Brent's Buckeye Bag
October 29, 2014 6:30 PM
                                                          
*Post-Happy Valley Thoughts*

The number one complaint I have heard from Ohio State fans after the Penn State game is that the play calling was way too conservative.  Well, with 13:24 to go in the game, Ohio State led 17-7 and had just gotten the ball.  The OSU defense had given up only 94 yards and Penn State’s offense had not scored.  The Nits were averaging 8.5 yards per drive at that point…..not 8.5 yards per play….8.5 yards “per drive”.  I turned to my buddy in Beaver Stadium and said, “Ohio State will button it up the rest of the way; they can’t lose this game without turning the ball over and giving Penn State momentum.”  So, on first down, with JT Barrett struggling, the OSU coaches elected to throw the ball over the middle, and the ball was picked off.  Eight plays later, Penn State was in the end zone cutting the lead to 17-14, and Penn State had major momentum.  The play call on Barrett’s pick was anything but conservative and it damn near cost the Buckeyes the game.

I usually don’t single out individual plays and play the hindsight game, but I will in this case.  You absolutely cannot throw the ball over the middle on first down…at that point in the game…with the Buckeye defense dominating like it was…and with JT Barrett struggling like he was.  In my mind, the overall play calling wasn’t conservative enough.  There is no way Penn State should have battled back to tie that game at 17-17.  The stadium, with the night game white-out, was chaos….as it always is in Beaver Stadium.  It wasn’t all that surprising to see the momentum completely shift after Barrett’s second INT.  I also shook my head when Ohio State ran out of the wildcat four times on a third quarter drive, while not running out of that formation at any other point in the evening (that I can recall).  What gives?  Not a conservative philosophy in my mind.

The Ohio State coaching staff is, at worst, one of the top five staffs in the country.  I guess that is why I was surprised at some of their calls.  I wasn’t surprised to see: (A) a close game, (B) JT Barrett struggle in that venue, and (C) PSU get the OSU offense out of sync after the Lions had the extra week to prepare for Ohio State.  I mentioned these concerns in last week’s blog and the concerns ended up being valid.

As for the two huge gaffes by the officials that helped Ohio State score 10 points that they maybe should not have scored….I don’t think the correct calls would have changed the outcome of the game.  As critical as I am about the coaches play calling that led to Barrett’s second INT, Urban Meyer almost always gets it done in crunch time.  There is a reason why he is 7-0 in overtime games in his head coaching career.  Nonetheless, I’d be pretty ticked off with the blow calls if I were a Penn State fan.

*Does the Penn State game change the outlook of the season?*

So, the consensus opinion I am now hearing is: Ohio State is in big trouble in East Lansing on November 8th.  While this might be the case, the reality check in Happy Valley and the experience of playing in that environment helps this Buckeye team immensely.  After pounding Kent State, Cincy, Maryland, and Rutgers, the Ohio State players needed a dose of reality.  JT Barrett is still a freshman and he showed that for much of the night, Saturday.  The OSU coaches pulled this team together after the Va Tech debacle and will have this team ready to go against Sparty.  And they will have to, or this team will indeed be in big trouble.

The college football playoff committee initial rankings?  About what I expected.  I still believe the Buckeyes are in the playoff if they win out. Sportsbook.com’s updated odds to win the national championship have Michigan State as the 4th favorite (7 ½ to 1 odds against winning the national championship) and Ohio State as the 8th favorite (9 to 1).  So, the oddsmakers seem to be thinking the same.  And I’ll take the opinions of the oddsmakers over those of the talking heads any day of the week.

*Next up: Illinois*

The Buckeyes can name their score against Illinois, but will they?  I honestly see the OSU coaches taking a good amount of time this week to gear up for Michigan State, despite the coach speak you will hear publically.  They also have to protect JT Barrett’s sprained knee, and really shouldn’t call Barrett’s number on a designed run at any point against Illinois.  With Sparty on deck and Barrett ailing, my first thought was that OSU would have trouble covering the 28 point spread.  But the more I look at it, I see a very bad Illinois team despite their upset of Minnesota this past weekend.  And Urban will probably continue to keep his foot on the gas well into the 4th quarter, after seeing OSU come in at #16 in the initial playoff committee poll.   *The call: Ohio State 45 Illinois 10.* 

--Brent Baver

Buckeyes Ranked 16th In First College Playoff Poll
October 28, 2014 8:00 PM
                                                          
Ohio State finds themselves at the bottom of the one-loss teams looking up in the first poll released by the College Playoff Committee.

