By the Numbers

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Established October 31, 1996
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Last updated: 09/24/2012 7:48 PM
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Football
By the Numbers
By Jeff Amey

When Urban Meyer took over at Ohio State many Buckeye fans were expecting an end to seasons full of disappointing and unsatisfying wins.   In his first season, it doesn't seem that is going to be the case.  The Buckeyes pulled out a 29-15 win over the UAB Blazers on Saturday, but yet again Buckeye fans are left with a lot to be desired with what we saw on both sides of the ball.

We'll cover the defense later this week, and the problems on that side of the ball are completely different from the issues on offense.  Despite those issues, I think there were several positives to take away from the offense this week.  The problems basically come down to inconsistancy and a lack of playmaking from anyone other than the quarterback.  When they get it together, they can move down the field in a hurry and put up points in bunches, even without the dynamic playmakers.  Trouble is, they're having issues doing it over an entire gamebut so far, when they've needed it, they've been able to turn it on.

All in all, I don't think it's anything we shouldn't have been expecting from the first year of a transition to a new offense and philosophy.  Expectations were probably a tad too high going into the season.

Consider this:  45% of the Buckeye's offensive possessions were 3 and outs this week, yet they put up almost 350 yards and 29 points.  The problems on offense wouldn't be all that big of a deal if the defense was even coming close to holding up their end of the bargain.  Right now, it's feast or famine when the Buckeyes take the field on offense.  If they can start eliminating the "famine" part on offense, the defense might not matter all that much. I think that must be how Pac-12 fans feel about their teams, but they're happy about it.

Let's take a look at the stats.

Run/Pass Breakdown

57 Offensive Plays--346 yards--6.1 yards per play

                20 pass (35%)--12/20 for 143 yards

                37 rush (65%) for 203 yards  4 TD--5.5 ypc

11 Offensive Possessions

                Ave. of 5.2 plays--31.4 yards

                Ave. start--OSU 32

First Down--30 plays (53%) for 212 yards

                8 pass (27%)--5/8 for 63 yards

                22 rush (73%) for 149 yards  3 TD--6.8 ypc

                Ave. gain of 7.1 yards

Second Down--17 plays (30%) for 120 yards

                6 pass (35%)--6/6 for 69 yards

                11 rush (65%) for 51--4.6 ypc

                Ave. of 7.5 yards to go

                Ave. gain of 7.1 yards

Third Down--10 plays (17%) for 14 yards

                6 pass (60%)--1/6 for 11 yards

                4 rush (40%) for 3 yards  1 TD

                Ave. of 5.9 yards to go

                Ave. gain of 1.4 yards

                Conversions--3/10 (30%)

Playaction Passing--3 plays

                1/2 for 10 yards

                1 sack for -7 yards

First Downs Earned--19 total

                9 by pass

                10 by rush

Formation Type Breakdown

Under Center--3 plays (5%) for 18 yards

                3 rush (100%) for 18 yards--6.0 ypc

Two Back Shotgun/Pistol--12 plays (21%) for 55 yards

                12 rush (100%) for 55 yards  1 TD--4.6 ypc

One Back Shotgun/Pistol--36 plays (63%) for 252 yards

                15 pass (42%)--10/15 for 116 yards

                21 rush (58%) for 136 yards  3 TD--6.5 ypc

Empty Shotgun/Pistol--6 plays (11%) for 21 yards

                5 pass (84%)--2/5 for 27 yards

                1 rush (16%) for -6 yards--(-6.0) ypc

Run Type Breakdown--37 attempts

Inside Zone--4 (11%) for 22 yards  1 TD--5.5 ypc

Power--5 (14%) for 24 yards--4.8 ypc

QB Designed Run--6 (16%) for 50 yards  2 TD--8.3 ypc

QB scramble/sack--3 (8%) for 6 yards--2.0 ypc

Read Option--13 (35%) for 78 yards  1 TD--6.0 ypc

Speed Option--1 (3%) for -6 yards--(-6.0) ypc

Triple Option--5 (14%) fro 29 yards--5.8 ypc

Other Stats of Note

* Two offensive penalties for 15 yards

* Ohio State started on the UAB side of the 50 twice--7 points (1 TD)

