This is the offensive play-by-play analysis for the Rutgers game. This series is borrowing a format used at MGoBlog, the latest of which is located here. Last week’s offensive analysis is located here.
Before we begin, here are a couple of quick notes.
First, I apologize for spelling Henderson’s first name Treyveon, instead of Treveyon.
Second, I have been calling what is usually referred to as Y Cross by a different name – Divide. I thought Y Cross was only involving the Y, or the tight end. I am still learning much of the proper terminology. However, the concept is similar, with the outside receiver running a streak, and the inside receiver running a deep cross or a post.
I have also started specifying Split Flow instead of just saying a generic PA Flood, especially since it was closer to a levels concept to begin with. I believe Split Flow is the famous Spider 2 Y Banana from John Gruden fame.
Rutgers runs a 43 Stunt front, which is a special type of defensive front where one of the defensive tackles will essentially try to earhole the center instead of attempting to shoot the A gap. More information can be found here. They used this front a bunch, so I included it. While normally associated with a 4-3, Rutgers had a standup defensive end at the end of the line, which I denote as a linebacker unless I specifically know otherwise. That is why they are running a 43 Stunt front out of a 3-3-5.
Coming into Rutgers, there were major questions surrounding CJ Stroud, and whether he could assert himself as the starting quarterback. After a week of rest for his shoulder, would he look like the guy from the spring game, or would this be a lost season waiting for Ewers to develop? Olave had also gone two straight weeks with lower than expected output. Would he break out and return to form?
Here is the play-by-play chart:
|Time||Yard Line||Down||Distance||O Formation||D Package||Front||High||Type||Box||Play||Player||Yards||Notes|
|12:45||RU 48||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt||2||Pass||6||Levels||Ruckert||4||Stroud is looking toward Ruckert the whole way. He throws a good pass to Ruckert for a routine catch. Protection +0.5.|
|12:23||RU 44||2||6||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt||2||Run||7||Counter Trey||Henderson||44||Johnson (+2) and Ruckert (+2) with outstanding blocks to open a huge hole. Petit-Frere (+1) gets a block in the second level. Wilson (+0.5) takes care of the last person. Henderson (+1) finishes with his speed for a touchdown. Play-calling +1.|
|10:28||OSU 30||1||10||Gun 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt||2||RPO||6.5||RPO Glance||Wilson||22||Stroud makes the correct read and throws a good pass to Wilson (+1) who makes a routine catch and picks up some after the catch.|
|10:04||RU 48||1||10||Pistol 3W Trips||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||1||Run||6.5||Duo||Henderson||6||Dawand Jones (+0.5) holds up nicely and Johnson (+1.5) gets a pancake. Munford (+0.5) also gets a block.|
|9:39||RU 42||2||4||Pistol 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||6||Power||Henderson||7||Dawand Jones (+1.5) knocks down the whole line. Munford (+1) has a nice block while pulling. Play-calling +1.|
|8:59||Ru 35||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||6||PA Spot||Ruckert||9||Stroud throws a good pass to Ruckert, who makes a routine catch. Protection +0.5. Play-calling +1.|
|8:44||RU 26||2||1||Pistol 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Run||6||Split Zone||Henderson||-4||Rutgers slanted hard toward the play. They guessed right. Play-calling -1.|
|7:43||RU 30||3||5||Gun 3W Y Flex Wide||2-4-5||Over||2||Pass||6||Slants||Wilson||17||Great time to call a man-beater. Stroud delivers a good pass to Wilson (+2), who makes a routine catch and makes a man miss to get yards after the catch. Good job all around dealing with the simulated pressure. Protection +1. Play-calling +1.|
|7:17||RU 13||1||10||Gun 3W Trips Tight||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||1||RPO||8||Triple Option Screen||Smith-Njigba||0||Stroud makes two good reads on the play, first correctly reading the keeper, and then reading the pitch/throw to the outside. He throws a good pass to Smith-Njigba, who drops a routine pass.|