Smith Dismissed From the Team
October 27, 2014 11:45 PM
                                                          
Penn State was commenting all last week about how few scholarship players they have on their roster.  Joe-S-U just sent me a link to tell me the Buckeyes just lost one of their own scholarship players.

Senior running back Rod Smith has been dismissed from the Ohio State football team after failing a drug test, according to a report from The Dispatch tonight.  He had already had academic issues which kept him out of much of the spring drills but had worked his way back to the team by summer.  At that time, the coaches praised him as a leader among the running backs.

In 2014, Smith has 24 carries for 102 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for 549 yards in his career, with career highs in 2012 when he ran 32 times for 215 yards.

Smith was a top prospect out of Fort Wayne, Ind. but had issues with fumbles early in his career.  Unlike Eddie George who also fumbled his freshman year, Smith has been unable to sustain success.  However, this season he has earned increased playing time at tailback behind Ezekiel Elliott. He had been used often in goal-line situations as a power running back.

This will hurt OSU's depth in the backfield but freshman Curtis Samuel has started to get more carries.  Also Bri'onte Dunn is close to returning from a leg injury suffered in practice.  Warren Ball also has seen time.

Game 7: Ohio State 31   Penn State 24  2OT
October 26, 2014 1:30 PM
                                                          
Joey Bosa has been dominating offenses all year and after the Penn State game they are going to have to come up with a new stat.  The way he brought down Hackenburg on the final play of the game,  they need a phrase when you combine a pancake with a sack.

Baver Buckeye Bag 10/21/14
October 21, 2014 11:45 PM
                                                          
Some random thoughts/comments on the Buckeyes after Rutgers & after 6 games:

  • It’s a slippery slope with the issue of playing starters in the 4th quarter when you are up 5+ TD’s.  Meyer said backup O-linemen Joel Hale and Marcelys Jones were unable to go, which was why Jacoby Boren was in the game late before he left with an injury.  As for JT Barrett still quarterbacking a drive in the 4th quarter when the Bucks led 56-17, Meyer said he wanted more reps for his first-year starting QB.  What Meyer didn’t mention was the issue with OSU getting no respect in the polls, which is probably another reason for not cleaning the bench earlier.  (More on the polls in a second.)  If “style points” are part of it, I don’t think it really matters whether the Bucks beat a team like Rutgers by 30 points or by 50.  I still say, “just keep wining” and everything else will take care of itself.  I think the potential harm of leaving your starters in late during blowouts exceeds the potential good.

  • It’s somewhat puzzling as to why Dontre Wilson hasn’t broken more plays; I thought Dontre would be taking more would-be moderate gains to the house this year.  From C-deck Saturday, I watched Wilson on a 12-yard run around the right end.  I shook my head, trying to think of a former Buckeye that would have gotten to the edge that quickly, and couldn’t come up with anyone.  But, why can’t Wilson break the big one on running plays, after catches, or on returns?  Someone told me they question Wilson’s top end speed, but I think the guy just makes too many wrong decisions with running lanes, especially on kickoff returns.  Nonetheless, Dontre Wilson is still a guy that needs to be heavenly involved in the Buckeye offense.

  • The polls?  There is way too much griping by Buckeye fans.  The schedule is what it is – it’s been laughable so far and the Buckeyes lost at home, at night, to what is now a 3-loss Va Tech team.  How else do you rank teams besides awarding quality wins and punishing bad losses?  The good news is….in the long run, I don’t think it will matter – if the Bucks win out, they will be in the playoff. 

  • I don’t think Ohio State should look past this Penn State team, but the Michigan State game is now just two and a half weeks away.  How good is this Buckeye team?  We will know on November 8th.  I mentioned that beating Rutgers by 30 or by 50 doesn’t matter much in terms of polls.  It also doesn’t matter much in terms of figuring out “how good you really are”.  We will soon find out.

