Minnesota Debriefing: Haskins Stars, K.J. Hill Plays Hero Ball, and Buckeye Defense Tightens Up in Second Half

By David Wertheim on October 14, 2018 at 8:25 am
Haskins = Good

It's a good day when your quarterback throws for 412 yards and three touchdowns (with no turnovers) and your defense gives up zero points in the second half. The Buckeyes finally pulled away from Minnesota midway through the fourth quarter to come out of Ohio Stadium with a 30-14 victory.

Ohio State is 7-0.

Let's debrief.

The Short Story

Ohio State struck first in this game, as Kendall Sheffield intercepted a pass from Minnesota true freshman quarterback Zack Annexstad and the Buckeyes were able to get a field goal from it.

From there, the game went back and forth and resulted in the Buckeyes taking a 17-14 lead into the locker room. Ohio State scored 13 unanswered in the second half to win 30-14.

Quick Breakdowns


It was the Dwayne Haskins show once again. With Ohio State once again failing to do anything whatsoever on the ground, Haskins was forced to do it himself, and he did, throwing for 412 yards on 33 completions with a 176.2 rating. 

K.J. Hill was the receiving beneficiary in this one, as he recorded nine catches for 187 yards and two touchdowns, including this Odell-like beauty.

Hill was once again the steady hand in this one. It seems like, when Ohio State needs a big play, he is there. Elsewhere in #Zone6, Parris Campbell had eight catches for 56 yards, and Terry McLaurin caught three balls, resulting in 55 yards and a score, which you will see later.

Unfortunately, this was not the best performance by Ohio State's offensive line. Isaiah Prince was whipped all afternoon, and save for maybe Malcolm Pridgeon, nobody turned in a "strong performance." The run game was also abysmal for Ohio State once again, with the Buckeyes rushing 32 times for just 92 yards (2.9 ypc). It's truly a baffling problem, and one that needs to be fixed if the Buckeyes want any hope at competing for a title.


It was truly a "bend but don't break" effort by the Ohio State defense all afternoon. The Buckeyes forced stops when they had to, recording three turnovers. Two of those were interceptions, and you can see the second one here: a nice play by Isaiah Pryor.

Kendall Sheffield had the first interception, and the other Gopher turnover was that on a fumble by wide receiver Tyler Johnson (that was forced by Shaun Wade, and recovered by Jeffrey Okudah). 

Minnesota kicker Emmit Carpenter also missed two field goals, from 32 and 49 yards, respectively.

Jordan Fuller led the way for Ohio State with 12 tackles, and Pete Werner had 10, including 2.5 tackles for loss. Justin Hilliard also pitched in during his first career start, recording five tackles and two pass deflections.

While the first half effort wasn't particularly strong, the Buckeye defense came away pitching a second-half shutout. You can't be mad about that. 

Who Earned A Buckeye Leaf?

Offense: Dwayne Haskins

Could it be anyone else? We could probably pencil his name in for every game the rest of his tenure at Ohio State. It was another brilliant day for the Buckeye passer, who recorded his fifth 300-yard game already this season, ending the day with 412 yards (third highest single-game total in school history) and three touchdowns (with no interceptions).

One of those touchdowns was this absolute beauty to Terry McLaurin, who, might I add, made an excellent play on this ball.

Honorable Mention: K.J. Hill, Terry McLaurin

Defense: Jordan Fuller 

It's really hard to pick one individual player for this because Ohio State's defense collectively stunk in the first half and was collectively good in the second half. But I'm gonna give the nod to Fuller. 

When you make 12 tackles as a safety, those are likely breakaway-saving tackles. So, yeah. 

Also, here's video of Kendall Sheffield's interception. Nice play.

Honorable Mention: Pete Werner, Justin Hilliard

Biggest Surprise

I didn't think it was possible, but Ohio State's running game somehow got worse.

Like, it's literally almost unbelievable that the rushing attack has gotten worse in every game this season (with no outlier!). This is obviously a major problem, and simply an unfathomable one. Perhaps Ohio State needs to look at two-back sets or something, because this is getting ridiculous.

I'll give a good surprise also: Blake Haubiel. Stepping in for an injured Sean Nuernberger, Haubiel looked quite comfortable yesterday, banging through kicks of 21, 47, and 27 yards, while also converting on all three of his extra point opportunities. Has Nuernberger been Wally Pipp'd? 

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment

A noon game is perfect for the Tressel's. After an hearty breakfast at Denny's consisting of an All-American Slam for Jim, and the Belgian Waffle Slam for Ellen, the two cozied up on the couch for some Buckeye football.

Now Jim was accustomed to beating up on the Golden Gophers. During his time at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were 8-0 against Minnesota, with an average score of 38-13. 

So when the Gophers took a 7-3 lead, then a 14-10 lead, Jim was understandably a little shaken up. 

Ellen told him to relax, and reminded him that Urban Meyer had also never lost to Minnesota while at Ohio State. 

Jim was mad at this game overall. How, he wondered, with all the talent up front, could Ohio State not average more than 2.5 yards per carry on the ground? With every negative and no-gain play, the seething became more and more pronounced.

Luckily, Blake Haubiel came to the rescue of Jim's heart. Seeing a new kicker absolutely crush a 47-yarder right through the uprights in his first career game as placekicker made Tress smile a little bit. Let's see how he deals with Purdue next week.

Underrated Things

Justin Hilliard

Hilliard had a nice day in his first career start, notching five tackles to go with two pass deflections. After a career filled with disappointing injuries, it is nice to see Hilliard step up when necessary.

Joel Klatt

I have to say it: Joel Klatt is the best color commentator/analyst in college football. He says it how it is, and I infinitely respect him for it. Games with Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt are an absolute treat. 

It Was Over When

This one took a little while. It was finally over when Dwayne Haskins connected with K.J. Hill for the second time in the end zone, on a 27-yard pass.

The Gophers hung around for this one, but Ohio State was finally able to put it away in the fourth quarter.

Biggest Question Going Forward

Well, after watching that, I'd say there's several: 

1. Will the run game improve? 

As noted earlier, the run game has gotten worse literally every week. The good news is that there isn't much more room for decrease. The bad news is that a one-dimensional offense will eventually cost you. Ohio State needs to figure it out.

2. Can the Buckeyes defend a slant route?

It seems like whoever is guarding the slot receiver was playing so far back off the ball that there was no chance to stop the slant route. Minnesota wide receiver Tyler Johnson took advantage of this, recording eight catches for 119 yards. Ohio State needs to figure this out, as Purdue stud freshman Rondale Moore is up next week. 

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