Five Things: Clemson

By Chris Lauderback on January 5, 2014 at 10:30a
94 Comments
Urban Meyer will ride a two-game losing streak into 2014

After starting the season with 12 straight wins, making it 24 in a row dating back to last season, Ohio State failed to get it done in Indianapolis against Michigan State, landing them in the Orange Bowl against a Clemson Tigers team that was simply not a favorable matchup for the defensively challenged Buckeyes.  

And while the defense certainly struggled to slow down the Tigers as they racked up 576 total yards in a 40-35 win, the offense and special teams were also forced to share the blame as Philly Brown muffed a punt to swing momentum and Braxton Miller turned it over on Ohio State's final two possessions of the season. 

The early good news is that Braxton Miller will reportedly be back and the recruiting train hasn't been slowed in the slightest by back to back crushing defeats. 

The Buckeyes will lose Ryan Damn Shazier early to the NFL which is absolutely the right move for a kid that has done just about all he could do in Columbus. A hat tip is certainly in order for one of the more classy Buckeyes of the last 10 years. 

I don't know about you but I'm just about ready to turn my focus from the 2013 season to the final month of recruiting efforts before Signing Day 2014 and then the Spring Game but before we do that, let's take one last look at Five Things from an Orange Bowl loss to a Clemson squad that racked up 15 penalties for 144 yards and two turnovers. 

JAMAL CAN BALL

I expected Jamal Marcus to play well against Clemson because even though it was spot duty, he played well every single game this season in which he was given an opportunity.

We already knew he was a solid pass rusher but what really impressed me last night was how well he held up with markedly increased snaps and how solid he was in run support, especially in backside pursuit.

He was in the zone right off the rip as he shed his blocker and blasted Tahj Boyd for no gain on the 2nd play of the game. Two plays later, he was seen motoring up the line of scrimmage to the wide side to pull down C.J. Davidson on a three-yard gain.

Jamal Marcus filled Noah Spence's shoes admirably in defeat

Three possessions later, one that actually resulted in a Clemson punt, Marcus stuffed Boyd on 3rd and 5.

On Clemson’s last possession of the half, Marcus again came up big on 3rd down batting down a Boyd pass leading to a turnover on downs that set up the OSU offense for the go-ahead score which was huge considering how badly the Buckeyes were outplayed in the opening 30 minutes.

Overall, Marcus, a true sophomore, racked up six tackles, good for 5th on the team, with the noted pass breakup. His performance was even more valuable as Joey Bosa struggled to stay on the field with a gimpy ankle.

A SHARP DECLINE

Braxton Miller culminated a five-game slump with turnovers on Ohio State’s last two possessions to crush any chances victory. On the night, Miller completed 16/24 for 234 with two touchdowns but late turnovers were devastating as the Buckeyes trailed by just five points.

Already dinged, Miller was absolutely smoked just as he was stepping into a throw on 3rd and 13 from the Tiger 46 with just over three minutes to play and the ball popped out of his hands and into those of Clemson’s Bashaud Breeland for the fumble recovery.

After C.J. Barnett gave the Buckeyes one last shot with a pick of Tahj Boyd that gave Miller the ball at midfield, Braxton had what felt like his 5th throw batted down at the line before he misfired on a 2nd and 10 throw intended for Philly Brown to secure Clemson’s first ever BCS bowl victory. The throw was truly awful in that Miller didn’t appear to even see linebacker Stephone Anthony.

For all his exceptional talents, Miller can still improve his leadership and toughness

The pick was Miller’s fourth over the last five games against just nine touchdowns. In addition, his completion percentage fell off a cliff over the same interval as he connected on just 51% (54/106) after completing 72% of this throws over the first seven games with a TD/INT ratio of 15/3.

It should obviously be noted that Miller was utilized much more heavily in the run game – with legit results – over the same five-game stretch but I find it interesting that his passing numbers went down the tubes over the last chunk of the season for the second straight year despite the fact he did make significant strides as a passer in 2013.

I guess we’ll see in the coming days what Miller plans to do regarding the NFL though Pete Thamel reported he will return but while I know he’s had no issue making it known how tired he is of taking hits, he should be much more concerned with how NFL scouts view his ability to stay healthy and how his passing accuracy has a tendency to crash and burn as the season wears on whether he opts to leave or returns for one more year of seasoning.

There’s no question Miller is a special talent especially at the collegiate level but there’s also little doubt he has work to do if he wants to be more than a sideline presence at the next level.

MORE LIKE JOEY BOSS-A

Joey Bosa is a throwback.

The true freshman has been sensational all season and coming into the game he trailed only Noah Spence for tackles made by OSU defensive linemen while leading team in sacks with 8.0 and placing 2nd in TFL with 14.5.

Friday night Bosa showed me even more as he battled through a gimpy ankle to record five tackles and a sack while forcing a safety as he blasted Boyd in the end zone, forcing the quarterback to intentionally ground the ball and cutting Clemson’s early lead to 14-9.

Bosa will eventually go down as an all-time great at Ohio State

Bosa was also a beast after halftime as the Buckeyes fought to stay in it. With OSU holding a slim 22-20 lead, Bosa stalled Clemson’s 1st possession of the 2nd half near midfield as he split two defenders, sacking Boyd for a nine-yard loss to set up 3rd and 19 and an eventual punt.

