quarterback with his reads and put a more athletic defender in space. 

 

Miller was not perfect but more often than not he made the correct decision. This was true even on his first fumble, where the defensive end crashed down. If Miller got outside he was set for a big play but the defensive end made a nice play on the football.

Miller's reads were particularly helpful on inverted veer. As noted, Northwestern was running a scrape exchange on the front side, focused on having the crashing end take away Miller. Miller's tendency on that play has generally been to to keep. But against Northwestern Miller correctly gave on the play to Hyde throughout the game. Heuerman was able to cut the scraping linebacker and Hyde had several runs for big gains.

Checkin' Down

As noted, the Buckeyes' passing game was inconsistent early as they tried to force the football down field. Ohio State became far more efficient throwing the football once Miller and the Buckeyes concluded that Northwestern deep zone drops were leaving Hyde uncovered in the flat. Below you can see how Northwestern distributes its cover 3 defense deep against the Buckeyes' snag combination, leaving Hyde uncovered.

The Buckeyes converted several crucial second half first down taking advantage of this vulnerability in the Wildcats' zone. The Buckeyes also returned to the play action hitch and deep cross routes with success.

Making Plays When it Counts

No deep crossing route to Brown was more important then Miller's 38 yard pass on second and one, when he patiently waited for Brown to get across the field after scrambling.

Miller's early turnovers and missed throw to Fields undoubtedly hurt Ohio State's efforts. But he recovered when Ohio State needed him. Though he never played poorly, Miller undoubtedly played his best in the fourth quarter. He ran north and south and made the correct reads in both the run and pass game. This was reminiscent of last season. Miller has repeatedly demonstrated he is at his best and most in the flow of the game when the game is on the line. 

Getting Off Script

The Northwestern game again demonstrated Miller and Hyde's missed time has perhaps delayed the Buckeye offensive coaching staff from fully getting in a rhythm as play callers. Meyer and Tom Herman tend to fall back upon two crutches – designed run plays for Miller and drop back deep passing routes. Defenses are still focused upon containing Miller, however, limiting his ability to get outside contain. But in the second half Ohio State demonstrated that they can rely upon their talented offensive line and Hyde as they did last season. In fact, Hyde demonstrated more versatility in posing a threat on inverted veer, providing the Buckeyes another edge runner. Once defenses must concern themselves with Hyde then the Buckeyes can spring Miller outside.  

In terms of the passing game, Miller was far more efficient Saturday from play action. This should be expected, as a defense cannot focus on the run and defend the pass. The Buckeyes should continue to emphasize play-action to move Miller and attack behind run-focused second level defenders.

Northwestern had a nice game plan against Ohio State but more often then not it was the Buckeyes stopped themselves. The Buckeyes averaged 6.09 yards per play but only scored .36 points over those plays, owing to turnovers and red zone inefficiency. On a positive front, the Buckeyes' second half adjustments evidenced that Ohio State has multiple ways to attack a defense. The Ohio State offense is explosive but has hit rough patches in each game, largely owing to the Buckeyes' self-imposed mistakes. This is at times a result of Miller having stretches of inconsistency, but is exacerbated by dropped passes on third down and other mistakes. But it also reflects the high ceiling for the Ohio State offense. The Buckeyes can now use a bye week to clean up mistakes and strive for a cleaner performance.

63 Comments

Comments

dwcbuckeye's picture

Great analysis Ross, really enjoy this. 

ChazBuckeye's picture

Love the breakdown as usual Ross.

"The Northwestern game again demonstrated Miller and Hyde's missed time has perhaps delayed the Buckeye offensive coaching staff from fully getting in a rhythm as play callers."

I agree with you on this for sure.  I agree with all the rest too but this hit home with me.  The fact that Braxton missed read after read on option read hand off when the D.E. was sucked in and an inevitable 7 to 10 yard gain was open all night.  Unfortunately that didn't happen...almost every time the D.E. over committed Braxton handed off to Hyde.  I think that may have been a direct result of him missing time as well as the coaches play calling.  Oh well.  It wasn't a good game for #5 obviously (not to mention the coverage as you pointed out made it very difficult on Braxton in the first half and thank goodness he started checking down in the second half).  Hopefully that rhythm gets better, soon. 

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

1MechEng's picture

Ross ... wonderful analysis, as always!
No mention of the failed fake punt? Curious as to your take on this ...

