By the Numbers

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 11/05/2012 2:39 PM
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Football
By the Numbers
By Jeff Amey

The 2012 Ohio State Buckeye team might not be eligible for a bowl game or the National Championship. They might be largely ignored by the major media this season because of the sanctions as well. But this team is also the first team to ten wins this season and improving a little bit every week. There might not be a post-season for the Buckeyes this year, but this team looks like it's on a mission for twelve wins.

For the first time this season the Buckeyes put together four solid quarters of both offense and defense. Things did get a little sloppy in the second half, including two lost fumbles, but overall, this game was never really in doubt. Braxton Miller played his best game since the Nebraska game, and actually looked pretty good throwing the ball. The defense certainly seemed to take some strides as well.

This all has to be tempered with the fact that Illinois isn't a very good football team, and anything less than a dominant win would've been a little disappointing. The Buckeyes head into a much-needed bye week to heal up for the tough two game finale. Watching this team develop and slowly buy into what Urban Meyer has brought to the program has been pretty fun.

Let's take a look at the stats.

RUN/PASS BREAKDOWN

79 Total Plays--578 yards--7.3 yards per play

                23 pass (29%)--14/23 for 242 yards  2 TD

                56 rush (71%) for 336 yards  5 TD--6.0 ypc

13 Offensive Possessions

                Ave. of 6.1 plays--44.5 yards

                Ave. Start--OSU 35

First Down--42 Plays (53%) for 358 yards

                17 pass (40%)--12/17 for 229 yards  2 TD

                25 rush (60%) for 129 yards  3 TD--5.2 ypc

                Ave. gain of 8.5 yards

Second Down--26 plays (33%) for 189 yards

                2 pass (8%)--1/2 for 9 yards

                24 rush (92%) for 180 yards  1 TD--7.5 ypc

                Ave. of 7.3 yards to go

                Ave. gain of 7.3 yards

Third Down--10 plays (13%) for 29 yards

                4 pass (40%)--1/4 for 4 yards

                6 rush (60%) for 25 yards  1 TD--4.2 ypc

                Ave. of 5.3 yards to go

                Ave. gain of 2.9 yards

                Conversions--5/10 (50%)

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

                1 rush (100%) for 2 yards--2.0 ypc

                Ave. of 1.0 yard to go

                Ave. gain of 2.0 yards

                Conversions--1/1 (100%)

Playaction Passing--14 plays

                7/10 for 167 yards  1 TD

                4 scrambles for 25 yards  1 TD

First Downs Earned--29 Total

                5 by pass

                23 by rush

                1 by penalty

FORMATION/PERSONNEL GROUPINGS

Three back Shotgun/Pistol--1 play for 51 yards

                1 pass (100%)--1/1 for 51 yards  1 TD

Two Back Shotgun/Pistol--36 plays (46%) for 231 yards

                9 pass (25%)--7/9 for 90 yards

                27 rush (75%) for 141 yards  4 TD--5.2 ypc

One Back Shotgun/Pistol--34 plays (43%) for 252 yards

                8 pass (24%)--4/8 for 55 yards

                26 rush (76%) for 197 yards  1 TD--7.6 ypc

Empty Shotgun/Pistol--8 plays (10%) for 44 yards

                5 pass (63%)--2/5 for 46 yards  1 TD

                3 rush (37%) for -2 yards--(-0.7) ypc

RUN TYPE BREAKDOWN - 56 ATTEMPTS

Inside Zone--7 (13%) for 37 yards  1 TD--5.3 ypc

Power--11 (20%) for 66 yards  3 TD--6.0 ypc

QB Designed Run--5 (9%) for 55 yards--11.0 ypc

QB Sack/Scramble--10 (18%) for 15 yards  1 TD--1.5 ypc

Read Option--19 (34%) for 133 yards--7.0 ypc

Speed Option--2 (4%) for 9 yards--4.5 ypc

Triple Option--2 (4%) for 21 yards--10.5 ypc

OTHER STATS OF NOTE

* 1 offensive penalty for 15 yards

* Ohio State started on the Illinois side of the 50 once--7 points--(TD)

