Coach Meyer's record demonstrates that he has both high standards and high accomplishments. We should feel confident that the necessary actions will be taken by all. The Buckeyes have the best head coach in college football.
While I always hesitate to say directly that some of the players need to reassess and step up their preparation and execution, it is the coaching staff that really needs to deeply reflect and reassess what has been occurring, particularly over the last three weeks, and take firm, decisive corrective action within their areas of responsibility. Coach these young men up, but coach yourselves up too. There, I said it.
And I just have a sense that the offensive line has been hampered by, among the things discussed in the linked article that are specific to this game, the rather predictable nature of the Buckeyes offensive play selection and play calling. Defenses are aggressively coming at our offensive line, often putting them on their heels, due to what seems to be the opposition defense's anticipation of a rather limited and predictable Ohio State offense. This puts the Buckeye offensive line at a decided disadvantage and may account for some of the difficulties they are encountering. That's just my sense.
Coach Meyer is 56-5 in his 4 1/2 years at Ohio State after the loss to Penn State, has a career head coaching record of 160-28, for a winning percentage of 85.1% and is currently the FBS coach with the highest winning percentage among active coaches, behind only Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy among coaches all time.
Do you really believe that, for an Urban Meyer coached team, "crash and burn" is an even remotely possible outcome?
According to this, the Buckeyes (1) never changed the snap count, even during critical downs, giving the Penn State defense, particularly the linebackers, a jump on the offensive line that made the OLine's task that much harder and (2) there was no extra blocker provided to the right side of the line to help out when it was clear that that side of the line was having difficulty blocking.
Is this an accurate assessment of the situation and does it help to explain some of the difficulties encountered by the offense at Penn State?
Northwestern is playing better of late, but their offense is still only rated 93rd of the 128 FBS teams, while their defense is 72nd. They are 3-1 in B1G play, having lost to Nebraska (at home, 24-13), but beating Iowa (on the road, 38-31), Michigan State (on the road, 54-40) and Indiana (at home, 24-14). And they only lost to currently undefeated Western Michigan, a MAC team, 22-21. But there is that embarrassing loss to currently 3-5 FCS Illinois State, at home.
Their rushing offense is 106th, while their passing offense is 52nd, with a passing efficiency that is rated 74th. Clayton Thorson is a decent quarterback, 58% completion percentage with 14 TDs and 5 INTs, with a rating of 129.9. Justin Jackson is a good running back, 792 yards, 4.9 yds/carry, not as good as Barkley of Penn State, but good, and Austin Carr is a very good receiver, with 50 catches for 720 yards, a 14.4 yard/catch average and 9 TDs, with a long of 58 yds, that was for a TD. But they have no depth at RB or WR, as Jackson and Carr have most of their yardage. I assume Conley will play man on man much of the time on Carr.
Their rushing defense is rated 32nd, while their passing defense is rated 111th, so their secondary is vulnerable if we can take advantage. Their kickoff return rating is 5th in the country, something to be aware of, and they are 6th in the country for the fewest penalties, so they are a well disciplined team when it comes to penalties.
Of course, Penn State's number weren't particularly impressive either.
Of course, but it is harder for the offensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage if the defense has a good idea what the offense is liable to do and the offense, stubbornly perhaps, sticks to those tendencies. That's my ultimate point. If you mix the game up offensively, keep the defense on their heels, the offensive line is not playing much of the game on its heels and it is more likely that they will dominate the line of scrimmage. Do the same thing, or slight variations thereof, play upon play, you hinder offensive line domination.
Football was very different then, what was once a largely brute force game has increasingly become a more complex and diverse game. Yes, the physicality is still there, but the days when one could always rely on brute force domination are over. Coach Hayes would hate it, but it's reality.
If those 4 guys have a pretty good idea what our tendencies are, and we play to form for much of the night, it makes the defense's task easier. That's all I'm saying. If the defense knows what's coming, or has a pretty good idea what our tendencies are, and we play into that, then it makes the offensive line's job that much more difficult. That isn't to say that on some plays some on our OL weren't flat out beaten, but if the defense knows what we are likely to do, it makes the overall job for the OL that much more difficult. Diversify the offense, make the defense continuously react to new situations, and it makes the offensive line's task much easier.