Ross Fulton's picture

I actually don't have a strong opinion on it. On the one hand, to fake you have to be willing to do it when they don't expect it, i.e. in bad field position. On the other hand, I'm not sure that was the time to do it given how the game was going.  So I lean towards the wrong call, but I can see why he did it then.

ibuck's picture

Ross, Cameron Johnston did not cut back on that fake punt, but what did you think of the blocking on that play?

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

ibuck's picture

If you're a coach opposing OSU, how do you approach Buckeye 4th downs?
    From film study, you know OSU's punter generally kicks the ball too high for much of a return. You also know Urban likes to go for it on 4th and short--by running the ball. So you prepare to stop those 4th and short runs, rather than relying on your normal punt return line-up.

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I just marvel at our OL when they're clicking on all cylinders. They were pushing purple jerseys around at will in the 2nd half. It looked like they were throwing stuffed Barney dolls.
It's evident that opposing defenses' primary goal against us is this year is to stop Miller's big ground gainers. But the defense has to commit and adjust its personnel to stop it, which leaves Hyde or any other RB open to run rampant IF the reads are done right. As you said, Ross, Miller made the correct reads and look how the offense took off in the 2nd half. If the defense adjusts back to stop Hyde then Braxton is off to the races. It's kind of pick your poison. I think that's one thing that gets overlooked and shows how much the offense has improved over last year. With our ability to throw the ball better, we just did what we couldn't do last year (Wisconsin game a prime example) which is beat people up when people shut down Miller's running.

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

holtzy's picture

Northwestern had a nice game plan against Ohio State but more often then not it was the Buckeyes stopped themselves.

This is so true.  Not to play the game of 'what if', but without the two fumbles, this game would not have been close.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I've said that about 20 times to myself, too. Thats why if we play them again in the B1G title game and we play better I dont believe it would be close.

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

Buckeye Chuck's picture

One thing that surprised me, given the perception that Hyde carried the entire offense against Wisconsin, is that Miller's 26 pass attempts were the second highest total of his career. Some of that was due to us not having our usual safe fourth quarter lead, but it also seems that we're more committed to a run-pass balance this season, and a passing attack that is less focused on hitting individual big plays, which is what carried us in 2012. It was good to see that when Northwestern took away the home run ball, we still found a way to respond.

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

bigbill992001's picture

While BM hasnt been as dynamic with his runs this yr., I still think he's not 100%, his passing has definately improved.   Not NFL caliber, but not far off.   Next yr. he should be awesome.

AndyVance's picture

Really enjoy these write-ups, Ross. Your analysis confirmed what I thought after watching BTN's "Game in 60 minutes" rewind yesterday: Braxton actually performed pretty well, minus the three turnovers (including one fumble which should be credited as much to a good play by the defender as to Braxton not doing a good enough job of protecting the rock, and likewise the INT).
The game was tough to watch the first time, but watching it somewhat dispassionately the second time, it wasn't worth all the "we're all gonna die" doom and gloom I'd read in the forums here.

FitzBuck's picture

Another great write up.  Glad you explained how Miller made the correct reads because it's very difficult to tell based on close ups on TV.  The one play in particular you pointed out which resulted in Millers first fumble looked like he made an incorrect read because the DE targeted him.  What was not known is that if he escapes he's all alone.  Keep up the great work.  

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

d5k's picture

I went back and watched the first half and that play in particular and the DE did square his hips toward Hyde before making a quick recovery to Miller with an outstretched arm (which happened to hit the football perfectly).

jbcuky's picture

Yes it was just a fantastic play by the DE.

Earle's picture

On that QB lead, it sure looked like Hyde had sealed the corner if Braxton had read his block and not cut back into the pursuit.

Italics are for emphasis.

Maestro's picture

Yep, when I charted that play I gave Miller a minus for giving up a good chunk of yards by not following his blocks.

vacuuming sucks

Ross Fulton's picture

I was thinking the same thing when I saw it again this am.  Good catch.

ejoceans's picture

I don't care what anyone says, Braxton is not %100 yet. Also this was a great game and a great comeback for the buckeyes.  I think this week off will do them tons of good as they can lick their cuts and get back to it on the practice field again. O  H 

