Orange Bowl Game Recap
What went right?
As it has all season long, putting the ball into the hands of #34 Carlos Hyde was Ohio State's best option. The guy was a stud again last night and while the Buckeye backfield is loaded with returning talent I believe that Hyde was a rare back that we will compare to Eddie George and Maurice Clarett for a long time as far as talent goes.
What went wrong?
For starters, tackling. My goodness. Once the defensive backs finally recognized the bubble screen that Clemson ran seemingly fifty times, they put themselves into position to make plays. The inexperience of the defensive backs showed, however, as Armani Reeves, Tyvis Powell, and Vonn Bell seemingly froze and waited to make the tackle rather than running through the receiver. That half second of hesitation was all that Sammy Watkins needed to make negative yard catches turn into 15 to 20 yard gains; over and over and over again.
Also, for the second consecutive game, I have a serious problem with the offensive play calling. Both games resulted in late losses. Carlos Hyde took over in both games and gave Ohio State a lead, only for him to be abandoned in both games on the most critical possessions as we watched Braxton Miller helplessly run around for dear life and then throwing interceptions. I also thought the clock management during the last 3 1/2 minutes was awful. Apparently we're saving those timeouts for the Navy game in August.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is it is still a great day to be a Buckeye. We went 12-2 and could have won both games. We didn't, but for a program that is two years removed from a bowl game and three years removed from a BCS game due to ridiculous sanctions, I am confident that Buckeye Nation is in good hands and on the right track. I vehemently disagree with Coach Meyer's assessment that Braxton Miller is his best player. I would argue with him til I'm blue in the face that Carlos Hyde was his best player on offense this year by leaps and bounds. That is not a cut on Miller, but an attribute to how good #34 is. I am not the coach, though, and all in all I have faith in Coach Meyer and where this program is headed.
Quarterback Rating: B
Braxton Miller had a few of his typical moments where you are just left in awe as you watch the things he is doing on the field. He also made some bad decisions throwing the ball and under threw several of his receivers. He is a freak as an athlete and one of the best quarterbacks in the country. One more year of fine tuning his skills at the collegiate level could put him over the top as the best quarterback in the country.
Running Back Rating: A
Carlos Hyde is still a beast. Nobody was able to stop him this year. He started slow versus Clemson last night but once he got in his groove he was largely unstoppable. In my opinion he is the most talented back that I've seen at Ohio State since Maurice Clarett.
Receivers Rating: C-
Philly Brown played admirably on offense. Devin Smith was nonexistent, and as much as I like him, his game needs a lot of polishing. Realistically, when is the last time you heard Devin Smith do anything on a route that wasn't a straight vertical route up the seam or up the sideline? He really had to make an announcement that he was coming back next year? With work on his route running he should be the best receiver in the Big Ten next year but he disappeared last night. Jeff Heuerman continues to be underrated and underutilized.
Offensive Line Rating: B
The line did fine in the power running game. They struggled consistently, though, in pass protection. Especially on the edge. This unit was great all year though and will be the biggest question mark heading into next season as four out of the five guys move on to the NFL.
Defensive Line Rating: B
Joey Bosa and Jamal Marcus looked great on the edge in the pass rush. If the backers struggle again next year, I wouldn't mind seeing Marcus moved back to linebacker to help the pass rush. The interior got pushed around a lot. It's time for Adolphus Washington and Michael Bennett to live up to the hype. Next year this should be the best defensive line in the country.
Linebacker Rating: B+
Josh Perry finally had the breakout game we have been waiting for out of him. Ryan Shazier was largely nonexistent as he seemingly tends to be in Ohio State's biggest games on the biggest stages. I don't get it. Curtis Grant remains an enigma as we head into his senior season. This group will need to put in a lot of work during the off season to become mentally sharper between the whistle.
Secondary Rating: C
In all honesty, the defensive backs held up better against Clemson than I expected them to. They got absolutely torched most of the night, but they also forced two turnovers. While there were some rough spots last night, I am very encouraged by the potential that Armani Reeves, Tyvis Powell and Vonn Bell displayed last night. The future is bright and in a year or two Ohio State will be back to having an elite secondary.
Special Teams Rating: D
Let me preface this by saying that we may have the best punter in America. You might not know it because we punted so rarely this year, but he is awfully good. Alas, the field goal team allowed an extra point to be blocked and Philly Brown inexcusably whiffed on a punt that he had no business trying to return. I know he wanted to make a play, but up nine with all of the momentum and a chance to extend that lead, you have to make the catch first. It's just not acceptable for a senior to not call for a fair catch there. That play changed the game. In most games you can point to a moment where the game was won. That fumble was it.
All in all the Orange Bowl concluded another great season in the Ohio State history books. After the National Championship game I will give you all my final Top 25 rankings and my season assessment of the 2013 Buckeyes. If you like what you read, please subscribe by clicking on the link at the top of this page.