First posted at Inside The Shoe
While Ohio State has knocked themselves out of a chance to get into the Big Ten Championship Game, there is still an opportunity to build on these last games. This season could very well end in 6-6, or it could end in 8-4. It's a huge difference not only towards the attitude of the team, but for momentum into next year.
When Braxton Miller rolled to his right on 4th and 3 from the Purdue 13, and then saw Jordan Hall with a step on his man on the opposite side of the field, he threw it up. Very similar to the Wisconsin game, it seemed as if the ball hung up in the air for hours, finally floating into the outstretched hands of Hall. We know that the next play was awful, but there were other key points and factors throughout the game that resulted in the Buckeye loss. Let's take a look at what went right and wrong for Ohio State on Saturday.
What Went Right
- Jordan Hall Can Catch: Who knew? Hall was Ohio State's leading receiver with 3 catches for 58 yards and 2 touchdowns. If that stat doesn't scream to you that he should be moved out to slot receiver so we can get him the ball on short crossing routes or jet sweeps, I don't know what does. He also had 9 carries for 46 yards, but was mostly used in short yardage situations.
- Ryan Shazier Is The Next Big Thing: When Andrew Sweat went down with a concussion through the middle of the game, most everyone immediately thought about how our already depleted and weak linebacking core was going to survive without the team-leading tackler. That's when freshman special teams standout Ryan Shazier stepped in. Shazier this season has been just fantastic in every aspect. I can't think of one time that Shazier has done something bad. Against Wisconsin he blocked a punt, and in every other game he has led the charge in special teams. If you wonder why our special teams are much better? Sure, Dick Tressel has done a good job, but Ryan Shazier has been a monster.
Against Purdue alone, he had 7 total tackles, 6 solo tackles, 1 sack, and forced a fumble that was later ruled down. Shazier also almost had an interception at a key moment in the game where he read Marve's eyes and stepped in front of a slant that he would have taken to the house. His energy in this game was unbelievable, giving 110% every down.
What Went Wrong
- Extra Point Blocked: Despite having all the momentum in the world, Drew Basil just could not find a rhythm all day long on Saturday. He missed a 50-yard field goal that had the distance, but sailed to the right of the uprights, and made a 33 yarder for Ohio State's first lead of the game. The blocked extra point would have given the Buckeyes most likely the win and would have capped off another improbable Braxton Miller drive.
- Antonio Underwood: I had some high hopes for Underwood, the true freshman who got the nod in favor of J.B. Shugarts who was out due to a right knee sprain. Those hopes were immediately crushed when the Purdue defensive line started eating our entire offensive line alive. The reason Boom and company weren't able to get things going on the ground might be because the offensive line literally had little to no push. It almost seemed as if Ryan Kerrigan was on the field again, donning the Boilermaker's uniform. The bad part about it was we were making them all look like Ryan Kerrigan in the first half.
Purdue stacked 8-9 guys in the box, and sometimes more. The "We're a running football team, and we have to plow through everyone to win games no matter what" philosophy isn't working anymore. Eventually Underwood was pulled, and suddenly the offensive line improved. That's not good news, and hopefully doesn't shatter his confidence.