He almost saved momentum after Philly’s muffed punt as he forced a 2nd and 7 incompletion with heavy pressure but on the ensuing snap, Watkins high-pointed a 30-yard throw for six on Doran Grant to make it 29-27 good guys.

No matter, a hat tip is in order for Bosa as he showed incredible heart and determination by just staying on the field. Bottom line, cherish every game you get to see this kid play for the next two years because he’ll be on his way to the NFL after that.

WHAT CAN BROWN DO FOR YOU?

It’s inarguable that Philly Brown’s muffed punt with Ohio State leading 29-20 late in the 3rd quarter triggered a momentum shift from which the Buckeyes never fully recovered. The muff preceded a great play by Josh Perry to stuff Boyd on 3rd and 1 and should’ve given Ohio State the ball, up nine, at their own 37-yard line.

Instead, Clemson took possession at the 33, scoring three plays and 49 seconds later trimming the lead to 29-27.

Miller would toss a pick on Ohio State’s ensuing possession, giving the Tigers exceptional field position, and they would capitalize four plays later as Boyd found Martavis Bryant in the end zone for a 34-29 lead.

So, while Philly made the mistake of the game, it wasn’t the only mistake as Miller’s two post-muff turnovers ensured Ohio State would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Philly's muffed punt was a dagger but his contributions were many over the 2013 season

While Brown will never be labeled as a great player in OSU lore, he was still a very serviceable part. If anything, you can question why the coaches didn’t order a mandatory fair catch in that situation or even more drastic, why they continued to gamble with Philly as a punt returner when for years he’d shown a penchant for the bone-headed decision or muffed catch in between moments of greatness such as his punt return touchdowns against Wisconsin and Nebraska, among other strong special units contributions.

Further, I point to Philly’s worth as a wideout as his fellow receivers must have gone into the witness protection program. For instance, where would Ohio State be without Brown’s 22 catches over the last five games including 13 in the last two games for 169 yards and a touchdown while Devin Smith was busy recording six catches over the last five games including a combined three against Michigan State and Clemson for 16 yards?

Again, Philly won’t be in the OSU hall of fame anytime soon but he did a lot more to help Ohio State win games than he contributed to losses and I always felt he represented the university the right way.

SILVER BLANKS

Talk of how to fix the defense – or more importantly if fixing it requires the dismissal of any staff – has become increasingly contentious the last few weeks.

I’m content to trust how Meyer decides to handle things but that doesn’t mean those clamoring for a staff shakeup are whiny over reactors, as labeled by many, when you examine the product.

Has Ohio State had some injuries on that side of the ball this year? Absolutely. Have they also underperformed at a historically awful level? Yes.

Last night might have been rock bottom as for the first time in school history, Ohio State lost when scoring 35+ points, falling to 279-1-1 as Clemson became the sixth opponent to put at least 30 points up against the Silver Bullets.

Over the last four games, in which OSU went 2-2, the defense gave up 1,918 total yards, 28.5 points per game, let a historically bad Michigan offense put up 41 points and finished 10th in probably the worst power conference in Pass Defense (283.5) and 6th in Total Defense (393.6). Statistically, even Minnesota had a better defense in conference play this year.

Against Clemson, the Bullets allowed the Tigers to set numerous Orange Bowl records including the most receiving yards by a player as Sammy Watkins racked up 227 with what felt like 200 of that coming on the same exact play. Watkins is unquestionably a next-level player but to allow the same play to shred your defense over and over and over again was tough on the eyes.

The worst moment, however, might have been when Clemson recorded the game-winning score via a version of throwback pass that has made the defense look incompetent in so many crucial situations this season.

Whether Fickell and others stay or go, what bothers me the most is what appears to be a lack of in-game adjustments combined with a potential misdiagnosis of personnel.

Am I really to believe that Vonn Bell improved so much during bowl prep that he became a better option than Pitt Brown? Bell made some mistakes but he also made some plays and that’s 50% more than what Brown was allowed to do for 12 games as Bell watched from the sideline. That troubles me.

Am I really to believe that Ohio State had no other option but to defend the Watkins screen the same way 10+ straight times? Am I really to believe that calling a corner blitz repeatedly only to get scorched was all based on OSU’s schematic advantage and they just got unlucky?

Sometimes you have to make change for the sake of change. Guys with much more impressive resumes than Luke Fickell have found themselves forced to leave an employer after many years of service because things aren’t working out.

Again, I’m for whatever Meyer thinks is the best course of action because I know he wants to win even more than any fan or blogger or writer or whomever, I just hope either way, I can quit reading comments/articles/tweets from people who treat Fickell like he’s a deity for reasons I simply can’t comprehend.

94 Comments

Comments

rkylet83's picture

Does Joey Bosa remind anyone of a more talented version of John Simon?  The kid will do whatever it takes to play.  Him going out there and playing with a noticeable limp was inspiring to me.

LouBuck35's picture

Kid is already a monster. Another off season in Coach Mick's S&C program..woo boy.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

fanfarris's picture

He reminds me of his uncle,Eric Kumorow.he was a beast.

you
 

Buckeye Chuck's picture

I was stunned when he came back after the second time he went down. Too bad not everyone could find it within themselves to suck it up and put their bodies on the line the way Bosa and Miller did.

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

Scott's picture

Does Joey Bosa remind anyone of a more talented version of John Simon?

