The Buckeye Watch: Where Buffalo Roamed
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — There hasn't been an acceptable first game in Ohio Stadium since the 70-7 opener against Rice in 1996, and even then people were wondering how the Buckeye defense could give up seven points to Rice.
The major takeaways from this game were that Braxton Miller looked good throwing, Ohio State's possible third-string tailback went for 159 yards and two touchdowns, and the long rush against the Buckeye defense was just 10 yards.
No, not much following the first quarter was pretty, but at least now you know the areas of concern that will keep you up at night. Before, you were just concerned with what the concerns would be; but now you know, so that should actually alleviate some concerns.
See, don't you feel better now?
8:15 You know it's gameday when the Amber Alert signs on the highway are telling people not to drink and drive at 8:15 in the morning.
8:28 I'm here early. So early that players and coaches are still getting here. Jim Heacock just gave me a look like, “What the hell are you doing here at this hour.” Or maybe it was just, “What the hell are you doing here?” Or maybe it was just, “What the hell?”
11:21 C.J. Barnett isn't dressed and will not play. Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown is taking his reps and will likely get the start. You'll be happy to know that I dropped Ohio State's defense last night. I was going to start them today, but without Barnett, I got worried. I mention this because now that I've dropped them, you're looking at a Buckeye shutout with multiple defensive touchdowns today.
11:33 Dontre Wilson is working with the wide receivers right now. Kind of disappointed that he hasn't scored yet.
12:01 Here comes the coin toss. Buckeyes win the toss, they defer. Defer? But Dontre Wilson can't score on the opening kickoff if they don't get the opening kickoff. America has been robbed by Urban Meyer. I'll be back. I have to go register an internet petition to get Meyer fired.
12:03 Okay, I'm back. The petition wasn't something that I wanted to do, but we can't just sit silently as our liberties are stolen from us by the monsters in power. I wonder who Ohio State's next coach will be.
12:04 Buffalo comes out with two quick passes, as has every season-opening opponent since 2002. The dink and dunk will frustrate fans, yet won't even make it into scoring territory. This is how things always go. Although with how far off the corners are playing, Buffalo would be crazy to try anything else. If the Buckeyes are going to give you eight yards on every snap, why change. But they always change.
12:05 Third and three. Buffalo comes out in the wildcat with Branden Oliver. Do they call it the wild buffalo? Probably. Maybe the wild bull? Ohio State calls timeout, presumably to have the same discussion that I am right now.
Fickell: Yo Vrabes, what do you think they call their wildcat? Wild buffalo?
Vrabel: No, because nobody names their wildcat based off of the city they play in. You've made the mistake of attributing the city to the “-cat” suffix because the city is also the name of a type of animal. Do you understand? We don't run the “Columbus Cat”, Michigan doesn't run the “Ann Arbor Cat”. Do you see?”
Fickell: Hold on, I'm going to call another timeout because I like the idea of this “Columbus Cat” thing. I wish I coached at Colorado. I think “Denver Cat” sounds awesome.
Vrabel: Colorado is in Boulder.
Fickell: How can a state be in a city?
Vrabel: The University of Colorado is in Boulder. If you coached at Colorado, you would run the “Boulder Cat”.
12:06 Vrabel is standing with Tyvis Powell, Joey Bosa and Armani Reeves, waiting to send one of them out there once he sees the Buffalo alignment. They're all standing about 10 yards out onto the field. A most interesting chess match. Buffalo comes back out in the wildcat, so Vrabel sends Bosa out there. No matter, Oliver picks up a first down.
12:09 Another eight-yard quick hitch for Buffalo to get the ball into Ohio State territory. Now is about the time when things start to bog down.
12:10 Third and one. Oliver loses a yard. Noah Spence and Curtis Grant shut it down just like a pair of five-stars should. Buffalo calls a timeout. They were getting ready to go for it. May as well throw the hitch wide, or the hitch and go. No reason to give the ball to the Buckeye offense any sooner than necessary.
12:14 Buffalo comes out in four wides and gets a delay of game. Out of the timeout? Now they'll have to punt. Hey, it's preseason for Jeff Quinn too.
12:16 Jordan Hall picks up eight yards right up the middle. He nearly broke it. There are some rather large holes to run through at the moment.
12:17 Play-action. Braxton Miller is going deep, he's got two guys and one defender, and it's a touchdown to Devin Smith. I'm not sure if he actually decided who to throw to, or if he just let them decide amongst themselves. That was actually a pretty nice throw away from the defender by Miller.
