Breaking Down: Ohio State vs. Navy

By Ross Fulton on September 2, 2014 at 1:20p

On Saturday, Ohio State – perhaps not unexpectedly – performed unevenly before pulling away against Navy. The Buckeyes remained in a tight contest with the Midshipmen due to negative plays hampering promising drives on offense. And explosive plays undermined an otherwise solid defensive effort.

Ohio State put the game away, however, once they limited their mistakes. In so doing they exhibited the potential for growth and helped define several players' roles.

Blast from the Past

New co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash had the unenviable task of opening against Navy's flexbone. Thankfully, that's the last time Ohio State will face the triple option this season, so we should be cautious about drawing broad conclusions. Nevertheless, a few points are worth noting.

Ash's defense unveiled an option-specific scheme. The Buckeyes did not play their base linebackers. Instead, Ohio State lined up in an over defense with two walkout linebackers over Navy's slotbacks. They then rotated their two inside linebackers – Curtis Grant and Josh Perry – at a deep middle linebacker position.

OSU v. Navy formation

In theory this allowed the Buckeyes to confuse Navy's reads by changing the assignments between the defensive ends, outside linebackers and middle linebackers. More specifically Ash would frequently flip the linebackers roles. The walkout linebacker would play the dive while the Mike would arc around for the pitch.

Coming down

The Buckeyes' primary focus was taking away the dive and quarterback keep. In this they largely succeeded.

But the schematic choices created two problems. First, the pitch back was all too often unaccounted for.

No pitch

The Mike would frequently get chipped by an arc block and not get to the pitch.

No pitch

Second, the defense lacked a player to account for the inside counter. The Mike was so quick to get across the field for the pitch that he was easily sealed. Perhaps the backside linebacker and safety should have mirrored the slotback. But this did not occur. It was particularly noticeable when safety Cam Burrows losing backside contain, creating Navy's biggest play.

inside counter

The Eye in the Sky . . . 

These scheme-specific issues may not have much application moving forward. But certain strengths and weaknesses for the Buckeye defense were nevertheless displayed. As expected, the defensive line is a clear strength. Nose tackle Michael Bennett and three-technique Adolphus Washington dominated the line of scrimmage. The Buckeyes missed Noah Spence but Rashad Frazier played well in spurts. 

In the back seven, Von Bell demonstrated he needs to be on the field. To start the game he and Burrows rotated every two series. But after Navy's long counter run Bell played the rest of the second half. The safeties as a group were slow in rotation, but Bell took proper angles and showed a nose for the football.

It is more difficult to assess the linebackers since they were playing out of position. Perry and Grant still seem hampered by a lack of instincts that make them a step slow to the ball. But their performance improved as the game progressed. Darron Lee made several plays and was around the football, while Chris Worley often looked lost. But again, an assessment as a group will have to wait until they are in their more natural positions.

In sum, it is not worth spending too much time worrying about scheme deficiencies against the Midshipmen because Ohio State will not again face the midline triple option. Ash likely wanted to get through the afternoon without devoting too much practice time to defending one scheme. 

And the reality is that surrendering big plays overshadowed a largely solid defensive performance. Navy boasts an experienced group adapt at running the flexbone. So it is no surprise the Midshipmen gained yards.

The Buckeyes had a far bigger mismatch versus the Navy defense. Yet the Ohio State defense largely kept the Buckeyes in the game while the offense shot itself in the foot. The most important example was forcing Navy to punt after the Buckeye offense failed to convert in fourth and short after a mistaken fumble call.

Moving Forward

Against the Buckeye offense Navy utilized its 3-4 front. The Midshipmen regularly deployed their outside linebackers and slot defenders to crash down against the run. 

Navy blitzing linebacker

In response, Ohio State opened with a combination of tight zone, lead outside zone to the H-backs Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall, and a perimeter passing game.

That offense moved the football throughout the game, with only one three and out. But two problems limited the translation of yards into points.

