Three and Out

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Last updated: 09/15/2013 12:34 PM
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Three and Out: Thoughts From OSU's 52-34 Win Over California
By Tony Gerdeman

The Buckeyes moved to 3-0 on the season with an entertaining win at California which saw Kenny Guiton move from backup quarterback to starter. His legend continues to grow like a vine hitting puberty. Seemingly every decision was the proper one. Right now he is playing the game as if it's slower than it is, because his reads are generally spot on.

Defensively, I know there are some unhappy Buckeye fans, but this is what college football is today. Offenses are going to put stress on a defense anyway they can. Defenses can't stop everything, they can only hope to keep it in front of them and force mistakes. That's what Ohio State did on Saturday.

Overall, this was a fun game to watch, and it had an almost arcade feel to it. The Buckeyes were never in danger, but there was enough morbid curiosity to keep Ohio State interested throughout.

First Down
Defenses are going to have days like this against high octane offenses. As I was talking about in the intro, this is how football is today. This isn't 1985, or even 1995. This isn't the offensive football that you grew up on. You're not going to see a fullback dive on third and six. There's a reason that all it takes to build a winning program is an innovative, fast-paced offense – because it works. Just ask Joe Tiller or Pat Fitzgerald.

Buckeye fans are upset with the 503 total yards of offense given up to the Bears, but that was over 90 plays from scrimmage. That came to just 5.6 yards per play. I know you want the aggressive 2002 defense that beat the Miami Hurricanes up and down the field, but Miami wasn't trying to run 100 plays like Cal was. In fact, in three overtimes, the Canes only snapped the ball 77 times. They averaged 4.8 yards per play. By the way, Texas Tech averaged 5.8 yards per play against the Buckeyes that season. Cincinnati averaged 5.5 yards per play; Indiana averaged 5.7 yards per play; Northwestern averaged 5.5 yards per play.

You also have to remember that because of how effective the Ohio State offense was, Cal was getting the ball back quite a bit. The Buckeyes' first three touchdown drives lasted a total of two minutes and 24 seconds. They had one possession in the first half that lasted longer than three minutes.

It's okay to be upset with the missed tackles, but that's what this type of offense forces. An offensive player should win more one-on-one matchups than they lose. Still, the Buckeye defense only gave up four plays of 20 yards or more, and two of them came late in the third quarter when the Buckeyes already had a 25-point lead.

Like Urban Meyer, I think this current defense played as well as could be expected against a very good offense. Mighty Alabama gave up over 600 yards of total offense to Texas A&M on Saturday, which just shows you that even the best defense is capable of getting worked by the best offenses. (And no, I'm not comparing Ohio State to Alabama or California to Texas A&M.)

Second Down
Kenny Guiton had the sixth-best day for an offensive player in Ohio State football history. Guiton's career-best 368 yards of total offense tied Braxton Miller's career high as well. Had it been necessary to continue scoring in the fourth quarter, there is no doubt that Guiton would have broken Art Schlichter's 42-year old record of 412 yards.

He continues to be in complete control, and was never pressured in the pocket. His ability to run the option continues to amaze me, even though I think maybe he should give the ball up a bit more on the inverted veer to Dontre Wilson. But that's probably just because I enjoy watching Wilson run with the ball.

I'm not buying into the quarterback controversy deal yet, but when Braxton Miller does come back, I think Guiton has earned a series or two with the starters.

Third Down
Are people ready to give in and admit that the coaches were right to keep talking up Jordan Hall? Last night was the second “best game of his career” already this season. He routinely made the first man miss and made the right cuts. He carried the ball 30 times, and only twice was he stopped in the backfield, each time for just a loss of a yard.

His 168 yards rushing now joins him with Beanie Wells, Vince Workman, Keith Byars and Tim Spencer for the the 55th-best rushing day in school history.

We wrote about him early and often in the spring, and people didn't necessarily want to accept it. Now, having rushed for 402 yards in three games, I'm not sure how you can take the ball out of his hands, especially considering how effective Dontre Wilson is becoming at H-back.

Carlos Hyde returns this week, but he will likely be filtered back in slowly. He may get plenty of second-half carries against FAMU as the team gets ready for Wisconsin, but right now this is Jordan Hall's running game to lead. And remember, if Hyde eventually becomes the workhorse, then Hall goes to H-back and Wilson's touches likely go down as a result.

The offense will need Hyde's punishing running this season, but Hall and Wilson have proven to be too productive of a duo to be cast aside.

And Out
The defensive line has the makings of something to watch for. Noah Spence finished with just one sack last night, but he was close a few times, and pressured the quarterback throughout the game. I really liked the push that Chase Farris was getting. He was able to get penetration and get upfield. He's always been a tremendous athlete, which is one of the reasons he was able to switch to offensive line so easily, and now switch back.

Steve Miller is playing the best football of his life, and he's being rewarded for it. The middle of the line forced just about everything out wide. There is a lot to like on this line, and they're not even healthy yet.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, is when Adolphus Washington is healthy, how do you take Joey Bosa off of the field? That kid is special right now. The good thing is that with the onset of the passing game, they can both be on the field together. I guess with all of the problems to have, this is probably about as good of a problem as you could hope to have.

Not as good a problem as Tom Herman has at quarterback, but still not bad.

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