Lets do this Brutus

carence's picture

I'm sorry but I have to break up the kum-ba-ya and raise the BS flag! You stated that "Miller never played poorly" then why was KG warming up and was really close to getting in? It's because Miller wasn't getting the job done and he was playing poorly. Miller reverted back to his old ways with the read option. As much as I hate to admit it, Herbie called it. He was pre-determining what he was going to do and it showed.
You say that "The Northwestern game again demonstrated Miller and Hyde's missed time has perhaps delayed the Buckeye offensive coaching staff from fully getting in a rhythm as play callers", I'm sorry but this is an excuse. If Kenny can come in off the bench and has not played all season, move the ball, make accurate reads and pinpoint passes then the expectation is not high enough for Miller. (I'm talking about last year against Purdue as well).
Now, I know it comes with the territory that when you comment, you open yourself up to downvotes, ridicule, namecalling, etc. With that being said, I don't plan on reading any comments after mine.
I'll end with this, I'm not a troll, I will love the Buckeyes until I die but I have a certain level of expectation and the product that was on the field Saturday, did not meet them.
 

Squirrel Master's picture

you left out that you are comparing Kenny G's games against some pretty bad teams to Braxton's games against two ranked teams.
and I'm sorry but Kenny warming up is a far stretch to Braxton actually getting pulled!
(FYI, I don't downvote. I do however think you will read this)
 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Maestro's picture

Come on man, don't post and run.  I agree that Miller was mediocre on Saturday night.  Even on the first drive when he completed his first 5 passes 2 of them were poor throws.  Devin Smith had to snag a poor throw that prevented him from gaining as much as possible and the throw to Spencer was so poor that it totally destroyed the play.  It was a screen set up to run inside and since Spencer had to go back and to the left (Seinfeld reference not intended) he never had a chance to run the play as designed.  Miller's 6th throw was tipped at the line and almost intercepted, but even if it hadn't been tipped it would have probably been picked off as well.  

vacuuming sucks

Ross Fulton's picture

I don't have the stats in front of me but I think there has been a sizeable difference in how Miller has performed at home versus on the road. I agree he came out shaky (to me poor play is different then inconsistent or mediocre) and got better as the game went on.

 

I do think people are not anticipating the problems that would come with Guiton due to his lack of arm strength once teams got film and prepared for him,

Maestro's picture

Yes, I am tough on Miller.  Inconsistent is a better word.  I love having him as the Buckeyes QB, but I am still waiting for him to play a stretch of complete games at a high level.  If that happens the sky is truly the limit.

vacuuming sucks

Ross Fulton's picture

Give me the particular plays where Miller misread read plays and describe to me why the read was incorrect.

 

I am open to having my opinion changed but blanket statements don't do it for me. And Herbstreit said that and was wrong several times because NU was running a scrape exchange.

 

Defenses gameplan to stop Miller. They don't gameplan to stop Guiton. If Guiton is in there teams will play the run and force him to throw the ball downfield. Completely changes the dynamic.

 

As to him warming up Meyer is intense during games. He was upset about the fumble but calmed down and realized it wasn't a good decision.

d5k's picture

I went back and watched the first fumble and it does look like a correct read.  The only missed read I think I could find was his give to Hyde on the drive with the Heuerman drop and fake punt.  This was another scrape exchange but I believe Heuerman was trying to arc block the OLB.  DE crashed on Hyde and tackled him for no gain.
I also think Miller was handcuffed by less than ideal play calling in the first half.  I think the switch in the red zone wasn't adjusted to well until the second half.  The WR screen and QB sweep were bad calls vs. that defense.  It would help if Braxton had the freedom or ability to check into different plays.

ChazBuckeye's picture

I'm not referring to the fumbles btw...that was just because he wasn't covering up the ball well.  Not to mention, it was obvious the NW defense had been practicing for situations with loose ball carrying.  
I can pick out at least four plays where Braxton handed off the ball to Hyde and luckily he made something out of nothing.  I don't have what number the plays were in front of me because I don't have time to chart plays (let alone for free;-)  I can tell you almost every time it was a read hand off, the D.E. had over pursued.  That's an easy read for a option read QB IMHO.  Just watch when #97 or #94 flowed down the line and then Braxton hands off the ball.  I'm not sure but I'd call that mediocre play in that particular game for someone who should live off those types of reads (he should know it and recognize it pretty well at this point). I'm not jumping on the "hate" bandwagon as it's been called.  It's the criticism highway and I'll be driving down it until 10/19.  Hopefully over the next two weeks it will be fixed...I hope.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

Ross Fulton's picture

I could spend an entire column writing about reads. And I have certainly not been shy to criticize Miller for pre-determining his reads. However, there are two things to keep in mind:

 

1) At times what looks like a read play isn't actually a read. There is really no way to know that except for trying to watch body language.

