Re: The running game - While I'll agree the O-line certainly didn't play as fired up as we'll need them to, I don't think we can just write them off already as under-performers reminiscent of previous years. I think we have an objectively talented group that played a bad game collectively. I think the running game was a bit of a problem simply because Carlos Hyde is not made to run outside the tackles. Those stretch plays (that depend on him getting to the outside before a nickleback or outside linebacker can get to him) are going to fail. While he may have the best straight line speed of the running backs, it appears as though he doesn't have the same lateral quickness or agility as a guy like Hall or Berry. Here is where the suspensions really hurt. Much was written about Hyde and Smith's lack of vision - i.e. running straight into blockers on seemingly every play - but I'm optimistic that this will get better with experience. I remember Boom doing the same thing at the beginning of last season, and then he just became a yard-crunching machine during the latter half of the season. I'm hopeful that Berry will at least be available for Miami, because he could really blow up (I hear you, Ian_InsidetheShoe).
As for the Baus - I also think it is too early to abandon him completely. I think we simply have to have tempered optimism that Captain Checkdown will re-find his deep ball. I expect that to be addressed heavily in practice. I mean, during the game, just imagine if even one of his at least 6 or 7 Bauserbombs wasn't over/under thrown? We would have had a much more comfortable lead. There was simply no fear of a downfield passing game. I'm a little confused as to why Braxton didn't get a least a series in the third quarter. I understand the Tressellball-ian argument of experience and game management, even if I don't necessarily agree with it. However, I think if he's going to be listed on the depth chart as a co-starter, than he should be treated as such. I hope the coaching staff is sensitive to the fact that Brax is probably feeling a distinct lack of trust. I am hoping that Brax is given more reps during the week in preparation for Miami.
Finally, as far as the defense, it's clear that this is a young and inexperienced group. I'm encouraged by the fact that Clarke seemed to always make plays - he's a verifiable swat machine out there - and also that Roby just doesn't seem to be targeted much. Hopefully that is a result of Roby's coverage skills. I'm a little worried about that screen game. We've played many spread, screen-based offenses over the past 3-4 years and have retooled our entire defense to match this challenge, yet we seemed to always allow these short completions for 5-6 yards. I'm not sure what needs to change there - is about the linebackers not being in position to make plays? I was encouraged by Sabino and think Shazier is coming along nicely, but as a whole I was a little underwhelmed. I also thought OJ could be a bit more aggressive out there - he seems to hit like a cover corner rather than a ball-hawking safety. I miss Kurt Coleman back there.
All in all though, I think this was a needed test for our Buckeyes. They needed to see and feel what losing could be like so that they take nothing for granted. Additionally, it allows the coaching staff to realistically evaluate problems and weaknesses and to make adjustments. Blowout wins often do little to provide coaching points. We are simply lucky that we have seen our weaknesses exposed this early in the season and still came out with a W. I'm not sure if I'm exactly optimistic against Miami, MSU, or Wisconsin, but I do expect the team to grow a lot over the next few games.
Finally, I hope Basil doesn't get discouraged about his kicks. A lot of being a kicker is mental, and so it'll take a lot for the kid to get comfortable again. We'll need him down the stretch, to be sure.