  • This Buckeye team cannot afford to lose another DE.  With the loss of Spence for the season (likely), that left three DE’s that played in games prior to 2014.  One of them, Rashad Frazier, was injured in the Rutgers game.  As of Tuesday morning, the depth of Frazier’s injury had not been disclosed.  This doesn’t matter so much against teams like Rutgers and Maryland, but it will against Michigan State and a possible appearance in the B10 title game, followed by the bowl game.  True frosh Jalyn Holmes looks good, and is going to need to keep progressing with increased playing time likely in his future.

The matchup Saturday against Penn State:

I am in the minority here among Buckeye fans, but I fully expect Penn State to be ready to play Saturday night, and think the game will be close.  Penn State is a well coached team that is coming off a bye, and I’m always leery about giving good coaches an extra week to prepare for Ohio State’s rhythm offense.

Penn State’s rush defense is 1st nationally, giving up only 61 yards per game on the ground.  Their pass defense has been solid as well, ranking 22nd in the country in pass efficiency defense.  This will be freshman QB JT Barrett’s first game in a truly hostile environment, and I expect the PSU defense to take Ohio State’s offense out of their rhythm at times Saturday night.  The Buckeyes will need to take some pressure off JT Barrett, with this being the first truly tough venue/atmosphere he has played in; Ezekiel Elliott could help relieve some of that pressure.  

On the plus side for Ohio State, PSU simply does not have the talent to match up with OSU.  On offense, Penn State is having real problems running the football, which doesn’t bode well against Ohio State’s D-line.  The Penn State O-line will have to play better, and the PSU team as a whole will need to ride some emotion to upset Ohio State. 

I think the game will be tight for at least two and a half quarters, with the Buckeyes doing enough late to pull out the “W”.  Prediction: Ohio State 31 Penn State 23.

--Brent Baver

Power Rating Has OSU #5
October 20, 2014 6:00 PM
                                                          
I am convinced if there was an 8 team playoff, ESPN would try to get 7 SEC teams in it.  Since we are limited to just four teams, several unfortunate but deserving SEC schools will have to settle with other January bowl games.  Today ESPN.com posted their 4 teams for the playoffs right now including Mississippi, Mississippi State and Alabama.  And their 5th place team was Auburn.  Does not leave much room for any other conference to break into the top spots.  I guess this in a way gives the Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC a taste of what all the other conferences must feel.  No chance to complete in the playoffs.

If there is any shinning light for Buckeye fans it would be in the fact that in ESPN's own Power ranking (FPI), Ohio State comes in at 5th place right now(click here to see full chart).  Not sure what it means as 3-5 Arkansas is ranked 20th. Oh wait, forgot, they are in the SEC, no wonder a 3-4 team, that has not won a conference game since 2012 could be ranked so high. 

Trivia Time: Losing Effort
October 7, 2014 10:00 PM
                                                          
"We win as a team, but lose as a group!"

Not exactly how the saying goes but it applied this past weekend. Did you know that this past weekend was the first time Michigan,Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, Nebraska, USC and Tennessee all lost on the same day?  Part of what makes this stat significant is that these seven schools represent 7 of the 9 football teams with the highest all-time winning percentages.  Notre Dame and Ohio State which boast the 1st and 4th best records were the only teams in the top nine to be victorious Saturday.

As a bonus trivia fact, in 26 games Brady Hoke has as many conference losses as Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer have combined in 12 years.

Game 5: Ohio State 52   Maryland 24
October 4, 2014 4:00 PM
                                                          
Two trips to the state of Maryland for the Buckeyes this year and it results in two wins.

In the first meeting ever between Ohio State and Maryland, JT Barrett had 267 passing yards and 4 TD's and Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 139 yards as the Buckeyes opened the Big Ten slate with a 52-24 win over the Terrapins.  Last week the defense was embarrassed giving up huge plays, made some progress this week holding Maryland to only 310 total yards and picked off 4 passes on the day. Freshman Raekwon McMillan recovered a fumble returning it to the 1 yard line, leading to a TD, then later intercepted a pass returned it for a TD, his first career INT and score.  The Terrapins (4-2, 1-1) game highlight was a school-record 57-yard field goal by Brad Craddock.