2) We're talking about a split second decision here. As a result, every team has default rules, i.e. when in doubt give or keep. Tom Herman has made clear that for OSU,"if the QB is going to be wrong they want him to be wrong giving the football." In other words, it is inevitable that any OSU QB is going to give when in hindsight they should have kept.

3) As others mentioned, teams continue to try to play 2 of the backside to take away the QB keep. That is why you see OSU throwing a lot of packaged plays on the backside.

Ahh Saturday's picture

It looks like carence has picked up his ball and gone home.

ChazBuckeye's picture

I'm certainly not agreeing with all that he (carence) said...that's for sure.  However, this game was perfect timing if you think about it.  Better now than TTUN game or B1G Championship game.
And I can bet you my bottom $$ that Herman and Meyer will be working in the film room with Braxton.  This you can guarantee my Buckeye Compardres.  It all starts with films and I bet Braxton will be watching the NW game till he wants to throw up      ;-)

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

I'm still convinced Meyer the psychologist only did that (had Kenny warm up) to get Miller's attention. He seemed to play much better after that. Sometimes even the best players need a swift kick in the pants.

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

cal3713's picture

It looked like that to me, but in the post-game Miller commented that he had no idea Guiton had ever started warming up.

AndyVance's picture

Now, I know it comes with the territory that when you comment, you open yourself up to downvotes, ridicule, namecalling, etc. With that being said, I don't plan on reading any comments after mine.

If ever a comment deserved a downvote, it's that one. Like Squirrel, I'm not one to DV unless it's really egregious, which the substance of your comment certainly didn't warrant, but your parting shot was A.) silly, and B.) just begging for downvotes. Don't beg for downvotes.

d5k's picture

I wasn't familiar with the term 'slice' but I had noticed that we have more success in general when we run inside zone without a read and block the DE with Heuerman.  Teams are eager to scrape exchange it seems so even if Miller makes the right read on the DE he has to make a LB miss in the backfield often.  The inside zone with a read also seems more dangerous if the DE comes charging with no indecisiveness to the mesh point as seen on the fumble.  
Miller's threat of running seems to freeze the OLB / DB as you describe on the scrape exchange with play action but also just for the 'slice' straight give to Hyde.  If teams are going to sell out to stop inside read then I think we should all but scrap it since play action and running Hyde without a read are so successful.

Ross Fulton's picture

Good observation. IMO its because teams are so focused upon the zone read they devote an additional defender to stop it. The slice block at least provides a cut back lane.

 

That is why I would like to see OSU continue to rely upon running the packaged plays to the backside.

d5k's picture

Basically seems like teams give up gap integrity to stop Miller assuming the DE will take Hyde.  So if you block the DE Hyde has  numbers out in front of him with the wrong-footed LB/safety chasing the play.  The QB lead play we have been running just compresses the defense and leads to Hyde blocking 2 guys in the hole.  Have we been running that to the play side rather than a counter trey also?

Fugelere's picture

 

Have we been running that to the play side rather than a counter trey also?

Yes I noticed that too.  Maybe a sweep or power?
EDIT:  maybe because it hits quicker than the counter?
 

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Following up on your discussion with D5K: Doesn't the TE slice block tend to clog up the inside hole a bit, though, so that the outside cutback - like Hyde ran for the 4 yd TD above - would be the more typical result?
Either way, that cutback alley on this slice play (with predetermined hand-off to Hyde) does set up well when the defense "scrapes" a safety or outside LB. That defender will probably be thinking about "sitting on" on Miller - who will usually try to make a lateral move and make that guy miss - when all of a sudden a 240-lb power back is running straight downhill on him . . .

d5k's picture

But not only is the scrape guy keying on Miller but usually there is a CB or Safety on that side who has Braxton responsibilities as well.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Very true sir (D5K).  I think your interpretation was correct.

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Ross, you laid this all out so clearly and cleanly even a Michigan grad could understand it............

Boxley's picture

Well, Ross has always wanted to teach kiddy gartners, so some scum players might get it.
Since he isn't teaching five year olds, he has to settle with us as the class, (man that's a little depressing!)

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

DMcDougal24's picture

Hey Ross, I've seen people speculate elsewhere but what do you make of Dontre Wilson's absence on offense, at least from a schematic standpoint?

Ross Fulton's picture

I think the straightforward answer is correct here. The ball was really slick, Miller already fumbled, and they worried about him fumbling. I think they wanted to get through this game, and then use the bye week to get better and improve.