12:18 Uh oh. Swinging gate. They're going for two. Guiton keeps it and runs it in for two points. Buckeyes lead it 8-0. Ohio State is now Boise State.
12:19 Poor Drew Basil. All he has is extra points, and now Urban Meyer has taken those from him. AND they make him block now. Meyer is never going to land a five-star kicker now.
12:23 Buffalo goes about five and out. Nice return by Philly Brown. Speaking of Philly, it's about time for him to catch a deep pass, and I'm not saying that just because I'm starting him today.
12:26 Dontre Wilson is in the slot. Five wide. QB draw? Nope, Wilson motions through and Miller hits him with a swing pass and...wow...he almost took it to the house. He was just barely tripped up by the last guy. That would have been a nice debut considering the hype everybody but me has been spewing about this kid.
12:28 First and goal. Play-action, Miller rolls left and finds Chris Fields all by himself in the endzone. This is pretty easy so far. Pretty much to expectations as well. Here were go with the swinging gate again. Guiton gets the snap and immediately throws it to Jordan Hall who goes in untouched. At least throw it to Drew Basil. Get him involved! Buckeyes lead it 16-0. A few years back, a 16-0 lead meant three field goals and a defensive touchdown.
12:29 That drive lasted five plays, and went 61 yards in 1:26. Well, you wanted a cutthroat offense. Now you're just going to have to find a place to put all the bodies.
12:35 Buffalo goes three and out, but Evan Spencer roughs the punter. That's what happens when you don't throw the ball enough. Receivers start trying to block punts and they get sloppy. This never happens at Texas Tech, where the receivers are too tired to even play special teams.
12:38 Buffalo ends up punting again, and Philly Brown bobbles the catch.
12:41 Speed option, Miller pitches it to Hall for about nine yards. That actually looked very nice. It's been weird these last two years watching Ohio State pitch on the option and it not be absolutely terrifying to behold.
12:42 Miller scrambles for 13 yards and Philly delivers an absolute decleater on the peel back. Wow. The Buffalo dude is down.
♪♪By Corey Philadelphia, blocked and maimed, on the gridiron is where he delivers most of his pain.
Chillin' out maxin', relaxin' all cool, all layin' out people, debaclin' some fools...♪♪
12:47 Second and 10. And there goes Jordan Hall right up the middle for a 49-yard touchdown. Was Buffalo's defense still on the sideline? Perhaps asking if Ohio State calls their wildcat package the “Wild Buckeye”. There was nobody in the back seven for the Bulls. Finally, the Buckeyes are actually going to kick an extra point. And here come the boos. Or maybe the crowd is saying “DREWWWW”. That's a career-long rush for Hall. Basil hits the extra point. Buckeyes lead it 23-0. When was the last time Ohio State lead 23-0 in the first quarter? If you said never, I'd believe it.
12:52 We have reached the end of the first quarter. Curtis Grant and Ryan Shazier both have four tackles, which is an encouraging statistic for the Buckeyes' middle linebacker.
12:56 Buffalo punts and Philly muffs it out of bounds at the 17-yard line. If he stays shaky back there on the catch, it won't be long before Jordan Hall takes his place.
12:57 Khalil Mack runs right around Taylor Decker and sacks Miller for a loss of four. That's a tough matchup for Decker.
1:01 Fourth and one from midfield. Hurry up. The Buckeyes are going for it. Hall ends up a foot short, which is always unacceptable against an inferior opponent. That's where you miss Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith. That hurry up on fourth down is about 50% in Urban's time. If that.
1:02 So not only is Drew Basil getting the short end of the stick with the swinging gate crap, but now we're not even getting a chance to see Cameron Johnston punt? Why even bother coming to the game if we can't see the kicking game? What's the point? This is an abomination of everything that the last dozen years of Ohio State football has taught us. I hope my petition is getting all kinds of signatures right now. I should go down at halftime and commandeer a kiosk.
1:04 Third and 20 for Buffalo. The pass is deflected and Ron Tanner intercepts it. I wasn't expecting Tanner to play much today, but he's been in quite a bit with C.J. Barnett out. I'm assuming that's his first career interception. By the way, Barnett called Tanner the best tackler on the team earlier in the week. And now Tanner is trying to give the ball to a ref, but they are all ignoring him. Typical classless hater refs.
1:05 Dontre Wilson is in the slot again. He motions in for the jet sweep, makes a man miss and fumbles the ball back to Buffalo. But hey, he looked good on that fumble though.
