Tressel Says Execution the Only Answer for OSU Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When Dick Tressel turned on the film from Saturday’s loss to Michigan State, his stomach began to turn.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That has been the response of pretty much everyone associated with Ohio State since watching the Buckeyes struggle to gain an inch offensively for the first 59 minutes against the Spartans.
Tressel and the OSU coaching staff did not enjoy re-watching their own failure the day after this game—certainly not any more than they did after the loss to Miami (Fla.) back in week three.
Their disgust was likely for different reasons than most, however.
“I think the things that bothered us the most were some unforced errors,” Ohio State’s running backs coach said after practice Wednesday evening.
“We had some unforced errors when we started to get a little bit of momentum, a couple of silly penalties and some things like that. When you’re battling a good team and you’re struggling a little bit, if you create your own issues – let alone the ones they’re creating – that’s hard.”
The Buckeyes consistently put themselves in 2nd-and-11, 2nd-and-9, 2nd-and-13 and 2nd-and-15 type situations, which didn’t help the fact they were already struggling to hold back an aggressive Mark Dantonio defense.
“They had shown that before. You’re not always sure how good they are at, but they’re pretty good at it,” Tressel said of Michigan State’s pressure.
“That made it a little harder on us.”
So did the fact Ohio State committed nine penalties for 82 yards. Tressel believes that part needs to change more than their game plan offensively.
“The plan wouldn’t change that much, the execution and not putting yourself in those situations would be the keys,” he said.
“Those situations were created by our unforced errors, minus yardage plays. All of a sudden they can pin their ears back and come after you. The best way to handle that is to stay out of that situation.”
Once the Spartans got Ohio State’s offense on its heels, there was only one way to make Dantonio call off the dogs: make some plays.
“A lot of times that ball gets rolling and you don't make the plays you need to make. That's ultimately what it comes down to,” OSU Head Coach Luke Fickell said.
“Guys are going to bring that kind of pressure. There's still some things you have to be able to attack, and you have to be able to make a couple of plays. And I promise you, if you make a couple of plays, they stop bringing the pressure, and we just didn't do it.”
Before the touchdown pass to Evan Spencer in the final minute, Ohio State’s longest play of the day was a 33-yard pass from Braxton Miller to a wide-open Chris Fields in the second quarter.
It was the first time all day that the Buckeye offense was on Michigan State side of the field. They immediately followed it up with a sack, a 15-yard penalty for an illegal block and eventually an interception by Darqueze Dennard on a jump ball to Devin Smith.
“I think we have to be able to make adjustments,” Fickell said.
“There are open receivers and guys that we have to find. Don't take any credit away from what those guys did against us, but if you pop it on and you watch, you can definitely see that there are some things that, man, might not be real sound right now, but pressure can do that to you.”
With that in mind, the Buckeyes are tinkering with some things offensively this week to help Miller and Joe Bauserman stay upright against Nebraska’s defense Saturday night.
“We’re going to run some different stuff as well, try to combat that,” center Michael Brewster said.
“I’m kind of excited to see how that turns out on Saturday. It’s maybe not new stuff but stuff we ran in the past.”
Brewster said they have changed up some of their protection this week and they are running more of their bread and butter isolation plays, but don’t expect to see a complete overhaul of the offensive game plan based on what Dick Tressel had to say.
“The reevaluation was this isn’t a game of plays and X’s and O’s,” he said.
“This is a game of participation and functioning well and doing your thing, so make sure you work on your fundamentals and do what you’re asked to do well. Then go compete and get that under control.”
Somebody had better get it under control soon or the Buckeyes could wake up and be 3-5 heading into the Indiana game on Nov. 5.
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