The first was pass protection. The new Buckeye offensive linemen largely did not struggle with individual blocking.

The breakdowns instead came in understanding who to block. Navy generally sent four rushers. But the fourth rusher came from different spots in their 3-4 defense. The Midshipmen goal was to shoot gaps. In the Buckeyes' five men protection the linemen were potentially responsible for two gaps. All too often Buckeye linemen would allow a rusher to split them, expecting help from their teammate.

Pass Pro Probs

Second, the Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot in the red zone. The Buckeyes had two second quarter red zone drives that resulted in three points. The first ended with a J.T. Barrett interception that resulted from the aforementioned protection problems. The second resulted in a field goal after a large loss on a speed option on third and short. Speed option may have been a questionable call – but one that could have been converted if Barrett kept.

Plugging the Gap

The Buckeyes corrected their protection problems in the second half by including a tight end in the blocking scheme. Again, this was more about ensuring assignments then assisting any individual linemen. By using a six-man protection, the Buckeyes could employ a half-slide protection. The line could now block every gap, allowing each linemen to focus upon a single hole.

gap pap pass

Urban Meyer and Tom Herman also settled upon a method to keep Navy's outside linebackers at bay. The Midshipmen edge defenders were not particularly concerned with respecting Barrett as a run threat on tight zone read. This was, of course, never a problem with Braxton Miller. 

In response, the Buckeyes sent Wilson or Marshall in jet sweep action, holding the backside linebacker.

Tight zone jet sweep
tight zone jet sweep

By limiting mistakes the Buckeyes combined tight zone, outside zone, and play action passing to score touchdown on their last three possessions. With only 55 plays the Buckeyes ran 15-20 less then normal. But those plays should have resulted in several more touchdowns.

Four plus Four

The Buckeyes' first game provided an opportunity for the Buckeyes' new playmakers to emerge. In particular, it showcased four inside and four outside players.

As to the former, the Ohio State offense was geared around tailbacks Ezekiel Elliot and Curtis Samuel and H receivers Dontre Wilson and Jalin Marshall. Samuel was impressive in his debut. He keeps his feet moving in the hole, which allows him to exploit his quickness in traffic and makes him an effective inside runner. Elliot was initially sluggish, leaning too far forward when running. But he righted the ship in the second half.

It is clear that Meyer and Herman will seek to utilize Wilson and Marshall as much as possible. With additional weight Wilson looks like a different player. He showed patience on outside zone runs, setting up blocks and then hitting the hole with speed.

Then on the outside, the Buckeyes featured four receivers – Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Mike Thomas and Corey Smith. These eight skill players along with tight ends Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett will form the focus of the Buckeye offense going forward.

Getting your feet wet

Of course, most of the focus was upon Barrett. And he played a solid game in his debut. As a passer, Barrett made good decisions and showed a nice touch. As a runner he was initially too ready to give and not decisive in running north-south. But his running improved as the game progressed. He is not quick enough to run east-west, so he must quickly get upfield and maximize the available yardage.

Barrett's performance should give Meyer and Herman confidence to expand the offense. The Buckeyes left easy yards on the field. For instance, to commit their edge players to the run game Navy's corners provided the Buckeye receivers ample cushion. The Ohio State offense could have taken advantage with backside hitches off tight zone. And the Buckeyes must better take advantage of defenses overcommitting to the run.

At a conceptual level, Meyer and Herman must adjust to Barrett not threatening the defense as run threat the way Miller does. Barrett demonstrated he can gain yards when the defense does not account for him. But teams would likely prefer him carry the football then the other Buckeye skill players. The Buckeyes must continue to utilize Wilson and Marshall both as threats and decoys to hold the defense at bay.

At the same time the Buckeyes must not be overly predictable in their play calling based upon the H's position. For instance the Buckeyes generally ran lead outside zone from a split back look. 