* 6/7 in the Red Zone--(5 TD  1 FG  1 Fumble)

* 3 sacks against

* 2 Turnovers (2 fumbles)

* 38/79 plays took place on the Illinois side of the 50--(48%)

* 18/79 plays went for no gain or loss--(23%)

* 23/79 plays went for 10+ yards--(29%)

* Number of three and out drives--3/13 (23%)

* Braxton Miller primary ball handler--52/62 plays--(84%)

* Number of first down plays of 10+ yards--13

* Number of first downs earned on first or second down--23

The Buckeye offense started a little slow in each half with a three and out both times, but dominated this game the rest of the way with seven touchdown drives, one field goal and two fumbles on what looked like promising drives. The only other drive that stalled out was the one right before halftime. There is a stat that I don't normally track, but probably should, and that is the percentage of yardage gained of the total possible. The Buckeyes gained 578 out of a possible 852 yards, which works out to be 68%. That's a very good percentage.

The Buckeyes completely dominated first and second downs to the tune of 547 of their 578 total yards. The coaching staff did a great job of keeping the Illinois defense off balance through playcalling on first down, mixing in some very effective play-action passing to go along with the ever-more-effective running game. There were only a few real issues, one being that the offense didn't do well on third down (2.9 ypp), the turnovers,  and the offensive line giving up a few sacks. Other than that, it was domination.

The running game is improving every week with the emergence of Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith to compliment the running of Braxton Miller, but the passing game still needs a lot of improvement. This was only the third game in conference play this season in which Braxton finished with higher than a 50% completion rate.  Baby steps...baby steps.

Quarterbacks

This was a better overall game for Braxton Miller than we've seen out of him the last few weeks. Any lingering effects of his injury seemed to be gone, and he looked in control of the offense from play one. The biggest difference in him this week was his footwork on pass plays. When he points his toe and steps into the throw, he erases any doubts about his arm strength and accuracy, putting several throws right on the money and with velocity. It wasn't a perfect day, but when he had time, he looked great.

While Miller was in the game, they ran 17 option plays of some sort, and I had Braxton making the correct read on 15 of those plays (88%) and the Buckeye offense gaining 142 yards on them. This has gone from a struggle to a strength, and allows the coaching staff to do so much more since opposing defenses are forced to respect it. This factor alone is making the offense much tougher to stop. I'm anxious to see what he can do against a couple of defenses that have some better athletes in the last two games.

Ken Guiton came on in relief of Miller in the fourth quarter and led a couple of nice drives, including a touchdown drive to finish out the Buckeye scoring on the day, but of course I can't go without mentioning the fumble returned for a touchdown on his first drive. We never got a good camera angle to tell if the ball slipped or if he just made a bad pitch, but giving up scores is never acceptable. For the first time this season, if just for that one play, he actually looked like a backup quarterback.

Grade--(A-) Only really taking off for the fumble. Miller's passing stats could've been better without a few drops from his receivers. His continued improvement is really bad news for the rest of the Big Ten.

Running Backs

Just for fun, or not fun for me in this case, I went back to last season's breakdown of the Toledo game to see exactly what I said about Carlos Hyde when I was doubtful he was going to be Ohio State's next great back. It wasn't as bad as I remembered, but it did have this nugget -- "Hyde has the look of a great running back, right up to the point where he takes the ball and starts running.". Times have certainly changed. I still don't think he's a game-breaker, but he runs every down hard and finishes every run as well as I've ever seen a player in a Buckeye uniform.

Every time Hyde got into the open field, he ran straight at the opposing safety. The first time, the safety tried to take him on, but every time after that, you could tell he didn't really want anything to do with him. He was simply a wrecking ball and he punished the opposing defenders on each and every run. His emergence as a viable threat in the run game has really opened up the offense. Now when the defense chooses to get the ball out of Braxton's hands, they have to deal with a 240 pound halfback that will run through them instead of around them.

