Beyond the Hashes: Indiana

By Chad Peltier on October 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

7 or 481. 

Philly used to drop a lot of passes too.Devin had a weird statline: 2 catches for 106 yards. 

You're likely going to fall into one of those two groups regarding the Buckeyes' performance against Indiana. Some of you will care more about moving to 7-0, while others will wonder how long the winning can continue with a defense that surrenders 481 yards to Indiana. 

Rather than A. being depressed and complaining that we'll lose to everyone else or B. Creating "Fire Fickell or Withers" websites, I think it's important to just accept this year's Buckeye defense for what it is - an imperfect unit that struggles against spread offenses.

But that's ok - the Buckeyes don't need to worry about AP National Championships this year. The defense needs to get in shape for next year and a potential title run. 

The Offense

There are a lot of gun analogies possible with this Ohio State team between the Silver Bullets, the pistol, and the shotgun. While the Bullets may not have shown up, at least the latter two guns were locked and loaded. 

  1D 3D% 4D% Yards  Pass Rush TO Penalty QS Sacks
vs. IU 28 (154) 50% 100% 578(3167) 225(1422) 353(1845) 1(9) 10-91(56-492) .658 2(12)

If not for two Devin Smith dropped bombs and a Braxton Miller interception in the end zone, this team would have cruised to 73 points on offense.

The Buckeye offense attacked a poor Indiana defense that was completely selling out to stop the run and overmatched in the secondary by a combination of inside zone and throwing deep, spreading the Indiana defense vertically. 

Urban said after the Michigan State game that he wasn't afraid to call deep throws anymore, and he backed up his words against an Indiana secondary that could not compete with Devin Smith's speed. 

But it was the ground game that won it for the Buckeyes, with Hyde and Rod Smith running one of their hardest games ever, and Braxton doing his normal thing. Anytime the team averages 6.5 yards per carry and 353 total yards, you know it was a good day on the ground. 

The Clock. The Buckeye offense stayed on the field for almost 37 minutes against Indiana, their longest of the season. While the time of possession battle isn't really as important as most think, the Buckeyes are now averaging over 30 minutes a game, which is close to their average from last season. 

  Time of possession # of plays
vs. IU 36:54 79
Season 30:13 70 (488)
Last Season 30:40 62

The Buckeyes managed 79 plays, 54 of which were running plays. 

The Defense 

Unfortunately, the ratio of total offensive yards gained to total defensive yards given up is now just 1.13. Not so hot. 

  1D Yards Pass Rush TO ToP TFL Sack INT 3 & Outs Opp RBSR Quicksand
vs.IU 26(136) 481(2800) 352(1938) 129(856) 0(13) 23:06 5(34) 0(16) 0(10) 5(20) 50% .628

In general, the same problems keep popping up over and over: 1. Penalties (the Buckeyes lose almost an entire football field's worth of penalty yards per game). 2. Slow linebackers (apart from Shazier) that are forced to cover speedier receivers in the short game. 3. Poor tackling. 

Hyde was full on beast mode. Clearly drank the juice against IUHyde breaks another one

After huge performances against Michigan State and Nebraska in the negative play department with 6 sacks, 13 TFLs, and 3 interceptions, the Buckeyes were held to no sacks, no interceptions, and just 5 tackles for loss.

Part of this has to do with injuries - Nathan Williams was out for the game, Howard and Bryant were absent for different periods, and Sabino is of course out for 4 games - part of it has to do with a surprisingly effective Indiana offensive line (40th in the country in sacks allowed, tied with MSU), and part of it has to do with the Indiana offensive game plan. 

What's interesting is that the Buckeye defense actually had one of their highest numbers of forced 3-and-outs so far this year; essentially, if the Indiana offense could pick up one first down, then they were likely to score. While not quite the same thing as the myth of the "hot hand," this is fairly common for tempo and pace-based offenses - once they get started, they can roll. 

I don't mean to make excuses for the depleted Buckeye defense, but they were just that - depleted - and going up against a surprisingly efficient Kevin Wilson offense. Part of me wishes he was hired by a school that actually prioritized football, because then he'd have a chance to do something special somewhere. 

Player Analysis

Braxton Miller. Braxton could have launched himself into the front of the Heisman race if not for some bad drops by his receivers - I believe there were six in total, two of which were touchdowns. Even without those yards (something like 130 yards of dropped balls), Braxton still had a good game through the air: 

  COMP/ATT % Yards TD INT Rating
Miller 13/24(96/159) 54% 211(1271) 2(11) 1(4) 147.2 (145.3)

While those aren't world-beating numbers, we have to remember that A. We won a game last year where Braxton completed just a single pass, and B. his receivers weren't doing him any favors. At all. 