And the offensive line must continue to improve in executing pass protection schemes. Bud Foster will deploy a variety of man and zone blitzes with his Virginia Tech defense, rendering pass protection integrity paramount. 


Comments Show All Comments

osugreg04's picture

I was in attendance on Saturday and every time Navy ran the option, it was blatantly obvious the wide RB was WIDE open to pick up some good yards. I'm just very thankful we don't have to see that scheme again.

+3 HS
M5gatronBuckeye's picture

It was frustrating to see nobody assigned to or pick up the RB, but the coaches and players made adjustments at halftime....made the 2nd half more enjoyable to watch for us. 

"I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win"
Michael Jordan

+2 HS
THEOSUfan's picture

Oh, someone was assigned. Whoever it was just wasn't getting there!

Navy's over 300 rushing is a testament to the effectiveness of the scheme - and to Ohio State not always being disciplined and playing "assignment football."

+3 HS
rkylet83's picture

Awesome as always!

+1 HS
LouBuck35's picture

Great analysis, as usual.

I want a fall Saturday in Ohio Stadium..

D-Day0043's picture


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+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Nice job Ross - It's amazing how this coaching staff from Navy, that has been together for so many years, can take average athletes, fit them into their schemes and make them very good and very scary. They have beaten Army 12 straight years I think and will give every one of their opponents fits going forward.  

+2 HS
ibuck's picture

Your point about discipline is well taken, and wish we would see it more with the Buckeyes. While Navy's athletes may be largely average, a few, like Keenan Reynolds, were quite good. 

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Agreed - country before team but he may be their best QB in quite some time. 

vitaminB's picture

Amazing stuff Ross.  My biggest question mark for this game was why run the option on third and goal, you know the one play the Navy D sees in practice every day.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

Ross, here's the question: relative to your pre-game expectations, how did the good guys perform?

+1 HS
Ross Fulton's picture

I was disappointed in not finishing drives by shooting themselves in the foot.  But I otherwise think they performed as expected. This is the type of game that is a tough one to open up with. But they will be much improved by getting through it.

AndyVance's picture

Thanks for the feedback Ross; I think we're on the same page there. We had the chance to put this one away early, but the silver lining is that perhaps these young guns needed a little "adversity" on the field to help them gel and grow, etc. etc. The glass is half-full, right?

steveinkc's picture

there seemed to be confusion on who was assigned to the QB and who was assigned to the pitch back. very fundamental that those assignments are clear. bennett was double teamed almost everytime so lb'er had to make sure to close on the fullback. we were very slow on filling by the safety's and slow getting off blocks by the corners. pitch back had a full head of steam on most of the outside plays. i would have had bosa hit the QB everytime they ran it as hard as he could hit him. that would get old real quick if you were the QB!! their backs ran very hard and broke we need to do!! we were not as physical as we need to be...not yet!!!


+1 HS
yrro's picture

It looked to me as though people were playing their assignments, but occasionally letting themselves be blocked out of the play. I thought Ross showed  a good example of that - the linebacker who was supposed to be coming across the field to get the pitch man had been blocked by the fullback and couldn't get there in time.

D-Day0043's picture

Navy's blockers were very disruptive. They weren't powerful, they just had a knack for getting in the way of the defender at the perfect time. It was pretty neat to see how they compensated for their size disadvantage. They had cut blocking down to a science. 

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ibuck's picture

I wish we would see the Buckeyes get their offensive blocking down to a science.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

+1 HS
Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

My thoughts on the game.

QB - Still not sold on J.T. Barrett.  I thought he looked ok for a R-Fr, but then again the playbook was very vanilla.  The INT was AWFUL (and certainly the definition of a Fr mistake), but stuff like that is to be expected.  Better to get it out now, than suffer the very same mistake in a game like Va Tech, Cincy, Penn St, MSU, or Michigan that will actually make you pay for that mistake.  His TD pass to Devin Smith was a thing of beauty.  Perfectly setup by Tom Herman (in terms of play-calling), but certainly a read that Barrett still had to see & execute, and I was happy to see him underthrow Smith than OVERthrow the ball like Danielson said on the broadcast.  One thing's for sure... if we're going to compete this year, Barrett has to progress.  Now let's see what he can do vs. Va Tech.  (Note: I thought it was very telling that we didn't even see Cardale Jones for one drive.)

