In the Jim Tressel era, Ohio State played their best football in November. This current team is very different from the past.
They came into the game asleep as Purdue jumped out to a 10-0 lead. Ohio State answered and had a miraculous touchdown late to tie the game at 20. The Buckeyes were an extra point away from possibly escaping Ross-Ade Stadium with a win. Instead, Purdue blocked the extra point sending the game into overtime.
Then Ohio State’s weaknesses all came to the surface at once.
On offense, the Buckeyes employed their predictable scheme of running the ball up the middle on first down. That, like often times this season, yielded nothing. Then on second down, Braxton Miller tried to keep the play alive with his legs only to be sacked, setting up a long third down. Now to his credit, Miller did complete a nice third down pass to get the Buckeyes back into field goal range. That said the first two plays killed their chances of getting a touchdown.
Then the defense took the field, and it was more of the same from them.
On third and four, Purdue’s Robert Marve ran six yards to get the first down. Instead of Ohio State’s defenders staying in their lanes to break down and make the tackle, they took poor pursuit angles. Then on a 3rd and 12, when everyone in the stadium knew what was coming, Marve was able to complete a 14 -yard pass thanks to breakdowns in the secondary. On the next play, Marve put the ball over the goal line and killed Ohio State’s chances of playing in the Big Ten title game.
The Buckeyes showed for the second consecutive week they don’t have the mentality of a championship team and this time it cost them.
A symptom of a young team is their inability to start games consistently upbeat. Last week was understandable. After the win over Wisconsin, it would be difficult to maintain that same intensity against Indiana. However, there was no excuse to come out flat this week. With a chance to play for the Big Ten title on the line, in a tough environment, the Buckeyes should have owned the moment. Instead, they allowed Purdue to make plays and that slow start cost them big.
This collapse begins with coaching. While they are not out on the field, they do play a huge factor into this. If they can’t project a winning attitude onto the players, it’s hard to think who can. Additionally, with the game plan they come out with this week who could blame the players for not being excited.
Some of it falls on the players too. From what I have seen there are no leaders on this team. There are players that bring energy (Dan Herron, Ryan Shazier) but no one leads this team like Cam Heyward or A.J. Hawk use to.
Here are some other observations from this week’s loss:
- While Braxton didn’t have his greatest game through the air, he made big plays when Ohio State needed them. There are times he still takes too long to hold onto the ball but more times then not, he makes up for them.
- Ohio State’s offensive staff has no idea how to utilize their talent. The prime example is when they run Jordan Hall up the middle on third and one. Jordan is far from a power back where as Carlos Hyde’s strength would be a much better fit for that situation.
- The Buckeyes’ staff doesn’t know how to call plays either. The wildcat worked at first but then they went back to it excessively. In addition, there were several instances where Ohio State was in third and longs and they decided to throw the ball more than 30 yards down the field. Has this staff ever heard of a screen or slant pass?
- The defense is not showing signs of improvement. They can’t tackle in the open field; they can’t consistently stay in their coverages in the secondary. This unit has let down the team all season with their play late in games.
- Perhaps most important, the mindset of this team is far from where it should be. The Buckeyes had too many penalties that killed drives and other penalties that kept drives alive for Purdue. Smart teams do the things they need to do to win, the Buckeyes don't exemplify this.
Overall, this is a young team that did enough to get them back in the game. However, when you take into account all of the weaknesses they possess it’s easy to see why they lost. Now they must refocus, as their schedule becomes more difficult as they round the home stretch.
Feel free to contact Sean with any questions or comments.