Another one bites the dust
Sorry I've been so delayed in posting, there's been quite a bit going on and this site has been a bit down on my priorities list. Also, I totally spaced out on finishing up my "Seperation Saturday" preview, so I hope no one was anticipating it too much.
In saying that, however, I'm still on the fence as to whether or not this team was overlooking UC (I know I was), or if this was simply just a huge hangover from the Texas game. Looking back at the game, it was probably a mix of both. The overall intensity level on both offense and defense was about as low as I've seen all season, and some of these guys didn't even seem to have a pulse out there. And this just wasn't out of inexperience, either. Troy Smith's first half throws were piss poor, Jay Richardson was relatively inactive, and Doug Datish had that completely obvious holding call on the Troy Smith TD, but was fortunate enough to get bailed out a couple plays later. In fact, that whole first half, the only players that seemed to realize that Texas wasn't our only opponent this season were Anthony Gonzalez (who is quickly becoming my favorite player), and Quinn Pitcock, who was a dominating force all game long.
If I had to give the offensive line a grade for their play, it couldn't be any higher than a D+. What happened to those brick walls in pass protection and gaping holes from games 1 and 2? Troy Smith was being hurried consistently for the first time all season, and the running backs were running into giant globs of people at the line of scrimmage in the first half. Alex Boone easily had the worst day of his collegiate career. When he wasn't getting beat by an undermatched defensive lineman, he was holding, jumping, or personally fouling. I believe he finally got benched sometime around his second holding call. To put it very inappropriately considering his personal situation, his game suffered a big relapse yesterday. A lot needs to be said about Datish, who is by far the leader of this group. Most of these kids aren't going to listen to their coaches when they preach focus, simply because they are primadonnas. That's where Datish, the team captain, has to step up and straighten these kids out, and he didn't do all that great a job at it this week. Case in point: after a 2nd & 10 swing pass to Chris Wells in the 2nd quarter, it was 3rd and 1. Logic says let the next Eddie George take the ball up the middle and do his thing, right? Well, not when you run into a bunch of your own jerseys that are getting beat off the ball by Conference USA (yes, I know that UC is in the Big East, but those guys were recruited to play in CUSA) linemen. It's third down and short, these are some of the best linemen in the nation, and they can't move the line of scrimmage a measley yard? Give me a break.
If I give the offensive line a D+, then I have to give an A+++ to the coaching staff for their ability to make necessary halftime adjustments. I'm sure these guys got treatment that would make Chad Henne's high school coach proud. Whatever the caoches did, it worked fantastically, and the second half version of the Buckeyes looked like the team we were all waiting to see get unleashed. Antonio Pittman was nothing short of absolutely stellar, and his 9.5 YPC should finally put his name out to the world. That's what I love about Pittman, he seems to always get better as the game wears on. And when you're on a team that will probably look to run out the clock a lot in the second half this season, only good things can come from it. Troy Smith definitely didn't do anything to hurt his heisman chances, and with the two guys closest to him in the race losing their games, his stock probably went up. Hell, with the way Justin Zwick played, he almost (almost) made me want to take back all the cheap shots I've thrown his way since 2004. All four of the quarterbacks saw time, which is another good thing, because seeing Boeckman and Schoenhoft in game situations shows a lot more to a coach than holding a clipboard and running the scout team ever will. All of the other young guys looked quite impressive in garbage time, which makes me feel much more confident about next year (a year which I still believe OSU fans will be in need for a serious reality check), especially Robert Rose, Ray Small, Austin Spitler, and Rory Nicol.
John Kerr tripled his seasonal tackle total with 3 assists. Now, if we could get an actual OLB in there...