Established October 31, 1996
Advertisements Disabled
Advertisements Disabled

More Football

Popular Links

Ozone Links
Ten Things We Learned From Ohio State's 17-16 Win at Michigan State
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — If nothing easy was ever worth a damn, then that should give you an idea how much darn damn Saturday's win over Michigan State was worth.

Now with Ohio State's 17-16 win in East Lansing in the rear-view mirror, the Buckeyes can again turn their attention where to where it matters most -- Michigan.

The entire season rests on this weekend's game, which is exactly how it should be.

All is right with the world. Embrace it. Be happy. Save your anger for the other guys.

Before we can entirely move on, however, we need to talk about what we learned from OSU's weather-infused win over Michigan State.

1. J.T. Barrett running the ball was the surest way to move the chains.

I know, you don't like J.T. Barrett carrying the ball as many times as he did, especially when it comes to neglecting Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber, but there was a method to Urban Meyer's perceived madness. Running Barrett with a four-wide or five-wide set allowed the Buckeyes to face a defense that wasn't loading the box. In an empty set, the Buckeyes had a much better shot at blocking an MSU defense that knew the weather was negating the passing game.

Michigan State could load the box against the Buckeyes, except for when OSU would spread them out. On 21 carries (not counting scrambles and sacks), Barrett picked up a first down eight times, and picked up the desired yardage (40% on first down, 60% on second down, 100% on third down) 17 of 21 times. Two of the times he "failed" were on third-and-10 and third-and-16. If Meyer thought there was a better way to do it, he would have done it. This is what they do when things are tight, and Meyer's record in one-score games at Ohio State -- 16-3 -- would indicate he knows what he's doing.

2. The run defense wasn't as bad as you think.

Michigan State rushed for 207 yards against Ohio State, averaging 5.9 yards per carry. The 5.9 yards per carry was the best against the Buckeyes this season, and the 207 yards were the second-most this year, next to Wisconsin's 236 yards. Running back LJ Scott was the big reason for that number, rushing for 160 yards on 19 carries (8.4 ypc). However, if you look at how those yards came to be, you'll see that it wasn't a consistent rushing attack at all for the Spartans.

Instead, it was the four "big hits" that did the most damage, and one of those big hits was a 25-yard run by linebacker Chris Frey on a fake punt, which doesn't have anything to do with the run defense. The same can't be said for Scott's three big hits, however. He rushed for 111 of his 160 yards on just three carries. He had runs of 61, 24, and 26 yards. The 61-yarder was great blocking that saw Scott squeeze through a tiny hole. It was a great play. The second run was great scheming by MSU to get the OSU defense to leave the entire left side of the field. The third run was helped by a Jerome Baker missed tackle in the backfield. Those were the three plays by the run defense that cost them 111 yards. The other 16 carries by Scott went for 49 yards (3.1 ypc)

Yeah, 207 yards is a bad number, but there are much worse ways to accumulate those numbers.

3. Jalyn Holmes has played himself into a decision.

Jalyn Holmes rotates constantly at defensive end with Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, and Nick Bosa, and then also plays on the interior on passing downs. We know this. He is a productive player who has 8.0 tackles for loss, which is second on the defense for the Buckeyes. He had five tackles and a TFL against MSU, and it was the TFL that showed you exactly the kind of player that Holmes has become.

Tapped so often to come in and rush the passer, it was Holmes staying home on an end around for a 1-yard loss that displayed his patience as well as his vision and athleticism to get around a blocker to make the play. So often defensive ends will take themselves out of a play entirely, but Holmes keeps himself involved. He has played very well this year and given his frame and athleticism, he will be one of three OSU defensive ends who have a decision to make regarding the NFL after this season.

4. Mike Weber can't run the ball too much.

Yeah, I know, I can hear you now. "I thought you said running the ball with J.T. Barrett was winning the surest way." That may be true, but if Mike Weber is rushing for 111 yards on 14 carries, he seems like he's a pretty sure way too. Weber has two more carries than Barrett this season and has run for 324 more yards. Obviously, that's a skewed statistic, but it shows that Weber has a certain consistency that can be relied upon.