|7:09||RU 13||2||10||Ace Twin TE||3-4||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||8||Duo||Henderson||4||Stover (-0.5) gets pushed back at the line. Ruckert (+0.5) clears out a blocker. Henderson (+0.5) does well to get what he can.|
|6:51||RU 9||3||6||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6.5||Shallow Cross Clear Scramble||Stroud||3||Rutgers was ready for this call, which worked several times against Oregon. Stroud correctly scrambles, but can't break free of a linebacker. Field goal. Play-calling -1.|
|4:23||OSU 25||1||10||Ace Twin TE Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||1||Pass||6||Improvisation||Olave||16||Two-man route with max protection. Stroud (-1) rolls out of the pocket a little unnecessarily, but he makes a good throw to Olave who makes a spectacular catch. Play-calling -1.|
|4:02||OSU 41||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt||1||Read Option||7||Inverted Veer||Henderson||6||Stroud makes the correct read by handing it off to Henderson. Stover (+1) makes a block to get Henderson outside. Henderson lost his shoe, or it would have been a bigger play. Play-calling +1.|
|3:25||OSU 47||2||4||Gun 3W Y Flex RB Slot||3-3-5||43 Stunt||2||Pass||6||Bubble Screen||Smith-Njigba||0||Smith-Njigba drops a routine pass. There was a lot of open space. Play-calling +1.|
|3:20||OSU 47||3||4||Gun 3W Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||1||Pass||7||Swing Pass||Crowley||21||Crowley makes a routine catch and gets decent yardage after the catch. Great call. Play-calling +1.|
|2:53||RU 32||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||6||Shallow Cross Clear||Wilson||32||Day calls the Shallow Cross Clear (this is what I am calling it from now on) and it works to perfection. Stroud makes a good pass to Wilson (+2), who catches a routine pass and takes it all the way for a touchdown.|
|2:23||OSU 25||1||10||Pistol 3W Trips||3-3-5||404 Tite||2||rUN||6||dUO||Henderson||7||Dawand Jones (+1) and Matthew Jones (+1) clear the right side for Henderson (-0.5). I thought Henderson could have gotten more here after not getting touched for the first six yards.|
|1:57||OSU 32||2||3||Pistol Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||1||Run||7||Inside Zone||Henderson||1||Munford (+0.5) and Wypler (+0.5) get decent blocks. Dawand Jones (-1) gets a little lost. Rossi (+1.5) blocks his guy 7 yards downfield.|
|1:16||OSU 33||3||2||Ace Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt||2||Run||8||Split Zone||Teague||3||Petit-Frere (+1.5) and Munford (+0.5) get sold blocks. Stover (+0.5) also gets a block. There was a bust somewhere in the middle of the line, but Teague (+1) does a great job to break a tackle in the backfield and get the first down. He's a good back when put in a good position for his skill set.|
|0:52||OSU 36||1||10||Pistol 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||6||Outside Zone||Teague||0||Munford (-1) misses a man that hits Teague (+0.5) in the backfield. Teague does well to get back to the line.|
|15:00||OSU 36||2||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6||Deep Curls||Smith-Njigba||38||Stroud looks through his progressions and throws a good pass to Smith-Njigba(+2), who makes a routine catch and gets yardage after the catch. Protection +1.5|
|14:30||RU 26||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6||Ohio||Ruckert||8||Stroud throws a good pass to Ruckert who makes a routine catch. Protection +0.5.|
|13:56||RU 18||2||2||Gun 3W Trips||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Read Option||7||Zone Read||Stroud||10||Stroud makes a good read and gets a first down.Smith-Njigba (+1) with a nice block downfield. Play-Calling +1.|
|13:21||RU 8||1||8||Gun 3W Trips Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||0||Run||7||Split Zone Read||Teague||7||Stroud correctly gives the ball to Teague. Munford (+1), Wypler (+1) and Matthew Jones (+0.5) make nice blocks. Teague nearly scores|
|13:03||RU 1||2||1||Goal Line||Goal Line||Goal LIne||0||Penalty||Offside||0||Rutgers offside.|
|13:03||RU 1||2||1||Goal Line||Goal Line||Goal Line||0||Pass||11||PA Flood||Rossi||1||Stroud makes a good throw to Rossi off-platform, where Rossi catches a routine catch for a touchdown. Play-calling +1.|
