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The Real Force of Nature

Big, fast and nasty. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The rain did come Saturday in the Horseshoe but any hopes that Miami had for revenge were left high and dry as the Buckeyes handled the Hurricanes before a fully hostile and loud crowd.  36-24 was the final score and there were some tense moments with special teams coverage once again showing the only chinks in the armor of the force that is the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Especially sweet to play so well against a team and fan base so arrogant they think that swagger covers decades.  Not taking anything away from the Hurricane team – they are very good.  Harris made some great throws and two of his picks were the receivers fault, the defense is solid and they definitely have athletes.  They are just not there where we are yet, so it added a little extra juice by showing the rest of the country that the Buckeyes are for real.

Boom stepped up and reminded everyone why it is a #1A situation and not a #2 back setup.  When there is a clean opening Saine is your guy because he has the breakaway speed, Saine also had a nifty back shoulder grab for a TD.  But when it comes to hitting the crack in the line with a little more pop like this week the you need Boom  and he dialed up a sold 66 yard performance with averaging 4.7 per carry along with a 42 yard shovel pass and TD of his own.  Jason from 11w put it well:

“Bottom line, it’s nice having depth in the backfield. Some unfortunate team is going to see Boom and Zoom go off on them in the same game soon and it’s not going to be pretty for them.”

No doubt.

The offensive line played well considering the level of talent they faced  (however I feel Iowa will be the best front we face this year).  The rushing stats were somewhat skewed because some of Pryor’s yards came on scrambles after being flushed from the pocket.  Not necessarily due to poor protection (although the Canes did get pressure) but rather because Pryor was able to survey the field and then take off.  The holes for the running backs were nowhere near as open as they were last week with Miami getting penetration sometime but there were enough cracks for Boom to slip through enough to keep them off balance for play action.  It is concerning that we had four drives in the red zone stall and had to accept field goals but this cannot all be placed on the line with Pryor missing on throws to Boren and Stoneburner some two occasions.  But hard to knock a unit that rooted their way to 200+ yards both through the air and on the ground.  Very nice.

As for Pryor’s play the naysayers are quick to point out that his completion percentage was right around 40% (stats).   But making a judgment on that alone (hello Forde) doesn’t nearly come close in describing how he took control of the game.  After a slow start and the first special teams gaffe of the day all it took was a spectacular deep throw to Posey for 60 yards and a sick back shoulder touch pass to Saine to bring order back to the Shoe.  There were some near picks which you could also point out but you cannot ignore the 20 carries for 113 yards (kid is nasty) many of which either were scoring runs, continued drives or milked the clock.  Considering that Tressel buttoned up the play calling in the second half considerably there were not very many opportunities through the air.  The lack of execution in the red zone needs work but you have to acknowledge that what TP lacked in efficiency this game was offset by the truckload of leadership and big plays that brought home the win against the #12 team in the country.

The receivers played well in catching most of what was thrown their way and catchable.  Posey also was able to play DB in breaking up what would have been a pick too.  Sanzenbacher made a nice adjustment on a x yard grab to keep a drive going.  But the catch of the game was made by Saine in my opinion – the soft hands and body adjustment on the back shoulder catch for the first score was damn pretty to watch.

What can you not say about the defense?  I mean they have given up one touchdown and two field goals in two games.  Damn nice.  Everywhere you look on this unit there are playmakers – I mean two of our best pass rushers had interceptions.  Williams off of Barnett’s deflection and Heyward stepped in front of another pass and did his best Ironhead impression returning it 80 yards showing surprising incredible athleticism for a dude going 280.  Another two interceptions were chalked up by Chekwa, who was voted Big Ten Defensive POW.  So for those keeping score at home – two weeks of football, two weeks of Player of the Week honors going to a Buckeye defender.  What makes that even crazier is that the people getting the honors are not the same individuals getting the praise during spring/fall camp (Rolle, Heyward, Homan, Williams) – just goes to show you how loaded this defense is.  Granted Chekwa’s interceptions were more heady-johnny-on-the-spot type plays instead of leaping takeaways – but whatever – opportunistic big plays I will take any day.

I mean you could say that we did not get enough pressure on Harris, but there were at least three horrible non-calls for holding and Heacock had the guys in a soft zone most of the second half anyway so the bend but don’t break motto was in full effect.  Really the only dark spot on the day for the defense was not related to their play at all – rather that after a sensational day of laying wood, tipping passes and blocking field goals Barnett will most likely miss the rest of the season after going down with a knee injury in the second half.  Not a world ending type loss with Johnson back from a calf injury, but depth is always nice and after seeing him almost knock the best receiver the Canes had out of the game I got chills in a very excitedly violent way.  Hope his surgery goes well and we get him back as quickly as possible.

Last but not least – where to start with special teams.  Not everything was bad.  Hall and Berry both almost broke returns so for the first time since Teddy Ginn Jr we have legitimate threats to take it the distance on kickoffs and punts.  Also Barclay was 5/5 and a couple of them hit the flagpole they were so straight down the middle.  Not to mention the blocked FG by Barnett (dude had a game for real).  It really comes down to the kickoff and punt return coverage, and indirectly the kickoffs that can seem to go past the 10.  Not sure what the problem is on coverage considering Homan, Rolle and Moeller were on the field during this week’s runbacks, but whatever is going on needs to be corrected over the next few games before we get in a tight one against a tough team when a return for TD would kill us.   As far as kickoffs – either we need to go strictly with squib/short kicks and just accept giving the team decent field position, or Basil needs to do nothing but practice kickoffs with the punishment of being tackled by Larimore, Simon and Heyward at once should he not get it past  10, or hell hold walk on tryouts for a kickoff specialist.  I mean consider this – it was the first time in 121 years of football that the Buckeyes surrendered a touchdown on punt and kickoff returns in the same game.  So history has been made and should never be repeated.  I think currently the only description for our kickoff and punt units is best provided by Patches O’Houlihan.

As for this week with the Bobcats coming to town we get to see the team that gave us the scare of a lifetime a couple years ago.  So hopefully we will be able to stay focused and stay healthy.