This is a fair observation, but, against a team like Penn State, it shouldn't be close enough late in the game for a blocked FG returned for a touchdown to decide the game. What we need to learn is to use our advantages to our advantage and stop being so reactive and predictable on offense. Then all those things that went right for Penn State are not decisive. They just make a Buckeye win closer than it ought to be.
The Buckeyes should play, and play call, as if they are the better team. Because they are. Let's aggressively, smart aggressively, show our opponents, not seemingly always play on our heels.
It is very difficult for the offensive line to play well against a quality opponent, let alone dominate the game, when the defense has a pretty good chance of predicting what the offense will do and the plays that the offense runs are rather predictable. Then the defense can fire off the ball, concentrate on a small number of schemes, and the offensive line is put in a more "defensive" position. This is a recipe for a very long game for the offensive line.
It is as if the coaching staff is afraid to lose, rather than determined to win . . . and, too often, squandering what is a very talented team against inferior opponents by playing too reactively. It is a quandary.
That's what many said after the MSU loss last year. Then the Buckeyes went up to Ann Arbor and dominated 42-13, running for 369 yards and averaging 6.8 yards/carry, against what was, until then, a top-rated defense.
Have more faith in the players and the coaching staff to make the necessary adjustments and improvements to their game. The talent is there, but it needs to be coached up. This coaching staff can, and will, do it. This is a talented team that needs, right now, to be coached.
Thanks for your response. It seems as if, over the last three games especially, our opponents have been throwing "wrinkles" at us, giving us new looks and forcing us into having to make adjustments, that we seem to have difficulty making. Yet, offensively, we throw almost no wrinkles at our opponents. Over the last three weeks, we have been heavily favored over an opponent that is not as talented as we are, and yet it is our opponents who are actively throwing wrinkles at us, while we, seem to often be in reactive mode.
This makes no sense . . . we are the better team . . . we have the superior talent . . . we should be throwing other teams, inferior teams, on their heels, not reacting to what the other team is throwing at us. Granted, the last two weeks our opponents have had a bye week for extra preparation, and we have played on the road in very hostile environments, but we should be more aggressive, smartly aggressive, but more aggressive with our offense.
The play calling is too conservative and predictable. Aggression on offense must be smart aggression, but to often play call what seems like a reactive game, when you have the more talented team, makes no sense to me. Is the coaching staff not confident enough to expand the playbook a bit and do some "wrinkly" things? Let's put our opponents on the defensive, for a change.
IMO, the offense is not dynamic enough. Call it stale, not creative or innovative enough, but it is essentially the same thing. This has multiple effects.
Among many effects, when the offense is not being play-called in a dynamic manner, it makes it harder for offensive players, especially players on the offensive line, to "compensate" against a defensive unit that, essentially, has a pretty good idea what's coming and can rare back and fire forward. This gives an implicit advantage to the defense and puts an extra burden on the OL. If the offense had scored more than 21 points to that point in the fourth quarter, the late blocked punt, and field goal returned for a touchdown, wouldn't have been decisive.
How to make the offense more dynamic? That is a task, if not the task, for the coaching staff moving forward.
Just adding a little detail, especially about the potential wind chill temperature, to your very timely and important observation about the weather conditions. +1
According to the current Weather Channel forecast, Saturday night in State College has a 10% chance of rain, with a low of 41F with WNW winds at 20-30 mph, with gusts possible over 40mph. 41F with a wind speed of 40mph is a wind chill of 28.3F, while 41F with 20mph winds is a wind chill of 31.8F. Likely to be a coldish, windy night, but with little/no rain. Better conditions to run than pass, but, perhaps, the team that can complete a few key passes at a few key times will have a distinct advantage. As payback for last week's temporary monsoon at a key point when the Buckeyes had the ball, this week the 40mph gusts only occur when Penn State has the ball. Go Bucks!
Thank you. Although I sometimes spout off opinions with absolutely no basis in fact, I try not to :).
The network that televises the Ohio State - TTUN game would certainly rather have a later kickoff than noon, I would think. A 7PM/8PM kickoff time would probably not be very desirable in late November, but a 3:30PM kickoff would most likely be okay. So the schools must ultimately have final say in the time that a college game is played, or, perhaps, that game is specifically written into the TV contract that the determination of the kickoff time is retained by the hosting school.