No. I mean, true, they're both white, but I don't think Joey can grow a beard.

Class of 2008

Mortc15's picture

I said this exact thing. Bosa has Sumons motor with more talent. 

Buck-I4Life

LTWilliams's picture

He's a quicker Cameron Heyward. Let's hope he stays all four years!

BuckGuy003's picture

I think he looks a lot like former redskin, Chris Cooley

buck-I.8's picture

His brother's sophomore film is every bit as impressive as Joey's senior film, and that is terrifying: 

klfeck's picture

Wow, what a great article. I truly do congratulate you for being fair to the players, coaches, and fans. Well done. More writing like this please.

Kevin

OH!!!!!

Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

thatlillefty's picture

This is definitely the best post-game series. Thanks Chris.

And I hope the lunatic fringe of our fan base has had a chance to cool down and appreciate this season for what it was. Which was pretty great despite the late.L's.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Thank you, sir. 

joel121270's picture

Absolutely agreed.

RufusVonDufus's picture

I stand corrected!

Bucksnnuts

ScarletGray43157's picture

Future is looking good with recruiting.  If the recruits pan out to their stated potential then championships are possible.  
Miller will need to improve in decision-making and learn to go through progression reads as a passer.  Lots of wide-open receivers missed in various games.  Great athlete who needs to grow to have any shot at QB at the next level.  
Offense puts butts in the seats and defense wins championships.  Both sides of the ball will have to be better than they were this year to make the playoffs next year.  
 

In old Ohio there's a team that's known throughout the land...

CC's picture

I thought Miller was pretty good with reads a progressions, but we left a LOT of yards on the table with throws behind receivers or low.  I'm not an expert on QB play and I know there are times when you need to throw a guy open, but there were several times when he threw behind or low and the receiver had to stop or dive when a good throw would mean extra (sometimes a lot) yards.
 

45has2's picture

It's Fickell's fault.

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

LouGroza's picture

It always seemed in the past that OSU played seniority ahead of talent. Never understood that idea after so many times the Vonn Bells of the world came into games and you could see that the underclassman had more to offer. Give them playing time and they will prosper. The question now is who is making the call to play. Is it Fickell or Withers or Vrabel or Coombs or Meyer or a combination? That question pops into my mind now because when Urban came in, my hopes were that that way of doing things was over. So, I think Fickell is the guy saying who will play due to his upbringing in that way of thinking. Anyway, I hate it and want the best players on the field given they do the right things on the practice field and elsewhere. I have read things in a few places saying the best players are not necessarily playing. Bosa could not be kept off the field and maybe they think they have to be that dominant in order to play. 

Condor's picture

I agree. My hunch is that Meyer ordered Vonn to be played in this game. I simply can't understand why it wasn't done much sooner by the co-defensive coordinators. Would he make mistakes? Yes, but that kid is a spark plug. And I'd rather see him making those initial start mistakes early on against Iowa, Purdue etc... Rather than against ttun, B1G Champ and BCS matchup.
there were a lot of mistakes on defense this year, but waiting until the bowl game to start Vonn was 1 of the biggest and speaks directly to the defensive coordinators. It's not like EZE's situation, who was waiting his turn behind a beast like El Guapo. 
 

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev

 

buckeyedude's picture

Great comments here.
If Withers and Fickell made the call to not play the Bellavator, I believe it may be to their tentativeness to make a bold decision. Similar like he stuck with the familiar, Joe Bauserman over the more talented Braxton. I don't know for sure if this is the case, but if it is, that ain't good.
The team is a reflection of it's leaders/coaches. If you have an indecisive coach, especially in light of it's shortcomings, it's going to be reflected in the player's play. A coach with a "deer in the headlights" look, combined with indecisiveness, is just bad news.

 

 

unknownmusketeer's picture

Having a strong MLB is important (i.e., A.J. Hawk, James Laurinaitis, Brian Rolle of recent memory). The "quarterback" of the defense can audible or even make bad defensive calls look good.
The biggest problem that I have heard is the desire to change the core scheme of the defense on a weekly basis. "You can't change horses mid-stream when crossing a river" or you are just going to get wet. The "perfect" call for one play could exist, but the probability of correctly identifying that play without the offense checking to an audible is incredibly low. Stay consistent with your plan. I honestly don't think that Luke Fickell is a bad coach, but rather he is trying to implement too much, resulting in the defense being not on the same page and consistently out of position. This is fixable.
The offense had the opposite problem. When Matt Millen can diagnose a play/tendency based on film study, you are in trouble. Self-examination is a must. It almost seems to me that the offensive coaching staff is not breaking down the film of our own defense and telling them what needs to be fixed and vice versa.

Actorjonnyb's picture

wrong. Read the article - Fickel cannot make adjustments. You have to be able to do that. He needs to go for a wide variety of reasons

buckeyeinla

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

In game adjustments are different than core philosophy. His point, which Ross Fulton has made several times, is that the Fickell/Withers defense doesn't seem to have a single core philosophy to build on. 
As bad as the lack of in-game adjustments are, the lack of a consistent base defense is the true issue. You can play vanilla and still be successful. DCs like Jim Heacock and Norm Parker made careers out of that. 
Fickell may need to go, but I honestly think he has better years ahead of him. IMO it was a matter of too much responsibility too soon.

unknownmusketeer's picture

Thanks! My point exactly.
This overall situation reminds me of a scene in the West Wing. Toby has challenged Will on his ability to write requiring a 500 word cutlet on American exceptionalism. After reading Will's work, he claims, "I used to write like this. There just doesn't seem to be any blood going there." Will responds, "I disagree. You have blood going there in 13 different ways, all of which are bad."
The point is he (Toby or Luke) is trying to do too many things.

