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Football
By the Numbers
By Jeff Amey

I'm going to open this column with the same opening line from the loss to Northwestern in 2004.

All streaks have to come to an end.

This loss felt a lot like that one in 2004. Sixteen times in a row the Buckeyes had won away from home against teams in the Big Ten. Number seventeen was an embarrassing loss to a team I think the Buckeyes should have beaten. Since 2004 the Buckeyes could say they hadn't lost to a team with a losing record. They can no longer say that.

The 26-18 loss to Purdue was the realization of the inevitable. The Buckeyes weren't going to be able to play that badly on offense and be bailed out by the defense or special teams forever.

We've got a lot to cover in this one, so let's get the stats out of the way.

Run/Pass Breakdown

59 Total Plays--287 yards--4.9 ypp

31 pass (53%)--17/31 for 221 yards 1 TD 2 INT

28 runs (47%) for 66 yards--1 TD--2.4 ypc

14 Offensive Possessions

Ave. of 4.2 plays--20.5 yards

Ave. start--OSU 32

First Down--25 plays (42%) for 153 yards

13 pass (52%)--8/13 for 135 yards 1 INT

12 runs (48%) for 18 yards 1 TD--1.5 ypc

Ave. gain of 6.1 yards

Second Down--19 plays (32%) for 68 yards

9 pass (47%)--4/9 for 24 yards

10 runs (53%) for 44 yards--4.4 ypc

Ave. of 9.9 yards to go

Ave. gain of 3.6 yards

Third Down--14 plays (24%) for 66 yards

8 pass (57%)--5/8 for 62 yards 1 TD 1 INT

6 runs (43%) for 4 yards--0.7 ypc

Ave. of 7.5 yards to go

Ave. gain of 4.7 yards

Conversions--5/14 (36%)

Fourth Down--1 play (2%) for 0 yards

1 pass (100%)--0/1 for 0 yards

Ave. of 14 yards to go

Ave. gain of 0 yards

Conversions--0/1 (0%)

Play action Passing

2/6 for 63 yards 1 TD 1 INT

First Downs Earned--11

6 by pass

5 by run

Formation Breakdown

Two back formations--1 play (2%)

1 pass (100%)--0/1 for 0 yards

Shotgun formations--55 plays (93%)

30 pass (55%)--17/30 for 221 yards 1 TD 2 INT

25 runs (45%) for 63 yards 1 TD--2.5 ypc

One back formations--3 plays (5%)

3 runs (100%) for 3 yards--1.0 pc

RUN TYPE BREAKDOWN--28 attempts

Counter/Trap-- 1 (4%) for 20 yards--20.0 pc

Option-- 8 (29%) for 51 yards 1 TD--6.4 pc

Power-- 1 (4%) for 0 yards--0.0 pc

QB run/scramble-- 14 (50%) for -7 pc(-0.5) ypc

Stretch-- 4 (14%) for 2 yards--0.5 pc

Other Stats of Note

~6 offensive penalties for 40 yards

~Ohio State started on the Purdue side of the 50 twice--0 points

~2/3 in the Red Zone--(1 TD 1 FG)

~5 sacks against and 5 turnovers (2 INT 3 Fumbles)

~25/59 plays took place on the Purdue side of the 50--(42%)

~26/59 plays went for no gain or loss--(44%)

~Number of plays of 10+ yards--12

~Number of 3 and out drives--5/14 (36%)

~OSU offensive plays in last two weeks--98 for 479 yards

~Opponent's offensive plays in last two weeks--172 for 729 yards

Purdue had a good defensive gameplan and executed it very well against the Buckeyes. Both of their defensive ends played well and their QB Joey Elliot played a very controlled game, doing enough to win the game for the Boilermakers and didn't make many catastrophic mistakes. For all of the play the Purdue turnover problems got in the pre-game, Ohio State was the one with the turnover problem on Saturday.

For those of you that have read this column over the seasons, this is where you'll probably be expecting a rant about the offense. This game goes beyond rants. I was expecting the offense to struggle for the rest of the year,but I just didn't think it would be this wildly inconsistent, and as a coach, inconsistency is maddening.

While the Buckeyes still have a realistic shot at another Big Ten title, I think that the rest of 2009 is going to be mostly "live" practice for Terrelle Pryor's development. The Buckeyes could easily win or lose all of their games , depending on which Buckeye team shows up.This will not be the last time this season Buckeye Nation is angry and frustrated with the offense come Saturday evening.

Quarterbacks

Terrelle Pryor has been catching a lot of heat this week for his play against Purdue, but I don't think all of it is deserved. There is no glossing over the four turnovers, but not all of them were his fault. Both of his sacks that resulted in fumbles came with pressure getting to him as he was getting to the top of his drop. For a quarterback to be effective, he can't be worried about pressure before he gets to that point. He must be able to trust his line for at least that much, at least when the defense isn't blitzing. There were several plays in which he just wasn't getting any help from his line.

