Let the hyperbole begin and maybe we should add a few benches to the Ohio State bandwagon. While the rest of the nation has faltered for the last two weeks, Ohio State’s defense put Columbus back on the BCS map. In the words of Allen Greenspan, “irrational exuberance” will now sweep through Columbus and expectations will follow. The way things have gone recently, I am not so sure that this is a good thing, being a top five team has been dangerous lately.
In any event, the Buckeyes defense dominated one of the NCAAs most impressive early offenses holding the Boilermakers to just 272 yards of offense. That is a pretty impressive number for any game, but it gets more impressive if you look past the number just a bit.
Coming into the game, Purdue was averaging 308 passing yards per game and another 186 yards per game on the ground. Ohio State held the Boilermakers to 268 yards passing and 4 yards rushing for the game, but even that does not tell the true story. Purdue amassed 88 of those yards in a final trash time drive that resulted in the Boilermakers only score. It was an impressive showing indeed.
The Buckeyes defense did a great job of mixing pressure with containment, spending about half of their defensive plays trying to keep the play in front of the defenders and sending pressure at Painter from all over for the other half. Anderson Russell was particularly effective blitzing from the outside on several occasions and Marcus Freeman was simply devastating. Freeman finished the game with seven tackles and two defended passes, but he seemed to be all over the field.
Now that was the positives, it is time for our weekly dose of reality. Again, the offensive line continued to have trouble consistently opening holes for the running backs against a weak Purdue defense and Beanie Well’s ankle has to be a concern. Every game he stumbles off the field so that can burn another roll of tape on that ankle. As good as he has been this year, could you imagine how good he would be if he could cut at full speed or fully accelerate?
Speaking of injuries and speed, Brandon Saine has reemerged from his arthroscopic surgery and looked strong and healthy on a couple of runs. It was nice to see him back, and the coaching staff used him perfectly; they got him in the game for a series and he got a couple of carries to help him get back into the flow. That was nice to see because the Buckeyes may end up needing him down the stretch, particularly with Beanie’s ankle as it is.
Tressel appeared determined to force Purdue into playing the run honestly by throwing down the field. Boeckman, who had previously been flawless throwing down the field, tossed three bad interceptions on deep balls. Some would say that he had a bad night, but I would argue that if you watch the film on those deep balls, they were all into single coverage on the outside. If you watch tonight’s film, you will see that all three of the interceptions were the result of safety help. While the three interceptions were inconvenient tonight, they will certainly provide valuable insight to Boeckman during film study this week.
Grading the Positions:
Quarterback: C. Boeckman was effective but inaccurate downfield. His turnovers had virtually no effect on the game, but they did help to keep the Boilermakers in the game much longer than they should’ve been. Still, Boeckman is showing great poise in the pocket and is doing a pretty good job of managing the game.
Running Backs: B. Beanie’s Ankle: D-. I seriously think the Buckeyes should contemplate sitting Chris Wells for the Kent State game and Michigan State games. His ankle is not going to get any better playing in games in which they probably will not need him. Now that Brandon Saine appears healthy the Buckeyes have two competent backs to carry the load. Maurice Wells looked much more decisive this week, but he needs to do a better job in pass protection. A running back MUST be able to pick up a blitzing linebacker.
Wide Receivers: B. Normally sure handed, the Buckeyes big two (Roboskie and Hartline) had a case of the dropsies. In the end it really didn’t matter, but it just might later. They really need to hold onto it if it is close. Ray Small appears to really be asserting himself on the field. The real test of the Buckeyes coaching staff will be trying to find ways to get him touches.
Offensive Line: B. The Buckeyes were able to amass nearly 200 yards on the ground again, but the numbers continue to deceive. The line must do a better job to bring consistency to the running game and someone is going to have learn how to pick up a blitz before the Buckeyes meet Penn State in Happy Valley.
Defensive Line: A. Wow. Defenses do not hold teams to four yards rushing without great play up front, and the big uglies are the reason that Ohio State’s playmakers were available to make plays at the line of scrimmage. These guys are not getting a lot of sacks because the Buckeyes are spending so much time in Nickel (all the sacks are going to blitzing DBs), but that does not minimize the effect that the big uglies are having up front.
Linebackers: A. James Laurinaitis gets all the headlines, but Marcus Freeman was the man last night. I am not sure that there is a better set of linebackers in the country.
Defensive Backs: A. Is it just me, or has Donald Washington really emerged as one of the best defenders in the Big Ten? Anderson Russell continues to be Johnny on the spot with the big play.
Coaching: A. The team was well prepared and the Buckeyes featured a nice mix of first down plays to keep the Boilermakers off balance. Additionally, the defensive game plan was solid featuring a nice mix of pressure and containment.
Grading the Grader:
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Curtis Painter puts up 250 yards of meaningless offense through the air. Points win games, not yardage.” 268 yards is pretty close to 250 and they were meaningless. A.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… We see more touches for Ray Small. That kid is dynamite when he is actually playing. He has a spark that Ginn never had. Don’t get me wrong, Ginn was a fast play maker, but he danced to much, Small is dangerous because he is quick up the field and elusive.” Small didn’t get many touches, not nearly enough, but he did have that significant bomb. C.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Purdue is dismissed as a pretender by halftime. Fret not Boilermaker fans, they will be back, but they will be handled early by a Buckeyes team that is on the brink of turning the corner. “ Right on the money. A.
I said to take the Buckeyes and the under. I hope you did and that you bet your house on the parlay, 2.1:1 is pretty good money.
Props to the Prognosticator of the Week: Buckeyehoppy who nearly hit the score on the head. Hoppy said 24-6 and he was off by a combined total of 2 points. Nice job Hops, way to bring your A game.
Next Up: Kent Read, Kent Write, Kent State. Hopefully Beanie’s bum wheel can get a week off.