(Photo courtesy wralsports.com, game information courtesy Ohio State Athletic Dept, Cleveland.com, ESPN) 

I want to lead off with a photo of Mike Weber’s 2 yard TD run. I sensed that he was looking to put a shoulder into a Penn State defender, but there were none to be found.

I have a few observations from Ohio State’s comeback win over Penn State that I want to get out of my system. By now you’ve probably seen the game at least once and have read several accounts of it. If not, you can go here, here, here, or hell, even here to get caught up on the events on Saturday.

This turned out to be a game where the team and the fans gad to be patient. The first quarter was abysmal, the middle quarters were ‘thrust-parry’ against PSU and the final quarter was splendiferous.

My takeaway from this game is this: the offense, other than a couple brain-freezes, was top notch, particularly the play of J.T. Barrett, the offensive line and the receivers. The defense was dominating, particularly the defensive line and the DB’s. The kickoff coverage team needs a good bit of work, but the kickoff return team doesn’t. Other than a fetish for sideline passes, the play-calling let the players get into a rhythm.

Offense

I think we can pretty much start with Barrett’s record setting (423 yards total offense) performance. Aside from the total yards, which is just a by-product of play-by-play, J.T. came up Heismanesque in the 4th quarter. In the 4th quarter, when Ohio State really needed offense, he was 13-13 for 170 yards and 3 TDs. In my Nebraska recap, I stated:

J.T. Barrett looked better than ever. He appeared to be in complete control of the offense. I thought this was the sharpest Barrett has ever looked passing the ball. He was releasing the ball on time had good velocity and was hitting his receivers (in the hands) where they could make plays in full stride.

Apparently there was still room for improvement after the Husker game.

Barrett wasn’t the only play-maker. Individually, and thus as a group, the wide receivers had a terrific game. No doubt, it was a function of Barrett making timely, accurate throws, but I thought that Johnie Dixon III. K.J. Hill, Austin Mack and Terry McLaurin had a coming out party against Penn State. They ran crisp routes, made (sometimes) difficult catches and made plays once they got into the open field.

Play calling was good, except for the insistence to waste plays by calling the short sideline and receiver screen passes.

However, Ohio State was more efficient than PSU on offense. Of their 78 plays from scrimmage, 16 (including 6 incompletions and 2 kneel-downs) went for no gain or a loss. That’s a 21% failure rate, less than half of PSU’s, below.

Defense

The defense played a helluva game – don’t be fooled by the 38 points on the scoreboard. Seven points were given up on opening kickoff and Penn State had two 23-yard “drives” due to Ohio State turnover and a second kick coverage failure.

The defense limited PSU to 64 offensive plays at 4.4 yards per play. In the 64 plays, which included 14 incompletions and 1 kneel-down, PSU had 29 plays that went for no yards or lost yardage. Think about that; 45% of their plays did not gain a single yard.

It appeared that the Buckeyes intended to take Saquon Barkley out of the offense. They held him to 23 yards on 4 receptions. They held him to net 44 yards on 21 carries. Let me lay it out:

Qtr Rushes Yards

1        1             -4

2        6             51

3        8              5

4        6             -8

So, other than the big 2nd quarter, SB really was not a factor. Of his 21 carries, he lost yardage on 9 of them. That is not a good success rate.

One other item concerns the pass defense. The pressures and coverage schemes were well thought out and well executed. Of McSorley’s 17 completions and 192 yards, 10 completions and 80 yards went to TE/RB (Mike Gesicki/Saquon Barkley). His four WRs caught 7 passes for 112 yards and the two TD’s. One TD catch was a great play by the receiver, the other was a – well, let’s go to the replay booth…

Special Teams

First, the good news. Sean Nuernberger continued to deliver in placement kicks; 3-3 on conversions and 2-2 on field goals.K.J. Hill averaged 8 yards per punt return and 24 yards per kickoff return. Those are nice field-shortening yards provided by K.J. and his team mates.

Regarding the kickoff coverage team – yikes. They allowed a 97 yard return for a TD and a 59 yard return that led to a TD. Their inability to maintain lane integrity and to tackle forced Ohio State to resort to pooch kicking. We’re eight games into the season, plus untold summer/autumn practices. It shouldn’t be an issue at this point.

Up Next

Ohio State travels to Iowa City to play the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-3). They are 4th in the B1G West. After defeating Minnesota 17-10 last week, the Hawkeyes keep Floyd of Rosedale in the sty for another year.

Ohio State averages 46 points per game (ppg) while Iowa averages 25 ppg. Defensively, Ohio State allows 18 ppg while Iowa allows 17 ppg.

The kickoff  is set for 3:30 pm ET. You’ll have plenty of time for last minute “winterizing”, but don’t mess around too much. You can also watch the game on ESPN (check local listings) and/or listen to it on 97.1.