Ohio State Note and Quotebook - Miami Edition
By Tony Gerdeman
'O' Death - In the Buckeyes' opening season win over Akron, they amassed 517 yards of total offense. In their last two games, they have put up a combined 510 total yards of offense.
Ohio State could only manage 209 yards of offense against the Hurricanes. It's the lowest total for a Buckeye offense since they put up 184 yards in a 31-13 win over the Wisconsin Badgers in 2009. Amazingly, it's only the third-lowest total in the last three-plus seasons. The 2008 Ohio State offense managed just 207 yards against USC.
Despite the lack of yardage, twice the Buckeyes were inside the USC ten-yard line, but could never manage to put the ball in the endzone.
“Especially for an offense, and especially when you get that close, it's really frustrating,” said right tackle J.B. Shugarts. “You've got to get that done when you get that opportunity.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
“We had our opportunities,” said running back Jordan Hall, who provided most of the offense for the Buckeyes.
“We just didn't make the play, and on the road, you've got to make a play, it's as simple as that. I think we had our chances to get into the endzone. We had a drop in the endzone. We had a deep ball that we didn't convert on. It's just things like that that you have to do on the road.”
“It's always tough,” Shugarts said of the offensive struggles.
“I knew that Miami had some great players and great athletes. It was surprising, but at the same time you've got to keep going. You can't think about stuff like that. You've just got to keep working to move the ball any way you can.”
Passing Sad Daydream - The Buckeyes completed just four of 18 pass attempts for a meager 35 yards. That's not even two yards per attempt. Joe Bauserman finished 2-14 for 13 yards. Of everything that went wrong on Saturday night, the passing game was by far the most glaring.
“You can't really win big games doing things like that,” Shugarts said of the anemic passing game.
Ohio State felt good about their running game, but they knew that they wouldn't be able to win the game by running alone.
“We were ready to run the ball, but we had to try some stuff through the air because they started loading up the box,” said Shugarts. “It's tough, but we've just gotta take this and get better.”
“We're pretty confident in our running game. Sometimes we want to try some stuff that will hurt a certain a defense. But I think our team identity is that we are a power team, but we still need to be able to move the ball down the field when we have to.”
“We're never going to give up,” said senior center Mike Brewster. “We tried to run the ball as well as we could, and I thought we had some success, but you can only run so often.”
Born to Run - Despite the inability to throw the ball, the Buckeyes were actually able to run the ball very well. Miami knew what was coming and Ohio State still had success running the ball between the tackles.
Photo by Dan Harker
“We ran the ball fairly well,” Bauserman said. “We got some momentum going on a lot of drives. We just didn't finish.”
“We were able to run the football and I think if we could have done a better job starting off defensively we could let the offense get into that groove a little bit better too,” said head coach Luke Fickell.
The running game really took off late in the first quarter as Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde were ripping off sizable gains. In fact, on Ohio State's first scoring drive, they moved the ball 64 yards without a completion.
“We were running the ball well there for a little while, and there was no point in passing,” Bauserman said.
“The o-line did a good job opening holes,” said Hall, who rushed for 87 yards on 14 carries.
Photo by Dan Harker
“I told them if they opened it up I'd hit it for them, and they did a good job. We had some opportunities to make plays but we have to learn to make them."
“I thought Jordan did a great job,” said Shugarts.
“He was cramping up a little bit or else he probably would have busted a couple more big runs. He's a competitor and a hard worker, and he did a great job.”
“We really did all we could. We tried to get it done on the ground. We just need to go watch the film and learn from this and get better.”
After combining for 21 carries in the first half, Hyde and Hall would only get five carries in the second half. Hall wasn't able to carry the ball because he was cramping, but the complete abandonment of the running game spelled doom for the offense.
“I feel like me and Jordan were doing a great job on the run game,” said Hyde, “so I thought we should have come out and just run it. Just run it up and run it straight at them and see if they could stop us. I think it would have worked. To me, I don't think they were stopping us on the run, so yeah, I think it would have worked.”
Hammering the Cramps - For the second week in a row, a key component of whether the Buckeyes win or lose was lost to cramping. Last week against Toledo, defensive end John Simon missed half of the game with cramps, but was able to come back late and was instrumental in securing the win.
Saturday night in Miami, Jordan Hall was nullified for essentially the entire second half because of cramping. And this was after he rushed for 83 yards in the first half.
Hall has never really had to deal with cramping issues before, and after Saturday night, it's not something he'll ever want to do again. After having to watch the first two games of the season due to suspension, it was doubly frustrating to play in this game only to be taken out of it by cramps.
“It was definitely exciting (to be back),” Hall said.
