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Upon Further Review: The Young Buckeyes Represent in a Tough Road Win
By Patrick Murphy
 

COLUMBUS – It was a big win for Ohio State on the road at Oklahoma in front of a record crowd. There was a lot to take from the contest and even more when looking at the game a second time.

With so much to talk about, we’ll get right to it. Here’s what we noticed upon further review.

Stopping the run opened the pass play

It was clear early in the game that Ohio State wanted to stop the run. If Oklahoma was going to beat the Buckeyes, it wasn’t going to be with Samaje Perine or Joe Mixon out of the backfield.

The plan by the defensive coaching staff was typically to lineup Chris Worley over the slot receiver, but if it was a run play he attacks the line of scrimmage and has safety help to defend the pass. This worked with two quick tackles for the linebacker.

On the second play of the game, the Sooners showed how to attack this. Worley lines up on the Buckeyes’ right side but fellow linebacker Jerome Baker quickly switches sides so Worley covers Dede Westbrook. Quarterback Baker Mayfield brings Westbrook in motion, away from Worley and safety Malik Hooker.

The result is a dump off to Westbrook over the aggressive OSU defensive line and a 17-yard gain with safety Damon Webb out of position.

Samuel touchdown

The play was designed much like one OSU ran on the team’s first possession. The offense lines up with Curtis Samuel in the slot and Barrett motions him into the backfield along with running back Mike Weber. Then tight end Marcus Baugh, who lined up to the right of the line initially, comes in motion left.

The pre-snap movement had two OU players out of position in the secondary, and when the ball is snapped both jumped to their left in case Samuel goes out to the flat leaving them out of position to help on the run play. Samuel takes the hand off to the other side and the offensive line delays the Sooner defensive line just enough for the H-back to get around the corner. Weber goes into fullback mode and delivers a block on linebacker Jordan Evans and the rest is just pure speed to the end zone.

This motion by Ohio State was an issue for the Sooners defense all night long but was best exemplified here.

Oklahoma reverse

Just as the Buckeyes ran some plays to take advantage of the Sooners over-aggressive defense, OU did the same. Early in the second quarter, just after cornerback Gareon Conley was lost for OSU, Oklahoma ran what looked very similar to a reverse play they used last game, but this time it was just a motion run from a wide receiver.

Baker Mayfield makes adjustments at the line and moves running back Dimitri Flowers from his right to his left. Dede Westbrook comes in motion, Mayfield hands the ball to him and he fakes a pitch to Joe Mixon before bouncing to the outside and carrying the ball for a gain of 35 yards.

The fake toss to Mixon caught five players – Raekwon McMillan, Jerome Baker, Chris Worley, Malik Hooker and Damon Webb – by surprise and opened up the running lanes for Westbrook on the other side of the field.

 

Another Noah Brown Touchdown

Everyone talked about Noah Brown’s remarkable touchdown grab just before the half and rightfully so, but his scoring reception with just over six minutes to play in the second quarter had a bigger impact.

The play itself isn’t incredibly remarkable, but it’s the decision to make the call that stands out. This play came immediately following Marshon Lattimore’s interception of Baker Mayfield and at that point, the Buckeyes have a lot of momentum. Urban Meyer, Ed Warinner and Tim Beck elect not just to try and get one more score before the half, but rather go for the jugular.

Matched up one v. one with a freshman cornerback for the second time, Brown runs a go route. J.T. Barrett sees the matchup the whole way and delivers a perfect throw from distance, putting it to the outside shoulder of Brown where cornerback Parrish Cobb could only watch in disbelief as the Scarlet and Gray go up by 18. Talk about demoralizing.

Starting off the second half right

The Buckeyes could have relied on the 35-17 lead from the first half, but that was not in the cards. Although Ohio State only scored 10 second half points, the offense came out ready to go following halftime.

The first play of the half illustrates this. It’s a simple handoff to Curtis Samuel to the outside, but defensive end Austin Roberts beats Michael Jordan and gets in the backfield. Samuel shows he’s stronger than he looks by shaking off Roberts and following his perimeter blockers on the outside for a gain of 14 yards.

Mixon it up

Oklahoma wasn’t having much success running the ball against Ohio State in the first half. In the middle of the third quarter, head coach Bob Stoops went more to the smaller, quicker back, Joe Mixon, over the bruiser Samaje Perine.

Like Curtis Samuel did to the Sooners, Mixon was able to carve the Buckeyes up on the drive that led to OU’s final touchdown.

Fourth-down conversions

Typically you hear about third-down conversions and how that impacted a football game. On Saturday, fourth down was the money down. The teams combined for only five fourth-down attempts, but it was what each side did with them that made an impact.

Ohio State was two-for-two on fourth downs, while Oklahoma did not convert on any of its three attempts. Also, both Buckeye conversions led to touchdowns. The first was the Curtis Samuel scoring run and the second was another run by Samuel that resulted in the third touchdown pass to Noah Brown two players later.

Defensive interior

For two weeks, I’ve commented on OSU’s young defensive line getting hurt up the middle and that was a major concern of mine heading into this game. The defensive linemen in the middle stepped up in a big way.

Although they weren’t perfect, the combination of Davon Hamilton, Michael Hill, Robert Landers, Dre’Mont Jones and even defensive end Jalyn Holmes in the rushmen package did the job in the middle against a good Oklahoma front.

Malik Hooker and Raekwon McMillan

While many players on the defense deserve and have received a lot of credit, these two guys are really doing their respective jobs for Ohio State over the first three games. While neither made a big play in this one, both executed to near perfection.

Malik Hooker didn’t make it a third-straight game with an interception but he did show up when necessary. He was consistently making big tackles, breaking up passes and covering up for other mistakes. McMillan is the unquestioned leader of this defense and play after play had his guys in the right play and right spots. A lot of credit for others’ success should go to him.

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