RB - Disappointing that Barrett lead all rushers in rushing.  I would rather see our top running back racking up 100+ yards than see three tailbacks with 40-some yards each.  I know this is going to sound crazy, but I think having as much depth at RB as we have is actually a detriment than a bonus.  We have so many studs at RB that we have to play them, and this prevents any one of them from 'getting into a rhythm'.  I think it's obvious our #1 RB is easily Ezekiel Elliott, but I was pleasantly surprised with Curtis Samuel's ability to run the ball up-the-middle, and I thought Jalin Marshall looked solid as well.  Even tho Eze is our #1 RB, it was painfully obvious to me that Dontre Wilson is easily our BEST weapon.  Out of the entire bunch, he looked the best (IMO).  My heart goes out to Rod Smith.  It seemed like every time he was sub'd in, he was sub'd out after one play.  Call me crazy, but I truly believe that Smith has the tools to be Carlos Hyde-esk.  Obviously not quite the same nor am I trying to suggest that they are even remotely on the same level, but it's glaringly obvious to me that the POTENTIAL is there.  He just seemed sooo dejected every time he was coming out of there (head held down).

WR - Call me crazy, but Devin Smith's game translates better to the Pros than it does in this Offense.  I think Smith will struggle to hit 800 yards receiving in this offense (simply because there are too many weapons and not enough footballs to go around), but I see his game translating VERY very to the next level.  IMO, he has the down-field-speed to get open at the next level; he has the soft hands to catch most of what's thrown at him; and I believe he runs some pretty nice routes (relatively speaking).  Unfortunately, there's just too many weapons who will require touches, thus limiting Smith from getting the # of touches he truly needs to be a 1,000 yard receive (IMO).  Dontre Wilson, again, as stated above, was (to me) obviously our #1 weapon.  I was happy to see Michael Thomas lead the way in REC.  I do believe that he's our best 'pure receiver'.  Guy has the hands, speed, size, and swagger of a top-tier receiver; just needs to put it all together.  Evan Spencer - while I like his seniority/leadership... he's 'JAG' (just a guy).

TE - Jeff Heuerman has the talent to be a nice TE, but with so many weapons and knowing how Meyer/Herman like to utilize the speed guys, I just don't see Heuerman having a big year.  Would love to utilize him more (as I think he could be a real mismatch for defenses), but I just don't see it happening.  Nick Vannett - not sure I even saw/noticed him once.

OL - The OL was a HUGE disappointment.  They did not control the LOS like I thought they should have.  Granted they kinda took over control late in the game and started having better luck, but I was severely disappointed with the play of this group, especially Elflein (perhaps my expectations for him were just too high based off of his brief success last season).  Decker didn't do anything one way or the other, so I'll say he actually looked OK.  Did Chad Lindsay even play?

DL - Mixed emotions here.  I thought Bennett and Washington looked AMAZING (Bosa looked pretty good too, especially when it looked to me like Navy was scheming/running AWAY from him), but I thought Steve Miller looked awful (Rashad Frazier looked better than Miller, IMO) and I was disappointed we gave up as many yards as we did.  I knew Navy was going to come out there and run their option/gimmicky offense... and I knew they were going to put up yards, but I was NOT expecting them to control/run over us like they did.  I'm in favor of Frazier starting over Miller for Va Tech.