Rod Smith continues his enigmatic season, with several good runs and a long reception for a touchdown in the first half to really break the game open, but put the ball on the ground yet again in the second half to basically end his day. I think everyone would like to see him with the ball in his hands more, but he has to do a better job of covering it up in traffic and with ball security in general. It's clear he has talent, and is a great addition to the backfield, but turnovers are not acceptable.

The big lead allowed Freshman Brionte Dunn to see the field for the Buckeye's last two drives, and showed he's got a little power in him as well. The Illinois defense was tired and demoralized by the time he got in the game, but he ran the ball well when he got his opportunities. He also needs to work on ball security, however, as he almost lost it twice.
Grade--(A-)  The running backs accounted for 242 yards rushing between them as well as another 55 yards receiving and five total touchdowns. I would say that's a pretty good day.  Only the fumble brings down the grade.

Receivers

With the running game doing so well the pure drop-back passing game has taken a back seat to big plays in the playaction pass game. With Braxton throwing a lot more accurately, there were more opportunities and the receivers came through for the most part. There were five pass plays of 20 or more yards on just 23 attempts. Considering there were three drops, two by Jake Stoneburner on the same drive, it could've been much better.

I think the play of the game has to be Corey Brown's catch and run touchdown reception early in the fourth quarter. With Devin Smith's star fading the past few games, the Buckeyes needed someone to step up at receiver to make a big play or two, and that was one that I'm not sure anyone thought he could make.  He showed elusiveness and decisiveness that he hasn't shown all season in getting that to the end zone. 
Grade--(B+)  The drops bring the grade down some, but the outside blocking was good again, and the receivers that did catch the ball did the most with their opportunities.

Offensive Line

When you think of this line compared to the offensive lines of the previous 10 seasons, it's really amazing the difference. I still maintain that some of the difference in performance has to do with the scheme differences, but there's no denying that the offensive line has gone from one of the weaker points of the offense to one of the strongest in just one season.

The Buckeyes gained nearly 600 yards of total offense, and over 300 yards rushing, but I still don't think this was as good as the line can possibly do. They gave up three sacks, including a bad one when the Illinois defense was only sending three rushers on their first drive of the day. There were a few run plays where the Illinois defense got penetration to blow up the play as well. Despite those few plays, the offensive line dominated the Illinois defense and gave Braxton and the running backs huge lanes to run through.
Grade--(B+)  Can't just ignore the sacks and negative rushing plays, but overall the line was great.

Offensive Coaching/Gameplan

At times, this game didn't even seem fair. Illinois was clearly out-matched by the Ohio State offense, and I thought the coaching staff played that to the hilt with their playcalling, especially on first down. With the running game going so well early in the game, and with Illinois taking the same tack as most teams of playing run action very aggressively, there were opportunities for play-action and first down passing, which was used quite a bit.  When their defense was burnt with a few big pass plays, they backed off a bit, which opened things back up for the run game.  It was a vicious cycle their defense never solved.

The offense now has a set of core plays that they are executing very well, and which the coaches are building on little by little as the season goes on. A lot of it isn't fancy, it just involves Braxton Miller making the right decisions to be successful. As his decision-making has improved, the offense has followed suit, making the coaches look like geniuses. This season is building a solid foundation for the future for the Ohio State offense, and I can't wait to see what they can do in their last two games as they build for next season.

There are still a few areas that need work, especially the drop-back passing game, but I think the run game is getting closer to their potential, at least with this set of players. While I will always appreciate what Jim Tressel brought to the Ohio State program, a consistantly exciting offense was never part of it. Urban Meyer has brought that in just one season, and it can still be better. 
Grade--(A+)  The offensive coaches basically dictated the game's tempo and flow to the Illinois defense. I don't think it was a very fun day to be an Illini defender.

Special Teams

While there were no major breakdowns in the special teams this week, there was also nothing all that great that happened for them either. The return and coverage teams were adaquate and not much more, though the Illini did manage one long kickoff return. Drew Basil made his only field goal attempt, and Ben Buchanan did an adaquate job with his kicks, though his first one was almost blocked.I think we're still all holding our breath when a special team is on the field, and that's not where they need to be.

Grade--(C)  If average is all we get, then that's all they receive.

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