Debriefing: Clemson

By Michael Citro on January 4, 2014 at 10:30a
Joey Bosa came to play, and did it most of the night on one leg.

The Buckeyes had a rough week of pre-Orange Bowl practice in South Florida this week. Suspensions, injuries, flu bugs and wipeouts on skim boards have provided a wealth of distractions in the run-up to the big game against a good Clemson squad.

With both teams known primarily for their offenses, this game was billed as an offensive shootout in the making, especially with the news that Bradley Roby and Noah Spence were out (and eventually Curtis Grant, as of game time).

Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins had to be licking their chops when looking at a secondary that featured Armani Reeves and Doran Grant at corner, freshman Vonn Bell at star and Tyvis Powell joining senior C.J. Barnett at safety. Meanwhile, Clemson’s defense was known for making tackles for loss, but also giving opponents lots of explosive plays.

Could Ohio State’s young defense play like a group of seasoned veterans? Would Luke Fickell and Everett Withers design a scheme to shut down the Boyd/Watkins tandem confuse Clemson’s star quarterback? Would Braxton Miller return to the passing efficiency he enjoyed early in the season? Would Carlos Hyde rumble again?

Not even close, not at all, mostly yes, and kind of — but again Tom Herman forgot about him after Ohio State took the lead.

This one hurts, but probably not as much as the loss to Sparty in the grand scheme of things. Here are your talking points:

Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)

Ohio State overcame a slow start to take a 29-20 lead late in the third. The Buckeye defense then got a big stop, but Philly Brown’s unfortunate muffed punt gave Clemson new life. They made the most of it, with a quick touchdown and another off a Braxton Miller interception to regain the lead. The Buckeyes scored again but the defense couldn’t hold the lead. C.J. Barnett’s late interception gave Ohio State a shot, but Miller returned the favor with the fourth Buckeye turnover. Clemson pretty much Sammy Watkins’d Ohio State to death. The future NFL star caught 16 passes for 227 yards in Clemson’s 40-35 win.

Talk before the game 

“No Bradley Roby. No Noah Spence. Hold me, I’m scared.”

“These two offenses might score 70 against the opposing defenses.”

Talk in the aftermath

“This is the worst Ohio State defense I’ve ever seen. Someone’s got to go.”

“What a terrible way for Philly Brown to go out.”

“Braxton’s going pro after that beating. He won’t be back.”

Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)

Braxton Miller took an absolute beating — including a helmet to the chest that wasn’t called on a third-quarter interception, and being driven into the ground (which was called) on his TD pass to Carlos Hyde. He was so banged up that his final interception (Maybe? Definitely worth a second look by replay.) may have been largely influenced by the state of his body. But Miller showed extreme toughness in playing through pain and completed 16/24 for 234 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 79 yards after you take out sack yardage lost and touchdowns of 33 and three yards.

It might have been Miller’s last game as a Buckeye, but if it was, he certainly gave us everything he had. Unfortunately, the last interception with the game on the line will probably stick in many people’s heads longer than his overall performance.

Snot Knocker of the Game

After the muffed punt, Clemson took over with a first down at the OSU 33-yard line. Tajh Boyd faked a handoff and kept the ball, running over the left side. He was met in the hole by freshman safety Tyvis Powell. Powell’s hit on Boyd echoed around Sun Life Stadium as the Clemson quarterback was dropped hard after a three-yard gain.

Did you see that?! (Play of the game)

XBrax does it again. Dat stutter step, tho!

Miller’s first touchdown run was a thing of beauty. Keeping over the left side, Miller found the sideline, with a bunch of green in front of him, but Clemson defenders closing from the middle of the field. Miller gave the mother of all stutter steps, freezing the defender and allowing him to get to the end zone.

When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)

There is no choice here but the play that changed the game. Ohio State had a two-score lead and was getting the ball back in decent field position. Bradley Pinion punted the ball high into the South Florida sky. Brown, usually a fairly conservative return man, opted not to call for a fair catch. As the ball came down and Clemson Tigers converged on him, Brown tried to field the punt while turning away from pursuit. He dropped it, and the Tigers quickly found themselves back in the game. You can, and probably should, put the blame on the defense, but Philly threw Clemson a lifeline at a time when another Buckeye score may have put the game away. It was an unfortunate mistake on the part of a guy who made a name for himself returning punts, as I mentioned back in October.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game

Clemson grabbed a 40-35 lead after Doran Grant batted away a two-point try in the fourth quarter. Plenty of time remained. There was 6:16 remaining in the game and a long, sustained touchdown drive would have put Ohio State in a pretty sweet position. Jim Tressel was watching while reviewing the Cleveland Browns’ roster for…oh, no special reason. The Buckeyes took over at their 25 after a touchback.