“I don't ever want to miss a game again. I know just how bad it hurts to watch the game at home.”
“I couldn't play in the second half until that last drive because I know the team counts on me to make plays and I wasn't out there. I just kept cramping. That was it.”
“That's the reason I couldn't play the second half. I wasn't too happy about that. I felt like I let my team down a little bit but you can't control that.”
“It was very frustrating. I'm still frustrated about it.”
No Miracle, No Dazzle - After not playing the week before against Toledo, quarterback Braxton Miller was expected to see plenty of action against the Hurricanes. He had two series in the first half, and threw an interception on his only pass attempt.
Photo by Dan Harker
He came out for Ohio State's second possession of the third quarter and promptly fumbled the ball on a zone read play. Joe Bauserman was then immediately inserted into the game.
“Yeah,” Fickell said when asked if it was offensive coordinator Jim Bollman's call to replace Miller.
“We have a plan and right there in that series, we were going to do a couple of things. When you get yourself behind the eight ball there a little bit, we didn't want to try those plays in a situation that he was uncomfortable in.”
With an inability to move the ball down the field, the coaching staff was looking for any offensive weapon they could find. Miller certainly fits that bill, but right now the coaches have to weigh the risk versus the reward.
“There's a lot,” Fickell said when it comes to measuring that risk and reward.
“And we have to give Joe some opportunity to throw some things and do some things too. It's hard to say just yet, we all feel bad, every single one of us in that locker room is looking in the mirror trying to figure out what it is we can do. We're not going to point the finger at anyone in particular.”
“We tried to get out there and mix it up a little bit and give them a different look,” Bauserman said. “I think we had some success, and some things didn't go as well.”
“He is young, and we all make mistakes,” Brewster said of Miller. “He just has to grow from it and get better.”
Start Me Up - A slow start on the road is about the worst thing you can have in football, and the Buckeyes didn't have to wait long to find themselves in trouble.
Miami scored on their first drive in just 79 seconds. And when they were finishing up their second drive, which also ended in a touchdown, there was still over five minutes to play in the first quarter.
Opening slow on the road is never a surprise, but opening this slowly is certainly a concern.
“I'd say a little jitters,” said defensive lineman Johnathan Hankins, trying to explain the slow start. “We weren't surprised (by the Miami offense). We knew what they were going to do. The second half we buckled down on the run and stopped it.
“Our coaches had us really well-prepared,” said safety C.J. Barnett. “They came out in exactly what we knew they would come out in. Our coaches did a great job preparing us.”
Despite the preparation, the game started poorly for the Buckeyes when Miami running back Lamar Miller ran through missed tackles, and 54 yards later had the Hurricanes in prime scoring position.
“It hurt us, obviously,” said linebacker Etienne Sabino.
“It put us behind the eight ball. You don't ever want to give up a 54-yard run to anybody.”
“We were out of position and got out of our gaps. When you play a team like this you can't get behind the eight ball.”
“They just executed their plan,” said linebacker Andrew Sweat.
“They started fast. We didn't start fast. They got up on us, and we could never recover.”
“I'm not really sure,” said cornerback Bradley Roby, trying to explain what went wrong.
“I think they were just more into it than us. We were hyped too, but I think they were just more into it than us, so we just had to do our best. Once we got the hang of the game and settled down that's when we started to settle down on defense.
Blame Me - Everybody that watched the game Saturday night knows why the Buckeyes lost. It's part of being an armchair quarterback. But while the fans will happily point fingers, those who were actually on the field will only point fingers at themselves.
“There's no disappointment,” Barnett said of the offensive woes. “We could have put them in better field position, or we could have created points to make it easier on them.”
“We just have to do our job. We've got to take our gaps and the main thing is make tackles. I missed a few tackles, we all missed tackles. We lost so apparently we didn't do a good enough job.”
“We're gonna stick together,” Hankins said. “There's no sense in pointing fingers. We got a loss. We're gonna take it, and move on.”
Despite the political correctness from the defense, clearly the quarterback situation is going to bear the brunt of the blame. And specifically Joe Bauserman. Does that make it fair?
“It's definitely not fair,” said Shugarts.
“This is a team game. One guy's performance is not gonna control the entire outcome of a game. I don't think it's fair, but being in that leadership role as a quarterback, I think if they do put that on Joe, he'll take it how he needs to and just keep getting better from it.”
“I don't know exactly what happened, that's why I have to look at the film and see exactly what happened,” Bauserman said. “We're gonna take this as a learning experience and move on.”
“We didn't execute as a whole as a team. It was a team performance. It's a long season and we're ready to keep moving on and get better.”
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