1:08 Buffalo answers quickly with a touchdown pass to Matt Weiser dragging across the middle of the field. Buckeyes lead it 23-7. Rob says this was all Urban's plan to get Dontre Wilson out there on a kickoff return.
1:13 Pooch kick to Jeff Heuerman, who takes it to the 35-yard line. OSU's leading kick returner is a tight end. How's that speed thing working for you so far, Urban? I wouldn't be surprised if he leads the team in returns this year just because nobody will kick it to Wilson. They're going to have to put some speed in Heuerman's spot moving forward if teams are just going to pooch it.
1:15 Miller runs out of bounds for a three-yard sack rather than throwing the ball away. Clearly, he doesn't want to hurt his completion percentage.
1:16 Well, that interception that he just threw to Khalil Mack isn't going to help his completion percentage none. Quick screen and Jack Mewhort never got Mack to the ground. Heck of a play by Mack to get his hands up and outrace everyone into the endzone. Dontre Wilson had him at the end, but ran out of football field. Buckeyes now lead it 23-13. Interesting turn.
1:22 Kickoff. Buffalo squibs it, but the ball still finds Wilson. Oh, and he nearly busts it. That's a bit of redemption for the freshman. I thought he had room to the outside, but he cut it back in. Still, a 51-yard return isn't bad. Wilson gets a big hug from Kerry Coombs, who is a bit excited.
1:23 Jordan Hall remains in the game. And now I see why. He goes untouched for 37 yards and a touchdown. Even with Corey Linsley out and Jacoby Boren in, the Buckeyes still opened a huge hole. Hall is now over 100 yards rushing on the day. That was a nice read by Miller on the give. That drive lasted all of six seconds, which means that Jordan Hall runs about a 5.8 40. This is not the speed that Meyer had envisioned at Ohio State, but it's hard to argue with the results. Hall now has 128 yards rushing on 11 carries. Buckeyes lead it 30-13.
1:24 It's early, but I think Braxton is a passer now. And a better reader.
1:29 Wait, Shazier has been taken to locker room? Trey Johnson is in for him. No Shazier? That would be bad. As if this defense wasn't young enough already.
1:30 The Buckeyes hold, however, and force a punt. The reports are that Shazier is just suffering from cramps. The nation breathes a unisonic sigh of relief.
1:35 Third and 12. Khalil Mack goes right around Decker for another sack. Not a good day for #68. Taylor Decker isn't going to want to watch the NFL Draft next year when Mack's name is called. Nor is Braxton Miller.
1:36 Here comes Cameron Johnston's first career punt. If this football doesn't land 60 rows into south stands and injure at least three people, I'll feel cheated. Dang, only 40 yards.
1:40 Third and 10 for Buffalo. The throw goes deep and it's dropped by Armani Reeves. Coombs hates it. Pounds the ground. If this was practice, everybody would be given pushups. Buffalo punts. Under a minute left in the first half.
1:44 The Buckeyes run out the clock after a costly penalty. OSU leads it 30-13.
1:45 To this point, the defense has performed pretty well. No sustained drives, no big plays. Curtis Grant has been good. There's not much pass rush, but the ball is getting out so quickly that there's no pass to actually rush.
1:50 Wait, apparently Beth Mowins said that Ryan Shazier could be out half the season? For cramps? And now the discussion between me and another is that perhaps she thinks it's a different type of cramps, and that maybe her prognosis involves Shazier taking a bunch of Tylenol and just curling up with a good book during the half.
1:51 Ohio State has 310 yards of total offense. 138 rushing and 172 passing. We've seen this type of passing in the first half before. It usually leads to about 185 yards passing for the game. Miller is 13-18 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His passer rating is 178.0.
1:52 Jordan Hall is having an okay day with 12 carries for 126 yards and two touchdowns. Still, there are Buckeye fans out there wishing other players were carrying the ball.
1:53 Despite the numbers, it hasn't been a flawless half. Only one touchdown in the second quarter, and that wasn't even a touchdown drive.
1:59 Any chance that Buffalo doesn't pooch this kickoff? Wouldn't be surprised if they move Dontre up to catch it.
2:07 Yep. Jordan Hall is deep and Wilson is up to the 15. Could be a reverse or fake reverse here as well. But it's a touchback. Keeping it away from a freshman in his career debut? How often do you see that?
