By the Numbers
By Jeff Amey
It's been said many times that a win is a win, but Ohio State's 52-49 win over a very game Indiana Hoosier team on Saturday night left a lot of Buckeye fans feeling more like it was a loss. While I think almost everyone is happy about 7-0, there just isn't much to be happy about when the defense gives up 49 points to a traditional Big Ten doormat, including 15 in the last two minutes. Had Corey Brown not come up with his stumbling recovery of the second onside kick, the Buckeyes could very well have lost the game.
The Indiana game has traditionally been a game that cures whatever ails the offense. Jim Tressel offenses rarely topped 500 yards in his tenure, but the Buckeyes had more of those against Indiana than any other team during his time as head man. The Buckeyes ran up 578 yards of offense against the Hoosiers this week and 52 points. I'll bet they didn't think they'd need every one of those to win, though.
Let's take a look at the stats before getting into the position groups.
79 Total Plays--578 yards--7.3 yards per play
25 pass (32%)--14/25 for 223 yards 3 TD 1 INT
54 rush (68%) for 355 yards 3 TD--6.6 ypc
14 Offensive Possessions
Ave. of 5.6 plays--41.3 yards
Ave. start--OSU 30
First Down--37 plays (47%) for 240 yards
9 pass (24%)--3/9 for 29 yards
28 rush (76%) for 211 yards 3 TD--7.5 ypc
Ave. gain of 6.5 yards
Second Down--27 plays (34%) for 165 yards
8 pass (30%)--6/8 for 67 yards 1 INT
19 rush (70%) for 98 yards--5.2 ypc
Ave. of 8.8 yards to go
Ave. gain of 6.1 yards
Third Down--14 plays (18%) for 169 yards
8 pass (57%)--5/8 for 127 yards 2 TD
6 rush (43%) for 42 yards--7.0 ypc
Ave. of 6.8 yards to go
Ave. gain of 12.1 yards
Fourth Down--1 play (1%) for 4 yards
1 rush (100%0 for 4 yards--4.0 ypc
Ave. of 1.0 yards to go
Ave. gain of 4.0 yards
Playaction Passing--12 plays
5/11 for 52 yards 1 INT (3 Drops)
1 scramble for 14 yards
First Downs Earned--23 Total
6 by pass
14 by rush
3 by penalty
FORMATION TYPE BREAKDOWN
Two Back Pistol/Shotgun--39 plays (49%) for 280 yards
13 pass (33%)--8/13 for 83 yards 1 TD 1 INT
26 rush (67%) for 197 yards 2 TD--7.6 ypc
One Back Pistol/Shotgun--32 plays (41%) for 223 yards
9 pass (28%)--3/9 for 82 yards 1 TD
23 rush (72%) for 141 yards 1 TD--6.1 ypc
Empty Pistol/Shotgun--6 plays (8%) for 79 yards
3 pass (50%)--3/3 for 58 yards 1 Td
3 rush (50%) for 21 yards--7.0 ypc
Victory Formation--2 plays (2%) for -4 yards
2 rush (100%) for -4 yards--(-2.0) ypc
RUN TYPE BREAKDOWN
Inside Zone--11 (20%) for 90 yards 1 TD--8.2 ypc
Iso--4 (7%) for 33 yards--8.3 ypc
QB Designed Run--5 (9%) for 76 yards 1 TD--15.2 ypc
QB Scramble/Sack--6 (11%) for 28 yards--4.7 ypc
Read Option-- 17 (31%) for 56 yards--3.3 ypc
Speed Option--1 (2%) for 0 yards--0.0 ypc
TEAM--2 (4%) for -4 yards--(-2.0) ypc
Triple Option--7 (13%) for 72 yards 1 TD--10.3 ypc
Unknown due to BTN's "wonderful" production--1 (2%) for 4 yards--4.0 ypc
OTHER STATS OF NOTE
* 4 offensive penalties for 20 yards (all false starts)
* Ohio State started on the Indiana side of the 50 once--0 points
* 4/6 in the red zone--(3 TD 1 FG)
* 2 sacks against
* 1 turnover (INT)
* 33/79 plays took place on the Indiana side of the 50--(42%)
* 26/79 plays went for no gain/loss--(33%)
* 22/79 plays went for 10+ yards--(28%)
* 2/14 drives went 3 and out--(14%)
* Braxton Miller primary ball handler--62/77 plays--(81%)
* Bad option reads by my count--11 (25 option calls)
* Read option plays for no gain/loss--7/17 (41%)
I would like to say wonderful things about the offense this week. They put up nearly 600 yards of offense, 52 points, and averaged over 7 yards per play. Those are things we all longed for under Jim Tressel and rarely saw. Unfortunately, a new regime and the last two games have raised expectations for the offense, and anything less than that kind of production against an Indiana team that has struggled to stop anyone would've been disappointing, frankly.