“Dave,” said Tressel, but Miller tap-passed to Dontre Wilson for a loss of five. “Dave,” said Tressel, but Miller threw 21 yards to Brown for a first down. “Well, that’s ok, but Dave,” he said. Miller instead kept for 16 yards. “That’s fine, but DAVE.” [Miller ran for a loss of one.]

“DAVE, for Pete’s sake!” [Miller’s pass to Devin Smith lost two yards.]

“DAVE DAVE DAVE DAVE!” [Miller was sacked and lost the ball for a turnover.]

Tressel threw his paperwork at the television. Gaping at her husband, Ellen quickly got up to clean up the unseemly mess.

What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter

First: This defense is killing me. That stutter step by Brax, tho.

Second: Outstanding recovery and we get the ball first after halftime.

Third: Poor Philly Brown.

Fourth: Welp. No review on that last pick but we simply blew this game, even though they tried to give it to us.

It was over when

This game looked over a few times. When Clemson took over on the Miller fumble, things looked bleak. But Boyd threw an interception to Barnett to set Ohio State up with a first down and 1:27 to play. But it was over for real two plays later, when Miller badly underthrew an open Brown and it was intercepted by Stephone Anthony. Then it was well and truly over.

And that’s it for your 2013 Ohio State football season. It’s a lousy way to head into the off-season, but we hope these debriefings have made you the talk of the office. With any luck, the knowledge you dropped on your co-workers made them totally forget what you did at the office Christmas party.


Comments Show All Comments

TLB's picture

Out coached in two big games. It's worrisome.

dan_isaacs's picture

Really?  How do you coach a Sr. deciding to take a chance an return a punt he should have fair caught?  He knew better.  He took a chance, as we sometimes do.  It's why humans are dangerous animals.

How do you coach a Center to not get pushed back into the running lane?  Ed Warriner is a good coach, but how does he coach against physics?

Those two things swung kept us on our heels.  Not coaching decisions.  If there is one coaching decision we can reasonably criticize, it's the decision to start Pitt over VBell when Bryant went down.

Dan Isaacs

TLB's picture

I don't disagree with you but our preparation seems to be lacking.

4thandinches's picture

You coach him but not letting him return punts. All season he has muffed punts but yet, they continued to put him back to return punts. It is on the coaching staff for that muffed punt. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Michael Citro's picture

How many specific muffs can you point out? I don't mean just bobbles, which everyone has, but actual muffs.

Also, you're talking about someone who is among the school's top 5 in avg. PR yardage and TDs all time.

buckeyedude's picture

For the life of me I don't understand how any Buckeye fan could look at the OSU defense and not know where the problem lies. Most of the players on the OSU defense are 4 and 5* players. MSU is comprised mostly of 3* and a few 4*s.
I watched the OSU corners playing very soft coverage, 8 to 10 yards off of the LOS. That's a guaranteed 8 yards, and with the way our corners cannot tackle properly, most times, it's more like 15 to 20 yard pick up for a player like Sammy Watkins.
There is NO QUESTION in my mind where the blame for this horrid defense belongs, and that is on the COACHING STAFF. We have the talent. I am not calling for firings. That's Urban's job. But every coach on the OSU defense deserves some blame and ultimately, the guy that calls the scheme. Changes need to be made.

Update: where's BamaMike? I wanna buy that dude a drink.



Jonnferrell's picture

Thanks for being one of the few for mentioning that the entire staff deserves credit for the outcome last night.  The defense did decently considering how many were out.  They gave us more than an chance to win and when it all comes down, that's what you need out of your defense.  Unfortunately we were not able to take advantage of that opportunity.  Braxton's physical condition was part of that.  There are times when your injured body just won't do what your mind tells it to do.  The staff should have realized just how badly he was hurt.  It was obvious to us.  I know you stick with your almost heisman candidate through thick and thin, but I think it was beyond that in the last half of the 4th quarter.  It was time for Kenny Guiton--that's what a backup is for, and he is the best backup ever.   

