(Photo courtesy Ohio State Athletic Department, game information courtesy Ohio State Athletic Dept, Cleveland.com, ESPN)
In a fairly quick-paced game (Army doesn’t waste game time throwing the ball around) the Buckeyes moved to 2-1 on the season with a 38-7 win over Army.
I’m sure a lot of people looked to the Army game for answers after the Oklahoma debacle, but I’m not sure there were any.
There wasn’t anything too sexy about Ohio State’s approach against Army. They balanced the calls (32 rushing (1 was end of game kneel-down), 37 passing) to accumulate 586 yards at a clip of 8.5 yards per play.
One positive change was the reallocation of the running work load. If you recall, against Oklahoma J.T. Barrett had 18 of Ohio State’s 34 rushing attempts and 72 of their 167 rushing yardage. Against Army, J.T. had 7 of OSU’s 31 “scrimmage” rushes for 41 yards of OSU’s 281 yards.
Interestingly, Ohio State lost 11 yards rushing to bring their net rushing to 270. Two yards were “lost” on the kneel-down and Barrett lost the other 9 yards due to two sacks by Army.in his various carries. The other runners (Dobbins, Weber, Williams, Campbell) combined for 18 carries and 240 yards with no rushing attempt failing to gain a yard. Every one of Ohio State’s designed/called running plays gained yardage. That’s an indication of solid offensive line play and aggressive running.
Ohio State’s passing game was efficient, although there were a couple minor issues, I thought. In my Indiana recap I felt:
Any attempt to stretch the Indiana defense was via a horizontal passing game rather than by vertical routes.
That was pretty much the way the passing game was executed against Army. Per Doug Lesmerises, 15 of J.T.’s 25 completions were at or behind the line of scrimmage. That really isn’t a passing attack as it is a variation on the running game. Two completions (Baugh 31 yds, McLaurin 20 yds) did stretch the field vertically a bit. Maybe the coaching staff decided they’d have success attacking Army along the full width of the field; if so, they made a great call. At some point over the next two weeks (UNLV, Rutgers) an effective vertical passing game needs to be shown to push defenders off the line of scrimmage.
I did think that J.T. came out sharper and more confident in his throwing, so that is a huge improvement. He did go ‘wide’ on a couple throws, but overall, his passing looked crisper and on target; he gave his receivers chances to make plays.
I feel obligated to mention that Dwayne Haskins ran the offense for Ohio State’s final series. He directed a crisp 10-play 70 yard drive that ended with a kneel-down. Young Mr. Haskins was a sharp 4-4 for 46 yards. Antonio Williams also distinguished himself with 5 carries for 29 yards.
Look, Army is goin’ to be Army. Two expected statistics came out of this game. As expected, the Army caissons keep rolling along; they ran 58 rushing plays and netted 259 yards on the game. These numbers are just slightly off their season average of 62 attempts and 290 yards.
The other stat was tha Army “unleashed” its passing attack against the worst pass defense in the country. Army attempted 8 passes, completing 2 for net 19 yards. Going into the Ohio State game, Army averaged 5 attempts and 9 yards per game prior to the OSU game, so they considerably improved their numbers against the Buckeyes. 😉
Aside from Army’s soul-crushing 99 yard touchdown drive in the 2nd quarter, I thought the Buckeyes did a very nice job of adjusting to a offense that hey may not see more than once per year. Army accounted for a third of their plays and a third of their yardage in that single drive, so otherwise the defense kept Army’s triple option pretty well under control for their other eight drives.
The defense got drilled in time of possession with Army having almost 37 minutes of possession. However, when a defense is on the field for that long and gives up only one touchdown, they are performing well when they need to.
It was certainly an advantage to OSU’s secondary that any play would more than likely require them to show up in run support, but they did a credible job. Good for them.
Speaking of ‘credible jobs’, Tuf Borland came off the bench to fill in for an injured Chris Worley, Jr. and did a wonderful job. Tuf had 9 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles a tackle for loss ad a quarterback hurry. I like our depth at middle linebacker.
I think this area was spotty, but overall not bad. Drue Chrisman punted only twice with what would appear to be so-so average of 37.5 yards. One punt was downed inside the yard line while the other punt made it to the end zone for a touch-back, which killed Drue’s net average. All in all a pretty good day for young Mr. Chrisman.
The kickoff team had an overall good day limiting Army’s Kell Walker to a 15 yard average on 4 returns. Backup kicker Bryan Kristan did woof a kickoff out of bounds and the coverage team did allow Walker to break a 43 yard return late in the game. Still, kicker western New Yorker Blake Haubeil and his mates had a good showing.
Parris Campbell had a great 40 yard kickoff return nullified by a bone-head head butt by OSU’s Zach Turnure. Not a good play by the senior; I’m sure it was pointed out to him.
This was a good, slog it out win against a determined, outmatched opponent. A job well done.
The Buckeyes host the UNLV Running Rebels (1-1) on Saturday September 23rd. It’s a 12:00 pm ET kickoff, so get your partying done early on Friday.