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Michigan State: The Aftermath

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by LordJeffBuck, Nov 22, 2015.

By LordJeffBuck on Nov 22, 2015 at 10:22 AM
  1. LordJeffBuck

    LordJeffBuck Illuminatus Emeritus Staff Member

    USATSI_8940933_168381621_lowres.jpg

    1. With the 17-14 loss last night, Ohio State's overall record against Michigan State is now 29-15-0 (.659 winning percentage).

    2. The loss marks the fifth time that a Michigan State team has ruined a perfect season (at least 7-0-0 start) for Ohio State: 1972; 1974; 1998; 2013; 2015.

    3. What we can kiss goodbye after last night's loss:

    a. A perfect season
    b. A national championship
    c. A Big Ten championship
    d. Ezekiel Elliott's Heisman Trophy (12 carries, 33 yards)
    e. Joey Bosa's Lombardi Award (3 offsides penalties, 0 TFLs)
    f. Cameron Johnston's Ray Guy Award (5-yard punt)​

    Silver lining: With the loss, Urban Meyer is now in contention for the Big Ten Coach of the Year Award.

    4. This loss had been brewing all year. We all noticed that something just wasn't right with the offense, and we blamed the play calling, the offensive line, the erratic quarterback play. In reality, I believe that the problem went much deeper, namely that the coaching staff never developed a comprehensive strategy for this offense. Or an identity, if you prefer that term. The Buckeyes never emphasized what they were good at, and never used their strengths to impose their will on their opponents. All year long, it seems that the philosophy (if you will) has been: "Call a play, let the athletes make something happen." In other words: Win with tactics, not strategy. That might work against MAC teams and Big Ten bottom feeders, but other good teams with other great athletes will shut you down if you don't have a strategy and can't impose your will by implementing that strategy.

    5. You've probably heard the saying: "If you have two quarterbacks, you really have none." That old saw is just as valid if you have two championship caliber quarterbacks or two bums. Urban Meyer's inability (or unwillingness) to pick a starting quarterback and stick with him through thick and thin was the root cause of the offense's inconsistency and lack of discernible strategy. Next season, Urban Meyer needs to pick a guy and go with him, whether that guy is Cardale Jones or J.T. Barrett or Stephen Collier or Joe Burrow or even Torrance Gibson. Pick a guy, then formulate a strategy that suits his skill set, and finally fill out the rest of the offense with players who can operate successfully within that strategy.

    6. The two quarterback problem was really a three quarterback problem, as the spectre of Braxton Miller was always hanging over the team. It must be difficult to tell a two-time Big Ten MVP that his days as a quarterback are over, but Meyer compounded his difficulties by promising Braxton a special role in the offense - it was sort of a golden parachute for past contributions to the team. While Meyer's intentions may have been honorable, the results were not good. Outside of that one spectacular play in the season opener against Virginia Tech, the Braxton package (wildcats, jet sweeps, screens) never really took off. Not only did many of Braxton's plays result in no gains or negative yardage, but they also disrupted the flow of the offense even when they were somewhat successful. In retrospect, Braxton would have been much more valuable to the team if he could have taken over the Devin Smith role and given the Buckeyes a consistent deep threat in the passing attack.

    7. Now some numbers from the game. The defense came in averaging 298.4 yards and 13.8 points allowed, and they played right to that level last night as Michigan State gained 294 yards and scored 17 points. However, the defense had a chance to send the game into overtime, but they simply couldn't stop Michigan State's offense on their final drive. The Spartans converted two third downs to keep their drive going and set up the game winning field goal. If the Buckeye defense holds on the first third down, then Michigan State has to punt and the Buckeye offense would have gotten the ball back for one final desperation drive. If the Buckeye defense holds on the second third down, then the field goal attempt is five or six yards longer. Spartan placekicker Michael Geiger barely made it from 41 yards out. Would he have missed from 46 yards? (He did miss from 43 yards earlier in the game). But it's probably a moot point. Even if the defense had forced overtime, could the offense really have won that game?