"I miss Brady Hoke."

dan_isaacs's picture

4 turnovers, and we only gave up 40?  If you had told me before the game that's we'd turn the ball over that many times, and still only give up 40, I don't think I'd have been shocked.


Dan Isaacs

Jonnferrell's picture

No kidding.  The defense, which I readily admit has not been the strongest OSU pass defense, really did a decent job considering how many non-starters quickly become starters.  Unless the other team gives up five turnovers, you are going to have a difficult time winning a game when you have four turnovers.  

"I miss Brady Hoke."

joel121270's picture

Agreed, I felt the D did the best they could with what they had. I feel it comes down to a very poor decision by Brown not to fair catch the stinking ball and not using more of Hyde on that last drive. We had the time outs and decent field position so I am a little confused as to why the run or even a mere threat of the run got completely abandoned. 
As much as good a returner Brown is it seems to me it's a circus act when he's catching the ball. If he catches a punt cleanly then he is a true threat and does a great job protecting it but when he jacks around trying to catch it is the problem he has had and it bit him last night. IMHO.

osu07asu10's picture

Tressel threw his paperwork at the television. Gaping at her husband, Ellen quickly got up to clean up the unseemly mess.

LOL, I love this section of the debriefing but this one was the best of the season, getting Ellen involved!

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

osu07asu10's picture

It was a total team effort that led to the loss.
Defense. I didn't think we were going to be able to stop Clemson all night and the defense stood up, the D played really well in spurts throughout the game. However, can't give up 40 pts and 600 yds.
Special Teams, Philly. (Tough break for a senior whose given his all, head up Philly).
Offense. The turnovers killed us but what I saw was a team unable to go to its bread and butter, and that was Carlos Hyde.  The reason? The offensive line was dominated by Clemson's D line. If you had told me before the game we'd see that I would have laughed in your face.
It was a pretty humbling night for the offensive line, and that had a huge impact on Braxton's performance, turnovers, and play calling in my mind.
Also we went 3 and out a ton last night (I think 3 straight series at one point). That is uncharacteristic of the team and to me just speaks to the dominance of Clemson's D Line.

CJDPHoS Board of Directors // Best friends with Homey Hache

The 0 is silent.

BukFan's picture

Not outcoached.  we just played 2 decent teams.  Now we're 0-2 against them.  We never were a NC team.

chitown buckeye's picture

Disagree, we played 2 good teams, however, from a scheme standpoint on both sides of the ball were bad.
Defense- Not sure what film we watched but it seems as if Clemson had their choice of players to give the ball to. It doesn't matter what type of offense we play against we play the same defense. Doesn't matter if its pro style, spread, etc... We line up the same way. When Clemson changes formation (putting man in motion) our defense doesn't adjust. To me that falls on coaching and being out coached. We had no answer to take away any part of there game.
Offense- Playcallung has been more then suspect in these last 2 games and maybe even last half of the year. There has been no wrinkle from game to game. When the going gets tough we take our best player out of the game plan (Hyde 3 carries in last 2 4th qt) when we needed a td drive with 6min left we don't have a plan and try to make it up as we go. A quick throw to Smith to short side of the field? (Smith who wasn't involved the whole game) that's our "genius" making a play call? What happened to the tempo that was talked abt 2yrs ago? Wanting to get 80 plays, get the defense winded?? We run the same old run play that miller consistently misreads. That's being out coached to me. Our new wrinkle was the same as it was against MSU, take Hyde out of the backfield and split him wide when it gets to crunch time.
The coaches and fans expect the players to learn from mistakes but how can a coach ask that from a player when the coaching staff themselves didn't learn from the MSU game. The 4th quarter Hyde situation is the perfect example of this. The coaches didn't  learn from MSU and did the same thing when the going gets tough against Clemson. Herman hasn't had any defense on their heels in the last 3 games. We have constantly shot ourselves in the foot when it has come to Playcalling on both sides of the ball.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

buckeye20's picture

I agree completely. Poor defense aside, our offensive play calling was really suspect against Sparty and Clemson. It seems like he gets lost in his play chart. How about I formation and Carlos Hyde? Urban said we would run some I this year. Never happened. We had over 6 minutes to go & 75 yards to win it. We could have ridden Hyde to victory with some play action. In both games Hyde barely touched the ball in 4th quarter. Still...Defense gives up over 550 yards and can't tackle well...Ballgame.