Braxton forced the throw trying to make a play in the end zone, resulting in his 4th interception of the year. If he continues at his current rate of interceptions, then he'll end up with ~6 on the year, 5 less than Pryor had during his sophomore and junior years. 

Throw Chart
  Into Coverage Uncatchable Throw Away Difficult Catchable Dead ON
Miller 2(11) 3(14) 1(6) 1(25) 6(43) 11(55)
Guiton 0 0 (2) 0 (1) 0 0 (5) 1 (2)

Braxton continued his general distribution of passes - mostly "catchable" and "dead on" throws, with a few more "uncatchable" and "into coverage" throws than normal.

Two things here: 1. Some of his deep throws were beautiful - just perfectly placed so that the receiver didn't have to break stride, just actually catch the thing. 2. While a large percentage of the dead-on passes were short screens, it's very possible to overthrow these (as you'll know if you've ever watched Georgia's Aaron Murray play. 

Also, a shoutout to Kenny G. with the perfect read on the old Meyer shovel pass (which apparently Urbs' wife Shelley called). 

Running Backs. Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith both tore it up against Indiana, running like their lives (and playing time) depended on it. 

  Atts Yards YPC RBSR EX Plays YPC - EX 
Hyde 22(85) 156(454) 7.1 55% (60%) 21,16,29,20,21 2.9
Miller 23(129) 149(931) 6.5 50% (61%) 17,15,18,67 1.7
Dunn (12) (60) - (82%) - -
Boren (11) (33) - (64%) - -
R. Smith 6(20) 40(128) 6.7 60%(74%) 15 5.0
C. Brown 1(7) 12(61) 12 100% (86%) - 12.0
Hall (40) (218) - (73%) - -

Braxton continues his march toward a 1,000 yards, which he should surpass easily next week against Purdue (a defense that allowed Denard to go for 235 yards rushing), but the real story this week is in Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith: both backs ran as hard as I've ever seen them, going for a combined 196 yards. 

While Hyde has always been thought of as the "4-yard consistent" back to Braxton's big play style, Hyde repeatedly broke arm tackles and showed fantastic straight-ahead speed to actually beat Braxton for explosive plays for the first time. While no back was as efficient as they have been in previous games, there were far more explosive runs against Indiana than in any previous game. 

Similarly, Rod Smith showed excellent burst and balance in his limited number of carries. Unfortunately, he also had a late fumble, which probably won't endear him to Urban.

Wide Receivers. Unfortunately, the receivers played like many feared they would during the preseason - dropping multiple catchable balls. 

  Yards Catch Rate
Spencer (70) (5/9)
D. Smith 106(457) 2/5(21/36)
Stoneburner 41(133) 4/4(11/16)
C. Brown 51(403) 6/9(41/54)
Boren  (42) (5/7)
Heuerman (81) 0/1(5/6)
Hyde 27(35) 2/2 (4/4)
Reed (13) (1/1)
Vannett (50) (5/7)
Hall (31) (3/3)
M. Thomas (6) (1/1)

I don't want to harp on this point, because they've been pretty consistent throughout the season, and things would look a lot different if Devin Smith had managed to grab those two big throws.

However, it's clear that Braxton is content going to the top four or five guys on the team (and really just Devin and Corey). Braxton can improve his reads and progressions, but his receivers have to prove they'll catch what's thrown at them too. 

Defense. So the starting fullback, who learned the defense in a week, led the team in tackles. That's all I'll be saying about that.

  Tackles TFL Sacks INT PBU
Boren 8 .5      
Barnett 6       2
Shazier 6 1.5     5
Spence 5        
Goebel 4 .5      
Grant 4        
Klein 3       1
Johnson 2 .5      
Hankins 2 1      
Bryant 2       3
Roby 1       3

It's clear that the defense has some issues, but some individuals need some recognition: Spence, Roby, Shazier, Bryant, Howard, and Boren. 

Roby and Howard were both very good, with the majority of Indiana's completions being the result of short and medium assignments. Roby in particular wasn't really tested, but still came through with three pass breakups. 

Speaking of pass breakups, how about Shazier? While not only leading the team in tackles, RDS came up with 5 breakups on the night (though he was visibly frustrated that one or more wasn't an interception). 

Finally, a special shoutout to Noah Spence. In his first game since the first two where he received significant time, Spence seemed to always be this close to sacking the quarterback, and finished fourth in tackles. The future certainly looks bright with him anchoring the defensive end slot. 

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