LB - I thought Curtis Grant looked surprisingly alright for once.  Still don't think he's put it all together yet, but he did look  improved (which is good).  Darron Lee looked like our most physically gifted LB out there.  Looks like the hype re: Lee this off-season might be real.  IMO, Joshua Perry was quiet.  I don't recall seeing him much / him imposing his will on the game.  Another pleasant surprise was seeing Chris Worley get the time/action that he got, and I thought he looked good too when he was in there.  Maybe it was just me, but I didn't see McMillan or Booker at all at LB.  Not seeing McMillan there was a disappointment (for me); but probably about expected.

CB / S - It wouldn't even be fair to attempt to grade this unit, as there was a whole whopping 4 passing attempts.  I think Tyvis Powell looked great. He was all over the field.  Granted he missed a couple tackles (tackling in general for the team was very poor - Florida-esk - and NEEDS to improve IMMEDIATELY), but I thought he looked great.  He was everywhere and constantly around the football.  Doran Grant was a ghost, but (1) that's what you want as a CB and (2) Navy only attempted 4 passes, so naturally he was going to be a ghost.  I saw Bell a handful of times, and I heard Burrows was getting equal # of snaps with Bell.  Didn't really notice Conley/Apple.

P - We might very well have the best punter in the nation, in Cameron Johnston.  Love this kid.

K - Nuernberger looked alright.

-3 HS
11UrbzAndSpices's picture

+1 for simply writing something that long

"Quit skipping leg day bro" - Dr James Andrews

+2 HS
fear_the_nut70's picture

Not sold on JT?  Well how could you be, he has only one game under his belt.  But how you could criticize that one game in any way (except that one INT when O-line protection completely broke down) is absurd to me.  The kid was 12-15 I believe with 200+ passing yards (and that was with one blatant drop that killed a drive) despite the fact that the O-line was often discombobulated.  What would the kid have to have done to earn good marks from you, 15-15?  Yes, the playbook was vanilla, but at some point, the stats do actually matter.  Jeez, tough crowd...

+2 HS
vitaminB's picture

I keep hearing drop associated with that play over the middle to Dontre.  To be fair, that was a very tough catch.  He dove and really only got one hand on it, might have alligator armed it a little bit, but a better thrown ball hits him in stride and he might have had a chance to score on that.

+2 HS
DiasporaBuck's picture

Agreed on Tyvis Powell.  In the gif above of Navy's longest run, I love how it looks like he came out of nowhere to prevent a TD.  Sure, coming across the camera accentuates the perception of his speed, but he still had to have been moving faster than any of those guys to catch them all while they were running straight and he was coming in from an angle.

OSU Class of 1999

+1 HS
Earle's picture

Was it my imagination, or did the Buckeyes run a lot more outside zone than usual (at least earlier in the game)?

Snarkies gonna snark. 

+1 HS
D-Day0043's picture

I thought so too. They started running inside in the 4th quarter and it was pretty effective. 

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

+2 HS
Scarlet_Buckeye's picture

Definitely, but I think that was to be expected.  When you lose 4/5ths of your OL, and your all-world bruiser RB, and you're left with speed guys, it only makes sense that you're going to try to beat everyone on the outside.

I don't think OSU ended up finding much running success, however, until towards the end of the game where they started running it up the middle, ironically.

+1 HS
steveoz49's picture

I'm wondering how many dinged up players we have with all of those nasty cut blocks.  I saw Grant get cut once and I thought "there's no way he's getting up from that one!". 

I realize that the cut blocks are part of the game, but I think that the competition committees should seriously look at it from a safety stand point.  Many rules have been adjusted for this very issue alone.  I think this one should be looked, at the very least.

+3 HS
lsjSnail's picture

Ha, #44 lays out his own guy.

+6 HS
southbay's picture

He could have played for Florida!

+3 HS
D-Day0043's picture

Maybe he had been messsing with his girlfriend and tried to get a hit in hoping no one would notice?