Ohio State (4-1, 1-0) has now won 17 consecutive Big Ten games dating to the 2012 season. The Big Ten record is 20, set by the 2005-07 Ohio State teams. 

Baver Buckeye Bag 10/1/14
October 1, 2014 3:45 PM
                                                          
*Some quick thoughts on the Cincy game and where the Bucks stand heading into Big Ten play:*

  • The 3 long TD’s by Cincy WR Chris Moore are hard to swallow, but to some extent, that’s the downside of playing tight coverage with young DB’s.  On the other hand, giving up an 83-yard TD with 26 seconds to go in the 2nd quarter, where the Bucks had no safety help and should have been in prevent mode, is inexcusable.  Still, I wouldn’t dwell on this.  At this point, I still have faith DC Chris Ash will eventually right the ship.

  • The Buckeye O-line played their best game of the year this past Saturday, and there appears to be some light at the end of the tunnel.  OSU tailback Ezekiel Elliott also answered some questions with a huge game.  Look for Zeke to be “the man” at TB for the Bucks, health permitting, for the foreseeable future.  Too many OSU fans seem to be enamored with Rod Smith, but I saw way more out of Elliott Saturday than I’ve ever seen out of Smith.

  • I think most fans’ expectations were too high headed into this season.  Imagine that?  This Buckeye team is about where I thought they would be after four games, and maybe a tad better.  (This…despite their 3-1 record, while being a double-digit favorite in all four games.)  There were just too many talented players that had to be replaced with inexperienced players, especially after Braxton went down.  I think too many fans were shocked by OSU’s performance against Va Tech, and they shouldn’t have been.

  • JT Barrett is coming along nicely and is going to eventually be a stud.  Yes, the competition since Va Tech has been pretty poor, but Barrett can throw the football.  We already knew he had good mobility and great leadership skills, but boy does Barrett throw a pretty ball as well.

  • Is everything hunky-dory?  No.  This O-line is still going to have major problems against the better D-lines they face.  On the other side of the ball, this defense would give up a ton of points if they had to face a top tier offense like Oregon’s or Baylor’s.  And the D-backfield would be no match against elite WR’s like the group Alabama has.

  • A quick look at the futures that sportsbook.ag has for OSU games:  OSU is: a 7-pt favorite over PSU, a 3-pt dog to Sparty, and an 18.5-pt favorite over Michigan.  Guessing some OSU fans are writing off Penn State after they laid an egg against Northwestern, but I wouldn’t.  And I wouldn’t automatically chalk up a win versus UM, as Michigan will likely play their best game of the year against Ohio State, with or without Brady Hoke.

*Now let’s look at the Big Ten opener at Maryland Saturday:*

Some books have this game off the board with Maryland QB CJ Brown being questionable.  The books that have lines currently have OSU laying 7 ½.  If Brown can’t go, the Terps will go with Caleb Rowe.  Rowe can’t run the option like Brown, but has a much better arm.  Maryland head coach Randy Edsall has said they will not decide on a QB until the day of the game.  If Brown is able to go but is less than 100%, it may benefit Maryland to play both QB’s.  That strategy would seem to make some sense against a young Buckeye defense that has been overwhelmed at times this year.

Regardless of who starts at QB, the biggest test for the Buckeye defense will be containing WR Stephon Diggs, who has 29 catches for 398 yards and 2 TD’s for Maryland on the year.  Diggs, who appeared close to committing to Ohio State in 2012, is also an electric KO return man, and will eventually be playing on Sundays in the NFL.  Look for Diggs to exploit some of the Buckeyes problems in their secondary and/or special teams on Saturday.

On the other side of the ball, Maryland simply cannot stop the run; so, look for a heavy dose of Ezekiel Elliott again this week, with JT Barrett getting in the mix with designed runs.  Maryland did a great job defending Indiana’s passing attack, as they got pressure on the quarterback for much of the game last week.

With this being the first true road atmosphere for the Bucks this season, I expect the Buckeye youngsters to get out of rhythm at times in College Park Saturday.  In the end, however, I think Bucks make enough big plays, like they did against Navy, to bring home the win.  The call: Ohio State 38 Maryland 27.