* 4/4 in the Red Zone--(4 TD)

* Two sacks against

* No Turnovers

* 22/57 plays took place on the UAB side of the 50--(39%)

* 14/57 plays went for no gain/loss--(23%)

* 17/57 plays went for 10+ yards--(30%)

* 5/11 drives went three and out--(45%)

* Braxton Miller main ball handler on 48/57 plays (84%)

You have to take your hat off for the UAB Blazers for giving it their all as 37 point underdogs in a hostile environment (though it never seemed to be very hostile).  Had their coaches decided to gamble a little more on fourth downs this game might've ended badly for the Buckeyes.

The offense was never really stopped by the UAB defense in this game.  The only thing that stopped the offense were bad plays on third down.  Be it a bad read on option plays, overthrowing receivers, or dropped passes, the Buckeyes have to do a better job of converting third downs to be a more successful offense. 

On first and second down, they averaged more than seven yards per play.  Taken together, those downs account for 82% (47 of 57) of the offensive plays in the game.  Over a third of those plays went for 10 or more yards (16).  Only 15% of them went for no gain or a loss.  On third down, 70% of the plays went for no gain or a loss and only one play went for over 10 yards.  That's two weeks in a row of third down conversions in the low 30% range.  With a defense performing the way it is, staying on the field is important to protect the defense.

All that being said, it seems at times the offense can kick it up a notch and move the ball at will.  The Buckeyes put up touchdowns on three straight drives in the first half, and in the span of those 18 plays, 10 of them went for 10+ yards or more with no negative plays at all.  Braxton Miller went 6/6 on those three drives and 6/14 the rest of the game.

We're still waiting for the offense to put it all together for a whole game instead of just parts of it, but it's getting closer.  The lack of dynamic playmakers is obvious to everyone, but while big play touchdowns would be nice, this offensive philosophy is capable of dinking and dunking down the field almost at will if the execution is there, even with sub-optimal personnel.  If third down execution was better in this game, I don't think it would've been a close game at all.

Quarterbacks

Most of the problems with third down execution can be laid at the feet of the quarterback position.  Braxton Miller went only 1/6 passing on those downs, and several of those were misses of open receivers, though Devin Smith also had two third down drops.  There was also a bad read on an option play and QB counter play that was run down from behind that stopped Ohio State drives.  Add in a few other times where he overthrew or underthrew open receivers on long balls, and a few other bad reads on read option plays and you can see it wasn't the best day for him.

On the bright side, the coaching staff allowed him a little more freedom at the line of scrimmage than he's had, and I thought he did a pretty good job with getting the Buckeyes into plays that worked, though it seemed he only went to read option plays.  That said, I think Braxton is still growing in the offense, and things will only get better.  He did a much better job of going through progressions and reading the defense when he had time in the pocket.  UAB played a lot of zone defenses, and reading those hasn't been his strong suit in the past.

I do wonder why he's not keeping the ball more when he gets the "keep" read on read option plays.  If it's simply because the coaching staff want him to take less hits, wouldn't it be better for him to keep the ball, get in the end zone early and often against a team like this, and spend the majority of the second half on the sideline taking no hits at all while Ken Guiton runs the show?  I don't think having the QB "give" when he's getting a "keep" read is a good habit to get into.  It only happened a few times in this game, but all of those looked like big gains had he kept the ball.  Is he being coached to "give", or is he just not reading it right?

Grade--(B)   Seems like I'm being a little hard on him, but I'm not really.  He's coming along slowly, and I still think the offense will be incredibly hard to stop when he picks it all up.

Running Backs

This is probably going to sound like a broken record this season, but nowhere does the offense suffer more than not having a real playmaker at the running back spot.  Jordan Hall put up over 100 yards rushing, and again looked servicable, but the next tackle he breaks this season will be his first.  Rod Smith was an interesting addition to the running back rotation this.  For the first time in his Ohio State career, he showed flashes of being a back that might be able to do something other than fumble when he gets on the field.  He only carried it 5 times, but did a pretty good job on all of them, including getting into the end zone for the Buckeyes' first touchdown of the day.