    8. JaxBuck brings up some excellent points about the Buckeye defense yesterday, indicating that maybe they weren't as good as their stats would suggest:
    • Coming into yesterday's game MSU was ranked 90th in YPC as a team at 3.9 YPC
    • They were #78 in total rushing yards per game at 157.9
    • FO advanced stats ranked their OL at #88 overall and #101 in standard down line yards
    So Michigan State had zero success running the ball against anyone (including just 141 yards against a putrid Maryland defense last week); they were without their starting QB, future NFL first rounder Connor Cook; and therefore they were forced to rely on their greatest weakness as their only chance to win. The result? The Spartans rushed for 203 yards and consistently stuffed the ball down the throat of a defense with NFL players at every level including a potential overall #1 draft pick (who played his guts out BTW).

    9. The Buckeye offense came in averaging 453.3 yards and 36.4 points per game. In the loss, the offense managed only 132 total yards, 2.9 yards per play, 5 first downs, 5/15 (33.3%) on third and fourth down conversions, and 21:50 time of possession. The 14 points were gifts from Sparty, as the Buckeyes scored their first touchdown on a 10-play, 32-yard drive after a fumble; and their second touchdown on a 1-play, 6-yard drive after a muffed punt.

    10. Cameron Johnston had a 5-yard punt, but ended the day with a 39.9 yard average on 8 punts. The number of punts is alarming. Last season, Ohio State had 48 punts in 15 games (3.2 per game). This season, the Buckeyes already have 54 punts in 11 games (4.9 per game). That stat alone shows just how inconsistent the Buckeye offense has been all season long.

    11. One final thought. Outside of Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington and Ezekiel Elliott, who always play with maximum effort, it seems that something has been missing from this team. Maybe it's a sense of swagger, or playing with reckless abandon, or going two steps past the whistle. I'm not saying that players are dogging it, or resting on their laurels, or reading their own press clippings. But let's face reality for a moment. These players are not at Ohio State to be student-athletes, or ambassadors for the university, or even to win football games for Buckeye Nation. Like almost everyone else who ever went to college, they are in school to further their own careers, in their cases as professional football players. With a lucrative career in the NFL mere months away, do some players alter their games or workout regimens to avoid injury? Do they freelance to impress scouts with highlight reel plays? Are they slowly tuning out their soon-to-be-former coaching staff? Are their minds drifting as family, friends, and outsiders try to influence their decisions about their futures? Is a collective case of senioritis infecting this team? We scoffed last year when Alabama's players claimed that NFL decisions distracted from their Sugar Bowl preparation, but I think that something similar has been distracting this Buckeye team all season long. I'm alright with that - going to college is all about getting a job and making money, the same for football players as it was for you and me. Just remember that factor when it seems like "your" team doesn't seem completely dedicated to "our honor defend, we will fight to the end for OHIO!"
     
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
    brodybuck21, Jake, cincibuck and 14 others like this.

Comments

Discussion in 'Buckeye Football' started by LordJeffBuck, Nov 22, 2015.

    1. muffler dragon
      muffler dragon
      Been waiting for this write up since last night LJB. Thanks for putting it out there.
      So many salient points that seem to ring oh so true.

      Edit: one thing I wanted to ask: wouldn't you say that Cardale is gone? I wouldn't imagine his tweets yesterday to be trolling, but instead, reality.
    2. LRABuck
      LRABuck
      One of the more thoughtful and true writeups i've seen. I haven't felt the way i felt last night since the Debacle in the Desert. I had to shut tv and media off and go play a video game to calm down.
    3. LordJeffBuck
      LordJeffBuck
      Cardale is probably gone, but a lot of his decision will be (or at least should be) based on his NFL draft grade.
    4. muffler dragon
      muffler dragon
      You're more astute than I am on a lot of this stuff. Were you surprised by what appeared to be a lack of half time adjustments on either side of the ball?
    5. LordJeffBuck
      LordJeffBuck
      Thanks, but I'm not all that astute myself! The weather calmed down in the second half, and I thought that the staff would test the edges with Zeke and the Sparty secondary deep with Jalin and Braxton. They did neither.

