Wisconsin - My Five Thoughts

baddogmaine's picture
November 17, 2012 at 8:52p

1. We Won!!! 11-0. Way to go Buckeyes!

2. Since a lot of 11W readers mistake any criticism for total rejection I'll say it again - this was a great win against a very good team that wanted to beat us. Terrific, terrific result!

3. Our pass defense stinks. It wasn't just letting a guy who had hardly played football in about five years and was making just his second start go 5 for 5 (not counting spikes) on the final drive in regulation. This was the second game we won in large part because opposing receivers dropped passes in their hands (MSU was the other). Simply put: our coverage is not good enough against even mediocre receivers if the QB is given time. Phillips was shakey when he was under pressure but Fickel called for pressure far too little. We have only one game left but AACC now has a guy who can throw and if we give Gardner the time we gave Phlilips then next week could get pretty ugly. IMHO we have a week to figure out how to implemement corner blitzes.

3b. Against MSU Ross said we did what we tried to do - stop the running game and count on Spartan receivers dropping passes. If receivers are bad a team can take that gamble. But we Made Phillips look good AND let Ball get nearly 200 yards. It didn't amount to points, but it also didn't amount to defense. I'm looking forward to Ross's take.

4. Our offense is too easy to stop. Purdue drew up the blueprint. WIS carried it out even without their starting stud LB. AACC is going to do the same: spy on Braxton and dare him to win through the air. It is hard to see on TV because we don't get to see the whole screen very often but part of the problem is bad pass play design and bad receiver play. We saw receivers not called as the first option just jogging. We saw receivers running too close to each other, bringing too many defenders close together. And on one 3rd and 10 that the announcers said was great defense the corner was backpeddling and instead of breaking off the route at the first down marker our guy kept going, running into coverage.Stoneburner dropped two.  Take away Miller's legs and we struggle. Whch leads to

5. Miller is a dynamic RB but he is still not good enough as a QB. His decision making is not very good, to put it kindly. At least twice he took big losses when he should have thrown it away. He threw one deep ball that never should have been thrown. He completed passes to receivers just past the line of scrimmage that had no room to run - were those really good passes?  He is guiding the ball, not throwing with command. We can win with him because he is that good as a runner but the wins will come against teams not prepared to stop his running. I think the early excitement over his explosiveness has largely disappeared in the reality of plenty of other players simply doing better, and unless other candidates struggle too he won't even be going to NY. Which is no critcism - very few players get invites. But the team needs to be realistic about the talent it has, and the talent it does not have yet and devote itself to improving where improvement is needed. Meyer can talk about "playmakers" but as well-suited as Miller is to Meyer's preferred offense the QB needs to be better still.

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sirclovis's picture

I like your analysis but I don't agree with several of your points, especially some in 5.

"He threw one deep ball that never should have been thrown." -- I actually didn't mind that deep throw because we had not taken a deep shot down field the entire game. I believe that was our only attempt of 30+ yards and he missed long which isn't bad. We had to at least try to keep their defense honest.

"He is guiding the ball, not throwing with command." -- I think he throws with command almost to a fault. He throws a bullet. He needs to "guide" it a little more and put some touch on his passes.

Also you said in 4 that teams need to spy Braxton to contain him. That’s not necessarily true, Purdue was successful because they spied but also brought safety support. Wisconsin was also successful because they spied and crashed their safeties at any sight of Braxton scrambling. Penn State, even with their great linebackers, did not succeed in stopping Braxton because they only LB spied him and didn’t bring their DBs in hard run support. As seen in my first point, this is why I think we should have taken more shots down field off of play action because Wisconsin’s safeties were biting hard on Braxton’s runs.


baddogmaine's picture

I don't disagree with trying to go deep, I thought we should have tried it more for the same reason you do. But that one pass did not kep the Badger defense honest. And with two receivers in the same area there were three defenders on the scene, and Miller should have looked for another option on that play as nothing good was likely to result.
We can disagree about what Miller's problem was yesterday. To me his throwing motion looked like Taylor Martinez' and that is never a compliment. His mechanics looked as rough as they did a year ago.


In defense of the defense, Phillips hadnt played enough for the Buckeyes to discern anything about him from the game film. They had no idea what to expect from him. The dude made some good throws, but he also made just enough mistakes to cost them the game. Hats off to the Buckeye defense and hats off to Phillips for sucking just enough LOL. Still doesnt mean the Silver Bullet pass defense was horrible. Vs. Indiana they were. Not tonight.
P.S. I was NOT happy with that zone pass coverage on the Badgers 4th down conversion play before the missed FG. Whomever called that was horrendously wrong. A man coverage in that spot is either an incomplete pass, a coverage sack or a pick-six. I'm sure of it.

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

baddogmaine's picture

In defense of the defense, Phillips hadnt played enough for the Buckeyes to discern anything about him from the game film. They had no idea what to expect from him.

Had I not taken two thoughts to emphasize the glory of the win my fifth point would have questioned game preparation. Normally after a bye week one expects to see something new, something sound-er. We had two weeks to prepare for someone who was recruited by a good school as a QB - don't you assume that the guy can throw at least somewhat? Don't you expect that a coach as good as Bielema (and he is good) would himself game-plan to attack our obvious weakness?  How many yards would Phillips have thrown for had we not had an extra week to prepare? From WIS' very first series our team was not ready to play against a drop-back passer, just as, in truth, our team has been largely unprepared or unable to stop passing attacks of any kind all year.
For that matter, how many more yards would Ball have run for had we not had an extra week to prepare? And while I'm on the subject how was our offensive game plan improved by having an extra week to prepare for the Badger defense? If the WIS defense is just too good to beat then what will we do this week against the statistically better scUM? What has our coaching staff been doing since November 2? Did our play in yesterday's game give us any answers to that?

OSUBias's picture

Brax just had a bad game, all around. He didn't make good decisions in the pass game, for the most part, and was pretty horrible at the zone read for most of the night. Brax is a gamer and wants the ball in his hands so he can make a big play, which is great. But sometimes he needs to just take what the defense gives him and figure out how much easier it is to run our offense that way. That means when they are double spying you on the zone read, give it to Hyde for 2-3 yard plunge as opposed to dancing around trying to cut back opposite field for a 4-6 yard loss. On passing plays, make up your mind. Look at your first read, if he's not open, move on. Either to option #2 or tuck and run. At this point probably tuck and run. He keeps staring at the WR's waiting for them to get open. He needs a better internal clock so he knows when to bail and take off. He's trying to become a better passer, almost to a fault. I remember when TP went through this, too. Trying to prove he can throw it so he was more hesitant to run on passing plays. I think Miller needs to flip his mindset: be more willing to take off on passing plays, and be more willing to hand off on read/option plays. Just my 2 cents.

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Did you notice the success we had when we just turned and handed the ball off?  Wonder why?  Our offensive play calling really missed against Wisconsin.  Wisconsin had at least one spy on Miller, yet we continued to call read plays that put both of our running threats on the same side of the field, this bringing the extra spy defender in to defend the run no matter the ball carrier.  To cap it off, are our reads slow developing plays.  Not a very open playbook last week, this will have to change.

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KBonay's picture

My question, What's up with Jake?  Seems lost.  And dropped, most likely, a TD and killed another drive with a drop.