Will Carlos Hyde make a difference if he's able to come back this week?  Will Rod Smith worm his way into more field time?  Will Jordan Hall improve with more reps, or is it a case of "he is what he is"?  I don't think it's really a good thing to have that many questions about the backfield four games into the season heading into conference play.

Grade--(B-)  Right now it's hard to give this group anything over "a little above average".  Will anyone step up in conference play?

Recievers

Last week, Devin Smith seemed to emerge as the playmaker for this offense despite the two drops.  This week, he matched the drop total, and both of them were more costly than they were last week.  One was on an early third down play, and the second would've been a touchdown had he come up with it.  He needs to work on his consistancy.  Any drops are inexcusable, but drops of third downs and touchdowns are sacrilege.

After having a tough game last week, I thought Corey Brown bounced back pretty well this week.  He caught four passes, including two long corner routes on consecutive plays in the second quarter.  More importantly to this offense, he had a much better game blocking on the edge after looking terrible last week.  Last week, we talked about having someone emerge opposite Smith.  I don't think Corey Brown is there yet, but this game was a good sign.

Grade--(B)  The rest of the receiver play was fairly pedestrian, but edge blocking in general was better this week.

Offensive Line

Last week, I gave a "no news is good news" report on the offensive line.  For the most part, that's true again this week.  The Buckeyes averaged 5.5 yards per carry and put up almost 350 yards of offense despite nearly half of their possessions being three and outs.  That doesn't happen without good line play, and I don't feel that the issues on third down can be put on the line either.

This game wasn't without its issues, however.  Andrew Norwell had a few plays where he was beaten badly right off the snap, resulting in immediate pressure on Braxton Miller on pass plays.  Two of those plays were on Ohio State's first drive of the game, resulting in bad throws and incompletions on both plays including third down.  There was also another third down play later in the game where his man was able to get immediate pressure on Miller.

Grade--(B+)  Norwell's third down issues drag the grade down a little bit.  Overall, it was a pretty good, but not great, game for the line.

Offensive Coaching/Gameplan

After a pretty long section here last week, I'm going to be much more brief.  It's clear that this is still a work in progress, and progress isn't coming fast enough to make Buckeye fans happy, especially when the defense is doing it's best impression of a seive.  Regardless, progress is being made, we just have to wait for them to put it all together.

I didn't think they did enough with playaction.  They only used it three times for a net gain of just three yards.  I would think that with the read option being used so extensively and successfully there would be a lot more playaction looks when they wanted to pass.

I also think the offense is starting to get a little predictable in certain formation setups.  I would like to think that they are doing that to some extent to set up big plays later in the season, and with this offense, no matter if the defense knows what's coming they still have to be disciplined to stop it.  It still bothers me a little that I'm starting to be able to call what they're going to do just by how and who they've lined up.

What happened to the screen element of this offense?  The Buckeyes opened with one on their first drive for 7 yards, then didn't throw another one for the rest of the game.  I kept expecting the Buckeyes to go back to it at some point, but they never did and I think it was there for the taking most of the game.  Are the coaches just not comfortable with how they're blocking them?

Grade--(B+)  The offense is coming along, even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes.  It probably won't be an explosive offense this year, but with a little more consistancy can be very hard to stop on a regular basis.

Special Teams

If I had to sum up the special teams play in this game in one word, it would be disaster.  Who in their right mind thought that punt formation was going to work?  The setup alone left the personal protector in a hopeless bind with two guys to try to block.  It was no surprise when the punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown.  It was ridiculous.

Add to that poor kickoff coverages and a surprise onside kick recovered by UAB on the second half kickoff, and it was a pretty poor day for the special teams overall.  When the only bright spot on special teams is the long snapper downing a punt inside the five yard line, you've got problems.  I probably graded this group too highly last week, but I was giving too much benefit of doubt.  There's no excuse for the gaffes this week.

Grade--(D-)  The long snapper keeps this from being an F, but not by much.  This area has to be better in conference play.

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