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GVerrilli92's picture
  • Cam Burrows had a rough game. I expect Vonn to get the nod against VT.
  • Darron Lee was fast, but he was 50/50 all day. Often tried to jump the FB give and left the pitch open.
  • Rod Smith missed some key lead blocks, but rectified it with a special teams blocking play that Urban highlighted
  • Need to see more of Jalin Marshall, he can dance.
  • Elflien and Price had a rough first half, Taylor Decker is the real deal on the left edge.
  • Dontre Wilson still can't block. See the 1st half, 3rd and 1 speed option, #2 whiffs.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

d5k's picture

As Ross said, often the LBs were exchanging responsibilities to attempt to confuse the blocking assignments and reads.  Ross even mentions that the MLB kept getting caught up in the wash trying to get all the way out to the pitch back.  So yea, it is extremely difficult to try to blame a player (Lee) for an assignment screw-up when you don't know who had which assignment.  I saw enough promise out of the front 7 to feel comfortable that they will do well against more standard systems.  On some of the big runs it appeared that Navy just called the right play at the right time, for instance when we had a LB exchange on and they countered with the pitch back taking the dive handoff against the grain.

+2 HS
GVerrilli92's picture


It's really easy to blame Darron Lee when you watch Bosa crash and then Lee follows him because his eyes are in backfield trying to figure out who the ball is going to instead of just getting to his spot. I understood what Ross meant when I read it, but it was very easy to tell when the DE had crash responsibility. You're right, there were multiple times where Joey would come out of his stance and track the QB instead of crashing. But Darron should at the very least notice the DE crashing and bounce it outside. It was an automatic 10 yards when they both covered the inside run because the next guy to get to the pitch had to be the S or MLB.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

-2 HS
jeremytwoface's picture

Taylor Decker is the real deal on the left edge.

In the gif right above this where he basically flattens 2 players.... Yeah, he's definitely the strength of the line this year.

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

+1 HS
GVerrilli92's picture

I swear, his combo blocks are a thing of beauty.

Chip on the double team and advance to the second level, he does it as well as anybody.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

+1 HS
Catfish Biff's picture

The first three gifs above feature some nasty cut blocks. Grant gets blown up on the big Lee play, I can't see who the MLB is in the second one and then an attempted cut block on Grant in the third as well as a DB getting taken out.

..Til' we wobble in our shoes!

+1 HS
jeremytwoface's picture

I was paranoid about this the whole game....

I'm glad we got the win but almost equally glad we didn't have and knee injuries.

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

+1 HS
D-Day0043's picture

For real. I was very surprised no one got their knee blown out. Credit to Navy. They kept it clean.

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Buckeyeneer's picture

Thanks for the analysis. I noted your comment about Barrett:

As a runner he was initially too ready to give 

While I agree with this, I was actually happy to see a guy who was a little more willing to give it to our talented stable of backs. Braxton is obviously a freak athlete but with the talent we have, I am happy to spread the load a little bit more this year.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

+1 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

For sure, we wanna see Barrett getting the ball into the hands of the playmakers. But I think what Ross is noting is that he has to read what the defense is doing, and make the right call. There were a few plays when he handed off (or on that awful option pitch in the red zone), when he should've kept the ball and cut up field.

But no worries, he'll get better. Overall, I thought his performance was a good, solid foundation to build on.

“The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction, not a destination.” ~Carl Rogers

GVerrilli92's picture

I'm always skeptical of judging the first quarter read-option. I really do think that Urban tells his QBs: when in doubt give to the RB. I'm not gonna say that it's completely predetermined, but the give sets up the QB keep well for later in the game.

I got a gray kitty, white kitty, tabby too, and a little orange guy who puts snakes in my shoes. Got mad MC skills, that leave ya struck, and I roll with my kitties and I'm hard as f*ck.

+1 HS
ponder10's picture

Great stuff Ross.

Question, what is the philosophy behind having the CB take the QB rather than the pitch man? It seems intuitive to me that the CB would take the pitch man forcing the QB back into the pursuing defense but it seemed to me that our CB's were coached differently in this game.

