Beyond the Hashes: Iowa

By Chad Peltier on October 20, 2013 at 12:30p
Was it enough for a Heisman push, Mr. Hyde?

With top-ranked teams dropping all around them yesterday (Clemson, UCLA, UGA, Florida, both USCs, and Texas A&M), the Buckeyes turned in one of their most efficient performances of the season to do what those seven teams couldn't – just keep winning.

Sure, no Buckeyes hit NCAA statistical records yesterday, like UGA's Aaron Murray who set the SEC career all-time offense mark, or Jeremy Gallon's Big Ten receiving yards record with 369 versus Indiana, but the Buckeyes didn't need to. Highly efficient play was enough to put away the Hawkeyes and extend the win streak to 19-0.

Impervious to Negativity

One of the only stats you'll need to know when talking to your friends is zero: the number of times Ohio States punted against the previously number ten overall scoring defense in the country. That's the kind of day that the Buckeyes had yesterday. Sure, 34 points doesn't look like a lot compared to Alabama's 52 or Oregon's 62, but the Buckeyes seemed allergic to negative plays (except in the red zone in the first half).

In fact, the turnover on downs (and ending each half) was the only non-scoring possession of the game for the Buckeyes. I'll take 86% drive efficiency any day of the week. It wasn't all rosy, as Drew Basil had to be called out twice for field goals and the aforementioned turnover on downs made the Buckeyes' start seem slow, but Evan Spencer has some perspective here:

“When we got the ball it might have looked slow, but we scored the first two times we had possession and were moving the ball well. I think it was more Iowa starting fast, not us starting slow."

The second half was even more dominance as Hyde and Miller made it look pretty easy against the nation's eighth-ranked rushing defense (on a side note, while the stats haven't been updated for yesterday yet, five of the top ten rush defenses are in the Big Ten).

  • To continue that thought, Hyde had six carries in the first half and every one of them was efficient according to RBSR standards. He ended with a 75% RBSR on 24 carries. Those are incredible numbers even when you don't consider that it wasn't against Iowa's rush defense and with some of those inefficient carries coming on the final vanilla clock-eating drive. Those are just some of the reasons why 6.2 yards per carry doesn't tell the whole story.
  • Hyde wasn't the only efficient rusher for the Buckeyes, as Braxton also crossed the 100 yard mark on 18 carries. Miller's RBSR was only 62%, but that's still great – and indicative of fantastic game planning from Herman. Braxton continually made the correct read on inverted veer and packaged inside zone/hitches all day.
  • In fact, every ball carrier averaged over five yards per carry. Dontre was efficient on two of his three attempts and Hall made the most of his two carries in the game.
  • The Buckeyes managed 6.3 yards per play and .44 points per play. Not season-bests for sure, but this was due mostly to red zone inefficiencies, including one turnover on downs and two field goals. The nine additional plays to kill the clock in the fourth quarter also lowered these statistics somewhat artificially.
  • While it seemed like Iowa always had a tight end or four open every third down, the Buckeyes didn't slouch on third either, going 10/14.
  • Braxton's 8.2 yards per attempt won't blow you away, but his efficiency should. 22/27 (81%) for 222 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers. That's a career high in completions.
  • The Buckeyes had .53 PPP in the second half on 45 meaningful (non-clock killing) snaps. That's 6.6 yards per play.
One of those times when being one of the leading tacklers is not a good thingProbably not Reeves' best day as a Buckeye

Doing Just Enough

So, about that defense. The Roby-less unit still struggled through the air, giving up catches to seemingly every tight end on the roster (and giving Duzey an 85 yarder when he entered the game with four total catches on the season).

Not that it makes it OK, but didn't we expect this to some degree? We knew Iowa was a rush-heavy team that liked to ride Weisman to victory, play field position football, eat up the clock, and constrain defenses' aggression against the run with some well-timed play action passes.

Naturally, we'd expect Fickell and Withers to counter with a run defense-intensive look that might leave some holes in the secondary – especially if those players are young and coached for run-support first.

Further, the defense got more efficient as the game went on. After ten first quarter points and seven in the second, the Hawkeyes only scored seven in the second half and were shut out in the final quarter. The Hawkeyes only had two possessions in each quarter, but the time of possession was drastically different in each half – six minutes and 55 seconds in the second half compared to 18 minutes and five seconds in the first half.