--Bbaver

Baver Buckeye Bag 9/23/14
September 23, 2014 8:00 PM
                                                          
We are a quarter of the way through the regular season and the Bucks still have some pretty big concerns to address.  Let’s look at a few of the bigger ones…

Concern #1 – The O-line.  Here is an Urban Meyer quote from Monday, regarding the O-line: “I think we're going to play six games and get some rotation going.”  The comment has to make you shake your head because Meyer is rarely this indecisive.  And unfortunately, the options appear to be choosing from “bad, worse, or worst” to find the best combination of five guys, and where to play each them right now.  Well, they’d better start figuring things out quickly.  Right now, there is one O-lineman, Taylor Decker, playing at the level this team needs.      

Concern #2 – Finding a big time playmaker on offense.  There are a handful of guys that have shown glimpses of being “that guy”, but the Bucks still need one or two guys to take it to another level.  I don’t think Dontre Wilson deserves the grief I am hearing OSU fans give him, but Wilson still has not become the superstar most thought he would be.  With Ezekiel Elliott, I think some of the questions about his speed and vision are valid.  I still like Zeke’s upside but think he is at least a year away.  I think Jalin Marshall is going to be a very solid 4-year player at Ohio State, but he is far from the “Percy Harvin” that everyone lusts for.  Curtis Samuel has some real talent, and probably has the highest ceiling of any skill position player.  

Concern #3 – The development of JT Barrett.  I don’t have a lot of specifics to talk about here; the Bucks simply need Barrett to develop quickly.  Hopefully he learned a lot from weeks #1 & #2, as I am not sure how much you can learn from facing an outmanned Kent State team.  If Barrett plays like a “freshman” the rest of the year, Ohio State is looking at a four-loss regular season.  If he gets beyond that, the Big Ten title is in play. 

Concern #4 – The defensive backfield.  The stats may look good so far, but they are skewed; the Navy and Kent State games tell us little.  Let’s see how this unit does against Gunner Kiel and Cincinnati.  I really like the potential of Eli Apple and Vonn Bell, but still worry that these guys are not quite ready to face quality QB’s like Kiel, Christian Hackenberg, and Connor Cook.

Onto the matchup against UC….

With what seems like 500 schools changing conferences over the past few years, the rescheduling of games has made a mess of bye weeks.  So much so, that Cincinnati opened the season with back-to-back bye weeks, which is beyond ridiculous.  But even with the two-week head start, Toledo was a 9 ½-point dog against the Bearcats in week #3, and UC hammered them 58-34.  Last week, however, Cincinnati was a 30-point favorite over a very bad Miami (OH) team, and only beat the Redskins by 7.  (Political correctness be damned – Miami will always be the Redskins to me.)

So which Cincinnati team will show up Saturday against the Bucks?  I tend to think Cincinnati looked past their traditional rival Miami, gearing up for Ohio State.  With that being said, this Cincinnati defense does not have the defense Va Tech had, and will be facing a Buckeye team that has had two weeks to prepare for them.  

The big task for Ohio State will be defending QB Gunner Kiel.  Kiel, a Notre dame transfer and nephew of the late Notre Dame QB Blair Kiel, was all-everything coming out of high school in 2012.  Some had him rated as the #1 QB prospect in the nation.  Kiel can sling it, and will be one of the more talented QB’s Ohio State will face this year.  But, as talented as he is, Kiel is still inexperienced and I tend to think he will make enough mistakes to offset the 300+ yards that I think he will throw for Saturday night.

Last week, I said UC was “fairly solid” on both sides of the ball.   Upon closer examination, I just don’t see the Cincinnati D stopping OSU’s offense.  Even with the concerns I have with the Buckeye offense (see 1st half of this blog above), the Cincy defense just doesn’t match up.  The call: Ohio State makes some progress running between the tackles and force Kiel to make and a handful of critical mistakes.  Bucks win (and cover) 38-21.