 

Meyer is more conservative then some other spread coaches. There are times when he will take the safer, more conservative alternative.

Michael Citro's picture

This begs the question of whether he should have been at least used as a decoy. I liked that wrinkle in the Wisconsin game, with the fake to Wilson and the give to Hyde.

extemporary08's picture

Wilson was on kickoff return all night along with EZE I believe.  I was relieved with the patience they displayed as I could tell Wilson was chomping at the bit to return them, but they erred on the side of caution which showed great maturity.  BTW Ross, thanks for your articles!

AltaBuck's picture

I thought Johnston should have cut up field to set up his blocks on that play. He had the blockers but decided to bounce outside where NW had leverage and could make the tackle.  After the play, you could see UM yelling and motioning at Johnston to cut up field.
 
Edit: My reply to 1MECHENG's post above regarding the fake punt attempt.

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon. - Crash Davis

Fugelere's picture

Ross, when you break down these games are you using all-22 film?  If so where do you find it?  Thanks.

harync's picture

I watched the 60-min version of the game, and Miller definitely was shaky. I remain concerned that certain hits make Miller go limp and completely lose ball control. Think MSU last year, Wisconsin last week. In all Braxton had 8 fumbles (5 lost) in 2012 (tied for 8th). Maybe that's par for the course for running QBs, as Tahj Boyd had 7 fumbles (3 lost) in 2012. Still Johnny Manziel had 0 last year. At least he was no Taylor Martinez with 16 (!) fumbles (8 lost) in 2012. But at this point, Boyd, Martinez and Manziel have 0 fumbles lost vs. Miller's 2. Still something to work on during the bye week.

d5k's picture

Second fumble is obviously on Braxton but the first one the DE got a hand on the football as Braxton was pulling it out of Hyde's belly and before he had it fully tucked.  And he was squaring toward Hyde so it was a correct read.  You have to just give the DE credit or re-evaluate the play calling (seems like everything but inside zone-read seems to work better against these defenses).

Doc's picture

Why is it that the coaching staff moves away from the pass game after things get "tight".  It seems to me they lock down the playbook instead of opening it up more.  Whatever happened to the Diamond formation we heard about all summer long.  I'm surprised Meyer is as conservative on offense as he is in the second half.  I'm not arguing with the results, just confused that he lays off the gas and coasts in some games.
Secondly, it seemed to me that Nerdwestern's field looked like it needed a good mowing.  Was this because the ground crew got caught with all of the rain, or did Chompers(Fitzgerald) want a shag carpet for us to run on?

"Say my name."

Kurt's picture

Ross, any thoughts about the tempo of the offense?  We came out blazing fast on that opening drive which sputtered after player injury.  But then we didn't really go up-tempo after that.  Thoughts on why that might be?  Seemed to be the same against Wisconsin, hot knife through butter when we were up-tempo then we slowed down and sort of struggled at times.

Doc's picture

In my uneducated opinion it seems to me that we have an identity problem.  I think Urban and Herman want to be uptempo.  But when things begin to breakdown, or there is a hiccup, we revert back to a traditional game plan.  I don't know if it is a lack of faith in the players, or in the scheme.  I feel that all of the pieces aren't there quite yet to do what they want to do, or the coaches don't think the pieces that are there can do what they(coaches) really want to do.  I'm waiting for an offensive explosion that has yet to happen.

"Say my name."

harync's picture

I think it's interesting to note that the first drive where they marched down the field was scripted. My guess would be that the further into the game they get, the more improvising Herman/Meyer are doing, and they happen to be a lot more conservative when they improvise. I am really surprised how much Tresselball we have seen, though.

Doc's picture

It looks the same to me as well.The scripted plays put the defenses on their heels and we move the ball down the field with "ease".  After that it seems like the offensive staff goes to a playbook Walrus left behind.

"Say my name."

cal3713's picture

If it results in a win, I don't know if it's a problem.  As Meyer said (implied?) last week, you start throwing the ball all over the place and you risk quick three & outs and turnovers.  Maybe if our defense was top 5 in both run and pass defense it would be a different story, but let's face the facts, at this point we want to win the time of possession battle.  Leaning on Hyde and our fabulous offensive line is an effective way to score while also keeping the ball out of the opposing teams hands.  I think it would be silly to not rely on this strategy.  Sure, blowouts and precision passing "look better", but why not rely on what we absolutely know will work?   