Buckeye5000's picture

Hawk did not play the Mike...he played the Will. Just for clarity.

Go Bucks!

buck92's picture

Very well written

Buck92out

GV9's picture

Excellent Article!  One of the best I've ever read on 11W.  Incisive, fair, and right on target.   

Nutinpa's picture

Yes, a well-written article whose sobering tone was well deserved.
Unless I missed it, however, it may have been one more article at least with regard to the Defense, in which the Secondary and LBs...and their respective coaches, called out...with nary a word about the D line and Coach Vrabel.  I have no grudge against Vrabel and know that he is a rock star recruiter.  But you cannot...simply cannot.... give up this many points and yards in the last 3 games of the year, without some culpability to the D line and its coach....Joey Bosa and Jamal Marcus as notable exceptions. If we are going to question Fickell and the Defense, the Line has to be included in the witch hunt too.  
I too, was sad to see Philly Brown's career end the way it did. Chris Lauderback's back-handed compliments aside, Philly was indeed, the steadiest WR this team has had in the past 2 seasons and the most remarkably improved player on the O side of the ball, including Miller. 

Nutinpa's picture

Yes.  Back-handed.  While complimenting him, your two references to him being "serviceable" and "not in WR Buckeye Lore"....were a bit backhanded, at least by my reading.  Not saying Philly belongs with David Boston, Santonio Holmes or Chris Carter....agree w/ you there, Chris. But while complimenting him, I took your points as modest jabs...unfairly to him...and perhaps to you. 

Chris Lauderback's picture

My points were not intended as modest jabs whatsoever. I am a Philly Brown fan that recognizes him for what he is..and isn't. I'm just being a realist. Not every WR can be in the class of Boston, Carter etc. That's not a bad thing. That's reality. I suppose we can agree to disagree that these statements are jabs: 

1. "Brown will never be labeled as a great player in OSU lore". I bet at least 90% of Buckeye fans, players, coaches think the same thing assuming they grade "great" on the pretty steep curve that they should. That's not a knock on Philly. It's what I see as a pretty logical fact. 

2. "He was still a very serviceable part", which I backed up by talking about how he was the only receiver OSU could really count on this year for consistency and I trumpeted his play down the stretch citing stats. 

3. "Again, Philly won’t be in the OSU hall of fame anytime soon but he did a lot more to help Ohio State win games than he contributed to losses and I always felt he represented the university the right way." Sounds pretty fair to me. 

 

BuckAlum09's picture

Very fair. Very honest.
Objective and unbiased assessments are rare and respectable in Buckeye forums fueled by disgruntled Buckeye fans. +1 if I was allowed to upvote.

"...and when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze. And we'll drink to old Ohio till we wobble in our shoes."

Nutinpa's picture

Seeing it from that perspective and context, those are all fair points, Chris.  No further argument from me.

Ethan's picture

@NUTINPA -- kudos for having a rational (read, not ridiculous) discussion with someone you disagreed with. The commentariat has seen a serious lack of such behavior over the last couple weeks.

joel121270's picture

I think that's an honest assessment of him. My only beef is his circus act of receiving a punt. I don't know how many times I bite my tongue when he starts to dance around because there has been more than a few times he has muffed punts. 
i am in no way knocking the kid because as you said he was serviceable for the needs and in no way will compare to a Galloway, Boston, or Glenn in the lore of OSU receivers.
time for someone else to step up. I am excited to hopefully now see the recruits that are mostly Meyers and how they are utilized.

bigbuckinky's picture

Corey Brown didn't like the nick name of Philly.  It really should be changed to Muffy.  He singlehandedly turned the momentum in the Orange Bowl for Clemson.

FROMTHE18's picture

Not saying Philly belongs with David Boston, Santonio Holmes or Chris Carter...

...never thought Id see Philly in the same sentence as those guys..

joel121270's picture

Just curious as to why the d line would need to brought up? One of the best rush defenses in the country. Sure, they could have generated more pressure at times but I can think of years recently when the pass rush wasn't very good but the secondary was lights out.

Buckeye5000's picture

The  OSU D actually lead FBS in sacks heading into the game with 40. That usually means the D-line is pretty darn good. They also were pretty darn good against the run.

Go Bucks!

Nutinpa's picture

I have spoken to Buckeye fans who are or were coaches, who see plenty of flaws with the D line and their technique.  And they aren't being "downers or haters"....just coaches who happen to be fans and don't have the time or inclination for message board banter. 
This Defense gave up over 1500 yards in the last 3 games.  While much of the blame is on the "back 7"....and understandably so, the Line should not escape blame, including its position coach.  
Those 40 + sacks?  Against one of the weakest schedules OSU has played against in recent memory. When the Offense builds a 21-0 lead, it forces the opposition to be one dimensional, to state the obvious. 
So, yes, when you look at the D line, LBs and Secondary, the D line is healthiest weed in the bunch.  Not so sure with this D that is saying much....again, with Bosa as the obvious exception.