--Brent Baver

Game 3: Ohio State 66  Kent State 0
September 13, 2014 4:00 PM (104)

No hangover for the Buckeyes this week as they scored in the opening drive and didn't stop until the final whistle blew.  The Golden Flashes only had one play all afternoon in Buckeye territory. The 66-0 final score was the largest margin of victory for Ohio State over a FBS school since they pounded Pittsburgh 72-0 in 1996.  Perhaps now Mark May will ease up off our backs a bit.

It is hard to say if the Buckeyes improved that much since the loss to Virginia Tech, I think we can mark this up to an inferior opponent.  The numbers look really good though.  JT Barrett in his third start was 23-30 for 312 yards and 6 TD's.  The 6 touchdowns ties the school record that Kenny Guiton set last year.  Imagine what we could do under Urban Meyer if we could keep our starting QB healthy.  Freshman Curtis Samuel rushed for 100 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns and Ezekiel Elliott averaged 9.3 yards a carry. 

Baver Buckeye Bag 9/10/14
September 10, 2014 5:30 PM
                                                          
Not sure where to begin.  I guess the one positive I can say is, after watching the game a second time, I am not sure things are as dire as many Buckeye fans are making them out to be.  The Bucks caught more than their share of bad breaks against the Hokies, and if you take away just one or two of them, Ohio State certainly could have won the game.  But the “good breaks vs. bad breaks” distribution seems to be leveling out.  Ohio State benefited from many breaks in Urban Meyer’s first 24 games as the Buckeye head coach.  Let’s face it; the Buckeyes weren’t nearly as good as their 12-0 regular season record made them appear to be in 2012 or 2013.

Some “It’s not the end of the world” thoughts, before we get into some uglier thoughts….

JT Barrett is going to be fine.  In fact, he is going to be better than fine, eventually.  Anyone who thought that there was not going to be much of a drop off from Braxton to JT was living in fantasy-land.  You don’t replace a 3-year starter, top-3 Heisman race candidate with a kid who hadn’t played in a game since mid-way through his senior season IN HIGH SCHOOL two seasons earlier.  But, the stat that shows four picks in two games for JT doesn’t tell the whole story; Barrett hasn’t played badly for a kid thrown into the fire in mid-August.

The OSU defensive woes on third down…..okay, it wasn’t pretty.  The D couldn’t get off the field, and in the end, that was the difference in the game.  But, you have to give some credit to Va Tech QB Michael Brewer and his receivers.  There were countless 3rd down plays where the Buckeyes just missed making big plays by a hair, and VT in turn made big plays.  Similar defensive efforts by an Ohio State defense normally yield better results.

I am not convinced that the problems with this Buckeye team relate to talent concerns, other than some depth issues.  As mentioned, Barrett is only going to get better, and I think you will see a much improved JT Barrett in November.  First year starters like Eli Apple, Darron Lee and Vonn Bell are going to be very good.  And, despite the less than stellar stats, there is plenty of talent at tailback and at the H-back spots on offense.  The lack of experience on the O-line and their putrid play, however, makes this difficult to see.

Now for the uglier thoughts….

Va Tech DC Bud Foster ran a “double-eagle” defense, with extra nose tackle support to stop the run, which dumbfounded Urban Meyer and Buckeye OC Tom Herman.  The Buckeyes never fully adjusted to it and Urban even admitted to how surprised they were to see that type of defense.  On the flip side, when interviewed Monday, new Buckeye DC Chris Ash didn’t take much, if any, responsibility for the defensive shortcomings against VT.  Ash noted that mistakes on defense “….had nothing to do with effort or calls that were made”.   Not sure which coach’s comments are more troubling. 

If you are going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.  Meyer is the anti-Tressel, and sometimes, that is refreshing.  But, when Meyer tells you in August that he is confident at every position except for the left guard position, one would think you would have seen better results so far.  Whether you call it confidence or arrogance, Meyer’s beliefs are instilled in his players, many of whom told you how good and “ready” this team was heading into the season.  Well, the coaches and players got a major reality check Saturday night.