|8:50||RU 50||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt||2||Pass||6||PA Deep Curls||Olave||19||Stroud rolls out and makes a perfect throw off platform to Olave, who makes a routine catch. Play-calling +1.|
|8:29||RU 31||1||10||Ace Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||7||End Around||Wilson||13||Beautiful play-call, executed while Rutgers was confused lining up. Rossi (+1) and Ruckert (+1) have nice blocks, with Wilson (+1) picking up good yardage on the edge.|
|7:54||RU 18||1||10||Gun Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Boundary||2||Run||7||Sweep||Teague||-4||Ruckert (+0.5) gets a decent block on the edge. Petit-Frere (+0.5) seals the line. Teague (+2) breaks a tackle in the backfield, and is able to get a first down after the good blocking from Wilson (+1). Petit-Frere gets called for unnecessary roughness, which is just not true. He seems like the nicest dude on the planet.|
|7:25||RU 22||1||10||Pistol Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Boundary||2||Run||6||Duo||Teague||3||Teague (-1) heads straight ahead. While I don't think the blocking was phenomenal, there was an opportunity to bounce this outside. Corners don't bring him down very often, I think he could have gotten a few more yards.|
|6:34||RU 19||2||7||Gun Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Boundary||2||Pass||7||PA Y Cross||Ruckert||19||CJ Stroud gets hit almost immediately, as Petit-Frere (-1.5) takes the inside rusher as a double team instead of the outside rusher. Stroud stays in the pocket, and delivers a perfect pass to Ruckert, who makes a routine catch and runs it in for the touchdown. Protection -1.5. Play-calling +1.|
|4:51||OSU 32||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||6||Flood||Scott||0||Stroud throws a good ball to Scott, who can't make the difficult, contested catch.|
|4:46||OSU 32||2||10||Gun 3W Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||6||Levels||Scott||12.||Stroud throws a good ball to Scott (+1.5), who makes a difficult, contested catch, then gets a chunk after the catch|
|4:23||OSU 43||1||10||Pistol 3W Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||6||Counter||Teague||1||Petit-Frere (+0.5), Wypler (+0.5) get good blocks. Johnson (-1) and Dawand Jones (-1) get caught up inside.|
|3:56||OSU 44||3||9||Gun 3W Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6.5||Drive||Stroud||0||Stroud has all the time in the world, but doesn't see the dropping linebacker. He makes a bad read. Luckily, the linebacker drops it. Protection +2.|
|3:38||OSU 44||3||9||Gun 3W Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6||Improvisation||Olave||56||Protection breaks down early. Rutgers runs a delayed stunt, and Munford (-0.5), Teague (-0.5) can't get to him. Protection -2. However, Stroud (+2) escapes the pressure, and throws a perfect throw off platform to Olave (+2) on the run, who makes a routine catch in stride and takes it for a touchdown.|
|1:51||OSU 32||1||10||Pistol 3W Trips||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Read Option||6||Zone Read||Crowley||3||Wypler (-0.5) gets pushed back a bit. I believe it was the correct read.|
|1:29||OSU 35||2||7||Gun Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Boundary||2||Read Option||7||Inverted Veer||Crowley||3||Stroud should have kept this one. Crowley (+0.5) does a good job to stay patient to get something. Harrison (+0.5) gets a solid block outside.|
|0:43||OSU 38||3||4||Pistol 3W Trips||3-3-5||43 Stunt Field||1||Run||6||Inside Zone||Crowley||6||Munford (+1), Johnson (+1), and Wypler (+0.5) have good blocks here to give Crowley the first down.|
|15:00||OSU 25||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||RPO||6.5||RPO Split Zone||Teague||7||Wypler (+0.5), Johnson (+0.5), Munford (+1), and Ruckert (+0.5) get good blocks. Teague (+1) powers forward to get an extra five yards.|
|14:33||OSU 32||2||3||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Boundary||2||Run||6||Counter Trey||Teague||2||Teague (-2) needs to follow Ruckert outside. Matthew Jones (+1) gets a good block, as well as Petit-Frere (+1) to seal the line on the front side. If Teague bounces outsde, he has a lead blocker in Ruckert and no unblocked Rutgers players in sight. Play-calling +1.|