D-Day0043's picture

Yes they did and they finished 3rd. Vrable coached the linebackers last year and he turned a fullback into a starting MIKE. 
This guy doesn't know what he's talking about.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

Buckeye5000's picture

Agree! So....his  unnamed Coach friends who don't have time to post on message boards, are experts who say that the D-line was not very good, is supposed to convince someone of his argument Huh? Funny...lol. Well My Unnamed Coach Friends, who are Experts, and don't have time to post on message boards say the D-line was pretty damn good. So There! (sticks his tounge out like a 6 yr. old) 

Go Bucks!

CarolinaBuck's picture

I think one of the reasons Ohio State had to use Braxton more as runner coming down the stretch is because his passing was so erratic. The only consistent value he had was as a runner.

Osu2105's picture

I'm afraid that we're going to miss Philly Brown more than people realize. Outside of the tight ends(who we don't utilize enough to begin with) he was truly our only reliable receiver. Where was Devin Smith in the last 2 games when someone needed to make a play? Or what has Evan Spencer done since his "wipe the field" comment? You knew with Philly that he was going to run good routes, get open, and catch the ball. Is he an elite player? No, but he was very good and I don't think we win 24 straight without him. Guys like Smith, Spencer, Michael Thomas, and company will need to step up next year. I think they have the talent and I think they will all improve but there are some big shoes to fill

buckeyedude's picture

Hopefully we can start to utilize Heuerman(sp?) more next year. He is a pretty big target, and he played pretty well in the O.B.

 

 

Buckeye1996's picture

I have not bashed Fickell nor do I plan on bashing him in the future. He wants to win. The question is does he have what it takes to be a great D coordinator? I don't think we can tell at this moment. Next year will be the time to make a decision on that. 
Let's face it. This year's D lacked depth and it is probably due to the impacts of the limited scholarships, and player transfers from two years ago. Plus we had a slew of injuries and issues among key D players this year. With limited scholarships, the lack of depth, and many young players what can a D coordinator do?
I will be watching next year for improvement. We will be soon fielding a full team once the impacts of the scholly reductions start to wane, and the young talent moves up.

Bamabucknut's picture

Three years of abominable defense is not enough to decide where the problems on defense are coming from ?
Fickell has had three years to make our defense a top 10 defense.
As was stated here about our defense " It’s well outside the top 10 in several defensive statistics – 111th in pass defense and 47th in total defense."
To quote Fickell
We have to go back and evaluate and try to figure out the way that we can improve and get better and give our guys a much better chance to be successful and our team a chance to be successful.”
 W H A T ? What is to figure out ?
this discussion brings to mind something I believe. It is called the "The Peter Principal". The gist of which is :
"people often rise to their level of incompetence". We are seeing it in action.
 

Buckeye1996's picture

I'm not defending Luke or anyone else on the coaching staff. The passing defense is/was bad. But I think any reasonable action requires a bit more temporal data - one more year. Year one of the three you cited was marked with turmoil, sanctions and player suspensions. You can't count that against any coach, let alone Luke Fickell. That is a no win situation.
Year 2 (undefeated?) & 3 of the period you cited did bad passing defense but the run D was decent. If you are going to blame the DC for the passing D then give them credit for the run D.
All I am saying is that regardless of who you blame, you have to give it one more year to make an informed decision. Rash decisions lead to mistakes.  I have learned that patience is the key to the good things in life.
If we don't see improvement next year, then I think it is time to look inward for changes.
That's just how I would roll if I were Urban.
Edit: Had to add this as a lesson learned. Bought 5000 shares of Apple back in the late '90s for $5, sold for $7 thinking I was awesome. Patience my fellow buckeyes!

buckeyedude's picture

Patience is certainly a virtue, Buckeye1996. I respect your opinion, but doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over...and expecting something different is f*^king nuts.

And I think Actorjohnnyb would have better said "shitty results," rather than NO results. There were bright spots on defense for sure, but overall, if you look at the trend with the OSU defense, in other words THE BIG PICTURE, there hasn't been much improvement in at least two years.

 

 

Buckeye1996's picture

I agree. However, I do have a strong feeling that at least one issue on the D side of the ball took another position as a head coach somewhere else.

buckeyedude's picture

I hope you're right, brah, because changes definitely need to be made. What those changes look like, I'll let Urban decide.

 

 

Bamabucknut's picture

Did we bring in Urban and say....here's three years for you to figure things out and understand what needs to be done ? NO . You hire people who have proven themselves and have a plan..a vision they can enunciate. Urban knows exactly where he wants to go with the offense.On the other hand...
Fickell has no vision.He has said he needs time to figure things out.Is there any certainty he will figure things out ?
What he has shown is: he has no idea how to correct the teams defensive problems.What he has shown is a lack of confidence in his defense...so he plays bend but not break defense...that ends up giving team after team record breaking offensive performances.
At the level Ohio State plays we should not have coaches who are still trying to "figure out"(Fickells own words) how to execute their responsibilities.

Buckeye1996's picture

If Urban has a vision for the O, then he should have one for the D. If Luke can't execute his vision for the D like Herman has on the O, then I am sure Urban will look to make changes.
Two things. One, I think a problem on our D left for a HC elsewhere and two; I think Urban will wait until the end of next season to make a judgment about ANY coaching changes.
Urban is a calculated thinker and is well aware of the fact that making coaching changes is disruptive, might not work, and would ultimately push the chase for a NC out further no matter who you get. JMO.