While the offense was fun to watch for most of the game, and they did gain nearly 60% of the total yardage possible, they also left a lot of yardage on the field through several mistakes, mostly mental, that kept the Buckeyes from scoring more and putting Indiana away. While it was hardly a disappointing game for the offense, when you look and see that fully 1/3 of their plays went for no gain or a loss, it's easy to see this game could've gone even better.
Where could things have been better? A run through the position groups will tell the tale.
While there have been some other weapons to emerge, the cog in the machine that makes it all go is still Braxton Miller. I don't particularly like to be down on a guy that puts up nearly 400 yards of offense himself and accounts for three of the offensive touchdowns, but the fact is there were some parts of this game where Miller really struggled.
The good news is that nearly all the struggles were mental, therefore correctable. His teammates were lauding Braxton's decision-making on option plays, but for this game I have to disagree. He did a pretty good job with the triple option against the Hoosiers, but when they ran the straight zone-read (defensive end) or the slower developing "ride" option where he's reading an inside defensive player, he really struggled with the decision to give or keep. Against Indiana, which was playing the option very aggressively from outside in, he kept the ball several times when the read was to give. The result was several negative plays.
In the passing game he made a few small strides, but had struggles there as well. There were a few plays where I saw him go through progressions, the most notable of which was the outlet pass to Carlos Hyde in the fourth quarter that went for a first down. For the most part, he's still staring down his primary read and seems to decide pre-snap who he's going to throw to on several plays. Is that trust and confidence in his pre-snap read, or is it just him deciding that's who he's going to look at? I'm still inclined to think the latter for the most part.
All in all, I thought he had a pretty good day throwing the ball. He didn't throw many that were uncatchable, and ended up being hurt in the stat column by several drops, including two by Devin Smith that would've been touchdowns. The interception was a pretty poor decision, but that was the exception in the passing game, not the rule.
Grade--(B) I would like to go higher, but the poor decisions in the option and the interception can't be ignored. When I start giving Braxton "A's", the rest of the Big Ten is in real trouble.
There have been several times in Carlos Hyde's short career at Ohio State where I have doubted his ability or his ability to fit in to Urban Meyer's offense, and every time Hyde has proven me wrong. There are few things I like more than when a player does that. Hyde bettered his career high 140 yards on the ground last week with 156 yards against the Hoosiers and a touchdown. He also added two catches for 27 more yards and a touchdown. He's looked better and stronger in every game since coming back from his knee injury.
You have to like how hard Hyde is running on every play, and it seems his confidence is growing with every play and every game. He's been spending less time cutting and more time running through arm tackles and is doing a pretty good job setting up defenders in one on one situations to be able to do that. I think we're seeing the next great running back at Ohio State develop right before our eyes.
Him emerging as a viable threat on the ground, along with Rod Smith to some extent despite his fumble, is only going to make Braxton Miller's job a lot easier. All that seems to be missing is Miller trusting that Hyde/Smith will pick up the yardage if he gives them the ball. I got the sense that Miller was trying too hard to do it all himself against the Hoosiers at times.
Speaking of Rod Smith, until that fourth quarter fumble, he was having a pretty good game as well, and making an even bigger case for more field time. The fumble put an end to his night, however, and it will be interesting to see if it affects the progress he's made to this point. His story is one of hard work and perseverence. Let's hope this fumble doesn't set all of that back.
Grade--(A-) Only the fumble drags this down a little, and it was recovered by the offense. All exhuberance has to be tempered with "It WAS Indiana".
Have the Buckeyes ever had such a maddeningly inconsistant receiver as Devin Smith? He finished with two touchdowns on spectacular plays, including a catch and run 46 yard touchdown to cap off Ohio State's scoring on the day in the fourth quarter. He could've and should've finished this game with four touchdowns, however, as he dropped two sure touchdowns. It only ended up costing the Buckeyes four points, as they went on to score a TD on one of those drives and settled for a field goal on the other, but you'd like to see him come down with those. His concentration on his amazing plays has been phenominal, but he follows it with plays where he looks like he's thinking about anything but football.
