Week One Recap
What went right?
What went wrong?
Taylor Decker got manhandled most of the day by Buffalo linebacker/end Khalil Mack. Mack looked like a man among boys out there for most of the day, including on his impressive pick six where he outran Miller and Dontre Wilson.
The Bottom Line
For a quarter and a half, the Buckeyes looked like a championship caliber team. After that they got sloppy. Even as a freshman, Wilson can not fumble the ball if he expects to play a large role on a team that is coveting its eighth national title. Miller's interception probably should be faulted to the left tackle, who didn't do a good enough job on his cut block; leaving him on the ground and Khalil Mack in perfect position for the pick six. From there on out, the offense seemed out of sync for most of the rest of the game. They let a far inferior opponent hang around for much longer than they had business being there. Save for Hall's second big run, Kenny Guiton's one drive to showcase his ability as the best backup quarterback in America, and some late scrambling by Braxton Miller, the Buckeye offense looked rather uninspiring for much of the last three quarters. The two aforementioned turnovers hurt Ohio State's defense. Wilson's fumble gave Buffalo a short field, as did a failed fourth and one that Ohio State has to be able to convert. We are talking about Ohio State here. The Silver Bullets did give up two, long sustained drives in the game that gave me some worries. Cornerback Armani Reeves seemed to get picked on, but with as highly touted as he was when he was recruited, I'm sure as he gets more comfortable in his role his play will improve. I don't feel like we really got a good feel for the defense overall, as they were shuffling guys in and out all game. My first impression of the new defensive line was not great. Ohio State lost their entire front four, but the hype was that Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence would lead a pass rush like we hadn't seen in some time. I didn't see that. Overall, however, I can't really complain about the defense. They gave up 258 total yards of offense, including only 73 on the ground at a 2.1 yards per rush average. Not a bad day at the office.
Quarterback Rating - A
Braxton Miller looked poised in the pocket and threw for two touchdowns and an interception. He missed a couple throws, but it was the first game of the season and this offense will be electric all year with him at the helm. God forbid something happen to Miller, but Kenny Guiton came in with Miller suffering from cramps and marched the team to a touchdown, solidifying his position as a reliable back up quarterback that many teams would love to have as their starter. He'd be starting at every other Big Ten school, yes even in Ann Arbor.
Running Back Rating - B+
Jordan Hall gave the coaches plenty to think about. I still think Carlos Hyde is the best tailback on the roster, but it's hard not to root for Hall, who is returning from serious injury and has quietly put together an outstanding career at Ohio State. Highly touted freshman Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson toted the rock for minimal gains and Wilson had a costly fumble. Columbus native Warren Ball also got some action in the backfield as well. I was surprised to not see Bri'onte Dunn get any carries. We were led to believe that he was directly behind Hall on the depth chart but he never saw the field. The fight for carries will only get tougher as Rod Smith and Hyde return in the coming weeks. This is by far the deepest and most talented backfield in the country as the top seven tailbacks on this roster were heavily coveted prospects.
Recievers - B+
Devin Smith made a heck of a play on the first drive of the game, scoring a touchdown on a vertical route to the end zone and senior Chris Fields had three catches; two of which were for touchdowns as well. Outside of them, however, the receivers were pretty quiet. Philly Brown and Evan Spencer weren't really involved with the offense and Michael Thomas was nowhere to be seen. Jeff Heuerman is a tight end that the Buckeyes really should involve in the passing game as the season goes along. He had a couple catches and should be a red zone target from here on out.
Offensive Line - C+
They made some gaping holes for Jordan Hall to run through on both of his long touchdown runs. On fourth and one, though, there is no excuse to not convert. I admittedly, do not like the play call of running out of the shotgun on fourth and one, but against Buffalo that shouldn't matter. Taylor Decker had his hands full all day, and Jack Mewhort failed to get his guy on the ground on the screen play that turned into a pick six for the Bulls. There were times where Buffalo's defensive line manhandled the Buckeyes. This bunch has been raved about all off-season as possibly being the best in the country. They need to show more of a ruthless, nastiness to them to live up to that hype; especially considering they start four seniors and a highly recruited sophomore in Decker.
Defensive Line - B+
Buffalo rushed for 73 yards. That in and of itself is good news especially for the interior of the line that was questionable going into the season. I do expect more from the ends than what I saw Saturday. Granted, they are young, but all summer long we heard about how they were not blockable against one of the better O-lines in the nation. I didn't see the push that I was expecting.
Linebackers - B
This young group held their own for much of the day. Again, Buffalo only had 73 yards on the ground and 185 through the air. Considering that they held up without their lone returning starter, Ryan Shazier, for much of the game; there is some promise to this group. Joshua Perry and Curtis Grant seem like they will be solid enough, there is a lot of unproven players providing the depth for this group though.
Secondary - A-
The defensive backs held Buffalo to a mere 185 yards through the air and safety Ron Tanner picked up the Buckeyes first interception of the year. The corners were shaky at times, minus Bradley Roby but should be able to hold their own all season long. Considering their future first round corner back Roby didn't play and neither did their starting safety C.J. Barnett, 185 yards is more than okay with me.
Special Teams - A-
Wilson got to show us his big play potential on a long kick return and I am digging the muddle-huddle formation on PAT. It brings me back to high school, and the options you have with it are limitless. With Guiton back there, the Buckeyes should be able to rack up a few two pointers this year. Drew Basil added a field goal late and new punter Cameron Johnston averaged a solid 41.3 yards per punt on his three attempts. I'm not sure what Philly Brown's issue with catching punts was.
Hit of the Day:
Corey "Philly" Brown's block near the sideline on a Braxton Miller scramble was downright vicious, knocking his victim out of the game.
National Ranking: The inconsistency on offense dropped the Buckeyes from #1 to #3 in my Top 25, behind Alabama and Oregon.
3. Ohio State
5. South Carolina
7. Florida State
10. Texas A&M
12. Oklahoma State
16. Notre Dame
24. Miami (FL)
Updated Big Ten Rankings:
1. Ohio State - Still the team to beat, for now. W 40-20
2. Michigan - Looked downright dominant. W 59-9
3. Wisconsin - Looked better than I expected. W 45-0
4. Northwestern - Struggled on the road with Cal before pulling away. W 44-30
5. Indiana - This offense should keep them in every game, their defense is terrible. W 73-35
6. Minnesota - The Golden Gophers are a team that I think is on the rise. W 51-23
7. Nebraska - Not a very impressive win against Wyoming. W 37-34
8. Michigan State - Also, not very impressive. W 26-13
9. Penn State - I fear their lack of depth will start to show this season. W 23-17
10. Iowa - Lost, again, to a MAC team. L 30-27
11. Illinois - I don't expect much from them at all. W 42-34
12. Purdue - I knew they'd lose, but I expected a much better effort in coach Hazell's debut. L 42-7