Actorjonnyb's picture

spot on dude - 3 years and NO results - we can't afford to wait another year

buckeyeinla

Buckeye1996's picture

I think there are many fans of a number of teams who would like to have our NO results.

chitown buckeye's picture

I hope this comment isn't the "but we won" defense of the D staff? hope im reading it wrong.
Great we beat 24 teams while having a bad defense but the two games that mattered against equal competition our defense was a huge liability. I know many schools would love to 24-2 record but at this point OSU is judged by how we perform against equal competition. We won't be able to compete regularly with the defense performing at this level.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

bull1214's picture

you dont think its a bit uneven that when we talk about the dline being good the credit goes to vrable but when we talk about the defense being bad, the blame goes to fickle. coombs gets a lot of blame also but most of the people blaming him seem to think he coaches safeties when he coaches cb's so ill move on. shazier plays great so he's a great player. the other lbers arent as dominant so its bad coaching.
ive heard tons of complaints about the defense but nobody really puts a finger on anything schematically wrong. the things they bring up are usually the result of a player not making a play or out of position. that could be coaching i guess but sometimes its just a player not making a play even tho he was coached to do so very well. for example: braxtons int's. i= nobodys clamoring for hermans head. they just blame braxton. the same can happen on the defense.

Buckeyebiddaddy's picture

Great summary of game!
 
I agree about player decision making on defense.  Marcus should have definitely got more snaps this year, especially on pass rushing downs, most d lines rotate players to keep them fresh.  Bell is a known stud player, no reps this year at nickel or dime?  Seems Bell only played because Urban told Fickell to play him.
 
The muff was the game changer, I agree coaches should have told him to stay away or fair catch.  Philly has bobbled punts before.
Defense needs to be fixed, we have enough talented players so maybe the scheme or D coaches need to change.  The last 3 games were a defensive melt down some coach should be held accountable for that.  If the offense scored 7 points in the last 3 games we would be screaming for the OC to be fires, don't know why D coach should get a pass.
 
I also question some of the offensive play calling, Braxton is not a drop back passer who will kill teams with his arm and Clemson was bringing the house.  Seems we didn't call enough plays to take advantage of defensive penetration, ie. QB draw, RB draw, RB screens, te screens.  Asking Braxton to drop back and throw the ball does not take advantage of his strengths.

fanfarris's picture

Yes we will loose 4 O  Linemen and the great Hyde,but Brax is back and so will our TE and a great Recievers corps.If we get a great Dc,then we will get to the NC game.

you
 

mtgerken's picture

Joey Boss-a is already a legend. The Kid looks leaps and bounds bigger and more physical then any player out there... and he's only a freshmen. With one more year under Mic's training Dontre, Elliot, Bosa, and McMillan will be big time players.

"Because I couldn't go for three!"

 

SOF_Buckeye's picture

And to think Bosa wasn't an early enrollee...

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Woody Hayes

cal3713's picture

I thought our D was going to be alright after watching the second half of the Iowa game.  I was clearly wrong, and unfortunately I've joined the people thinking we need a new defensive coordinator.  With the exception of the second half of last year, our defense has been on a steady downward trend since Pryor's (next to) last game.  This year we witnessed multiple QBs and WRs have career days, the second worst defensive performance in the ~125 year history of OSU football, and gave up the most receiving yards in the ~80 year history of the Orange Bowl.  Those are historic lows and to me, that's clear evidence of a coaching problem.
That all said, what a fun two years of Buckeye football.  Congrats on all the wins and thanks for the good times... 

BuckNutzGasMan's picture

I dont know what an upvote or a downvote is but it seems to get a lot of attention.

allbucksallthetime's picture

Thank you for an excellent article that is fair to all concerned.  You mentioned a couple of things that have driven me crazy while watching the last month of games.  

Whether Fickell and others stay or go, what bothers me the most is what appears to be a lack of in-game adjustments combined with a potential misdiagnosis of personnel.
Am I really to believe that Vonn Bell improved so much during bowl prep that he became a better option than Pitt Brown? Bell made some mistakes but he also made some plays and that’s 50% more than what Brown was allowed to do for 12 games as Bell watched from the sideline. That troubles me.
Am I really to believe that Ohio State had no other option but to defend the Watkins screen the same way 10+ straight times? Am I really to believe that calling a corner blitz repeatedly only to get scorched was all based on OSU’s schematic advantage and they just got unlucky?

I do not, nor ever will, blame a player for the failings of an "O" or "D" scheme or for making mistakes.  That's part of the game we fans have to deal with.  However, are we to believe that:
1.  The definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing and expecting different results.  The lack of "D" adjustments are concerning.
2.  When a side of the ball is a weakness, as our defense was, it is imperative the coaching staff makes no mistakes on the other side of the ball.  IMO, having Carlos Hyde is useless when it's 3rd or 4th and short and he does NOT get the ball every time.  Please note that is not to say Carlos Hyde is useless because he had an incredible year, but IF you are that confident in our offensive line being the strength of the team and, IF Carlos Hyde is our horse, why not ride him???!!! Why another player would get a short yardage snap in those situations is beyond me. The lack of 4th quarter carries for Carlos Hyde in each of the last two games is certainly a huge mystery to me.  
That said, I in no way want to come off as a spoiled fan who thinks my beloved Buckeyes should win every game.  Believe it or not, our opposition is also trying to win and their players/coaches are as highly motivated to win as ours are.  You win some but not all.  We have been fortunate enough to be on the winning side many more times than not and I do appreciate that as a fan.       
It's been a very good two year run and the future is bright indeed.  Go Bucks!     

