Debriefing: Virginia Tech Spoils Ohio State's Home Opener, 35-21

By Michael Citro on September 7, 2014 at 9:15 am
J.T. Barrett was the surprise bright spot in the running game for Ohio State.
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Ohio State’s first home game of the year was a “Scarlet Out,” as the university asked the record Ohio Stadium crowd of 107,517 to wear their team’s primary color for the opener against Virginia Tech.

Whoever forgot to wear their scarlet was covered though, since the blood had to be shooting out of their ears after a whiffed fumble call by the officials, two missed field goals, three interceptions thrown by J.T. Barrett, a dropped touchdown pass by Corey Smith and a whole lot of other bad things.

It was the first opportunity to see Ohio State’s defense against a more conventional attack, and a much stiffer test for the Buckeye running game and freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett.

Virginia Tech Defensive Coordinator Bud Foster is pretty good at what he does, and if you give him four new offensive line starters, a freshman quarterback and a host of new skill position players to defend, I imagine he feels like it’s Christmas.

Could Barrett stand and deliver against the fierce Hokie rush? Would the Buckeye receivers get open against one of the best secondaries in the country? Could the Ohio State defense shut down Hokie quarterback Michael Brewer? How about stopping his talented duo of freshman running backs?

Not really, mostly no, only on first and second downs, and yeah, pretty much. Ohio State has now lost a regular season game and a home game under Urban Meyer. That was always going to happen at some point. Now it’s over with.

Here are your talking points:

Water Cooler prep (Everything you need to know…in one paragraph)

Take your pick of any bad thing that could happen and it did in Ohio State’s first home opening loss since 1978. The Buckeyes shot themselves in the foot repeatedly in the red zone in the first half, shanked a punt, dropped a touchdown, allowed seven sacks and turned the ball over three times after the half. Virginia Tech loaded the middle, took away the inside run and dared Barrett to beat them over the top. He couldn’t do it often enough. He was 9/29 for 219 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. The defense struggled on third downs (allowing 9/17 conversion), mostly in the first half. A pick six sealed Virginia Tech’s 35-21 win.

Talk before the game  

 “1. Avoid turnovers. 2. Shut down the run game. 3. Profit.”

Some looked for the humor (and failed to find it):

Checking in on the enemy, also skeptical of Mark May:

And…well, presented without comment:

On second thought, my comment is that we have an Oval and a South Oval, but I’m not aware of a quad, so…trick tweet? I guess we'll never know.

Talk in the aftermath

Just going to sum up my Twitter feed here:

“[Whole lot of unkind things about Tom Herman.]”

“[Whole lot of unkind things about the offensive line.]”

“[The sky is falling and just shut up, everyone on the team is terrible. Fire everyone.]”

Give that man a buckeye leaf (Player of the game)

Since I can’t give Bud Foster or Michael Brewer a Buckeye leaf, this week’s goes to Vonn Bell. The sophomore safety was laying big hits all night long, intercepted his second career pass, and finished with five tackles. For seeing only his third game of extended action, I liked what Bell brought to the defense—attitude, hard hits, and a big play. Others had more tackles (Bell finished with four solo stops and two assists). Honorable mention to linebackers Curtis Grant and Josh Perry, who both set career highs in tackles (13 and 11, respectively) and were vital in shutting down the Virginia Tech rushing attack.

Slobber Knocker of the Game

Honestly, most of these came from Virginia Tech, especially a Kyshoen Jarrett block on Josh Perry on a punt return near end of the first half. Joey Bosa staked his claim with a hit on Brewer that jarred the ball loose for a Rashad Frazier recovery.

But I’m giving it this week to Devan Bogard for a smackdown on Virginia Tech return man Demitri Knowles. After Michael Thomas pulled Ohio State within 21-14, Kyle Clinton kicked deep and Knowles returned for 20 yards before Bogard lit him up.

BOOM

Did you see that?! (Play of the game)

Dontre Wilson made the catch of the year (so far) in the second quarter. Facing a second-and-eight situation at his own 32, Barrett dropped back and lofted a pass downfield to Wilson, who was pretty well covered. The sophomore H-back made a leaping catch with the defender draped all over him, setting up the Buckeyes at the Virginia Tech 28 with his 40-yard acrobatic reception. Unfortunately, a false start penalty on Billy Price stalled the drive and Sean Nuernberger missed a 40-yard field goal attempt. It was that kind of night, folks.

Dontre Wilson has moves for days

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment of the game

Tressel was performing his semiannual cleaning of his vintage vinyl collection as he watched the Buckeyes and Hokies in his man cave. When the usually reliable Cameron Johnston shanked a 24-yard, first-quarter punt that gave Virginia Tech a short field, he was so furious that he pulled his original 1957 copy of John Coltrane’s  Blue Train album out of his Crosley vinyl cleaner and hurled it frisbee-style at the wall, where it exploded into a flurry of black shards. 

When you sank into your chair (The moment Buckeye football disgraced your family)

The Buckeyes trailed 14-7 early in the second quarter, but drove down for a first-and-goal at the Virginia Tech 10. After an underthrown pass to Jeff Heuerman fell incomplete on first down, Barrett dropped back and threw a strike to Corey Smith in the back of the end zone. Smith tried to catch the ball with his arms instead of his hands and it bounced out and fell incomplete. Two plays later, Nuernberger doinked the upright on his short field goal attempt, squandering a golden opportunity to close the gap. The Hokies went on to extend their lead to 21-7 by halftime.

Bonus disgraceful moment: Ohio State had just tied the score on Ezekiel Elliott’s touchdown run. The Buckeyes lined up to kick off and Clinton wanged the kick out of bounds, giving the Hokies the ball at the 35. Virginia Tech made the most of the short field, as well as a pass interference call on Eli Apple, and regained the lead with their first points of the second half.

What you texted your friend at the end of each quarter

First: “If I could get my hands on the replay ref, he would have no clear recovery.”

Second: “I’m just going to go ahead and start drinking heavily.”

Third: “Won the quarter. Kwon sighting!”

Fourth: “I just don’t…I can’t…maaaaan.”

It was over when

Surprisingly, Ohio State was in the game until almost the very end. With 3:06 remaining, the Buckeyes trailed 28-21 when they took over on their 29—with a chance to drive for the tying score. They got to the Virginia Tech 42 but then took a sack, and on the next snap, Barrett tried to hit Corey Smith on a comeback route. Unfortunately, Smith was running a go route, so somebody did it wrong. The pass was intercepted by Donovan Riley and returned for a touchdown.


Ohio State will look to bounce back Saturday at noon, when the Buckeyes host the State of Kent, of MACtion fame. The Golden Flashes fell to 0-2 overall (0-1 in MAC play) with a 23-13 home loss to South Alabama yesterday. It will be the first road game for Kent State, which lost a 17-14 heartbreaker to Ohio University on August 30. The Bobcats kicked a 44-yard field goal on the final play to win that contest. 

Kent State playing Ohio University and Ohio State within a three-week span is bound to confuse Brady Hoke.

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