(Image courtesy timesunion.com, game information courtesy ohiostatebuckeyes.com, espn.com, deadspin.com)

The #4 Buckeyes pulled off a “rally in the valley” to overcome Penn State, their own mistakes and some iffy officiating, 27-26 Saturday. I’m sure you watched the game. Or you may have read about it. Or, probably, both. I’ll spare you the scintillating play-by-play to get right into my observations.

Offense

Let’s start out by saying that Dwayne Haskins is good. He’s also relatively inexperienced. The Penn State defense leveraged Dwayne’s inexperience into some very ordinary play on Dwayne’s part.

Mike Weber (Thunder) and J.K. Dobbins (Lightning) are a very good complementary pair of players.  I’d still split playing time, but probably in longer stretches than alternating series.

The offensive line was pretty sketchy in the first half. The Buckeyes had 13 carries for 34 yards in the first half. They must have had an “inspirational” speech at halftime. In the second half, OSU had 20 carries for 98 yards.

Any play that involves Parris Campbell running a fly-sweep type of play is a “loss-leader”. It’s always going to be a loss and it leads to 2nd-and-long. Get rid of the goddamned play.

This was a good game for Ohio State’s receivers. Granted, they had a tough early start with dropped passes and a game-long inability for OSU to go downfield with the passing game. However, once they got into their passing short game rhythm, they were making the catches, displayed great open field running and, more importantly, blocked very well for one another on passing plays.

I do want to hat-tip Terry McLaurin and Rashod Berry. Neither had a reception, but both delivered multiple key downfield blocks.

 

Defense

After giving up 511 yards and 28 points against TCU, the Silver Bullets “held” Penn State to 492 yards and 26 points. They managed to survive a “JT Barrett like” performance from Trace McSorely (175 yards rushing, 288 yards passing, 463 yards total offense. The ‘JT Barrett like’ refers to his 25 carries compared to a combined 19 for other PSU ball carriers.

This was especially annoying since OSU staff had to know that the PSU offense ran through McSorely. If they made any plans to “spy” him, they were sporadic and half-assed. Frankly, this was not a good game plan by Buckeye defensive coaching staff. You knew what was coming and you made only a slight effort to negate it.

Having said that, I got a great deal of satisfaction that the unit coached by a PSU “alum”, Coach Larry Johnson performed well. Especially at the end of the game.

Having said that, Chase Young, despite a couple penalties, was in “take-over” mode. Yes, the team misses Bosa, but Young is stepping into the leadership role.

Special Teams

Ii thought they Special Teams had a decent enough game. Kickoff and return teams were pretty ‘neutral’; nothing good, nothing bad. Nuernberger missed his lone official field goal attempt, but coming on the heels of a dumbass face-mask penalty, it’s completely understandable.

The key player for Ohio State was punter Drue Chrisman. He averaged net 47 yards per punt and with 3 punts +50 yards, managed to push the Penn State offense way down the field. In context, on 8 punts, PSU averaged a net 39 yards per punt. That’s an 80 yard advantage in the “hidden yards” of field position. Well done, punt team.

Misc

Look, I realize that in some respects, this is a young team, but it doesn’t mean it has to be an oblivious team. Ohio State had 10 penalties accepted, totaling 105 yards. That averages out to every penalty being an equivalent to a holding call.

At this point, Ohio State is averaging 8.4 penalties / 81 yards vs 6.9 / 67 from 2017. Ohio State has four “should win easily” games coming up. That gives them a month to get their act together. Giving away plays and yards against MSU and UM will not cut it.

Coaching

I’ve seen better coached games. I’ll just leave this in bullet-point;

Ohio State, I applaud your fabled “2nd half adjustments”, but did no one anticipate that PSU would bring pressure? No need to wait until 3rd quarter to work swing/screen passes into the offense.

In a pre-game text exchange with Joe Dexter@BuckeyeRadio, I thought OSU needed to have a LB shadow McSorley. When they did, with Harrison, it seemed to work okay. Other than that, McSorley ran for 175 yards.

Finally, for Ohio State, the delay of game after your last TD was inexcusable. After the score you know that you need to go for a two-point conversion. You should have had a time-out queued up to explain what play you want to run. But then, OSU takes a time-out after the penalty. Good god…

Fortunately, PSU was equally abysmal in their decision-making.

PSU scored to retake the lead with a little over 12 minutes to play, 19-14. The Lions went with the kick to go up 20-14. At that point, a 5 point or a 6 point lead are the same. Your opponent still needs a TD.

When PSU scored again at the 8:00 mark, they went for two on their conversion. However, it was a reserve WR running a jet-sweep action play. It failed. When a team is in a “compressed field” (goal line situation) running horizontally vs vertically is a terrible idea.

Then, this happened. 

Despite James Franklin’s mewing, how the ball was not put into the hands of the best offensive player on the field, in a crucial situation, is beyond me.

General

This was a good gut-it-out win over a very talented, at least offensively, team. It took a while for the offense to get into sync against a faster defense, but eventually OSU’s talent, and will, won out.

you need to make amends to the program and throw some platinum and gold Larry Johnson’s way, because he’s the best damn assistant coach you have.