chitown buckeye's picture

Certainly, the defense has a long list of issues as well. I think both sides of the ball were responsible for the loss. With our defense being as bad as it is, the offense was going to have to play a near perfect game and they didn't do that. It just seems with all the hype that has been spewed abt Herman, he has left a lot to be desired in the big games. 

"I'm having a heart attack!"

Nutinpa's picture

No, this wasn't a NC caliber team, on that we agree. OTOH, the Buckeyes were badly out-coached in the last 2 games and you can almost add the Michigan game too.

buckeye70's picture

When Art threw the interception 34 years ago how much time was on the clock? Anyone know? Scary similarities !!!!


The atmosphere in College Park will be crazy because at lease 40 % on the stadium will be Buckeye fans. Go Bucks

SaudiBuckeye's picture

That is exactly what I was thinking. The game ends when a pass over the middle is intercepted by a Clemson linebacker!

Madaris32's picture

Clemson only ran a half dozen or so plays. I've never seen so many wr screens in my life. But yet, our defense didn't even adjust to stop it. Wow! Also, on offense, it seems like the routes we have our wr's running, doesn't makes any sense.. Everything is down the field. The middle of the field was open, the entire first half, but as usual, our coaching staff doesn't make in game adjustments. Finally, is it me or does it seem like Fickell calls a blitz at the wrong time.

Ivan Madaris

Rjr88's picture

We have 4-5 star players and unlimited resource for salaries, why in the world would we have mediocre Coaches on the defensive side?
We can't let down he players!


northwest_buckeye's picture

Ignore Carlos Hyde late in the game, and this is what happens. This is what happens, Larry...
A lot of our staff members should be bracing themselves for a shakeup. That was an unacceptable performance from our coaches and they should face the consequences. Urban has his work cut out, that's for sure.
And for the people sending death threats to Philly via twitter... Grow up. Philly did commit a major fuck-up that turned the tide of the game, and he knows that (at least I would assume he has the cognitive functioning to realize that). Keyboard cowboys piss me off to no end.

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

kalabuckzoo's picture

Hyde scored with 5:50 left in the third quarter to take a 29-20 lead.  For the entire rest of the game Hyde had 3 (yes three!!) carries for 14 yards during the last 4 possessions.
Edit:  Strikingly the MSU game OSU took the lead 24-17 with 5:36 remaining in the third quarter and Hyde only ran the ball 4 more times for 25 yards over the final 4 buckeye possessions.

northwest_buckeye's picture

My point exactly. Why we steer away from the ground game when our QB is basically a functioning cripple is beyond me. I can't really blame Brax too much for the picks... He looked a zombie out there from those hits he took, and someone on that staff should've noticed.
I mean, it was pretty goddamned apparent.

I've never said I 'hate' anyone because that would imply I had any emotion for them whatsoever.

Jonnferrell's picture

My wife saw it.  I can't believe the staff didn't.  That was disappointing.

"I miss Brady Hoke."

buckeye20's picture

You are 100% correct.

Buckeyebiddaddy's picture

Muff point killed chance of Hyde getting carries.  If Phily fair catches that ball Hyde gets 5-10 carries that possession and 10-15 more in the game, Braxton doesn't have to throw so no picks, we win!

kalabuckzoo's picture

OSU still ran 21 offensive plays not counting punts or xp attempts after the muffed punt.  Hyde was only given a hand-off on 3 of them.

sandytowne's picture

The offensive line performance was the most shocking part of last night.  I think most people expected the defense to struggle, especially against the pass.  The offensive line got manhandled however.  Vic Beasley probably still doesn't know Jack Mewhort's name.  
Hyde, while still managing to get over 100 yards, was tackled for losses more times in this game than the entire season combined.  Braxton was under pressure all night as well. 

4thandinches's picture

I was appalled but how poorly our o line played. I understand they were bringing pressure quite often, but even when they only rushed three or four they got good pressure on BM.