Corey Brown just keeps doing his thing in the short passing game. He was open most of the game, and did a pretty good job keeping the sticks moving. He also added his first rushing touchdown of the season with a pitch on the triple option for Ohio State's touchdown on their opening drive. He wasn't immune to the drops bug, however, and added two to the total, including one on a third down that forced the Buckeyes to punt.
We also had a Jake Stoneburner sighting or two against the Hoosiers. After several games of not showing up on the stat sheet, he ended up with 4 catches and complimented Brown in the short game. With Indiana commiting so much to the line to stop the running game, it opened up some opportunities for him man to man against linebackers and safeties, which he was able to take advantage of.
Grade--(B) The drops bring the grade down quite a bit. Both Smith touchdowns and the open field blocking was outstanding yet again, however.
When you look at the stats and see fully 1/3 of Ohio State's offensive plays went for no gain or loss, it's easy to throw that at the offensive line's feet and say that it must not have been a very good game for them, but I don't think that's the case at all this week. Indiana was commiting eight men to the box and playing any kind of run action very aggressively. Despite that, the Buckeyes still managed to put up over 350 yards rushing, even with all the negative plays.
That's not to say the offensive line had a perfect day, however. There were four false start penalties, two of which helped kill drives before they got started. There were also several plays where guys up front lost their one on one matchup and the Hoosiers were able to get penetration or pressure on Braxton Miller. After the last two big games, I kind of expected a bit of a let-down from the team. I think the mental mistakes and losses on the line were an indication of it.
Grade--(B+) I don't want to be too tough on this group considering how much Indiana pressured the line of scrimmage and the fact that the Buckeyes did so well on the ground, but it wasn't "A" material.
With every passing week, I'm more convinced that the Tom Herman hire is going to turn out to be a great one at Offensive Coordinator. For eleven seasons, I was convinced that the Buckeyes called plays by throwing darts at a dartboard up in the coaching booth. At times, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason at all to what the coaches were calling.
This season, we can see the Buckeye coaching staff actively adjust to what the opposing defenses are doing. We can see the proper use of constraint plays to take advantage of the defense overplaying certain plays. Most importantly, we can see the offense dictate the game's pace and direction to the opposing defense instead of the other way around.
Nowhere was that more evident than in Ohio State's first offensive play of the second half. The Buckeye had used the slower developing "ride" option play several times in the first half where Carlos Hyde motioned into the backfield from the outside receiver spot and Braxton Miller did a long riding read of an interior defensive player. On that play, they used the same pre-snap motion and post-snap action, but pulled the playside guard around to attack the backside on a counter. It took advantage of Indiana over-playing that option look and allowed the blockers an advantage on that side of the field. All it took was for Braxton to make the safety miss and he was off to the races.
I'm also much happier the last two weeks with the amount of playaction being used in the passing game. Had it not been for the three drops on those plays this week, it would've been a huge game for playaction. It accounted for nearly half of the attempts for the game and there were receivers wide open on nearly all of them.
I also like the move more designed back runs in the game over time. The opposing defensive ends have been opening up with the expectation of not getting blocked on running downs (as happens playside on read option plays), so when the Buckeyes call a designed run and the tackles block the ends, they have been having their way with them the past few weeks. It's been opening huge holes for Carlos Hyde to get through on inside zone/iso plays.
It's also nice to see them add a wrinkle or two every week. The quick toss forward to a jet motioning receiver has been the new hotness across the nation this season, and the Buckeyes ran it twice on Saturday. The option look shovel pass that went for a touchdown was something the Buckeyes tried to run once earlier this season unsuccessfully, but was executed much better this week.
Grade--(A) This section rarely got A's under the last regime. It almost seems like I'm passing them out like candy this season...and I still think there is a lot of room for improvement.
The special teams was a mixed bag of some good, some bad. Drew Basil made one and missed one field goal. The kickoff coverage team did a pretty good job all game, except for one kickoff that gave the Hoosiers a short field when the Buckeyes were trying to close out the game. They recovered the onside kick attempt to salt the game away, but allowed one just a few minutes before that allowed the Hoosiers to cut the lead to 3. They block a punt for a touchdown to take the lead in the second quarter, but allowed a blocked punt a few series earlier that gave Indiana the opportunity for the lead and swung the momentum Indiana's way.
With Urban being in charge of the special teams, I can't imagine he was a happy camper reviewing the game film for this one.
Grade--(D) The one bright spot (blocked punt) can't overcome all of the mistakes on special teams this week. This stuff HAS to be shored up.