JLBNYC's picture

Sometimes you have to make change for the sake of change. Guys with much more impressive resumes than Luke Fickell have found themselves forced to leave an employer after many years of service because things aren’t working out.

Great article and i couldnt agree more with this quote.  Not saying Fickell is a bad guy and I wish him luck but not sure that simply replacing Withers is going to fix things.
 

actionstanleyjackson's picture

Fickell is the football version of Brick Tamland. Clemson basically ran the purdue offense  from last year. In 2 years fickell has yet to stop the Wr screen pass.

Stay golden, Ponyboy.

BuckAlum09's picture

Please keep in mind that Braxton has not announced that he is coming back next season. He made a statment to an SI reporter after the Big Ten Title game that was interpreted as him coming back.
I will believe Braxton is returning when he makes the official statement.
I am not arguing whether he should or shouldn't. You can read my opinions on the articles from yesterday. Just saying to please keep an open mind to the fact that he could still very well decide to go pro and this report is not official.

"...and when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze. And we'll drink to old Ohio till we wobble in our shoes."

hspbuy1's picture

What's that definition of INSANITY again? (Doing the same thing over & over again & expecting different results)  Philly's dropped punt sucked,but our piss poor defense sucked worse. 

hspbuy1

Actorjonnyb's picture

Thank you so much for this well put together assessment of The defensive staff. Change needs to happen ASAP and we can afford and attract the very best

buckeyeinla

bucksrmk's picture

Can someone please explain why we did not use Wilson more this year?  
 

O-H-

bucksrmk's picture

Can someone please explain why Wilson was not a bigger part of the offense this year?

O-H-

BuckAlum09's picture

Between Hyde and Braxton's incredible dominance on the ground VS weaker regular season opposition, being ejected from the scUM game, and then scrambling to try and make adjustments vs Clemson... I just don't think there were enough snaps for him this season. His down field blocking was a concern early too Urban stated. You got to block first if you want the ball. Next year Urban will have big plans for him after getting him some more muscle and experience with the play book. I am confident.
I believe he was suspended from the offense during the MSU game and was only allowed to return kick offs due to his ejection from TTUN game. But I cannot confirm that. Just a guess.

"...and when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze. And we'll drink to old Ohio till we wobble in our shoes."

CPDenn's picture

People tend to forget how big of a threat he was as a decoy. On Miller's first rushing td against Clemson, the defense was focused on Wilson and that was part of the reason why Miller had so much room to run on the left side. That happened quite a bit this season. Even when he wasn't getting the ball, defenses were keying on him.

BuckAlum09's picture

Great point.

"...and when we win the game, we'll buy a keg of booze. And we'll drink to old Ohio till we wobble in our shoes."

buckeyedude's picture

With Hyde gone next year, and possibly Braxton, I expect to see a LOT more of Dontre Wilson. And EzE. And hopefully Jalin Marshall.

 

 

ibuck's picture

Coaches made comments about Dontre's weight, strength, and blocking ability. Urban said they needed to make him "a football player."

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

Sean N's picture

It may have something to do with the limitations in his game. He can't catch the ball, he can't run between the tackles. He gets a couple of sweeps around the end every game. It wasn't like he was going to spell Hyde with the same plays that El Guapo would run.  I hope he spends the off season working on catching passes because he can be a dangerous weapon if he is not so one dimensional.

bigbuckinky's picture

One thing is for sure Roby didn't hurt his Draft chances in the Orange Bowl.  It's amazing how Bosa kept coming out time after time when he was hurt.  Roby didn't want to so he didn't slip to the 3rd or 4th round of the draft.
Not playing Vonn Bell earlier in the season looks really bad now.  He was 10 time better than Pitt Brown.

Josh P's picture

I understood our D was a liability, and our pass game was a liability, but I never expected to get outcoached.  That seems to be what happened the past couple of games, there were moments both games when it just seemed like they were flat out making the wrong decisions.  I know in the moment it's a lot different than me sitting on the couch, but some of the stuff just seemed common sense.  I don't know, that's just my opinion, but this team certainly has the skill level of a top tier football team, they just never really seemed prepared to adapt when the gameplan stalled.  And at the college level that is 100% on the coaches.  

Kurt's picture

Our porous defense shouldn't have been the reason to disengage the offense from a shootout with Clemson's offense.  Urban chose to play conservatively with the O and then the weaknesses of the D (which yes needs attention) became ever more apparent.  That 279-1-1 stat is incredibly misleading because of the way Ohio State plays football now under Meyer/Herman in respect to how it was played in the 80s, 90s and 00s.  We're far more likely to be winning games 70-60 than 13-9...and that's perfectly fine.  W is a W.
 

jamesrbrown322's picture

Anyone else bothered by the fact that in key moments against UM, MSU, and Clemson, the D made stops or forced turnovers, only to have the offense/special teams give it right back? The turning point in last night's game was Brown's muffed punt. The defense was not great, and got torched, but had forced Clemson off the field, and gave the ball back to the offense with a seven point lead. Once Clemson got the ball back, that was game, as OSU was unable to ever counter punch once surrendering a lead. This team played tight the last 3 games, and seemed to play not to lose.
I hope this all changes if Brax improves as a passer and the New D and OLine gain experience. They will be better than Va Tech next year right? I am worried about only 2 opponents next year: 1. Perception and 2. *ichigan State.