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Bamabucknut's picture

The defense has been poor for the last three years. This is just the last in a long list of games where we game the other team new record for yardage gained and points given up.
Just about the same length of time Fickell has been in charge of the defense.

a.buck's picture

The last two games have shown us that we are still in the process of rebuilding. I am sure this team will continue to improve as issues are addressed. We need to be patient and let one of the most successful coaches of the modern era do what he does best.

harleymanjax's picture

My two cents,
Philly Brown = bonehead play, but people make mistakes.......
IF we keep feeding Hyde we win the last 2 games!
BRAXTON showed he has the heart of a champion last night but there is NO WAY he should have been in the game at the end, when you have the best back up QB in the country thats an easy substitution call to make!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

Buckeyeholicwompa's picture

You have to keep in mind that after this year, the team will have 3 classes of Urban's kids and 2 classes of Tressel's kids (counting red shirting). I think we'll see a difference once the team is entirely Urbanized. Vonn Bell will be a legit safety in the coming years and Dontre Wilson after this off season will become a dominate home run threat next year. 
We should know as fans if Urb is making the comments about the D like he is, that change is sure to come! 

Madaris32's picture

Don't forget, when you don't open up some run lanes with passes, the defense will continue to stack the box. Hmmm..... stop calling the same play, out of the same formation. Every time Braxton is in the backfield alone, he's doing a qb keeper. Dontre Wilson only gets the ball, in the same formation. We don't throw him any passes at all. I understand Braxton struggles reading defenses, but you only get better with game reps, not with a guru in the offseason. When you coach Braxton or put him in game scenarios to not make plays with his arm until it's obvious, your chances for success will be low. Every called screen play was obvious. I don't doubt what we're teaching him, but I just doesn't quite look right. Urban, didn't you use Chris Leak and Tebow? Why not do the same with Braxton and Guitton?

Ivan Madaris

Turban Meyer's picture

Braxton rushed for 30 yards, Roman-style. 

Michael Citro's picture

Haha, that was 79 yards after sack yardage was removed. ESPN box scores don't list sacks and sack yardage. Fixed.

aabuckeye's picture

This loss hurts. The last loss hurt. But we were in it both games and could've won. We're a good team that needs to get better -- especially on defense. The team plays hard and shows up for every game, but came up against two teams that played better. That's why you play the games. To see who's better. There's no shame in losing an Orange Bowl, especially in a game that could've been won. Yeah, it hurts to lose, but we made it this far and that's more than 99.9% of teams can claim.
I have faith in Meyer to get us the last step of the way...quickly. Go Bucks!

Buckeyebiddaddy's picture

Muff was a dagger in the heart and the game changing moment.  We were taking control of the game and were going to feed Hyde to run them down.  Defense forced 2 punts, muff killed all momentum.
I was not impressed with defensive strategy even if they played good enough to win.  I don't have the solution but we gave a lot of 4 and 5 stars on D seems like our D should be unstoppable.  I
Offense and Braxton choked up at critical times during the game.
i question the offensive play calling on last 2 drives.  Where was the QB or RB draw? they were bringing pressure all game.  Or even a couple hand offs to Hyde we had plenty of time and Braxton was having trouble either pressure all game.

4thandinches's picture

I really can't give BM the MVP, can't even grade him as good. Most of you would think this was considerably harsh, but he turned over the ball twice, continued to struggle with reads, and should have taken himself out when he knew KG would have been more productive for the team. But a lot of the blame can go to the coaches for not taking him out. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Jurmah12's picture

The fact that you had to end the debriefing in that fashion is just awful.

"Where the no fly zone at!?"

Mike Thomas - 11/8/2014

Eric1347's picture

You 20/20 hindsight armchair QB types are killin me, the defense sucks,the offensive play calling is terrible, the offensive line  got man handled, coaches need fired... What everybody is terrified to say or mention is the buck stops with the head man. What buckeye homer nation finally found out is that urban Meyer really can't walk on water,and all he had to do was walk around campus and championships would fall out of the sky. Meyer is gonna have to work twice as hard here than he did at Florida. Bottom Line,Meyer was a world beater playing cupcakes but when finally takin on quality opponents  0-2, reality's a bitch.......