Debriefing: Rushing Attack Comes Alive, Brendon White Breaks Out, and Defense Still Suspect

By David Wertheim on November 4, 2018 at 8:25 am
J.K. Dobbins after scoring a touchdown

It's a good day when your running back runs for 7.1 ypc and scores three touchdowns. It wasn't all pretty, but Ohio State seemed to correct a few problem areas in a 36-31 defeat of Nebraska. 

Let's debrief.

The Short Story

Nebraska got things started with a methodical touchdown drive ending in a Devine Ozigbo run. After Keandre Jones blocked a punt resulting in a safety, the Buckeyes scored two touchdowns back to back. Nebraska did the same, however, and took a 21-16 lead into the locker room.

Ohio State scored two touchdowns in the third quarter to open the game, and an additional touchdown in the fourth. Nebraska scored with 2:57 left to make it interesting, but Ohio State salted the game away with a couple of first downs.

Quick Breakdowns


Ohio State's rushing attack finally came alive. J.K. Dobbins rushed for 163 yards on 23 carries (7.1 ypc) and three touchdowns, including this 42-yard scamper.

Mike Weber rushed for 91 yards on 9 carries (10.1 ypc). Dwayne Haskins did not have his best effort, but was still relatively effective, throwing for 252 yards and two touchdowns (with one interception). 


It was largely more of the same from the Ohio State defense, unfortunately. The Buckeyes continued to allow big chunk plays, as well as long drives down the field. Adrian Martinez committed an ugly fumble, but aside from that, the true freshman played quite well, throwing for 266 yards and a touchdown (with no interceptions). 

Most of the scoring came from the Nebraska running backs. Devine Ozigbo rushed 20 times for 86 yards (4.3 ypc) and a touchdown, while Martinez had 20 carries for 72 yards (3.6 ypc) and two scores. 

Who Earned a Buckeye Leaf?

Offense: J.K. Dobbins

Could it be anyone else? Three scores is fairly impressive. I would like to point out that in this week's roundtable, I predicted Dobbins to be the game MVP for the Buckeyes. 

It was about time that the Ohio State rushing attack showed signs of life, and Dobbins delivered most of those signs.

Defense: Brendon White

Wow. What a game from Brendon White. After Jordan Fuller was ejected due to a targeting call, the true sophomore was called upon and boy did he ever respond, leading the Buckeyes with 13 tackles (2 TFL). 

After the issues that Ohio State has had at the safety spot opposite of Fuller this season, with Isaiah Pryor and Jahsen Wint both struggling, it would make sense that Ohio State keeps White on the field and slides Fuller back to his original spot. 

At least give it a shot.

Biggest Surprise

Could it be anyone else? Brendon White was fantastic, and you cannot possibly overstate the positive impact that he had on this game. 

Jordan Fuller said it best:

White had eight solo tackles out of his 13 total tackles. What a game.

Jim Tressel's Least Favorite Moment

Jim woke up this morning at 7:00am on the dot, very upset with himself that he was in Youngstown, and thus could not attend the Eleven Dubgate VIII (which remains undefeated, by the way). 

After a hearty breakfast of Quaker oatmeal and some orange juice, Jim took out the trash and re-filled the bird feeder before settling in with Ellen to watch the Buckeyes.

Ohio State did not have any special teams blunders, but the Buckeyes did fumble the ball six times, although they "only" lost two of them.

Jim remarked to Ellen that ball security has to be a point of emphasis going forward, or else the Buckeyes will be in more trouble than they already are. Ellen agreed, and so do we.

Underrated Things

Malik Harrison

Harrison has quietly been a solid player for the Buckeyes this year, overshadowed by the overall issues of the Ohio State linebacking corps. He had another good game yesterday, recording 13 tackles to tie White for the team high (although he only had five solo tackles as opposed to White's eight). 

It was a nice game from Harrison, and Ohio State needs him to keep on producing in order for this team to have a chance.

Joe Davis

You guys know I always like to give the commentators credit when it is due, and that was the case again yesterday.

Davis is already almost at the pinnacle of his profession at just 30 years old, and he is really solid at his job. Very fun listening to him. 

Biggest Question Going Forward

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

1. Is the defense salvageable?

I'd argue that Ohio State's defense was slightly improved from previous weeks. If the team has found a gem in Brendon White, and will be getting back Jeffrey Okudah next week, it is reasonable that they could continue to trend up. The question, of course: is it too little, too late? 

2. Can Ohio State click on all cylinders?

It seems as though when the Buckeyes defense is clicking, the offense is not, and same goes for the other way around. Ohio State hasn't really had a game all season in which they've been good on both sides of the ball. Will it happen? Who knows. Michigan State is up next. 

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