10 Things We Learned from Beating Indiana
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was going to be hard to duplicate last Saturday’s win over Wisconsin, but this game barely outdid the Colorado game.
The Buckeyes just didn’t look like the same team, but they did pull out a victory. That’s all that matters right now, but there was plenty to be learned from Saturday’s 34-20 win over Indiana.
1. It’s tough to play with a hangover. It’s hard to call this game a trap game considering the Buckeyes have Purdue next week, but it was the perfect scenario for a letdown. If I were coaching Indiana, I would have done exactly what Kevin Wilson did. Come in aggressive, play up-tempo on offense and hope to catch the Buckeyes in a daze after last week’s big win. Ohio State exerted a lot of energy and emotion in that win over Wisconsin. It was at home, under the lights, on national television. It was a revenge game and it was one of the most exciting finishes in years. There was no way this week’s game could measure up. It was at noon against a 1-8 team that, on paper, posed very little threat. The Buckeyes played accordingly and Indiana did a great job of attacking them. They weren't afraid and they didn't play scared. Kudos to them.
2. Youth will be served. A team of veterans would have known better than to think they could sleepwalk through this game, but there are a lot of young kids playing important roles for the Buckeyes this year. They haven’t been in this situation before. They don’t know that it takes the same kind of effort and emotion to beat Indiana at noon as it does to beat Wisconsin at night. The coaches tried to reinforce that during the week, but it doesn’t really set in until these players experience it for themselves. A lot of guys thought they were just going to show up and run over the Hoosiers. A couple guys knew better. They carried the rest of the team to victory.
3. Braxton makes people look silly. When Terrelle Pryor got to Ohio State, all we heard about was how he made defenders take bad angles. He did do that early in his career, but only because he was so much faster than he looked. Eventually fewer and fewer people took bad angles on Pryor because they knew what to expect. He still ran away from people at times, but Braxton Miller just flat out makes them miss. He might not beat Pryor in a footrace from end zone to end zone, but his ability to accelerate is uncanny. If nothing is there, Miller pulls it down and gets to his top speed faster than anyone I’ve seen in a while. More importantly, he just needs a little bit of a juke step and defenders are falling all over themselves. And he is just starting to tap into his abilities.
4. This team is going to play to its strengths. Anyone who expected to see the Buckeyes come out passing today against Indiana, shame on you, and shame on us. It doesn’t matter that Indiana was among the worst pass defenses in the Big Ten, the Buckeyes just aren’t a good passing team right now, against anyone. A big part of that is Braxton, who is just learning the offense and how to pass the ball at this level. Another possibly even larger part of that is the fact that Ohio State just doesn’t have the receivers to sling the ball around right now. Miller is excellent at keeping plays alive and keeping his eyes downfield, but his guys just aren’t getting open. That means the Buckeyes are going to continue to do what they do best, which is run the ball and allow Braxton to make plays with his legs.
5. Carlos Hyde should be the No. 2 tailback. I realize that both of Hyde’s long runs have come because of great blocking, but that’s how most long runs happen. Offensive lines have to open holes, it’s the backs’ job to get through them. Hyde doesn’t just get through them. He explodes through and takes off, showing excellent speed for a back his size. Hyde topped 100 yards on the ground for the second-straight game
in which he saw more than three carries, and this wasn't against Akron’s second-team defense. He went for 103 at Nebraska and then 105 Saturday against Indiana. His first five carries totaled only 11 yards, but his next five went for 31 yards in the third quarter. In the fourth, he went for 63 yards on five carries. That doesn’t make Hyde better than Herron, who ran for 141 yards. He’s not, but right now he gives them a better chance to move the ball than Jordan Hall. Maybe that is Ohio State’s fault for misusing Hall, but it seems like they might be best going with Herron and Hyde at tailback while using Hall on returns and to catch passes out the slot and backfield.
6. DeVier Posey can’t come back soon enough. It’s obvious by now that getting Boom Herron back was the biggest thing that could have happened to this team. Herron is a dynamic back, but the emotional lift he gave them was immeasurable. Posey’s won’t be quite as large, but his contribution on the field might be the one thing this offense is lacking. Right now, the Buckeyes don’t have playmakers at receiver. Corey Brown is fast, but he’s not 100 percent healthy and even when he is, he has yet to show he can consistently catch the football. Chris Fields made a big catch against Indiana, but it was his first in weeks. Devin Smith is a future star, but he’s still learning. Same with Evan Spencer. This team needs a guy who can lead. They need a guy who can draw attention from the defense and most importantly, they need a guy who can get open. Posey is not going to turn into A.J. Green all of a sudden, but he knows how to get open and he knows how to make big plays. That’s exactly what they need.
7. Antonio Underwood has a future. When J.B. Shugarts left the game with a sprained right knee, Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman had a number of options. Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell have both started games at right tackle. Jack Mewhort can play there too, but he didn’t hesitate to put Antonio Underwood in the game. The freshman out of Shaker Heights has been the backup right tackle all fall, but this was about more than that. Bollman and his staff wanted to get a look at Underwood. They wanted to see if he could play. They put him out there and their eyes were glued to him, and guess what, he did pretty good. Hyde’s big run came over the right side of the line, but more importantly, Bollman said he really liked Underwood’s pass blocking. That’s rare for young linemen, but it’s huge news for the Buckeyes. They have a lot of future guards on the roster, but not many tackles outside of Norwell.
8. John Simon does too, in the NFL. It is almost a crime that it took seven things we learned before we got to John Simon. He should have been No. 1 and each of his limbs should have been numbers 2-4. That’s how dominant this guy is right now. The junior out of Youngstown Cardinal Mooney had another monster game Saturday. He had a career-high 10 tackles against Indiana, including eight solos. He also had three tackles for loss and a sack which add to his team-lead in both categories. He is the single most dominant force on this team, and it’s scary to think where they might be without him. Also some love for Big Hank, who had another fine game with seven tackles.
9. Travis Howard is all or nothing. It’s easy to see why the coaches are high on Howard: he’s a playmaker. He’s also a frustrating player to watch at times. He seems hesitant to play up near the line of scrimmage and gives more cushion than a Levines Department Store. He also comes up with big interceptions. He had one against Illinois and then another huge one Saturday. With the Buckeyes nursing a 27-20 lead in the fourth, Howard stepped in front of a Tre Roberson pass. It was a big play for the Buckeyes, who scored the game-clinching touchdown off that pick. It still doesn’t make you forget about some of the other questionable plays he has made, but at least you can see why they want him out there.
10. Drew Basil has found his stride. It seems like every week we end up talking about Ben Buchanan, but this week it seems only right to focus on Drew Basil. The sophomore kicker had a rough start to the season, missing his first two kicks. They got him some better looks to get his confidence up, and voilá. Suddenly Basil is automatic. He has nailed 12 in a row, including a 47-yarder, and is finally getting a chance to show off his big leg. He’s also been much better with his distance and hang time on kickoffs, although he had a couple bad ones Saturday. He let one go out of bounds to start the game because he jammed his foot/ankle,
and didn't seem to have his usual distance and hang time after that. As long as he's OK, Basil should only continue to improve his kickoffs.
Game Stats and Box Score
Two Minute Drill - Postgame
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