On a day when the college football gameslate looked as bleak as the Columbus, OH weather ... what wasn’t there to love about the Buckeye’s match up with Penn State?
Joe Pa vs. The Sweater Vest, two of college footballs most storied programs facing off in front of 105,000 fans, and revenge in the air for the scarlet and gray. This is what college football is all about. Unfortunately, the play was every bit as sloppy as the field at Ohio Stadium.
The crowd answered T.J. Downing’s call, and the “Red See” was an overwhelming success. I would estimate that the raucous crowd was about 97% dressed in red. Anyone who has ever tried to organize an event of any sort will tell you that getting 4 out 5 people to do anything is pretty rough, so good job Buckeyes fans. As for the insanity of the crowd and crowd noise, the crowd at the Texas game last year was louder and roudier.
In the preview, I wrote at length, about the condition of the turf in Ohio Stadium. This, coupled with the weather and a Penn State team that really came to play had the Buckeye’s offense out of rhythm. The Buckeyes looked slow and the offense looked out of sync.
What did we learn about the Buckeyes this week? Well ... the national media would like you to believe that Buckeyes showed that they are a team that will win the close game. Congratulations graduates of the Mark May school of insight, they have been showing that ever since Mr. Tressel came to town. They would also have you believe that the Buckeyes run defense looked poor, but this is a case of them looking over the statistics without really watching the game.
This defense played very well and they were stout throughout. Most of the rushing yards (85 of the 142) allowed by the Buckeyes during the contest were allowed in the 4th quarter, when the Buckeyes were in “nickel” sets and attempting to not get beat down the field with the big pass. I would expect teams to be able to run on them in those situations. Is this the 2002 or 2005 defense? Obviously not, but they showed this week that they are MUCH better than people thought.
Grading the Positions:
Quarterback: C-. Troy Smith did not look like a Heisman candidate, he looked more like a Browns quarterback. His completions were often thrown off target although his teammates did let him down with a couple of drops. One of his two ints was a deflection at the line, but it was still a poorly thrown pass that may have actually bounced off of the lineman’s helmet. As for his “Heisman Defining Moment ™,” it was a terrific play and a play that I believe he is the only quarterback in the nation that could pull off, but it does not change the fact that he was 12 of 25 for 115 with 2 picks.
Running Backs: B. Solid game out of Pitt and once again, he looked stronger in the second half. All this guy does is crank out 100 yard games 6 yards at a time.
Wide Receivers: C. Lots of drops and sloppy routes, even Gonzo dropped one.
Offensive Line: C. No holes, and Troy saw more rush than this team will be able to afford against a better defense wearing Maize and Blue.
Special Teams: B. Lots of Touchbacks, no missed field goals.
Defensive Line: A. Very stout play today, limiting the Nittany Lions to less that 60 yards rushing through 3 quarters. These guys don’t get near the credit they deserve. For instance watch the Mitchell interception, who was it that pressed the issue? Quinn Pitcock with huge pressure right up the middle, Morelli holds it for half a second longer and it is a sack.
Linebackers: B. The play was good. James Laurinaitis continues to be Johnny “on the spot.” He is a play maker and Ross Homan looked pretty good too.
Defensive Backs: A+. Rock solid down the field. I watched the secondary almost the entire game and there was NOTHING open down the field. I predicted that Penn State would use a mix of run and vertical passing to try to get down the field. I was right, but there was nothing down the field for Morelli to throw to.
Coaching: B. I felt this game was a bit too conservatively called. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad the Buckeyes won, and a win is a win is a win, but Penn State should not have been in this game in the fourth quarter.
Grading the Grader:
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Antonio Pittman goes for 150 yards on the ground.” He only went for 110. I was in the ball park, but not good enough. C.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… The PSU offense is held to single digits.” 6 is a single digit. A+ on the bold call.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… The Buckeyes have 3 or more interceptions, throwing down the field on them will be a mistake.” Bingo. Three on the nose and they were pretty darn important. A+.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… If the Ohio State offense under the back up quarterbacks outscores Penn State’s starter.” Hmmm, there are two ways to look at this:
I’ll take a D on that one because my second point is a real stretch.
I said, “Don’t be surprised if… Lee Corso gets on the Ohio State bandwagon during game day tomorrow morning.” Did you see the late night Gameday wrap where he was doing some sort of O-H-I-O cheer? It was as pathetic as it was predictable. A+ and welcome aboard Lee.