|13:55||OSU 34||3||1||Ace Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||1||Run||8||Duo||Teague||1||Petit-Frere (-1) can't contain his man, while Ruckert (-0.5) misses the defender to his edge. Teague (+1) somehow gets the first down after getting hit by multiple defenders in the backfield.|
|13:32||OSU 36||1||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||6.5||Comeback||Olave||-10||Johnson (-1) gets called for holding. Protection -1.|
|13:08||OSU 26||1||20||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||6||Slants||Smith-Njigba||0||Stroud throws an okay pass to Smith-Njigba, who can't make the spactacular catch.|
|12:59||OSU 26||2||20||Gun 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||5||Drive||Olave||18||Stroud throws a good pass to Olave, who makes a routine catch. Protection +1.|
|12:31||OSU 44||3||2||Gun 3W Y Flex Tight||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||7||Mesh||Smith-Njigba||28||Stroud throws a perfect pass to Smith-Njigba (+1), who makes a difficult catch on the run. Play-calling +1. Protection +1. I haven't seen them run Mesh out of this formation ever.|
|12:00||RU 28||1||10||Pistol 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||6||Duo||Teague||12||Petit-Frere (+1) with a nice block. Ruckert (+0.5) and Matthew Jones (+1.5) pave the way for Teague (+0.5), who gets the first down. Johnson (+1) also had a nice downfield block.|
|11:22||RU 16||1||10||Gun 3W Trips||4-2-5||Over||2||Pass||6||Levels||Smith-Njigba||0||Stroud throws an inaccurate pass to Smith-Njigba, who can't catch the uncatchable ball. Stroud (-1) evacuates the pocket too early.|
|11:11||RU 16||2||10||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Read Option||6||Inverted Veer||Teague||6||Stroud makes the correct read here, as the DE takes a step inside. Teague (+2) is able to shake the defender, and gets good yardage. Olave (+1) gets a nice block downfield, Matthew Jones (+1) gets a good block inside.|
|10:26||RU 11||3||5||Gun 3W Y Flex Wide||2-4-5||Base||2||Pass||6||Smash||Olave||11||Stroud delivers a perfect pass to Olave who makes a difficult catch for a touchdown. Protection +0.5. Play-calling +1.|
|4:18||OSU 14||1||10||Gun 3W Trips||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Read Option||7||Zone Read||Crowley||10||Matthew Jones (+1) gets a good block, along with Fryar (+0.5) to seal the line, and Stover (+1) to give Crowley (+1) some extra space.|
|3:55||OSU 24||1||10||Gun 3W Trips||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Run||7||Duo||Crowley||26||Rossi (+1) and Vimahi (+1) open up space on the left side. Crowley (+1) spins and gets a few more. Targetting call.|
|3:28||OSU 50||1||10||Pistol Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6.5||PA Flood||Rossi||0||McCord throws an inaccurate ball to Rossi, and it was uncatchable.|
|3:22||OSU 50||2||10||Pistol 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Run||6||Belly Zone||Crowley||-10||Wypler (+0.5), and Fryar (+0.5) get good blocks. Crowley (+0.5) gets some extra. Jackson (+1) gets called for holding, but that was Charmin soft. I didn't see it at all.|
|3:14||OSU 40||2||20||Gun 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Pass||6.5||Flood||Scott||4||McCord throws a good pass to Scott (+0.5), who makes a routine catch and gets a couple extra with a hurdle.|
|2:31||OSU 43||3||17||Gun 3W||3-3-5||404 Tite||2||Pass||6||Slants||Smith-Njigba||-10||Egbuka did not realize he was ineligible on this play, though Scott tried to help. McCord throws a good pass to Smith-Njigba, who makes a routine catch, but there is holding. Vimahi (-1) gets called for holding. Protection -1.|
|2:09||OSU 33||3||27||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Read Option||6||Zone Read||McCord||7||McCord makes a nice read and gets a couple. Punt.|
|14:52||OSU 12||1||10||Pistol 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Run||7||Split Zone||Crowley||22||Vimahi (+1.5) gets a knockdown. Egbuka (+1) gets a nice block, as does Harry Miller (+1). Crowley (+2) picks up another ten after making a defender miss in the open field.|
|14:25||OSU 34||1||10||Pistol Twin TE Y Flex||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||1||Run||8||Duo||Crowley||3||Fryar (-0.5) can't hold a block. Toby Wilson (+1) makes a nice block.|
|13:53||OSU 37||2||7||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Under||2||Pass||7||PA Flood||Ballard||0||McCord throws an okay ball to Ballard, who can't make the spectacular catch.|