45OH4IO's picture

With the run/pass read play, why weren't the Bucks flagged for illegal man downfield? I mean, the lineman were five yards downfield when he threw that ball. I didn't notice it during the game, but I wouldn't be happy about that if I were the defense.
Add that to my list of things I don't like that offenses get away with. Public enemy #1 is wideouts blocking DBs for a screen before the ball is in the air. WEAK!

d5k's picture

They allow pressing DB's to make contact within 5 yards so it would be impossible to distinguish blocking from trying to get off of press coverage within 5 yards.  They do need to call it pass interference if it is more than 5 yards downfield.  
And I think I've heard Belichick say before that this is one of the big differences between the college/NFL game is the calling of illegal man downfield.

allinosu's picture

Playing angry and aggressive starts with coaching angry and aggressive.Kenny g has earned time.

bigbill992001's picture

I've said it before and I say it again, he's earned a series or two against decent teams.   He's played great every time he's been asked to come in.   Maybe its just me, but the offense just seems to run smoother.   No knock on BM.

D-Day0043's picture

If you call turning the ball over, inaccurate passing, missing reads, and negative plays, playing well - I would hate to hear your definition of playing poorly.
I'll give him a pass on the first fumble. The interception was due to poor pocket awareness. The second fumble was poor ball security. Overthrowing wide open receivers is inexcusable for a 3rd year player.
As far as making plays in the 4th quarter - don't stink in the first 3 quarters and you won't have to make a come back in the 4th.
For every jaw dropping play Miller makes, he misses several routine plays. I will trade the jaw dropping plays for consistency, intelligence, and the ability to distribute the ball.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

d5k's picture

It isn't a coincidence that Braxton looked better between the 20's than in the red zone.  The play calling was better in the red zone in the second half.  Actually read all of the stuff Ross wrote rather than getting on your soap box and engage in some thought about what the plays were and what were the 11 guys supposed to do rather than just saying "Braxton played awful".  He obviously missed Fields which isn't something that is typical with Braxton (usually when he sees the open receivers he hits them just fine) but the plays we were running didn't attack the cover 0 defense very well.  I initially had the same thought about missed reads but if you read all the Chris Brown articles linked you start to understand how difficult it is to run the base inside zone-read against these scrape exchanges and multiple spy looks.
The interception was meaningless, we were trying desperately to get into scoring territory with very little time on the clock.  I blame Urban for not calling a timeout after NW's 3rd down play before the FG (clock ran down from ~2:00 to 1:20 giving us a much more difficult task to try to drive down and score).

D-Day0043's picture

I understand defenses, so I don't need Ross to explain them to me. I watched Miller run right into the overloaded side of the defense 3 times, when he should have audibled. One put an end to the first drive, so it was costly. The coaching staff tried to change the play but he had already snapped the ball. He should have seen it. I am NOT saying that Herman's play calling wasn't somewhat at fault, because it was. I just didn't address that aspect.
That interception was important. They were on the 50 yard line with timeout's and time left on the clock. They had the ability to put three on the board. Meyer didn't call a timeout because he wanted to make sure we had the last possession.
There is nothing wrong with admitting your faults and looking at the things that you did wrong so that you can improve. I can guarantee you that the coaching staff is looking at the game film and looking at all of their mistakes so they can improve.
Even though I am a fan, I will look at our performance objectively, not like a blind homer. That was NOT one of Miller's better performances. And he has NOT perfected the art of reading a defense. It is alarming that he has showed very little improvement in this area. He has been playing for 3 years now, he shouldn't have to have the coaching staff hold his hand every time he lines up to survey the defense. NW was not disguising what they were doing. It was very straight forward.
For example: their nickel corner was blitzing almost every play on the final couple drives. Credit to Braxton for running away from it, but he should have called an inside slant and burned him. That would have stopped the blitzing and took a defender out of the box, which would have been one less man to block on a running play.
You can say I'm on my "soap box" if you like, but it's the truth. I see it, and I guarantee you the coaching staff sees it too. That is why they had Kenny warming up and that is why they had a talk with Miller after that last fumble. Credit to Miller for not sulking and coming out and responding. He has the physical tools, he just needs to work on the mental aspect of the game, and for whatever reason it has not clicked for him yet. I hope that it does. I may be critical of his performance, but I DO NOT want to see him fail. I want this team to succeed, and credit to them for overcoming a bad performance and still winning. One day they may not get so lucky and it will probably cost them a chance at playing for a title.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.