Pryor gets to split the blame with WR Ray Small for one interception. Small ran a sloppy route that was easily read by the defensive back. Pryor then stared him down so the jump that the corner was able to get on the route resulted in an interception.

The long interception was all on Pryor, however, and those are the kinds of mistakes that he really needs to work on avoiding. Most the game the Boilermakers were containing and spying Pryor on passing downs, but on that particular play the spy wasn't there and Pryor had stepped up past the rush. There seemed to be nothing but green grass in front of him for 20 yards, yet he forced the ball to a receiver that wasn't open AND put it up for grabs at that.

Other than the four turnovers, I really don't think Pryor played a terrible game, and actually showed more signs of progress at times. He showed some toughness with his running and actually made a cut inside of a defender on one of his runs in the fourth quarter. I can't remember him making an inside cut this entire season before that run. The defender was so surprised that Pryor ran right through his feeble attempt at an arm tackle.

He also stood in the pocket on several different plays and threw the ball when a hit was coming. He wasn't terribly accurate and often threw off his back foot, but did complete a few of them in the fourth quarter. That was a big step for him and something to build on.

I really think the gameplan this week was very poor and set Pryor up for a lot of the struggling we saw. To begin, I have been very surprised at how candid Jim Tressel has been with the media regarding what Pryor is allowed and not allowed to do on the field. My immediate reaction was that as a defensive coordinator I would do a lot of late shifting and blitz, or blitz out of what looked like non-blitz alignments. Sure enough, the Boilermakers did just that, and you could see that both Pryor and the offensive line struggled with it several times and especially the third quarter (three false starts).

Secondly, with nearly no commitment to any kind of running game outside of Pryor, the Purdue defense was free to tee off on the pass rush which the Boiler defensive ends did all through the second half. When you take a close look at the offensive plays you'll see that 53 of the Buckeye's 59 plays had Pryor as the primary ball handler. That's 90% of the plays in the hands of a player that has struggled all season. Is there any wonder that the offense was grounded for much of the game?

Grade--C- I'll bet you were expecting lower, weren't you? Despite the struggles and four turnovers, Pryor is the only reason the Buckeyes had a shot at tying the score late in the fourth quarter. I thought he made some progress in key areas.

Running Backs

Six carries for 32 yards? Seriously? One tailback carry in the last 37 offensive plays? Is this still Ohio State football we're talking about? Add in one reception by Brandon Saine for 40 yards on a dump off early in the game and you have the entire contribution of the running backs to the Ohio State offense (other than pass protection). There was nothing more perplexing about the offense when watching this game.

Where were the Isolation plays with the H-back that were working a few weeks ago? I would've been happy to see even the classic power play we all love to hate. I did like the counter play Ohio State ran twice, though the statistics will only show one for twenty yards because the second was the touchdown that was called back for holding. With Purdue rushing up the field with abandon on the outside, this was a play that could've taken advantage of it and even slowed it down, yet it wasn't called again after that. It's simply impossible to understand.

Grade--Incomplete How do you grade seven touches out of 59 plays from the halfbacks? Even if he's not an every down back, I'm pretty sure Saine is good for more than seven touches..."It ain't that heavy".

Receivers

What did we learn about the receivers in this game? We learned that Posey can be a threat over the middle along with Sanzenbacher. We learned that the receiverscan get open. We learned that Jake Ballard is better at run blocking and receiving than he is at pass blocking. Other than that, we didn't really learn anything we didn't already know.

I still think this is a pretty good receiving corps overall, though they haven't had much opportunity to show it. I can only hope that Pryor develops to the point to be able to prove this to be correct.

Grade--B A so-so day for the receivers, but again, I don't think the coaching staff did them any favors.

Offensive Line

Another position group catching a lot of heat this week is the offensive line, and deservedly so. They were terrible for much of this game, especially the tackles. False starts, whiffed blocks, and immediate pressure on Pryor on several plays make for a miserable day all around. As bad as things were, however, this is another group that I don't feel were put into a position to succeed by the coaches.

There was no commitment to downhill running. Nearly everything was to the outside, which Purdue was doing a good job of taking away. At times we've gotten upset at the stubbornness of the coaching staff to stick to inside running, yet inexplicably, there was a total abandon of it against the Boilermakers.

While some of the pressure on Pryor can be pinned directly on the line, there was also a lot of late shifting and blitzing by Purdue as well as some very questionable pass protection schemes. Especially confusing was the blitz package where the back was expected to cross in front of Pryor and pick up an unblocked defensive end coming off the edge. Purdue started blitzing that look with two defensive backs on the weak side in the third quarter, resulting in several false starts, two sacks, and pressures on Pryor.