|13:37||OSU 37||3||7||Gun 3W Y Flex||4-2-5||Over||2||Pass||6||Shallow Cross Clear||McCord||-10||Protection -1. Miller (-1) and Vimahi (-1) can't hold back the stunt. McCord did hang back there too long, though.|
|7:40||OSU 25||1||10||Gun 3W Y Flex Wide||3-3-5||43 Stunt Over||2||Read Option||6||Zone Read||Pryor||5||Miller makes a good read and hands it off to Pryor. Fryar (+1) with a good block.|
|7:09||OSU 29||2||6||Gun Twin TE||3-3-5||43 Stunt Boundary||2||Read Option||7||Inverted Veer||Miller||-1||Miller makes the correct read and keeps the ball. Vimahi (-1) cannot give him much space.|
|6:39||OSU 28||3||7||Gun 3W||3-3-5||43 Stunt Field||2||Pass||6||Split Flow||Scott||0||Miller makes an okay throw to Scott, who can't come down with the difficult catch.|
|End of Game (ran out clock)|
This performance was genuinely impressive. Unlike last week, when I mentioned that everything had to be taken with a grain of salt, this was a good performance against a good defense. This isn’t to say that Rutgers is the modern equivalent of the Steel Curtain or anything; it is just to say that Rutgers defense is good, and was expected to be a challenge. Instead of being a challenge, Ohio State ripped through the defense without a problem. Rutgers may not have crazy athletes all over the field, but they can take away your strength offensively, and force you to beat them with your weakness. While this slowed down Michigan significantly, Ohio State had no problem due to its balance. The biggest two reasons for this improved balance, in my opinion, was the play of Stroud and the play of the offensive line.
Here are the QB Charts:
|CJ Stroud||Perfect||Good||Scramble||Pressure||Okay||Batted||Throw Away||Inaccurate||Bad Read||RPO||Read Options||Score||Weighted Score||Notes|
|Oregon||9||23||1||2||5||0||0||8||3||5/5||0||74.4%||74.5%||He's the real deal. Will be a Heisman Finalist.|
|Tulsa||1||12||0||2||3||0||1||3||1||3/3||1/1||72.2%||70.0%||Day decreased the degree of difficulty after some early misses. I may have missed some hand-offs on the RPO. May also need to add a weighted score.|
|Rutgers||5||14||0||0||1||0||0||1||1||2/2||5/6||90.5%||88.9%||Elite. About a perfect game.|
|Total||15||49||1||4||9||0||1||12||5||10/10||6/7||78.3%||77.7%||Getting close to one of the best QBs in college football already.|
|Kyle McCord||Perfect||Good||Scramble||Pressure||OK||Batted||Throw Away||Inaccurate||Bad Read||RPO||Read Option||Score||Weighted Score||Notes|
|Akron||0||10||0||0||1||0||1||4||1||4/5||0||62.5%||58.8%||Based on this performance, a good step or two down from an injured Stroud, let alone a healthy one.|
|Rutgers||0||2||0||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||1/1||66.7%||66.7%||Not much to take from it. Lots of holding calls which I thought were questionable.|
|Total||0||12||0||0||2||0||1||5||1||4/5||1/1||63.2%||60.0%||Looked more calm against Rutgers. Akron game was great experience.|
|Jack Miller||Perfect||Good||Scramble||Pressure||OK||Batted||Throw Away||Inaccurate||Bad Read||RPO||Read Option||Score||Weighted Score||Notes|
|Akron||1||5||0||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||1/2||83.3%||87.5%||Genuinely looked excellent, though it was Akron.|
|Rutgers||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2/2||Late garbage time.|
|Total||1||5||0||0||2||0||1||0||0||0||3/4||83.3%||87.5%||Like his willingness to run and command of the offense.|
Stroud was basically perfect, although very few deep shots were taken. I think this was more due to the alignment of Rutgers’ defense than a lack of ability. Stroud’s arm looked better than it had since the spring game, and he was throwing darts all over the yard. He likely wouldn’t have had a problem throwing deep. Rutgers was planning for them to try though, as they backed off both deep safeties way off the line of scrimmage, leaving a light box to run against. Rutgers did not want to get burned by the big play, as that has been the main way Ohio State has scored all year long. It didn’t matter though, as Ohio State connected on a couple of long pass plays, which were primarily created through YAC. The Wilson catch with 2:53 in the first quarter and the Olave catch with 3:38 left in the second quarter are the two that come to mind.