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” ~ Baba Dioum

d5k's picture

It could be because Navy's best player is their QB so we were trying to take the ball out of his hands.

+2 HS
mb5599's picture

I understand that Navy's offense was unique and we will not face another team like them this year, but my issue is that we gave up 370 rushing yards to that team.  Last September, Western Kentucky held them to a total of 86 rushing yards (and they didnt have all summer to scheme for them).

I think we have still have some major issues on defense but I hope I am wrong.

Big B

+1 HS
JohnnyKozmo's picture

Reynolds was hurt in the 2nd quarter, that may have had something to do with it, especially everyone says he is the best QB Navy has had since Staubach.  It also needs to be noted how well Western Kentucky ran the ball, and thus kept the ball from Navy.  OSU wasn't able to control the ball like that with their offense until late in the 2nd half (1st 2 scores were the Fumble return and the 1 play drive-80yd TD pass).

It is strange though how much they did limit that team though, but we see that all the time in CFB, a team is so dominant, and one week, they fall flat on their face.

Pain don't hurt-Dalton

+1 HS
D-Day0043's picture

Keenan Reynolds got a concussion early in the first half of that game and didn't return. He drove the ball right down the field and they couldn't stop him.

Their backup couldn't run their triple option offense. So literally in the middle of the game started playing shotgun spread, throwing the ball, and quit running. Three things they never do. You can take away absolutely nothing from that game.

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+4 HS
Humbuck's picture

Georgia Southern ran for 320 on Bama's #1 ranked run defense in 2012, no one else hit 100.  Last year ND had the 7th ranked D and Navy put up 420 total yards and 34 points on them. 

it says next to nothing about the overall quality of the D when you play a triple O and hold it to 17 points. 

+1 HS
11UrbzAndSpices's picture

THANKS ROSS! My team runs the same defense as OSU and we play a flexbone or two offense this year, can't wait to get to read this whole thing and see if I want to adapt the idea to our defense.

"Quit skipping leg day bro" - Dr James Andrews

UrbanPirate's picture

Let's get you a headset, clipboard, and a spot on the sidelines Ross! Thanks for my favorite weekly analysis.

Just... Go Bucks.


+3 HS
BuckeyeMark's picture

Really really well done.  Makes you realize how much is going on during a play, and how hard that is to pick up from the limited view of the tv screen.  I'm coaching like mad from my couch and every week this write up helps me realize that I'm in no danger of taking Urban's job any time soon....

+2 HS
2002osubuck's picture

Alot of the issues were from guys trying to be disciplined and slowing things down a bit. Also the navy WRs were "blocking" at the thighs of the LB or S responsible for the pitch and taking out their legs. I think a lot of the guys were trying to avoid injury from low blocks and it affected several plays. We'll see a much faster and efficient defense against VaTech.

+1 HS
Barnsey69's picture

Awesome stuff, thank you sir!

In general, and as usual, it all starts with the O-Line. As they improved in the 2nd half, so did the offense. And the most important spot on that line is occupied by a guy that will be playing on Sundays. This line may never be as good as last year's version, but with a more dynamic offense utilizing more options, they won't have to be. 

Defense had an unusual assignment with Navy, so I'll wait until after Va Tech to either panic or celebrate. Regardless, Bell needs to start over Burrows.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes- 2014 UNDISPUTED National Champions!

45has2's picture

The last time The Buckeyes face the flexbone this year, unless they get matched up against GT in a crappy pre New Years bowl.

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

buckeye phi's picture

Excellent article!  Vey informative - keep up the good work -

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. - Will Rogers

+1 HS
russbuss31's picture

Wow. Top notch analysis. Thank you sir!

I don't like nice people. I like tough, honest people.