It's easy to point to the line as one of the major problems. Their mistakes are probably the easiest to see in any game, but they weren't getting any help from the play calling or the gameplan.

Grade--D+ There is no excuse for losing one on one matchups, and there were too many of those. This was a disturbing step back for a group that hasn't played all that poorly this season.

Offensive Coaching/Gameplan

As you can probably guess, this is going to be where the rant comes in this week. I've been pretty patient with the coaching staff as the offense has evolved from the I formations we saw at the beginning of the season to this shotgun based offense we're seeing now, but I don't understand what the coaching staff was trying to accomplish in this game.

Everything that had worked for the Ohio State running game in the past four games went out the window in favor of a running game that was heavily Pryor-based despite the fact that every team that the Buckeyes have faced have attempted to take Pryor's running away and make him beat them with his arm. Where was the H-back leads on Isolation and counter plays? The tight ends were in an H-back spot only twice in the entire game. Where was the power out of the shotgun? How about the designed gives on stretch plays and their complimentary QB keeps after the defense adjusts? How in the world does an Ohio State offense have their tailbacks finish a game with less than 12% of the touches in the game? The offensive gameplan played right into what Purdue was trying to take away, and the defense usually wins in those situations.

I can understand that every game is different and gameplan's are designed to take advantage of what you see on film. Can it really be that sometimes the coaches have no idea what they're seeing on film? Can they not tell what their team can do well and what they can't? Can they not see what Pryor is good at, and what he's struggling with? Can they not anticipate how defenses are going to try to defend Pryor and have contingencies in place? I can't believe this is all true, yet I have no way to explain what we saw this week against Purdue.

This Buckeye offense is going to go as far as Pryor is able to develop. It is evident that the coaches have hitched their wagon to Pryor for better or worse. In some ways this reminds me of the Steve Bellisari situation. He was a project, much the same as Pryor, and that project ended up in failure and and was a factor in Cooper's eventual firing. I think the Pryor situation could end up having the same effect on Tressel's legacy at Ohio State, and he could be betting his Buckeye career on his progression.

Grade--Fail! I think this is the first time I've given a complete fail since I started grading. That was a pathetic gameplan that seemed only to frustrate the quarterback and anger the fans. It certainly didn't put the Buckeyes in a position to win the game.

Defensive Coaching/Gameplan

The defense played well in general, but it was evident they lacked intensity, especially up front, as several players have been quoted as saying. The only player I saw playing with intensity was safety Kurt Coleman who was everywhere on the field.

I was a little concerned with the Buckeye's inability to get themselves off of the field on 3rd down again. Part of the credit has to go to the Purdue offensive gameplan. It was evident right from the start that they intended to get the ball out of Elliot's hands as quickly as possible to negate the Buckeye pass rush, and they were successful. It didn't seem as if the Buckeye defense ever really adjusted to what the Boilermakers were doing. What it did seem like is that the Buckeyes played the back seven to keep everything in front of them and get pressure on the QB with the front four to force him into mistakes. To Elliot's credit, he stayed mostly mistake-free and kept the chains moving with the short passing game. I would've liked to see the Buckeyes play a little more man to man, but the few times they did, Elliot found the mis-matches quickly and made the throw.

Grade--B Not a bad game considering the number of plays they were on the field again this week, but they couldn't get off the field easily either.

Special Teams

The special teams weren't anything special this week. Jon Thoma didn't have a great game punting, though it wasn't bad. Same with the kickoff return and both coverage teams and Aaron Pettrey made his kicks. There was one major blemish, however, and it helped the Boilermakers seize and keep momentum at a crucial part of the game. Ray Small muffed a punt inside the Buckeye 20 which was recovered by Purdue. The defense held the Boilers to a field goal, but it gave Purdue momentum which they didn't relinquish until the fourth quarter.

Grade--C- The fumble brings the overall grade down quite a bit, mainly because such breakdowns go so against Tressel's game philosophy.

Final Thought

There are a lot of people in the media and on the various blogs and message boards that are saying that Pryor should be benched and isn't showing any progress. Don't let them fool you. He's clearly still a project, and is going to take a lot more work than I think even the coaches thought when he committed to the Block O before the 2008 season, but he's making progress. It's just much slower than we expected. I'm not sure if he will end up as a great or even good quarterback at OSU, but I think he's putting out a lot of effort and holding up fairly well despite the pressure of being the focal point of a program with so many emotionally invested fans. To continue to progress he has to build on the better parts of the last few games and not get caught up in all of the rest.

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