Speaking of that Olave passing play, Stroud was so good off platform in this game. On that Olave touchdown, Stroud breaks a tackle in the backfield before rolling to his left, throwing to Olave on the run, and hitting him perfectly in stride. He had another pass to Olave while moving his feet, with 8:50 left in the second quarter. Stroud rolls through play action, and while moving his feet, just flicks a rocket to Olave 19 yards away without setting his feet. Even though it was a short pass, the touchdown pass to Rossi was also an off-platform through. Stroud’s arm talent is insane when he isn’t hurt, and the week clearly made a difference.
This game to me also highlighted that Stroud actually was dealing with some arm issues. Tulsa was probably the worst example of this, but all of the games showed throws that didn’t look quite right. I have dealt with shoulder and elbow issues in the past. The pain isn’t the problem; it’s the unpredictable arm speed that can accompany the injury that can affect your play. Sometimes your arm cooperates, and sometimes it does not. When it doesn’t the associated decrease in arm speed can lead to your body’s rotation getting ahead of your arm, leading to missing high and arm side, or low and glove side (for baseball). Meaning that, one of the expected misses is high and toward the same side as Stroud’s right arm. If you watch some of his misses against Tulsa again, you can see it. The deep post to Olave was high and behind Olave as he was moving to Stroud’s left. The slant to Wilson was thrown high and in front of Wilson as he was moving to Stroud’s right. The comebacks to Stroud’s left were thrown high and to the right. While this can be a result of nerves, it wouldn’t explain the decreased zip on the ball. The deep post to Olave was especially telling, as Stroud tried to throw a bullet, and the ball just sailed without the added velocity. I could feel what his arm felt like as he tried to make that throw, having tried to make that throw myself with an injured arm many times before. It sucks.
This week was completely different. He could drive throws with ease. He had a throw to Smith-Njigba on the first play of the second quarter where the ball had a downward trajectory to it, which wasn’t something we saw much in the first few weeks. While much of this may just be getting his mechanics back, I think the injured arm has some real merit to it based on my experience with arm injuries. Seeing it improve this much in a week is incredibly encouraging. The coaches also called way more zone reads. Hopefully, he will be able to keep the arm healthy through Maryland, and then get a BYE week to rest it completely.
While many of his issues may have been mental, it is hard to tell just from watching the games. I think an arm injury can aid with establishing a helpless feeling, so it is hard to tell if it was a mental improvement, or a physical improvement that led to a mental improvement. I don’t know, and I don’t think it is particularly necessary for me to know. Ryan Day seemed to imply something when he mentioned that Stroud needed the perspective of a week off, but it is hard to say exactly what has been going on.
All of this is to say that Stroud is probably the best quarterback in the Big Ten right now. I know PFF only has Tagovailoa and Petras ahead of him, and I wouldn’t trade Stroud for either of those two guys. If you would, more power to you; I just can’t see it.
His job is made a lot easier with the quality of his receivers. Here is their chart:
|Chris Olave||1/1||1/1||3/3||Caught everything his way. Good to see him have a bounce back game.|
|Garrett Wilson||3/3||Great after the catch and blocking.|
|Jaxon Smith-Njigba||0/1||0/1||1/1||2/4||Missed two early screen passes, but recovered nicely.|
|Jeremy Ruckert||4/4||Offense is better when he gets targets.|
|Cade Stover||No charted plays|
|Treveyon Henderson||No charted plays|
|Gee Scott||1/3||1/1||Would like to see him make another contested catch.|
|Mitch Rossi||0/1||1/1||First touchdown and catch.|
|Master Teague||No charted plays|
|Emeka Egbuka||No charted plays|
|Marvin Harrison Jr.||No charted plays|
|Jayden Ballard||0/1||Throw just over his head on crossing route|
|Sam Wiglusz||No charted plays|
|Chris Booker||No charted plays|
|Marcus Crowley||1/1||Big third down conversion on the catch.|
|Evan Pryor||No charted plays|
|Total||0/2||1/3||3/5||15/17||Solid game, though there were a couple of easy drops.|
Olave had a great game and certainly bounced back. His first catch along the sidelines with 4:23 left in the first quarter was exceptional. I already mentioned his long catch and run in the second quarter. Day did make a comment that Olave may have fewer targets in the future due to teams taking him away, which I can certainly see. As long as Stroud plays like this, it ultimately won’t matter, especially when you look at Wilson and Smith-Njigba.
Wilson only had three catches, but he got plenty of yards after the catch on those three, and he blocked very well again. The first touchdown from Stroud that’s called out above was a perfct example. Smith-Njigba dropped a couple of easy screen passes early in the game but settled in later with a some nice yards after the catch as well.
