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Disaster In The Desert
Disaster In The Desert
No, that wasn't a bad dream. That really happened. The Florida Gators shocked and awed the Buckeyes last night, thoroughly dominating all phases of the game after spotting us seven points on the opening kickoff. What the hell happened? What went wrong? Furls gives his opinion in his morning wrap, as he has all year for us here on The Blurbs. God how I hate mornings like this. I feel like I just got punched in the stomach.
I have never seen an Ohio State team look so unprepared. I would have to go back to the 2004 game against Iowa to see them look bad, but even then they did not look this bad.
I refuse to attribute the outcome of this game to SEC speed, the real problem for the Buckeyes was their protection upfront and their entire defensive scheme. I have never seen offensive lineman run 10 yards backwards and linebackers run ten yards backwards on the snap, but that is what I saw last night. It was ridiculous.
On the offensive end, Alex Boone looked confused. I have heard stories that he can put down thirty beers in a single sitting, after last night’s game, I am wondering if he put down thirty in the locker room before the game. Rehring looked almost as bad. This is a credit to the Gators line as much as it is a sad commentary about the preparation of the Buckeyes. It appears that they were drinking their own kool-aid.
Troy Smith had very little time, but even when he did, he was not making good decisions. The Gators were coming clean pretty consistently and often from his blind side. This is pretty disheartening for a quarterback. His first looks were not open and he looked strangely indecisive. I found myself longing for the Troy Smith of old. The one who had an internal timer of two seconds before he would tuck the ball and run.
The loss of Ted Ginn early in the game clearly hurt the Buckeyes down the field, but it should not have ended their offensive game plan. Once Ginn was out the Gators were able to rotate up more in the secondary and press the shorter routes, leaving Smith little even in five wide sets.
The defensive game plan was an abhoration. It is a well known fact that Chris Leak folds under pressure faster than a chair under Rosie O’Donnell, yet the Buckeyes spent the entire game rushing three or four. To complicate things, they took the concept of “Umbrella Defense” to a whole new level. Watch the game again, watch the linebackers run backwards five yards on third and two. What is the point of playing defense if you are going to rush four and drop all your defenders behind the marker? Are you daring the Gators to play catch? I have never seen a team play prevent in the first quarter before, and I hope I never see it again in Columbus.
Well, let’s Get this over with:
Grading the Positions:
Quarterback: I. Can’t give him the failing grade that I want to because he never had the time to throw the ball. He looked like a Brown’s quarterback behind that porous sieve of an offensive line. Anyone still want to draft Peterson?
Runningback: I. It is hard to grade a position that only received touches when it was already a bad situation. Pitt looked good when he did get the touches, but it really didn’t matter.
Wide Receivers: D. No one got open. That is a problem with the scheme, but it is also a problem with the receivers. Only reason they did not fail, because they didn’t have enough time to get open.
Offensive Line: Z-. I need to make up a new letter to define the grade that I wish I could give them. Not only did they not block anyone, they created stupid penalties to complicate things. In my preview I wondered aloud which Boone would show up, the nasty NASTY 1st round draft pick or the bonehead that misses assignments and picks up stupid penalties…. I think we see the answer now.
Defensive Line: B. It was a valiant effort. They were left on an island as the only defensive playmakers within 5 yards of the line of scrimmage regularly, and they actually held up pretty well. I really have no complaints about their play. It is really hard to play D-line when the offensive line knows that there is no one to block behind you.
Linebackers: C. It was obviously schematic, and therefore not the LBs fault, that they were running a backwards 40-yard dash on every snap. Laurinaitis looked strangely average, but Marcus Freeman stepped up and looked like the only playmaker in the Buckeyes second line of defense.
Secondary: D-. The Buckeyes were obviously playing cover three and cover two all night. I have no idea why, but that was what they were doing. They executed their prevent defense pretty well, but in the end, if you are content to try to keep everything in front with safeties over the top well, you get pounded in the end. I guess the only really blown coverage I saw was Malcolm Jenkins breaking for the int on Florida’s first TD. I cannot really fault him because if you rewatch the game you will see that he should have had a safety (Jemario O’Neal) over the top. He was well within his responsibility to play the route underneath and break on the ball.
Coaching: Z--------. I cannot believe that I am grading the coaching on a Jim Tressel coached team out so poorly, but I really have no choice. Not only did the team come out sluggish (I refuse to blame the loss on a 51 day layoff), but the game plan obviously sucked. I have no idea why the Buckeyes started the game in prevent, but what is worse is that they never adjusted out of it. At no point did the Buckeyes ever make a serious attempt to run the ball (against constant nickel defense) which is mystifying particularly given their success at doing so on the first possession. I was expecting to see Troy Smith go with a run option if the Gators covered the Bucks well down the field, but that never happened. Frankly, the Buckeyes looked lost for the entire game and it was a direct reflection of the gameplan and the lack of adjustment.
Grading the Grader:
I sucked for so many reasons here that it is not even worth grading my calls. I failed every single one, including the Mussburger/Herbstreit predictions because as a reader pointed out to me, FOX owns the rights to the game.
Well at least I go the over right.
Shortly after the game ended, my three year old woke up crying from a nightmare. I gave her a kiss, covered her with her blanket, and realized that this isn’t so bad. That is the message of optimism that I want to leave the Cleveland fans with in 2006. This is supposed to be a relief from the grind of every day life, yet sometimes it seems to consume it. Step back, gain some perspective and relax and enjoy the GAME.
I wanted to take this opportunity to thank all the readers that made my column a staple in their regular sports information diet. Your feedback (good and bad) has been terrific and it has been my very sincere pleasure to inform and learn from you. I have tried hard to write columns that were beyond the normal fluff you get from Dodd, Maisel, and Forde, but not overly analytical at the same time. I look forward to starting the 2007 season soon…. When is national signing day again? Oh and don’t forget the basketball team still has Greg Oden.
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