Here are some quick notes:

  • The Buckeyes allowed a touchdown on an opponent opening drive for the first time this year.
  • On the bright side, Ohio State has yet to allow a 100-yard rusher this year. Weisman gained 52 yards on ten carries, but you never got the sense the Hawkeyes wanted him to carry the day. Instead they used the threat of Weisman and Bullock to hit rollout passes to tight ends.
  • I was extremely surprised that the Buckeyes didn't manage any sacks against Ruddock. In fact, Mike Bennett was the only Buckeye defender to manage a negative play – one TFL for one yard. However, Joey Bosa managed two quarterback hurries in his first career start and Shazier tacked on one as well.
  • Shazier, Grant, and Perry led the team in tackles (9, 8, and 6), which is exactly the group you'd expect to lead the team against a rush-heavy offense like Iowa. However, Armani Reeves tied Perry with six tackles and no pass breakups. That's not good news for Roby's one-game replacement.
  • Tyvis Powell wasn't on the field as often against Iowa, but he did record the team's only turnover, a fourth-quarter interception.
  • Adolphus Washington must still be recovering, as he only recorded three stops on the day.

We'll have more in-depth analysis of Buckeye stats coming soon from the charting project, so go volunteer to chart a quarter or four!


Comments Show All Comments

Seattle Linga's picture

Defensive secondary is what scares me - Why on 3rd and three ... are we covering 7 yards off the line? Format, Scheme or whatever you call it......... needs to be addressed.
Love ya Bucks!

Northbrook's picture

Did Schutt play or is he next week?

BuckeyeTrappedInSouth's picture

He played at least some as he spelled Bennett for a bit when Bennett was injured.

In Urban We Trust

The Butler's picture

Would liked to have seen more of Hall. I know Hyde is the main back, bust anyone know why Hall played so little?

I've trained Canaries in the sport of falconry.


ScarletNGrey01's picture

It's hard to call plays for Hall when you're in a tight game (behind for a lot of it) and you have a human bowling ball like Hyde.  Hall did not look all that effective when he did get carries, some of it not his fault, I think you need more carries to get a rhythm.  I think he could help as a slot receiver, but they are trying to get Dontre Wilson more involved in that capacity.  Maybe if the bucks could get a bit of a cushion one of these games Hall, Smith and Elliot could get some carries.  If Brax ran the speed option more maybe Hall would get some more yards that way.

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

d5k's picture

I'm going to be a bit more harsh.  He wasn't on the field because he wasn't one of the best 11.  The only way Hall gets on the field is to spell Hyde (if he even needs it) and if we decide to spice in some plays that require a more versatile back.  But Dontre is better at the edge plays and Hyde is better between the tackles and it's not that close right now.  Hyde has taken his game up a notch.
But there is no reason to be critical of the offensive game plan after a game where we did not punt and only didn't score 50 because the defense couldn't get off the field in the first half.

southbuc's picture

Agreed. Hall looked great against bad defenses with the o line blasting truck sized holes but when he had to make a miss at the line of scrimmage he struggles. His few touches weren't good. He's truly out of position at tailback. Also is anyone still lobbying for Kenny to take snaps from brax?  Urban knows best people...

ScarletNGrey01's picture

I don't think Braxton's knee is 100% yet, I think he's at about 85% or so (pulling percentages out of my you-know-what) but what a great balance of running and throwing.  He could have a great finish to the season and next season could be something really special.

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

pjtobin's picture

I was wondering what others thought about a few of our Jr's staying for their sr year. Do you think Braxton stays? What about Roby?

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

harleymanjax's picture

I don't think we lose anybody early this year

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

BuckGuy003's picture

At this rate neither guy has a choice. Neither are playing at an NFL level. Another year will benefit them both.

d5k's picture

Roby still has a choice.  Guys like Ashton Youboty went early to get drafted in the 3rd-4th round or whatever.  And he still has a chance to fly up draft boards with good workouts and a good remainder of the season/bowl game.
The hit that got him ejected actually helps his draft stock if anything as that physicality and speed combo is rare.
Shazier will clearly have a choice as well, and Bennett could ask about his stock at least as he is having a very good season and shows quickness for his size (probably a 3-4 DE at next level).

buckeyepastor's picture

This was tremendously helpful.  Not having been home to see the game yet, I've been wondering how we came to be trailing for much of it.  Kept hearing and reading comments like, "They're sluggish" and "playing like crap," and I wondered if they meant the offensive line wasn't getting a push, or we had a load of penalties, or the pass game was out of rhythm.   Statistically, it sounds like we just had to work at scoring with some longer drives, and weren't getting to be on the field as often as usual early in the game.    

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

ibuck's picture

Chad, you use RBSR without explanation. Running Back Success Rate? 
If so, what's the criteria for success? Not losing yardage?  
It doesn't seem that you're using Smart Football's "rush success rate" criteria, which is basically earning a TD or 1st down, or half the yards to go—with a minimum of 4 yards for success, unless it's a TD or 1st down.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

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

Chad Peltier's picture

I use Football Outsiders RBSR which is pretty similar to Chris Brown's

NEWBrutus's picture

Just curious, how are you calculating drive efficiency?