+1 HS
johnblairgobucks's picture

Ross, the natural instincts of the linebackers Grant and Perry was evident to me as well.  They were Lining up 8 yards off the ball and having difficulty finding the ball..... Sometimes chasing the pitchman, while the ball had been handed off to the fullback up the middle.  In playing against a 95% run offense, and they struggled fighting through chip blocks from 170 lb. WR's, 190 lb. RB's and 210 lb. FB's and also getting to the ball within 5 yards of the Line of Scrimmage, it has to be a concern going forward.  What is going to happen when they have to fight off big 10 WR's, FB's and OL? Add to the lack of instincts, what will happen when they have to decide between run stop and pass coverage on the running back on play action?  Last year was atrocious as short pass routes we're turned into long gains as the linebackers struggled in coverage...... The LBer play against Navy makes me think things might not be totally solved this year.  

Virginia Tech hasn't had an offense that has been scary diverse in about 10 years, so I'm not sure a solid game against them will be the true sign that all will be well in 2014.  I really believe Reakwon needs to get a shot.... I haven't seen him play, I'm just not confident that Grant and Perry can provide us with Championship caliber linebacker play.

buckeyejonross's picture

Your points regarding pass protection make me feel a lot more comfortable than I did before the article. If our lineman were getting whipped one on one, by Navy no less, I'd be concerned. And without the benefit of game film and a second re-watch, this was my assumption all weekend. But if it's just four new guys playing five new positions and making some mental errors in the first game of the season, well, then 1. I expected that completely and 2. I trust the coaching and continued experience to make this a non-issue by October.

"You might as well appeal against a thunderstorm as against these terrible hardships of war. War is cruelty, there is no use trying to reform it; the crueler it is, the sooner it will be over." -William T., Battle of Atlanta, B1G.

+1 HS
ibuck's picture

make this a non-issue by October.

How about strong improvement by Saturday afternoon ?

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Ross Fulton's picture

Yea we shall see.  Part of the problem with competition for spots on the oline.  On the one hand you want to find your best five.  On the other hand the more reps you can get with the same five, the better you will be.

Homey1970's picture

Baldwin's left leg was planted like a tree!

ibuck's picture

the Buckeyes must not be overly predictable in their play calling...

Period. OSU coaches need to be aware of their own formations &  tendencies and run something different out of them just to keep the defense honest. Otherwise they might as well just tell the D what's coming, like "we're faking to Dontre on this play."

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

Tom57's picture

Thanks Ross... great analysis as always. 

I do think the scheme was intended to stop the Dive and the QB, and let the SB's do what they could. If Burrows holds backside contain the strategy would have worked pretty much perfectly.

what game was Scarlet watching?? Not sold on Barrett? ... looked ok for a RFR? Seriously!!!

His passer rating was 237 for #3 in the NCAA to start the season. This is OUTSTANDING for any class level in any game... let alone their first game under a brand new center.  His YPA was 15 - and 10.2 if you factor out the 80 yard bomb.

The only caveat would be that it's only one game, but Navy D is middle of the road so I'm not sure what he was hoping for?

Menexenus's picture

Thanks Ross. Your analysis put my mind at ease about the offensive line. Once they figure out their responsibilities, they should be solid.

Real fans stay for Carmen.

QBYBuckeye's picture

Maybe the best analysis of a game that I have read.  Thank you.

New York Buckeye

ohiobobg's picture

Thanx, Ross! Top-shelf, as always.

"you can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning"

DC-town's picture

Ross Fulton, coming strong out of the gates-  great breakdown Ross, good reason to re-watch the game after that breakdown-

any insight into the o-line shifts or switching sides with 'Papa Elf' and Price?

'Piss excellence' -RB

tcm1968's picture

Good stuff Ross. I know it's not as sexy as defense and offense but any insight on our kick return struggles. Scheme? personnel? 2010 Michigan was the last time an OSU player took one the distance. With all of these top end speed guys Urban has been bringing in I thought for sure we would see 1 or 2 a season. Seems like it's touchback or run out to about the 24 every time.