Skull Session: Ryan Day Went Deep in the Playbook Against Clemson, Ohio State Owned Brent Venables, and the Buckeye Offensive Tackles Were Perfect

By Kevin Harrish on January 4, 2021 at 5:38 am
Dabo is Dead in today's skull session.

Eat shit, Dabo.

I've spent too many online hours tormented by Dabo Swinney's very existence to not toss that phrase up on a big red banner at the top of this website the second Ryan Day finished tossing Clemson in a dumpster.

Classy? Nah. But I've got no room for class here. You don't get a classy response when you get undressed and flayed on primetime television after spending weeks arguing that the team doing the flaying didn't even belong in the game in the first place.

And it seems Ohio State shared my sentiment!

If you do not know what that means, I first and foremost salute you for not spending an unreasonable amount of time online. Secondly, I would like to direct you here.

Dabo and Clemson have said and done all the wrong things for years – the "accidental" PED story that nobody ever talks about, the weird-ass gooch-grabbing in 2016 Fiesta Bowl, the sign stealing, the infuriating "little old Clemson" schtick, the Clemson basketball assistant that basically claimed the football team was good at cheating – and they finally got checked harder than that guy who got beaten by a can of Twisted Tea in that viral video.

The way that game played out had me feeling the way I imagine heroin must feel, but more than that, Friday night's win brought a deep sense of relief to my battered and bruised Buckeye soul.

As much you could have tried to spin a loss into being fine and excusable (and you know every single person writing Buckeye words online would have) Ohio State had to win that game. Had to.

Imagine talking all year about wanting redemption for last year's game and losing. Imagine moving to 0-5 lifetime against Clemson and 0-2 since Ryan Day took over. Imagine having to hear that Justin Fields isn't in Trevor Lawrence's galaxy as a quarterback prospect. Imagine watching Alabama and Clemson play again in the title game, solidifying the narrative that college football is just Alabama and Clemson then everybody else. Imagine another year of hearing that the Buckeyes just can't beat the Tigers and having to feel a Michigan-like rage at missing another opportunity.

Instead, Ohio State rolled Clemson, got its redemption from last year, killed the narrative that the Buckeyes can't beat the Tigers, and ended Trevor Lawrence's career with the worst game of his life while Justin Fields played his very best game. On top of that, Ryan Day now moves to an even 1-1 against Dabo, with everyone in the world knowing that the only reason it isn't 2-0 is because of an Oceans 11 heist in the first meeting.

And for all this year's long narrative that Clemson and Alabama rule college football, with a win in the title game, Ohio State will tie Alabama and Clemson for the most national titles in the College Football Playoff era. And there's nothing at all that convinces me Nick Saban isn't going to be the next coach down the Buckeye wood chipper.

TL;DR, Ryan Day tossed Dabo Swinney in an unmarked grave on Friday night, and Nick Saban's next.

Let's get wild.

Word of the Day: Exultant.

 SANDBAGGING? Did you think that Ohio State looked like a completely different team on both sides of the ball with far more creativity and a completely different playbook and scheme? 

You're not alone!

This is close to the most tinfoil-hat thing I'll ever write in these here Skull Sessions, but after consulting numerous individuals who know far more about football than I do, I think there's a shocking amount of evidence that suggests Ohio State did exactly what Golic described, sandbagging the hell out of the regular season and actually pulling out its entire playbook for the first time against Clemson.

Does Ryan Day really have big enough balls to show Clemson absolutely nothing useful on film the entire season and dedicate all his efforts to game-planning for the playoffs, knowing his talent can just coast him there? I'll let you decide that. But if that's actually what went down, Bama could be in deep shit, too.

Regardless of how it came together, the game plan and playcalling on Friday night was nothing short of pornographic.

 VENABLES GOT ABSOLUTELY PANTSED. I'm not sure I'm ever going to get over the fact that Ryan Day blatantly called out Brent Venables for his notorious sign-stealing operation, then spent three hours on Friday night working his defense like it's never been worked before.

There were several times when Clemson players looked like they had absolutely no idea what was happening and couldn't even get lined up in any formation, much less an effective one. And there's a reason for that!

The results: it was Ohio State's best passing performance and Clemson's worst defensive performance in years.

Let’s start with the praise. The Bucks' EPA per play on passes was .93 — almost one unexpected point added per pass. It is by far their highest mark in the last six seasons, with a 2017 game at Nebraska coming in second at .89. That .93 was the 10th-highest in a single game this season. As for Clemson’s defense, it was their worst day in a very long time. Over the last six seasons, nothing even remotely comes close to them allowing .93 EPA per play. The second highest is Alabama in 2015 with only .43. In fact, in these six years, Clemson has only given up positive EPA per play via the pass 17 total times in 82 games. It’s almost like Clemson forgot to actually watch Ohio State’s film, regardless of how many games the Buckeyes played.

The Tigers had trouble lining up all night with Ohio State’s tempo giving them fits. A long Trey Sermon touchdown run early in the game was quick out of the gates because Clemson didn’t have any players on the left side of Ohio State's formation when the ball was snapped. The Tigers also found themselves covering a lot of unused grass. There are plays where more than a few Tiger defenders are in the same general area all the while Buckeye receivers fly around the field in more open areas.

Credit to Ryan Day and his coaching staff for putting together a nice game plan. Using the fast tempo to create confusion against Clemson’s three-high safety defense. That was the defense that gave Fields fits in last year’s semi-final. Not this year. Fields toyed with whichever safety was in the middle of the field and deep. This is where the game was won and lost. If the deep middle of the field was open, FIelds took it in stride and delivered bombs time and time again. If it was closed, Fields checked the ball down to his running back who still picked up the first down and kept the drive alive. Touchdown to Checkdown.

Serous question – is it actually fair to call you one of the top defensive coordinators in college football if you're completely ineffective at calling a defense against an elite team unless you know exactly what play they're going to run?

Asking for an overpaid assistant that just got exposed like the damn Wizard of Oz.

 LIKE A PROUD FATHER. If your brain didn't immediately think of Tyvis Powell when you saw Sevyn Banks take that late-game interception out of the end zone, you should probably binge-watch the 2015 Sugar Bowl a few dozen more times.

Only difference is, Sevyn had folks blocking for him while Tyvis was out there trying to shake teammates trying to knock his ass down, too.

 FROM PRACTICE TO PLAY. I'm not sure there's been a better unit at showing how work on the practice field can translate to success in the game than Brian Hartline's wide receivers.

Hell, Mrs. Hartline is even getting in on the action.

It probably helps when your receivers coach was working NFL cornerbacks less than six years ago and looks like he could still play today.

 PERFECT PROTECTION. You wanna know the secret to playing a quarterback who might possibly have a few broken ribs? Perfect pass protection from your offensive tackles.

Remember when Clemson stole Jackson Carman out of Ohio in a massive coup? It's hilarious that the Buckeyes still ended up with two better starting tackles.

 SONG OF THE DAY. "Funeral Dirge" for Dabo Swinney and his Clemson Tigers.

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