Ruckert, Stover, and Rossi had a great day blocking as well. I was worried about how they would do considering how solid Rutgers has been on defense so far, but it didn’t matter. All of them blocked great today. Ruckert got 4 catches, which is ridiculous for an Ohio State tight end. When he and the three receivers are getting the ball spread around to each of them like in this game, the offense is really pretty to watch. Rossi getting his first catch/touchdown was run too. He is genuinely an excellent blocker who deserves the early playing time he gets, so it was fun to see him get to score.
To finish up discussion of the receivers, I want to talk about Gee Scott Jr. In garbage time, even though there wasn’t a ton to take away, Scott played really hard. He has a different burst from the tight end position that is rare to see, and he doesn’t take plays off. Even when he was asked to block the back side on a split zone call, he was going full speed. He’s so fun to watch, and he makes the game more fun to watch even when Ohio State is up big. Right now, he looks like the offensive equivalent of Steele Chambers – a guy with a lot of athleticism and effort who seems to get more and more playing time every week. Do I think he will be a big piece this year? No, I do not. Do I think he will get a lot of playing time next year? Absolutely.
The rushing attack was great too, which was a bit of a surprise, as, like I mentioned, Rutgers was playing their safeties back most of the game. Here is the rushing chart:
|Nicholas Petit-frere||5.5||2.5||3||Solid. I thought he played great in pass protection, which isn't reflected here.|
|thayer munford||5.5||1.5||4||Looked good at LG and LT.|
|luke wypler||3.5||0.5||3||Played another near-mistake free game, but this time, it was against a tough defense with a weird front.|
|paris johnson jr.||6||2||4||Two straight strong games.|
|dawand jones||3||2||1||He's playing well. Another guy who is outstanding in pass protection, while this grade is mostly for the run. Didn't run nearly as much mid/outside/wide zone as usual.|
|matthew jones||6||0||6||Can't take out Munford or Johnson right now, but he's playing so well. Maybe the rotation isn't a bad idea short term. Maybe.|
|harry miller||1||1||0||Good to see him playing again.|
|enokk vimahi||2.5||3.5||-1||Racked up a lot of points for small time he was out there. Inconsistent.|
|toby wilson||1||0||1||Looks capable.|
|donovan jackson||1||0||1||Attrocious holding call. I am not dinging him for that.|
|josh fryar||2||0.5||1.5||Really like his potential. He looks like a future fixture on the line.|
|total||37||13.5||23.5||The line played great. Played even better when you throw in pass protection.|
|cj stroud||2||2||0||Evacuated the pocket too early at times, but throws off platform so well.|
|Kyle mccord||0||0||0||No charted plays|
|Jack Miller||0||0||0||No charted plays|
|Treveyon henderson||1.5||0.5||1||Offensive line did most of the heavy lifting here early.|
|master teague||8||3.5||4.5||Got way more than he probably should have, given the blocking late.|
|evan pryor||0||0||0||No charted plays|
|marcus crowley||5||0||5||Looked really good in the time that he got. Polished.|
|Total||14.5||4||10.5||Teague looks way better than last year right now. Henderson the clear starter, though the offensive line made it easy for him today.|
|Chris Olave||3||0||3||Nice YAC on the long touchdown.|
|Garrett Wilson||7.5||0||7.5||Last week I said his ability after the catch wasn't amazing. I was wrong. He was dynamic after the catch and with blocking.|
|Jaxon Smith-Njigba||4||0||4||Even with dropping a couple easy ones early, he still looks good after the catch.|
|Jeremy Ruckert||5||0.5||4.5||Very impressive blocking against a good defense.|
|Cade Stover||2.5||0.5||2||One of his better games.|
|Mitch Rossi||3.5||0||3.5||Continues to be an excellent blocker. Glad to see him getting a press conference.|
|Gee Scott Jr.||2||0||2||Like seeing him get more experience at TE. He goes so hard every snap; genuinely fun to watch, and looks like he could be special.|
|Emeka Egbuka||1||0||1||Good to see a freshman have a nice block.|
|Marvin Harrison Jr.||0.5||0||0.5||Looked good blocing.|
|Jayden Ballard||0||0||0||No charted plays|
|Sam Wiglusz||0||0||0||No charted plays|
|Chris Booker||0||0||0||No charted plays|
|Total||29||1||28||Hard to do any better than this.|
|Protection||8.5||5.5||3||Good day in pass protection. Stroud gets the ball out quick, so sometimes it is hard to tell.|
|Play Calling||14||3||11||Great day for offensive staff.|
I thought the offensive line performed well, though the tackles weren’t tested much. The different line configurations that they played with all game was interesting. I don’t expect this to be something that they do all of the time, but this might have been done to give them some practice in the likely event that someone goes down. Still, it’s hard to pick who not to play right now. Dawand Jones and Petit-Frere are the two best tackles in the Big Ten, except for maybe Thayer Munford. Matthew Jones has been playing like one of the best guards in the country, so it’s hard to take him of the field. Wypler and Johnson are playing their best football of the year as well, and had great games against one of the toughest and most difficult fronts to block that they will face this year. Who can you really sit? I hope that they do this for the games that are easier throughout the year, as they will need a fresh line as they go deeper into the season. Also, having more experience in different alignments in case of an injury is good sense as well. I feel pretty comfortable that, no matter who gets injured on the line, they have at least one backup who can play at an elite level, and they should see little to know drop off as a result.