This season Weber has averaged 6.3 yards per carry, which is what Ezekiel Elliott averaged last year. This was Weber's first 100-yard game since Rutgers to open B1G play. He has only carried the ball 20 times once this season -- at Penn State. I would expect him to be a workhorse this coming week because that's what OSU running backs are supposed to do against Michigan.

5. It's time to side with hands over feet.

There is nothing wrong with having a punt returner who simply catches the ball. The conditions were a pain for everyone yesterday, so I can excuse Curtis Samuel muffing a punt. Still, at this point, returns have done nothing for you, so why not side with safety over any other option? Of course, maybe these are the safest options. If so, just continue to hold your breath as you have done all season long for the last three or four years.

6. Tyler Durbin is [redacted].

Tyler Durbin's 39-yard field goal in that wind was a pretty amazing feat. I was standing in that same end zone late in the fourth quarter and there was no chance anything was going through those goalposts at that point. I watched the TV replay of Durbin's kick and laughed when Holly Rowe said the wind was just 2 mph at that point. Never mind that the camera on the wires was swaying like it was out to sea. The towers holding that camera were swaying a good foot in either direction during the game. Durbin has been a tremendous find for the Buckeyes this season, but you have to be careful when praising kickers because, well, you know.

7. Weather is real and it's silly to deny it.

Judging a quarterback and how he throws in the kind of weather we saw yesterday is like complaining that trapeze artists keep getting dropped in a performance that takes place during an earthquake.

"I don't know why they keep dropping people to their death. It's just a little rumbling."

If the coaching staff thought they had a quarterback that could knife the ball through bad weather, then they'd do it. Instead, Ohio State is saddled with a guy who has put up better numbers than any other Buckeye to ever live. And he still has another 19 games to possibly play. You're just going to have to continue settling for this kind of mediocrity in conditions that very few quarterbacks who have ever lived could excel in.

8. Nobody talks about Darron Lee anymore.

This really has nothing to do with Darron Lee and everything to do with the way Chris Worley is playing right now. He has been a tone setter for the Buckeyes, getting involved in the running game early, and then displaying his ability to defend the pass a little later on. Luke Fickell has talked all season long about the trust and love he has for Worley, and you're seeing why as the season comes to a close. Worley continues to step up and be a leader. He led the Buckeyes with seven tackles and an interception against Michigan State. He's quiet and consistent, and people need to talk about him more.

9. Curtis Samuel is still impacting the game even without the ball.

Curtis Samuel had eight touches on offense for 53 yards, which is well below his average. They tried to get him the ball more with the passing game, but due to the wind, throwing into the flats either gave J.T. Barrett a tailing fastball in one direction or a cutter in the other. Samuel wasn't effective running the ball -- though four carries is a very small sample size. Rather than use Samuel to carry the ball, they used him to occupy a defender or two, which made it easier for Barrett to pick up yards.

They also had Samuel lined up a couple of times in the backfield, but too far in front to take a handoff. On these plays, a linebacker would still go with Samuel, freeing up a little bit of room for Barrett to run the ball. On the plays where the linebacker stayed home, that left Samuel open for a pop pass that we might see taken advantage of this coming week. Yeah, everyone would like to see Samuel get the ball more, but the defense still has to pay attention to him whether he's getting the ball or not.

10. It's officially Michigan Week.

It's time to put this Michigan State game to bed and wake up to a brand new day. It's Michigan Week and there is nothing else in the world like it. If holidays had holidays, they would be Michigan Week. Enjoy the hell out of it, because it only happens once every 52 weeks.

To Contribute by mail Make checks and mail to:
Ozone Communications, LLC
1351 King Avenue, Ste 100B
Columbus, Ohio 43212

Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Contribute to the-Ozone.

(c) 1996-2020 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, rebroadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Advertisements Disabled