2:09 Third and six. Taylor Decker is beaten again for a sack by a linebacker. Badly. I think Miller may have even fumbled, but he recovered. Buckeyes go three and out. Decker is not happy with himself right now.
2:14 Touchdown to Alex Neutz on the back shoulder against Armani Reeves. Buckeyes now lead it just 30-20. That drive lasted seven plays and covered 62 yards. So much for the Silver Bullets coming home, eh? Urban Meyer isn't going to be happy.
2:16 This team isn't ready yet. They're not healthy, and they're less healthy than they were when they started. Decker is struggling. Somebody has to step up and stop this for the Buckeyes.
2:21 Play-action rollout. Miller scrambles and then instantly goes down in a heap. Two-yard loss. He's rubbing his calf. Cramp. I wonder if he'll miss half the season as well. Miller jogs off. Captain Kenny comes in. Touchdown soon to come.
2:22 Guiton gets a great ovation from the crowd. And now Shazier is back on the sideline. He probably got some fluids and whatnot. Guiton hands the ball off to Hall for a gain of four.
2:23 Third and eight. Miller comes back in. He's scrambling and he tries to throw the ball while he's nearly on the ground. Buffalo bails out Miller with a hands to the face penalty. Where is the thought process? He nearly fumbled the ball into the endzone while being sacked. How does it enter into his mind to attempt a throw at that point, and where is he throwing? When does it end? Every Ohio State quarterback since Todd Boeckman has done this at times. But no matter, it's a first down for the Buckeyes.
2:27 Warren Ball has entered the game. Miller is changing the play. He tries to throw, pulls it down and scrambles for 14 yards. He is down again with cramps. No explosive plays for Braxton today because he'll immediately cramp up. Guiton comes in.
2:29 Hall for three yards up the middle. I remember this offense from last year.
2:31 Play-action. Guiton finds a wide open Chris Fields for a touchdown. His second score of the day. I guess he really is a starter now. Buckeyes lead it 37-20. That drive was 14 plays, 91 yards and took 6:59 off the clock. I wouldn't be surprised if that's the longest drive of the year where the clock is concerned. All Kenny does is finish touchdown drives. And what's his deal with Chris Fields? Find a new security blanket.
2:36 Shazier is back on the field and Kenny Guiton's passer rating is 606.4.
2:41 Third and one. Michael Hill slips down the line and he and Spence bring Oliver down a foot short. The Bulls will go for it here. They come out in the wild...bull and pick up seven yards.
2:43 Noah Spence on the sack of Joe Licata, but there's now a flag for something. Ah, Curtis Grant playing without his helmet. Do players not know this rule by now?
2:44 We have reached the end of the third quarter. The Buckeyes are still hanging on by 17 points.
2:45 This is why you schedule Buffalo to start the season and not Clemson.
2:49 Play-action. Shazier is beaten on the bootleg wheel route to the tailback. He brings him down at the one-yard line.
2:50 First and goal. Oliver gets the ball and loses a yard. Second and goal. Fade is incomplete. Buffalo calls timeout to let the Buckeyes recover and prepare for this third down.
2:54 Empty set. Now Oliver motions into the backfield and gets a yard down to the one. They'll go for it here. This would be a pretty amazing stop here considering Shazier's shoestring tackle to save a touchdown. Fumbled snap! Buckeyes get the ball at the two-yard line. That's a couple of bullets dodged for the Buckeyes today.
2:57 Third and seven. Four wide. Braxton Miller breaks loose and picks up 40 yards on the scramble. I will say that he's been very good on the scrambles today. If this is an indication of his improvement in that area, then the Buckeyes are looking good.
3:01 Third and 13. Ezekiel Elliott picks up a nice block on the Miller scramble and he picks up 16 yards and a first down. That right there was a Terrelle Pryor third-down scramble.
3:04 Buckeyes are held to a 39-yard field goal attempt for Drew Basil. What? Meyer's not going to go for it just to spite Basil some more? Basil nails it. Buckeyes lead it 40-20.
3:05 Alright, I'm heading down to the field. I don't know if I'll take many notes. I feel like the paper in my notebook could simply become kindling down on the field.
3:15 Brutus comes over to me and puts his elbow on my shoulder. I ask him why Braxton Miller is still in the game, and he gives me the “Hell if I know” shoulder shrug. But seriously, why is Miller still in the game?
3:20 Anyway, it's too hot down here to keep taking these notes. If anything happens between now and the end of the game, I'll be sure to jot something down.
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