Some people eat hamburger meat while others like potatoes,
And some must chew their Irish stew along with ripe tomatoes.
I can't understand why in ev'ry land, they serve such peculiar dishes.
For wherever I go, they always say "No!" when I tell them what my wish is.
I scream for ...
Great, Green Gobs of Greasy, Grimy Gopher Guts
I am not sure that Buckeye fans got the helping of Gopher guts that they craved, but on a day that saw five of the top ten teams in the nation fall, things could have been much worse. It always takes someone else’s tragedy for people to really appreciate what they have, so let’s take a second and take stock on what we have been overlooking.
Big Ten championship hopes still alive? Yep. Undefeated and improving? Check. Chance at a national title still alive? Sure. Then I guess everything else, including the four spots that the Buckeyes should move up the polls this week, is just gravy. All four of the teams that previously appeared untouchable (USC, LSU, Oklahoma, and Florida) appeared very touchable this week as everyone ahead of the Buckeyes struggled. It is becoming more apparent every week that this year’s national championship is truly up for grabs.
The Buckeyes fell just a bit short of the thousands of yards of offense that the Buckeye Nation predicted, but the outcome of the game was never really in doubt, again the game had the artificiality and controlled atmosphere of a jersey scrimmage. In an obvious effort to slow the Buckeyes offense down, Tim Brewster dressed his players up like penalty flags, yet even this shady tactic proved unsuccessful as the Buckeyes still amassed 250 yards on the ground and 209 more in the air.
The Gophers must not study film because they attempted to play a lot of man coverage on the outside, selling out stop the run, and predictably, Brian Robiskie put up another long score as a result just before the half. The Gophers did play some Cover 2, but it was pretty clear that the Gophers game plan hinged on stopping the Ohio State ground attack.
Beanie Wells is obviously still feeling the effects of a left ankle sprain that has hobbled him since spring ball. While his running is still very physical, he has continued to be a bit hesitant in the hole and is not cutting with the same violence that characterizes the rest of his play.
Maurice Wells continues to underachieve and one now has to wonder how soon Brandon Saine can get back on the field. The more I watch Wells, the more he reminds me of Maurice Hall. He has the speed and quickness, but just lacks the agility to consistently cause the first guy to miss and the power to break the first tackle.
Minnesota is a horrid defensive team, but offensively they have been pretty good this year. The Buckeyes limited the Gophers to just 277 yards of offense, by far Minnesota’s lowest to date. It was apparent from the start that Minnesota was not going to be able to run the ball, and the Gophers were only able to tally 45 yards on the ground in 29 attempts. Probably the most staggering statistic for the defense was that Minnesota was only 3 of 16 in 3rd down conversions. The defense was able to get itself off the field.
The defense looked stout, but the game plan looked a bit hyper conservative. It was actually the same defense that Buckeyes attempted to run against Florida in the national championship game. There was a lot of zone against the spread, very little blitzing, and a lot of three and four-man pass rush. The Buckeyes were willing to concede the short routes and offered very little pressure in order to keep the plays in front of them. In the end, it was effective and the Buckeyes move on to a perfect 5-0.
Grading the Positions:
Quarterback: B-. Boeckman was pretty inaccurate and missed several opportunities down the field. The Buckeyes would have locked this one up early if he had been able to connect with Hartline and Roboskie on a couple of wide open easy touchdowns. In the end, Boeckman was still fairly efficient completing nearly 70% of his passes (it didn’t seem that high during the game), throwing a pair of TD passes, and no interceptions.
Running Back: Chris Wells B+. Maurice Wells C-. Beanie still looks pretty stout (although he did whiff on a block in pass pro) even on one wheel. Maurice, quit dancing in the backfield, pick a hole, and run through it.
Wide Receivers: B+. When are people going to start double teaming Brian Roboskie? You have to like the spark that Ray Small is giving the offense, let’s just hope he can stay healthy. Brian Hartline had a very rare drop last night, but all in all, this unit is just good enough to make teams pay for putting eight in the box. They still need a fourth receiver to step up in order to spread the field, I am not sure that there is one on the roster. Jake Ballard looked very good in both protection and down the field. As the Buckeyes begin to see more Tampa 2 and Cover 2 defenses, the Rory Nichol and Jake Ballard are going to have to emerge as important parts of the offense.
Offensive Line: C. The first unit has not been very impressive or consistent in opening holes for the running game. They have not been helped by obvious play calling, but the fact remains that the Buckeye’s big uglies should be able to blow Minnesota’s defensive line five yards down field whenever they want.
Defensive Line: A. What can you say? 45 yards on the ground is a great stat. The linebackers were free to run around and make plays because the Gophers had to commit the whole offensive line to keeping them out of the backfield. The pass rush, which the defensive line was nearly solely responsible for, was pretty good. Adam Weber did not have the time to go downfield, even if he wanted to.
Linebackers: A. Wow, it was like shades of 2005. Ohio State’s linebackers were there at the point of attack making tackles in space every time. Larry Grant is FAST, Marcus Freeman’s hits are downright angry, and James Laurinaitis is right there on every play. How about the emergence of Euclid native Thad Gibson on the two deep? He looks like he will be a serious playmaker as well.
Secondary: A. Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell continue to be tremendous playmakers, and the corner play was good. Since the Buckeyes were playing a ton of zone, you have to concede that Minnesota’s receivers were going to make plays in front of the secondary. The onus on the secondary is to keep the plays in front of them, which they did. The Jenkins interception was huge and turned the tide of the game.
Coaching: C. You have to question the judgment of the coaching staff for leaving Beanie Wells in late in the game. The game was in hand with Minnesota’s offense floundering in the second half; it was time to save Beanie and his bum wheel for next week. I hope the Buckeyes do not plan to use this same defense against a much better and more experienced Purdue offense.
Grading the Grader:
I said that there would be more interesting games to watch last night and there were. A.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Brian Rolle, Thaddeus Gibson, and Austin Spittler get more play time than James Laurinaitis, Larry Grant, and Marcus Freeman.” Surprisingly the first string linebackers were in for most of the game. I guess the staff is trying to ensure that the Buckeyes players are in condition to go a full game if needed. C.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Minnesota is actually worse than Northwestern.” In spite of their wretched performance in Columbus last week, you could make a case for Northwestern being better than Minnesota based on Northwestern’s performance against Michigan. I guess we will have to wait with bated breath for the head to head match up in two weeks to see. I.
I said to take Ohio State and the over. My call was based on the early line of 21.5. Ohio State covered that, but may not have covered the later lines which ranged from 22.5 to 24. Unfortunately the game went way under. Sorry for the double vig loss on that one. C.
Props to the Prognosticator of the Week:
Props to Toxicadam with a nice call of 30-13, you nearly nailed the score, called the under (58-60), and may have hit on Minnesota covering depending on the line which ranged from 22.5 to 24.
Next week, the Buckeyes next big test, the 5-0 Purdue Boilermakers. Make your prediction here and perhaps it will be you that is the prognosticator of the week next week. There is no prize except knowing you are smarter than everyone else. Isn’t that enough?