Speaking of backups, I thought the backups looked good. Jackson and Fryar look legit, and I think Harry Miller will be very good as well as he gets acclimated to playing again. The depth is a huge luxury on this side of the ball, as each position group has backups that I believe will be able to produce at a high level.
The offensive line made things really easy on the running backs against Rutgers. Look at the long Henderson touchdown on the second offensive play of the game for Ohio State. Ruckert and Johnson open up a huge hole on the counter, and Henderson just has to run straight ahead. That is why Henderson barely registered any points in this game; there weren’t any points to get, really. I usually reward running back points for leaving yards on the field, or picking up yards that shouldn’t be there. Henderson got big holes, and he did what anyone would do with those holes. The blocking wasn’t quite as good later in the game for Teague and Crowley, so they had more positively charted runs.
I like Master Teague a lot more than the average Buckeye fan. He has a weird skillset that I think coaches can sometimes fail to utilize, but he does a nice job of finding yards when he should lose yards, especially when he gets hit in the backfield. The biggest issue with him is sometimes he tries to cutback too early and head up field. This is great for short yardage, but frustrating when you know he could have gotten a huge gain had he stayed patient. The worst offender was in the third quarter with 14:33 left. He had another counter trey call (the same one that Henderson scored on), but instead of heading outside with a ton of green and a lead blocker in Jeremy Ruckert, he heads upfield and only gets two yards. Now, if his role is as a short yardage back, it is probably better for a guy to get two yards for sure rather than maybe 50. With his speed though, I know that he would have been gone. He could have bounced it outside with 7:25 in the second too, where he would have been one on one with a cornerback, which is a matchup he will win 90% of the time. It’s always good to see running backs with a desire to cut upfield quick, but he does miss opportunities for huge plays, which hurts his viability as an every down back. I still think this is an improvement from the last two years, and in my opinion, has looked pretty great. The Akron game was especially excellent for him. Having said all of that, he still has some great runs. The run with 7:54 remaining, he broke a tackle in the backfield, and still managed to get the first down. He has excellent ability in the open field, and is tough to bring down. If his vision and patience improve, he is an NFL back.
Marcus Crowley looked pretty polished. I don’t think he is quite the physical freak that Teague/Henderson is, but he seems to make the right decision every time he is running the football. While I just complained about Teague occasionally leaving yards on the field, Crowley doesn’t do that. He’s boring, but in a good way. Onhe first offensive play of the fourth quarter for Ohio State, Crowley made a man miss in the open field and gets another ten yards. He doesn’t have the ability of Henderson to gain an extra 40 yards, he doesn’t have the same ability as Teague/Williams to turn nothing into something, but he looks like he is going to execute the play to perfection every time, which is rare.
As for what all of this means for next week, probably very little. Maryland doesn’t have a great defense, though they are better now than in years past. The best hope is to win big, and to get some of the starters some rest heading into a BYE week. Stroud’s performance will also be looked at closely. If he plays well against Maryland, it is much easier to assume that he will continue this play the rest of the year. Maybe the BYE week can give his arm even more time to rest.
Cumulative stats will be posted next week when we are half way through the season.
I will try to have the defensive analysis up later today. Thank you for reading.