The Locker Room

4 Downs: Buckeye football thru week five

Posted by Tim Hall October 2, 2013
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The Buckeyes are the only 5-0 team in the country. They’ve won every single game in the Urban Meyer era which amounts to 17 straight. It’s one of the longest winning streaks in Buckeye football history. On paper this season is going perfectly. But if anyone learned anything from the 12-0 season, or listened to anything Urban Meyer said about it, just because your record is perfect doesn’t mean you are perfect.

Let’s take a look at the real deal with Ohio State football after five weeks:

1st Down – They leave you wanting more: As Bobby Carpenter and I were doing The Buckeye Show on Tuesday this week, caller Chris chimed in and put it perfectly. “I didn’t know Urban would decide to play Tressel-ball in the second half,” he said.

It was the third time this season in which the Buckeyes offense sputtered after the break. If you break it down through five games Ohio State has scored 72 percent of its points in the first half. The 35 points per game in the first half alone would be a decent scoring number for the entire game. But specifically against Buffalo, San Diego State and last week against Wisconsin you were really left to wonder why the first half success came to a screeching halt.

And you can only really play the “the game was out of hand” card for the San Diego State game. Buffalo made the game dangerously close and the gas pedal should’ve been firmly pressed. And Wisconsin was certainly still in play. It’s just an interesting dynamic with this team right now. You know the offense is impressive. You know they can move the ball through the air when they want to. It just feels like they’re choosing to take the air out of the ball in the second half when they don’t have to. I don’t like it.

2nd Down –  Braxton is running too much: I feel like I’m hearing a lot from Ohio State’s coaching staff about how they want to be a more balanced team. They’ve admitted countless times that they need to be able to throw the ball more effectively. But they continue to run the ball way too much.

I’m in no way going to argue about rushing the football when you have a situation like at California. The Golden Bears just couldn’t stop the Buckeyes on the ground. But against Wisconsin the rushing yards were hard to come by. Carlos Hyde averaged 5 yards per carry but they were bruising yards. And I don’t like to see Braxton Miller rushing 22 times for only 83 yards. That isn’t a good average, especially for him. When Braxton runs, I want to see him get at least 8 or 9 yards before he’s touched, pick up a first down or get down without taking a huge hit.

I was a little surprised to see Miller run the ball that much after he just came back from a layoff due to the knee injury. It was also surprising considering all the talk you heard from OSU’s camp saying that Braxton needs to become more of a “quarterback”. You’ve got Jordan Hall getting one carry and Miller running it 22 times. The passing game was more efficient against Wisconsin. He was 17 of 25 for almost 200 yards and 4 TDs. And when they elected to take shots down the field they were highly successful. But once again in the Wisconsin game you saw a run-first team, and the Badgers shut it down and got back in the game in the second half.

3rd Down – Christian Bryant loss is huge: It’s like Coach Boone (Denzel Washington) said in Remember the Titans. “You cannot replace a Gary Bertier… a player….or as a person.”

Christian Bryant had become that “everything” type of player. He’s an experienced senior. He’s a leader. He’s talented and one of the best defensive players. His ankle breaking on the second to last defensive play of the game is heartbreaking both for him and the team. The postgame mood directly following an important divisional Big Ten win proves that.

Sure the season is going to go on and Pittsburgh Brown, Tyvis Powell and even freshman Von Bell will probably get called into duty, but there’s no way to spin this injury as a positive. You lost a really good football player.

4th Down – Back-to-backs: This week is gigantic for a number of reasons. But I want to see how the Buckeyes elevate after coming off of an emotional hard fought win. I’ve said before on the show that the Wisconsin game was the more important one because of the divisional implications. But now you go on the road for another Saturday night ABC game. The ESPN Gameday crew is in Evanston, Ill of all places. Yeah, you heard that right. Evanston.

This one will be different. The spreads are getting smaller. Vegas only thinks the Buckeyes are going to win by 5.5 points. It’s arguably the biggest home football game in Northwestern’s  school history. The Wildcats throw two capable QBs at you in Trevor Siemian and Kain Colter. And Colter is an elite runner who also completes 77 percent of his passes. It’s going to be a test for a struggling Bradley Roby and a secondary that just lost Christian Bryant. This 6-0 won’t look that bad if you follow the Wisconsin win with a convincing win in Evanston.

Listen to the Buckeye Show weeknights from 6-8pm on 97.1 The Fan. Follow Tim Hall on Twitter @TimHall971