Illinois - Five Thoughts

baddogmaine's picture
November 4, 2012 at 8:36a

ONE. Illinois is a bad team. We have faced other bad teams and struggled - we beat UAB by only 14 and their second win just came against a team that hasn't won yet. We recently struggled against a Purdue who aren't very good. So in that sense cruising as we did is really nice to see. But IL is much worse than PUR, and we are a different team than we were six weeks ago and beating IL by a ton is what we should be doing. What I'm saying is that we should not take away too much from this game other than the observation that we looked good. Save the gushing over team play for when we face an opponent with a heartbeat.

TWO. Even against a bad team Carlos Hyde deserves praise for a great work ethic and the ability to get the job done. It is impossible to overstate how important it is to our offense that we have that second option, that other defenses genuinely fear that Miller might hand off, meaning that they can not focus on Miller entirely which will make things just that little bit easier for Miller. I grade Hyde as a champion. (This is especially important since Rod Smith has a definite fumble problem. It will be interesting to see how many carries he gets if our remaining games are close.)

THREE. The problems we had going in to IL unfortunately continued. The stupid penalties are an epidemic. If we had anyone to replace him with Bryant should have sat for much of the game - two bonehead penalties in the first quarter and a dropped INT. We were given a gift when Roby's roughing the  kicker was only called running into which didn't change field position. The tripping penalty on the INT near the end of the first half probably cost us points. This stuff is not from trying to hard, it is from not thinking hard enough. Meyer needs to get a handle on it. And our kick return coverage continues to be an issue. Maybe that's from not having the bodies we need. With a week off for injuries to mend we should theoretically have on kick coverage guys who can cover kicks. We need to.

FOUR. Meyer expressed unhappiness in our passing game without saying why exactly. In my view Miller passed a lot better than he had been. It was not his fault that Stoneburner dropped two well-thrown balls. I don't count against Miller that he was asked to throw bombs at the end of the first half, hurting his stats. Maybe our receivers need a lot of work but I thought Miller showed improved poise in the pocket.

FIVE. The one who didn't is Guiton. Even if all he will ever be asked to do is get the ball to a RB we saw that even that needs work. The only reliable way for an inexperienced QB to improve is game experience - practice is a totally different beast for one with limited game play. This game was completely under control by the end of the second quarter. There is no reason I can think of for Miller to have still been in the game into the fourth quarter. This is not about avoiding injury,though I continue to see that as a legitimate concern - this is so that if Guiton for whatever reason has to play any amount of time in our last two games he will have a better feel for what is going on around him. I guess we are to take from Meyer's comments abnout our passing game his feeling that Miller needed more practice but if that's the case leave him in working on it till the final gun. If Miller did not need to finish then Guiton should have been given more time than he was. Because as things are we are looking at a potentially serious drop-off in ability to produce if Miller ever has to come out the rest of this year. And while there will aways be a drop-off when someone as dynamic as Miller is replaced the drop-off need not be because the sub is unprepared.

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d.bradfordii's picture

First, I am so glad we are 10-0 and this season is turning out much better than I thought it would!

Looking at this with a slightly critical eye, I agree with a lot of what you say. My five thoughts are:

1st – Defense - our Defense has performed better the last two games - yet they still allowed Illinois too many points.  For this team to score 22 points on us is depressing because Illinois is really a bad team.  As an example, if Notre Dame’s defense had had the mental lapses OSU’s defense continues to have, they wouldn’t have won all those close games and would probably be 5-4 (possibly 4-5) instead of 9-0. 

2nd – Offense - the Offense is good and keeps improving in some areas.  Braxton, Hyde, and Rod Smith are all coming into their own and if they stay healthy we could have a really scary offense next year.  I‘ve got goose-bumps already!  The receiver corps needs a lot of work.  Guys like Devin Smith continue to puzzle me, what’s up with that guy?

3rd - Penalties – we have always had stupid penalties called against us (refs keeping our rivals in the game?) and we always will.  Pass interference calls are going to happen – pass defenders are playing on a razors edge.  Anyone who has ever played football has moved early or jumped off sides.  If you have to hold someone to keep your quarterback from getting killed, you do it.  But there is no reason for the stupid late hit calls and other assorted personal foul calls.  That’s coachable and we need to get that fixed and again when you look at it from that aspect you come back to the defense.

4th - Special teams – our punt blocking is horrible.  We are sore in this area and even if Urban personally coaches these guys, they still suck.  This could cost us loss in one of our remaining games.

5th – The backups – I totally disagree with you on this point.  Our starting offense and defense is supposed to get us far enough out in front that the backup guys who haven’t played much or at all get in and get some playing time.  They are going to make mistakes – that’s why they don’t play much to start with.  These are the guys you expect to fumble or make another dumb play that makes you want to poke your eyes out!  It’s a lot better for them to do it in a game we will win anyway than to wait until next year when they are the only guys you have or this year when somebody gets injured and they are the only substitute you have that can play at that position. 

This team has accomplished a lot and I’m super proud of them and proud to be a Buckeye fan.  Screw the NC, just keep winning!  Go Bucs


baddogmaine's picture

Of course in a perfect world OSU is the team that suffers no injuries. But our defense has taken big hits and we have had to play guys with little experience, and the lack of experience has showed. Our special teams play is either poor coaching, which few in love with Meyer want to consider, or injuries forcing inexperienced players into roles they're not doing very well. The point is that injuries do happen, and often over the course of a year the teams that do the best are the ones who have substitutes who are game-ready. Miller has missed parts of several games and it would not be unexpected for him to have to miss time against defenses as big and focused as WIS and AACC. Guiton showed his rawness against IL - had he botched a pitch against PUR we lose that game. If he botches a pitch in one of the next games we could lose that. And QBs with little game experience are more likely to botch a pitch, because game pressure is entirely different from practice pressure.
Even if you are not worried about Miller getting injured the reason to take him out and put Guoiton in in a blow-out is to get Guiton experience. In a blow-out I don't why Guiton was deptrived of game experience until the fourth quarter.

Toilrt Paper's picture

Miller is still learning how to be a drop back passer and regressed during the past 2 games. Meyer and Herman worked very hard with him between games. They wanted to see if there was progress.

sb97's picture

Not to be nitpicky but the defense did not give up 22 points to Illinois.  They gave up 14 points on 177 yards of offense.  Those are good numbers regardless of the opposition.  Its time to give the defense credit.