Halloween Skull Session: Ohio State Grows Up, The Curious Case of Kickoff Coverage, and Bucks Switch It Up

By D.J. Byrnes on October 31, 2017 at 4:59 am
Bobby Landers puts Saquon Barkley in the dirt for the October 31st 2017 Skull Session

You know what? Screw it. LET'S WATCH THE DAMN DAGGER AGAIN.

Oh yeah, going to be watching that all week.

Let's hope the Columbus Crew does that in the first leg of their playoff tilt against NYC FC (aka fake-ass Manchester City). That match kicks off in Columbus at 8 p.m. on ESPN.

Crew winning would compound Carpetbaggin' Anthony Precourt's problems, as a judge yesterday called into question a possible conflict of interest with his desire to move the team to Austin.


Word of the Day: Scurrilous

 LOCAL TEAM GROWS UP. Last year in Happy Valley was the worst experience of the regular season. Ohio State surrendered a fourth quarter lead as the Nittany Lion defense bordered on committing felonious assault against our beloved team.


This year.... this year, it switched! It was our beloved team committing the assaults as the Nittany Lion offense looked without an answer for the second half.

Monday, Meyer said the 2016 team would have lost that game.

From James Grega of Eleven Warriors:

"Maturity," Urban Meyer said Monday. "You don't win that game, when you spot a team – a team like that, spot them 14 points. And the team last year would not have won that game. They would have dropped their head. Offensive line would have dropped their head."

One particular offensive lineman came up in Meyer's comments. 

Right tackle Isaiah Prince was scrutinized for much of the 2016 seasons for his struggles in pass protection. Prince and the Ohio State offensive line allowed Barrett to be sacked six times a year ago against the Nittany Lions. One year later? Just twice. 

That performance is only going to buoy the offensive line going forward. That was a grown-man performance.

And I praised Prince yesterday, but I'm going to do it again today:

And yeah, Prince had some false starts, but that's what happens on big stages when the offense is moving at lights speed. Glad they happened in a win, that way it can be a focus going forward. 

 MAKES U THINK. I said before the game, Saquon Barkley scared me more as a returner and a receiver than as a running back in that game.

He proved why on the first play of the game. But looking back, hell, I might have been able to return this ball (which was perfectly placed by Urban Meyer's standards) to the fifty.

Why doesn't Ohio State just boot it out of the end zone? Meyer says his kickers can't... but others disagree.

From Dan Hope of Eleven Warriors:

"I'd kick it out of the end zone every time. We're the only school in the America that can't kick it out of the end zone, even with the wind at our back," Meyer said. "It's not because of not telling them to kick the ball out of the end zone."

Some people who have seen Nuernberger and Haubeil kick outside of Ohio State games, however, aren’t buying that excuse from Meyer, suggesting that both of them are more than capable of kicking the ball through the end zone. Among them, someone who should know: former Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston. 

Meyer, however, indicated that it’s not a matter of whether he has a capable kicker, but whether he has a consistently capable kicker. In response to one reporter pointing out during Monday's press conference that Haubeil has had some touchbacks this season – the only six Ohio State has had yet this season, to be exact – Meyer pointed out that Haubeil has also made mistakes.

I refuse to believe on a campus of 60,000 students, there isn't one who can't put the ball out of the end zone. Hold a dang open tryout tomorrow and find one! 

I also believe Meyer is just being stubborn about his obviously broken kick coverage scheme. He's greedy and wants his opponents to start on the 15 and not the 20. (I'm sure it's a statistical thing about successful drives via starting position.)

Meyer got lucky, though. Had Ohio State not won that game, it wouldn't have been for lack of player effort.

 IT SWITCHED! Good coaches create their own plays. Great coaches steal them from offensive juggernauts like Iowa.

If you thought that last sentence was a typo (not out of the realm of possibility, I know), you haven't been paying attention to Ohio State's latest offensive development.

Kevin Wilson swooped a switch concept the Hawkeyes used to punish the Nittany Lions in their meeting.

From theozone.net:

A key factor that contributed to the success of the passing game on Saturday stemmed from a variation of the “Switch Concept.” A staple of the old “Run and Shoot” offenses of years ago, traditionally, the play is designed for the slot receiver to run a form of the wheel route to stretch vertically after passing underneath the outside receiver.

The Buckeyes, however, utilized Tight End Marcus Baugh in the slot with Terry McLaurin crossing in front of Baugh on his release. The inside release caused confusion within the Penn State secondary and created a difficult matchup for both defenders. Baugh would run a corner route to the end zone against a smaller defensive back while McLaurin was matched up against a .inebacker in the middle of the field with a lot of open turf available.

The play call was brilliant as it caught Penn State in a defense where they had walked strong safety Marcus Allen down to the line of scrimmage as an extra pass rusher.

Let us remember this when Wilson inevitably leaves for another head coaching job: Sometimes it takes more than an offseason to "mesh" a new offensive philosophy into Meyer's program.

And also credit Meyer for having the sense after the Oklahoma debacle to get out of the way. The offense has looked entirely different. 

 BAKER TEARS. It's a long haul to the playoffs through college football's most chaotic month, but I might be willing to kill a man for a first round matchup with Oklahoma and their notorious shit talker of a quarterback:

He doesn't get it, like most people who complain like that. There is more to rankings than one individual game. Oklahoma and Ohio State have gone opposite directions since their match in Columbus, which now feels like it happened in 1986.

 LESSON LEARNED. Lost in the chaos of the win: Mike Weber almost breaking his neck trying to hurdle a Penn State defender:

Looks like Weber won't be trying that again:

Hard to argue with that decision.

 THOSE WMDs. The teacher on the wrong repayment plan... Past LSU hazing violators got off easy... The secret of Viet Thanh Nguyen’s overnight of success... The true, twisted story of Amityville horror... A Miami Herald investigation into Florida's juvenile justice system.

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