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

Bamabucknut's picture

Hard to win even your conference when your defense forces your offense to score 35 points against the #1 defense in the country.

jamesrbrown322's picture

Don't disagree. I was just saying it was disappointing that D made stops late and offense stalled when it mattered most.

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

2002osubuck's picture

Meyers not gonna get rid of, or "lose", Fickell this year and thats why he said the hire to replace Withers is a top priority. He should put Fickell up in the booth and leave vrabel on the sidelines to hype up and keep the players focused. He can see how the offense is lined up and call the correct scheme for that formation, not to mention he can make calls based on situation not emotion on the sidelines. Then have Heacock sit next to him in the box and he can "help" Fickell with diagnosis and the play calling. We know Heacock is a great defensive coach but doesn't have the energy for major recruiting so it'd work great since he already on staff. 

GR8TBUCKS's picture

Heacock can't sit in the coaching box if he is not one of the coaches on the coaching staff. And he isn't on the coaching staff.

MY BUTT'S SO BIG, I SPLIT MY PJ BOTTOMS

ChazBuckeye's picture

Everything about the Silver Blanks....Gold....pure Gold! Thank you for validating what SO many have been saying. Some of what you said about in game adjustments and personnel made me want yi shake your hand. Great stuff! Thanks for a great, honest analysis. Love the Bosa and Marcus stuff. The Dline has so much potential. Coached well too;-)

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.

Dougger's picture

I can see why Urban and the staff didn't call for Philly to fair catch the ball. Urban wants to score as many points as he can, and you don't really think your senior is gonna muff a punt, even though he has in the past. 
Vonn Bell, and the Bosa Constrictor are going to be great players. Sad that Vonn didn't get a chance to play the rest of the year. Maybe Fickell was taking a play from Tressel's playbook in starting the older guy. The grass is always greener, but I didn't mind the days of winning by a lot less because our defense was so sweet. I hope Urban makes his future decisions on what's best for the team, not who deserves to be here or not.

I like football

Condor's picture

I agree about Philly. Even though that play definitely changed the momentum and very possibly cost OSU the game, I am ok with it. He definitely should have called a fair catch. However, I believe that if you're going to make a mistake that you should make it going full speed and giving 100%.
It was a huge mistake, but if Philly had caught the ball, spun to the left and took it to the house to break Clemson's will we'd all be singing his praises. I'm not nearly as upset about that fumble as I am about how often our defensive backs look timid or lost in coverage so often.

"Do not fear me gypsy, all I want is your tears."

 -- Borat Sagdiyev

 

mr.green's picture

I so agree with this. Philly was just giving it his all and made a mistake. He came to play Friday night. I feel for him.

lax20's picture

I look forward to next season because the team will be mainly Meyer's recruits.  The last of Tressel's recruits are almost done. 

buckeyepastor's picture

The struggles among the receivers (apart from Philly) have been worse than I'd thought.  Looking over the stats, Devin Smith has 6 catches over the last 5 games.  Evan Spencer has one catch over the last 5 games.   That's not an offense "leaning on what works in the run game" or "taking what the defense gives it" or "adjusting the gameplan for the weather."  That's a pass offense seriously regressing.  
 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

andretolstoy's picture

The notion that "Fickell (or anyone) cannot make adjustments" is such lazy analytics. I mean, it's just playing to a narrative that is already out there created by other, lazy or malicious 'analysts'. It really shows an inability to think for yourselves. The world already has enough technocrats. Let's not completely deconstruct sports with this soulless rationalism. 
Everything that Ohio State did this year, offensively and defensively, was greatly one dimensional.
If there is a knock on the coaching anywhere (Fickell included) then it seems that players are not being developed. Play calling has been limited because of this. It doesn't matter what scheme you call on defense if your players don't know where the ball is. Or your DBs don't have the basic understanding of reading the receiver's eyes and turning on the ball.
This is like Braxton complaining that his body is taking too much wear and tear because "he is being run too much." Well, if Braxton doesn't want to run so much, then he needs to be able to complete a short pass. Imagine how much more potent our offense would be if he had this element, consistently in his skill set.
Either some of our athletes are just that - great athletes, but decent players. Or they just haven't taken to the systemic change that Meyer brought, or (and I don't want to think about this) they are just not open or susceptible to learning. And, that is a reality.
Part of this problematic is coaching, but not entirely. And for our fan base to want what Narduzzi 'created' at MSU requires just a little more patience on our part. It took him a little longer than just 2 years. In reality, 2013 was the first year that MSU did what they did to us. To overlook this fact is just not giving our coaches enough credit.
 

MAVBuck's picture

It's been said 100 times and probably even in this thread but why can't they just drop Fick back to LB coach and take away the coordinator tag? He was always a hell of a positional coach and just seems so overwhelmed with the extra responsibility (even with a co-coordinator). Get a big hire to replace Whithers and give him the D.