I’ve always thought Buckeye O-line coach Ed Warinner was as good of an O-line coach that you could find, but to say he has some work to do now is the understatement of the year.  Other then Taylor Decker at LT, the O-line was an abomination Saturday night.  Center Jacoby Boren looks completely over-matched at center at this point in the season, and Billy Price and Darryl Baldwin aren’t much further along.  Not sure how many times Boren got blown up Saturday night…too many to count.  I thought there would be growing pains on the O-line, but not to this extent.

The Buckeyes have now lost 3 out of their last 4 games, and that could easily have been 4 of the last 5 had Michigan converted the 2-point conversion at the end of last year’s OSU-Mich game.  Okay, you can talk all you want about Buckeye fans being spoiled, but…..if you are going to charge what you are charging for everything that is related to Ohio State football, then the recent efforts from this Buckeye football team aren’t going to cut it.  Simple as that.

Where to next?  Well, the Bucks have a game this week where they can again play like they did against Va Tech, and still likely come away with a two-TD+ victory.  Kent State is 0-2 with losses to Ohio University and South Alabama, and KSU did not cover the spread in either game.  The Golden Flashes are probably not one of the top 100 teams in the nation and are a 32-point dog in this one. 

The Buckeyes need to get many things figured out between now and September 27th, or they will be in a battle with Cincinnati and another one the following week at Maryland.  I tend to think things will gradually get better and that Ohio State will head to Happy Valley in late October with a 5-1 record, but that is far from a given. 

As for the Kent State game, I like the Bucks laying the points.  The Bucks will want to make a statement on Saturday.  Bucks roll 45-10.

- -Bbaver

Chrome For Virginia Tech Game
September 3, 2014 9:00 PM
                                                          
The jerseys worked against Wisconsin and Penn State last year, can the Buckeyes get a third home win out of them when the Hokies come to town Saturday night?

Ohio State will be wearing its alternate chrome uniform against Virginia Tech Saturday according to the reports from College Spun this evening.  They were used twice last season, while earning victories over the Badgers and Nittany Lions.

some thoughts on the Navy game. 

Let's start with the good news.  The Bucks held Navy to 17 points, and 7 of those points, you can argue, should have come off the board with the blown sideline call on Navy's first TD.  JT Barrett settled down after a shaky start and put up nice numbers for a kid who had no CFB playing experience prior to Saturday.   The offense and defense both stepped up in the 4th quarter to turn a tight game into a 34-17 victory, and the Bucks are 1-0.

On the flip side, after having a month-plus to prepare for Navy's triple option, the Buckeye defense gave up 370 yards on the ground at a staggering 5.9 yards per clip.  Even though OSU won't have to face another offense that is anything like Navy's this season, those numbers are more than concerning.  There were several comments by OSU defensive players in the weeks leading up to the game that, I thought, were borderline arrogant.  The Buckeye D was pretty confident that they were going to shut down Navy's triple option, but I think, got a taste of some humble pie.

Now, some quick hitters, looking at both the good and the bad from Saturday's game:

You have to love how JT Barrett responded after the bad pick he threw in the 2nd quarter.  Didn't seem fazed, and showed fans what the coaches have been talking about - that Barrett has the demeanor you want in a Buckeye QB.

Navy usually finishes strong, but was completely gassed in the 4th quarter.  The two big-play OSU TD's (Lee's fumble return& the 80-yard TD pass to Devin Smith) sucked all of the air out of the Navy D.  The Bucks followed Smith's TD with a 10-play, 80-yard drive, then an 8-play, 70-yard drive, and that was all she wrote.

Back to the problems defending the option....the first half was pretty much what I expected - the Buckeye D struggled at times, but didn't let the Navy option hurt them too badly.  I thought things would get better for Ohio State after OSU's halftime adjustments.  Wrong.  It was Navy's offense making the proper halftime adjustments, and gashing Ohio State's D for almost 200 yards on the ground in the 3rd quarter alone.

The Bucks did however make the proper adjustments after the pass blocking issues in the 1st quarter.  Not sure why they flip-flopped RG Pat Elflein and LG Billy Price to start the game.  From what I saw after that, Elflein was back at right guard most of quarters 2, 3 & 4, with Price and Joel Hale alternating at LG.  Meyer said the lack of downfield passes early were because of the O-line issues, not Barrett.  I actually think it was both.

