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tBBC 2nd Thoughts: Fiesta Bowl

Discussion in 'News' started by Ken, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Ken

    Ken Guest

    2nd Thoughts: Fiesta Bowl
    via our good friends at Buckeye Battle Cry
    Visit their fantastic blog and read the full article (and so much more) here

    (I think that Urban is addressing you)

    Well, that was satisfying, wasn’t it? The Buckeyes made good use of their bowl-prep time (Adolphus Washington, excepted) to keep their offense well-oiled. After scoring over 40 points against Michigan, Ohio State did it again in their 44-28 defeat of Notre Dame. The last time these teams played, it was in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006, with Ohio State winning 34-20. Same team, same bowl, similar results.

    Before I get into the article, I want to acknowledge how well Notre Dame played. They took the field with a lot of energy and purpose, and played a solid game throughout the full 60 minutes. The team and the Irish fans should be proud of their effort.

    Let’s get right into this…

    Special Teams

    Ohio State’s Special Teams were indeed special against Notre Dame. Such as;

    Irish kick returner C.J. Sanders averaged 23 yards per return (YPR). Ohio State held him to 12 YPR. The kick-off results were interesting. Ohio State kicked off nine (9) times; two were OB (kicker error) placing the ball on the 35 yard line. Two were touch-backs, placing the ball on the 25 yard line. The five that were kicked in play and “covered” resulted in (on average) the ball being put in play at Notre Dame’s 15 yard line. It seemed that the “keep it in play” approach worked the best for OSU.

    Meanwhile, Ohio State returned 3 kicks at an average of 29 yards per return, resulting on an average drive start at the 31 yard line.

    In punting, Cam Johnston only punted three times, with two punts downed inside the ND 10 yard line. Notre Dame had no (0) punt return yardage. In contrast, Ohio State (Jalin Marshall) returned 4 punts at an average of 29 yards per return. Notre Dame’s punter Tyler Newsome averaged an impressive 48 yards on 6 punts, but if four of them are returned at 29 yards per clip, he’d have been far better kicking the ball out of bounds..

    Meanwhile, kicker Sean Nuernberger was perfect on the day. He was 5-5 in extra point kicks and 3-3 with his field goals. That is a very strong, dependable game.


    The defensive effort was spotty a handful of times, particularly after the 5:26 mark in the 1st quarter when Joey Bosa was ejected for targeting (more on that later). Ohio State held a 14-0 lead and had held Notre Dame to 40 yards on 10 plays to that point. Notre Dame had been averaging 34 PPG on 7.o yards per play throughout the season, so they had demonstrated a potent offense for several months. Although the OSU defense gave up more points than average (28 vs 14.5) and yards per play (5.8 vs 4.5) the Silver Bullets did make big plays when needed.

    After Notre Dame scored to pull within 10 points (38-28) with 11:20 remaining in the game, that would be it for the Irish. The Irish had 3 more series this quarter that amounted to 3 plays, -8 yards; 6 plays, 43 yards; 3 yards, 19 yards. It didn’t amount to much.

    The Ohio State defense began the game strong, forcing 3 consecutive punts, then ended strong by forcing a punt, fumble, end-of-half.


    This planning an execution by the offense was the best (in the first half, at least) that I’ve seen all year. The offensive line was immediately, with a couple exceptions, in rhythm, J.T. Barrett was crisp with his passes and zone reads, and after getting warmed up, Ezekiel Elliott put on a show that he, his teammates and fans were proud of. In short, the offense looked great, and were it not for a couple dropped passes in the 4th quarter, the Buckeyes could have been looking at breaking the 50 point mark.

    Similar to the Michigan game, Ohio State leaned on the running game. As against UM, the Buckeyes ran the ball 54 times but for “only” 285 yards (5.3 YPC). Ezekiel Elliott 27 times for 149 yards (5.5 YPC). J.T. Barrett passed the ball 31 times, and completed 19 for 211 yards. Granted the weather was more conducive t throwing the ball in Glendale against Notre Dame than it was in Ann Arbor, but there were probably some 4th quarter pass plays that didn’t need to be called. But, it all ended up fine, so no need to quibble on the details.

    Ohio State had 13 possessions. They ended in; 3 punts, 1 end-of-half, 1 INT, 3 field goals and 5 touchdowns. They scored on 8 of their 13 possession, compared to ND’s 4 of 13.


    The first half play-calling was impeccable. The Buckeyes had 5 offensive series (not including a 1-play kneel-down at EOH) that produced 4 TDs. Over 200 yards of offense were generated on 39 plays. Time of possession was ~14 minutes, so Warinner/Beck made good use of their time.

    After Elliott’s 47 yard TD run moved the score to 35-21 at the 6:37 mark in the 3rd quarter, it seemed as if Ohio State put the offense into ‘neutral’ to finish the game. In Ohio State’s last 4 series (3 FG, 1 punt, the offense ran 30 plays, gained 101 yards and used 13:10. Not quite the urgency of the 1st half.

    To put it another way; during this stretch, OSU had 1 punt, 3 FG’s, burned a quarter’s worth of clock and outscored Notre Dame 9-7. Jim Tressel nods in approval.

    However, I think there was one flaw with the game-planning. The coaches should have used Braxton Miller more in his college finale. Brax getting only 4 touches this game was not nearly enough. At the very least, when Ohio State went into its shell in the 4th quarter, some attempt to get the ball to Braxton in space to “make something happen” should have been tried. This was an opportunity missed by the coaching staff.


    Early Exit For Joey Bosa

    It was a great start (5 minutes or so) but a disappointing finish to the game, and Ohio State career for junior Joey Bosa. He was a force in Notre Dame’s first two series, then this happened. Good-bye, Joey.

    Briefly, Bosa took a bead on ND’s quarterback, and was in position to make a great defensive play until he inexplicably lowered his head and lead with his helmet crown into DeShone Kizer’s chest. If Bosa would have just kept his head up and lead with his face-mask, he would have still planted Kizer and would have played the full 60 minutes. Fortunately, Bosa was not injured. Also, the Buckeyes went on to win without him. Still, a tough way to end a career.

    In Michael’s recap, he acknowledged that is was a penalty, but took issue with the disqualification. I can see Michael’s point, but I disagree with him. In fact, he’s wrong. That discussion will be at another time, at another place.

    That’s a wrap

    The Buckeyes end the regular season at 12-1, 7-1 and now focus on recruiting (National Signing Day is February 3rd) and the 2016-2017 season (season opener against Bowling Green on September 6th).

    The post 2nd Thoughts: Fiesta Bowl appeared first on The Buckeye Battle Cry: Ohio State News and Commentary.

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