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Upon Further Review: A Look Back at Ohio State's Win Against Bowling Green
By Patrick Murphy
 

COLUMBUS — On Saturday afternoon we watched Ohio State begin the 2016 season with a bang, dispatching Bowling Green 77-10. While watching the game once live was fun, a second run through gave me an even better perspective on what the Buckeyes did well and what they didn’t – yes, there were things they didn’t do well.

Each week I will give you a second look at OSU's game after delving deeper into the contest.

Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of what we noticed upon further review.

Barrett’s early mistake

The television crew did a good job of breaking down the interception, discussing J.T. Barrett getting into old, bad habits and hesitating on his decision making. It appears the offense was out of sorts from the beginning as the team rushes to the line to get set and the ball is snapped rather quickly.

Defensive back Brandon Harris makes a nice play, first looking as if he’s going to jump the route before stepping back into coverage, but Barrett makes a poor decision and a worse throw. He did this again later in the first half, but the defender dropped another interception.

There are two things that impress me following the pick. First, Barrett runs with the defender despite a blocker, but doesn’t do anything stupid to make a big play – the Buckeyes can overcome seven points much easier than an injured quarterback. Also, Barrett grabs his skill position players on the sideline and tells them, “That’s my fault.” He won’t let it happen again and he doesn’t.

While Barrett is a veteran of 17 starts, he will make mistakes at times. He showed both sides of that on this play.

K.J. Hill touchdown

Barrett gets set and takes a pre-snap look at the defense, seeing K.J. Hill in one-on-one coverage. He already had the five linemen, plus a tight end into block, but changes the protection and brings a beefed up Dontre Wilson inside as a running back in order to give him more protection and the time he needs to find Hill down field.

Five yards from the line of scrimmage, Hill gives a nice hip fake on sophomore defensive back Jamari Bozeman and beats him with pure speed. As Matt Millen pointed out on the broadcast, Parris Campbell’s come-back route pulls the other defender away and creates the space.

The throw is good, but not great as Hill has to reach back a bit to catch the pass, but the separation the receiver created gave him the space he needed to make the grab.

This is a play, or ones like it, I expect to see more of from the Buckeyes. Hill is dangerous in the slot so keep an eye on where he lines up when on the field and what the coverage is. If it’s just one defender over Hill, you can bet Barrett looks his way.

The Buckeyes ran a similar play later in the first quarter, but this time with a play action to Curtis Samuel to freeze the defense and then went to the opposite side of the field to Johnnie Dixon. Barrett just overthrew that pass or else it would have been six.

Barrett running

We didn’t see a lot of J.T. Barrett in the run game on Saturday – only six rushes – and that was by design. The quarterback is a distributor of the ball and the coaches want him to spread it around to his playmakers.

When he did run though, it was smart, timely and effective. On the few designed runs called, usually Curtis Samuel was close by to appear like an option for Barrett. With the way he played, this could be even more lethal in the future as defenses key on the H-back.

Samuel’s first touchdown

There’s less to say on this play because it’s as simple as spread the defense out with five wide, find your fast receiver in the middle of the field and let him go to work. What’s interesting about this play is it wasn’t originally five wide.

Curtis Samuel initially lines up next to J.T. Barrett as a running back before the quarterback sends him in motion. This gives Samuel the one-on-one match in the middle of the field against a redshirt freshman and the junior did the rest. This was another smart decision by Barrett.

Hooker’s first pick

Malik Hooker talked about his interception after the game, but he didn’t go into much detail. Hooker is a playmaker and he showed it on that play.

Hooker begins halfway across the field and realizes quickly he needs to provide over-the-top help to his right. While rushing to that side of the field, he keeps his head turned and his eyes on the quarterback, seeing Knapke picking his man.

Once he reaches the receiver, it’s just his athleticism to get up and tip the ball and then collect himself to make the catch while falling down.

Tight ends are targets

With tight ends coach Ed Warinner calling the plays in the press box, it was thought the position would be a bigger focal point in the offense. While one game is a small sample size, the tight ends were a factor for OSU.

Marcus Baugh finished with four receptions and A.J. Alexander had one, but the bigger tell is the number of times the tight end was the first read for J.T. Barrett. By my count, this occurred nine times before most of the starters were pulled from the game.

I'm not sure a tight end was the first read on nine plays all of last year.

The power run game is not lost

Ezekiel Elliott is gone, but the Buckeyes still love the power run game. At 5-foot-10, 212 pounds, running back Mike Weber's bowling ball stature is a good fit for this scheme, but Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson and even J.T. Barrett also ran power plays.

The offensive line a year ago said it was the team’s bread and butter and center Pat Elflein and right guard Billy Price have continued that plan of attack by continuously opening holes up the middle for this season's rushers.

Defensive line pressure

Larry Johnson wanted to rotate players on the defensive line, and he did, but it didn't seem to matter all that much. The Buckeyes had only two tackles for a loss and no sacks in the first half. The pressure they did get early came when a blitz was called, meaning the defensive linemen weren't getting the push they should on their own.

To be fair, Bowling Green does have an experienced offensive line, but if the D-line struggles to get into the backfield against a MAC school, how will it perform against Wisconsin's mammoths?

The OSU defensive line began to get more pressure late in the game - when the backups were in - but it is concerning it took that long to really create havoc.

A little luck goes a long way

While the young Scarlet and Gray defense played well, allowing just three points, it wasn’t a perfect day. The Falcons had three drops in the first half that killed drives, giving the ball back to the Ohio State offense.

Zone coverage was where Bowling Green had success. These young defenders got caught looking at the quarterback and failed to notice receivers running free behind them.

It didn’t hurt the Buckeyes this time, but it could in the future.

The kicking game

Tyler Durbin made his first start and kicked a football for the first time in a competitive game in this contest. While Urban Meyer did not trust him to kick a short field goal in the first half, Durbin made all 11 of his extra points.

What was most impressive for the soccer-player-turned-kicker was how well he did on kickoffs. The Buckeyes like to place the ball deep and force a return and Durbin was good at doing just that.

Here is a list of yard lines where the Falcons’ return man caught the ball before I stopped keep track because the point was made: 3, 10, just inside the endzone, goal line and just inside the endzone again.

Pretty good day for the debut.

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Win or lose, come back next week to see how the Buckeyes performed against Tulsa in Upon Further Review.

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