You have to love the having “combo” (run/catch) guys like Dontre Wilson, Jalin Marshall and Curtis Samuel.  Wilson and Samuel just missed taking a couple plays to the house.  Wilson definitely looked improved, and Marshall and Samuel were as advertised - these guys are going to cause defenses major problems when the O-line and Barrett get past some of the learning curve.

The Buckeye defense keyed on Navy star-QB Keenan Reynolds, holding him to a net 42 yards. That would have been commendable, had the OSU D not given up 328 yards combined to the Navy TB's & FB's, at 8.2 yards a pop.  Yeah…it was difficult to watch at times.  But at least they kept Navy out of the end zone for the most part, which is why Ohio State is 1-0 right now.

Now the attention turns to Virginia Tech, another game that I think will be hard to watch at times for OSU fans.  Virginia Tech had the #1 rated pass defense (efficiency wise) in 2013 and returns all 4 starters from their secondary.  They were 23.5 pt favorites over William & Mary in the opener, winning (and covering) 34-9.  As of the time of this blog, the Bucks were an 11-point favorite over the Hokies, but I think the line is too high.  I expect a dog fight.

Taking a closer look at the Hokies, this is a team that is only 16-13 over their last 29 games.  So, I am probably not the only person that has used the "jumped the shark" term, when talking about VT Head Coach Frank Beamer.  But at this early point in the 2014 season, I don't think Ohio State looks that much better on paper than Va Tech.  It also concerns me that Va Tech likely spent considerably more time in fall camp preparing for Ohio State than the Buckeyes did preparing for them.  You can't concentrate on your Week #2 opponent in August when you open against the Navy option attack.  The Hokies, on the other hand, could afford to sneak in some early prep work for the Buckeyes, with William & Mary on tap for their opener.

Va Tech returns 8 starters on offense from their 2013 squad and 5 on defense, with 4 of those 5 being their entire defensive backfield, as mentioned above.  That means they return only one of their front seven on D.  So, you know where the Hokies' strength lies and where the question marks are on defense.  But even with the losses on the D-line (with DT Luther Maddy being the only returning starter), this should be a solid Va Tech D-line, and an upgrade from what the Bucks faced against Navy.  On offense, Texas Tech transfer QB Michael Brewer now runs the show and the Hokies have a potential immediate star in true-frosh TB Shai McKenzie.  But like Ohio State, the O-line is one of the biggest question marks on the VT offense.

The Buckeyes are going to have to build on their offensive effort in the 2nd half against Navy, when the O-line, Barrett and Zeke Elliott got things going.  They are going to have major problems throwing the ball downfield against the Hokies, even with VT likely selling out to stop the Buckeye run.  Va Tech can afford to leave their elite corners (Brandon Facyson & Kendall Fuller) on their respective islands, and dare JT Barrett to throw the ball vertically against them.

The good news for Ohio State is...Va Tech's offense isn't going to cause the Buckeye D the problems that Navy did.  The VT O-line is outmanned in the interior against Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett, as most teams are.  I'd love to have Noah Spence for this one, but he must sit out this game as the last of his three-game suspension.  Regardless, I have a feeling either Steve Miller or Rashad Frazier makes a big play in Spence's place on Saturday.

Bottom Line: I expect a fairly low scoring game that goes down to the wire, with the Buckeyes again putting things together late and getting it done.  But I am hearing too many Buckeye fans expecting a beat down.  I think those fans are probably underestimating the Hokies and are expecting Ohio State to magically get past all the growing pains in one week.  We shall see, but I like Ohio State 24-17. 

- -Bbaver

Baugh Suspended
September 1, 2014 4:30 PM
                                                          
If you wondered why we did not see Marcus Baugh Saturday against Navy, we have the answer  --- he was suspended.

According to reports today, Coach Meyer indicated Baugh has been suspended for two games.  This includes the Navy and Virginia Tech.  When pressed for a reason for the suspension, he simply said for 'stuff'.  That stuff will get you EVERY time.

Since he provided his verbal commitment and then became a part of the 2013 class, he has twice had incidents with underage drinking.  No indication this is the infraction this time.  If he can stay clean, he should be a major player in the Buckeyes plans for seasons to come.
























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