      The defense has been soft in the middle all year, so that problem might be beyond the adjustment stage. I personally think that the talent on the defense is slightly overrated, outside of Bosa and Washington.

      And I just don't see a lot of impact plays coming from the defense this year. They had one last night (the strip sack), but with the offense struggling they really needed a couple more. Look at how many times the 2002 defense saved games at the end: Cincinnati (interception in end zone on last play of game); Penn State (only touchdown of game on pick six), Purdue (game-clinching interception), Illinois (turnover on downs in overtime), Michigan (interception on last play of the game), Miami (goal line stand in double overtime). The 2015 defense is very good, but they don't have the ability to take games over and win them. But that's a lot to ask from any defense.
    6. muffler dragon
      muffler dragon
      Which, if true, is disappointing considering that there's not a whole lot of depth being built (unless I'm not seeing it).
    7. Onebuckfan
      Onebuckfan
      I am all in on #11. We looked stale all year.
    8. Jaxbuck
      Jaxbuck
      I would add Bell to the consistent, high level effort list in #11
    9. DEBuckeye
      DEBuckeye
      I also agree with #11. It seemed at times like they were buying into the hype, believing all of the talk about expectations of a relatively easy repeat, and getting distracted by all of the attention. I never really saw or heard the "killer instinct " they displayed towards the end of last season.
      I'm very concerned about next week. They have to quickly get over this and refocus to finish strong. *ichigan will smell the blood in the water if we show any kind of weakness.
    10. Clarity
      Clarity
      Wonderful, LJB. Forgive the unsolicited image inclusion, pushing this to feature and promoting it on FB.
      muffler dragon likes this.
    11. Clarity
      Clarity
      I think there are a number of people we could reasonably add, and it's worth that being part of the underlying discussion. I think there's value, at times, in leaving something like that open-ended and moving on to the point in the work at hand, and having it provoke discussion.

      To any who read that section and think LJB is suggesting guys were calling it in, despite him striking that notion down directly, that's simply not the case. That these guys are playing for (and at a point protecting) their lives and futures and have layers of responsibilities and interests is something fans *should* understand, at least the ones who are still on Twitter right now flaming players who bled into last year's title, and this year's one loss season. One loss doesn't a bad season make, even if we (players, fans, coaches) wanted more. I'm still betting on pride seeing us through TSUN.
    12. buckeyesin07
      buckeyesin07
      LJB--great write-up. I posted what appears below in the game thread, and wonder what thoughts you have on it (you referenced time of possession in #9 above), particularly considering I expect Harbaugh to take the same approach.

      To Dantonio's credit, he took the air out of the ball from the beginning snap. He was bleeding the clock--calling running plays and making sure his QB didn't snap the ball until there were 5 seconds or fewer left on the play clock--from the first quarter on. The guy knew he had the less talented team and his starting QB was out, so his best chance to win was to shorten the game and give OSU's offense as few opportunities as possible (and considering we only ran 17 plays the entire second half, I'll say his plan pretty much worked perfectly). His offense was able to step up a couple times, and his team got a timely flip of the field on the next-to-last drive. I'd expect Harbaugh to try to do the exact same thing next week.
      LordJeffBuck likes this.
    13. LordJeffBuck
      LordJeffBuck
      You're pretty much describing the essence of Tresselball - strong running game, strong defense, punt for field position, win time of possession battle. It's not surprising that Dantonio, being a disciple of Tressel, took that approach, especially given the weather conditions. The only way MSU screwed up the formula was turning the ball over twice, and that almost cost them.

      I fully expect Michigan to do the same thing this week, because (1) it worked yesterday, and (2) Michigan doesn't have the talent to play a "tempo" game with Ohio State.
      SEREbuckeye and kujirakira like this.
    14. LitlBuck
      LitlBuck
      Out of a great post:bow: I have to disagree with this. I do not think that Joey has lost the Lombardi just because of his stats from yesterday. Let us see what he can do next Saturday and even then he still might be the best lineman in the country… Offense or Defense.

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