In the Ohio class of 2017, the Buckeyes have commitments from the top 4 rated players per 247Sports and from #9 Jerron Cage, a DT at a position that has been seen as having a particular need. Jaylen Harris is #5 in Ohio, yet to commit, but we already have higher rated WR commitments from out of state. Will there be room for Harris given the limited size of this class and the uncommitted talent still out there from out of state? The bottom line is that if there is an Ohio player that the Buckeyes really want, Coach Meyer and the staff recruit him hard and usually win.
In 2018, there are 2 5-star recruits from Ohio (Jackson Carman and Jaelen Gill, both being recruited hard) and other 4-stars who will be actively recruited if the coaching staff really is impressed by them.
It is a testament to Coach Meyer and the staff that they have, so far, been able to balance very well continuing to recruit the best talent from Ohio while greatly expanding the reach of Ohio State nationally. Very impressive and it bodes well for the future success of the Buckeyes!
For just a snapshot of recent PA high school talent, in the 2017 class, per 247Sports, PA has no 5-star recruits and only 8 4-star recruits, while the 2018 class has 2 5-star and 8 4-star recruits. None of them have committed to the Buckeyes. Perhaps PA is just not the recruiting hot bed that it once was and more talent that impresses the coaching staff is being found today in other places. Are there any players from Pennsylvania in these two classes that the coaching staff really, really wants?
Shawnee, thanks for your response and I agree with what you've said. I posted my comment to put a little perspective on some of the overly-negative talk from some about the team's passing game to date this year, to demonstrate that there have been some bright spots, while acknowledging that there is much room for improvement. Your article helps that process along by making some specific, helpful observations. I didn't mean to imply otherwise, if that is how it came across.
Almost everyone acknowledges that the passing game must improve. Coach Meyer does. J.T. Barrett does. My sense is that the confidence is so high in J.T.'s capability to run the ball when needed in a tight-game situation that the coaching staff falls back on it too much rather than taking more "chances" to further develop the passing game during games. They need to really work on the QB/WR timing that J.T. referred to in a recent interview, try more high percentage, short-to-intermediate passes to WRs, TEs and HBs and RBs and begin to build up confidence in the passing game. We all know that the talent is there . . . let's begin to expand its capabilities and improve the passing game. Your well-informed and written article was a step in that process. Now let's hope that the coaching staff gets a little more confident in the passing game and, under the right conditions, begins to expand it more into the team's offensive repertoire.
Almost everyone acknowledges that certain aspects of the passing game most likely must improve if the Buckeyes are going to seriously contend for a Big Ten and national title. But Ohio State is currently 1st in the Big Ten in passing efficiency (157.45, Indiana 2nd @145.45), so the passing game that the Buckeyes have had to date is very "efficient." The Buckeyes rank 14th among the 128 FBS teams in team passing efficiency. Ohio State leads the Big Ten with 17 passing TDs (Indiana is 2nd @13), while there have been only 4 interceptions.
Ohio State is 10th in the Big Ten is passing attempts (167, Purdue is 1st @281), 6th in number of pass completions (106, Purdue is 1st with 154), 1st in pass completion percentage (63.5%), 7th in passing yards (1296), 5th in yards per attempt (7.8, Indiana and Nebraska are tied for 1st @8.7), 8th in passing attempts per game (27.8) and 7th in passing yards per game (216.0)
By the way, Purdue has the most passing yards/game in the Big Ten, at 305.5, with 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Texas Tech (510.8), Louisiana Tech (383.0), East Carolina (378.0) and California (377.8) are the top 4 teams nationally in passing yards. Lots of passing yards don't correlate with winning. While the passing game needs to improve in many ways, it has been quite efficient thus far in the season and that fact must not be overlooked.
Wisconsin. To this point in the season, they're the best, most balanced team in the West. But they have to win this weekend at Iowa.
Nebraska has a shot, but they almost certainly have to win in Madison on Oct. 29th. The winner of that game is in the driver's seat.
Upsets are always possible -- most notably, Wisconsin at Northwestern the week immediately after the Nebraska game. But the B1G West title is Wisconsin's to lose.