Three and Out: Thoughts From Ohio State's 56-0 Win at Purdue
by Tony Gerdeman
So much for the curse of West Lafayette. No old gypsy woman could ever have enough eye of newt to combat what the Ohio State Buckeyes brought to town on Saturday. Urban Meyer wanted his team to start fast, and they absolutely did. He eventually had to call off the dogs, because that fast start lasted for an entire half.
The Buckeyes now have a week off to sit back and watch some football. Perhaps their biggest week of the year will actually come while they've got a bye week. After all, Alabama hosts LSU this weekend, and on Thursday Oregon travels to Stanford. If everything breaks right for Ohio State, their biggest jump in the rankings may actually come without even playing.
Braxton Miller is in a zone right now, and I'm not sure there's a defense the rest of the regular season that can snap him out of it. He's firing the ball into tight windows, and he looks as confident as we've ever seen him. He has a complete understanding of where everybody is – including the defense, and when he gets to his third read, he knows his receiver will be there. It's similar to Troy Smith in 2006. Jim Tressel had no problem with calling passing plays down near the goal line, and we're seeing the same thing with Tom Herman and Miller right now. Sure, they'd probably lean towards running the ball against a better defense, but this also makes those better defenses prepare for everything. Another similarity to Smith in 2006 is that Miller only ran the ball once yesterday. Smith began his Ohio State career as a running quarterback, he ended it as a passing quarterback. Miller will never lose his legs, but don't be surprised when they start to get overshadowed by his arm.
Sure, it's just Purdue, but the Ohio State defense held the Boilermakers offense to 110 fewer yards than Michigan State did. The Spartans beat Purdue 14-0 two weeks ago, and allowed 14 first downs and 66 yards rushing in the process. The Buckeyes, meanwhile, held Purdue to 10 first downs and 27 yards rushing. The mark of a great defense is defeating great offenses, and Purdue is surely not that. However, it's okay to give the Buckeyes credit for doing what the Michigan State defense couldn't. The Buckeyes controlled every angle of this game, and they abused poor Danny Etling like an armless sparring partner. It was a nice effort from all of the Silver Bullets, including sam linebacker Joshua Perry, who may have had his best game as a Buckeye. He was involved early and often, and looked comfortable in the scrum. The comfort level for this defense is growing by the day, especially when the defensive line is ensconcing the back seven in velvet like they have the past two weeks.
While things are humming along just fine for the offense, losing Taylor Decker for more than a couple of weeks could be problematic. Urban Meyer is saying Decker will be out for a week or two with a sprained MCL, so the bye week couldn't be happening at a better time for the offensive line. If the injury lingers a little longer than that, however, there could be an issue. After all, there's a reason why Decker was in with the second team in the second half of the game when he got injured, and that's because the staff didn't have a right tackle that they could turn to in his place. What do the Buckeyes do if Decker isn't ready for the trip to Illinois? Yesterday they slid Tommy Brown out to right tackle from right guard, but he's not the answer. Would Darryl Baldwin, whom the staff has more confidence in, get the start at right tackle even though he's the backup left tackle? Would they go with Brown after a week of working him hard at that position? And where's Kyle Dodson in all of this? For one week, they can probably get by doing whatever, but if it's more serious than that, then they might look at putting Andrew Norwell at right tackle and then put Patrick Elflein at left guard. The good thing is that with the Illinois and Indiana defenses coming up next, the schedule allows them to tinker around if need be.
The Ohio State defensive line is pretty ridiculous right now. Mike Vrabel is getting every last sparkle out of his five-star crop of playmakers. Even third-string defensive end Steve Miller has three sacks on the season, which is one more than South Carolina All-American Jadeveon Clowney. Heck, Chase Farris, an offensive guard to begin the season, has 1.5 sacks this year. Noah Spence has turned things on quite a bit of late, and now has 6.0 sacks on the season (though he should have been credited with more than just one sack against Purdue). The combo of Adolphus Washington and Joey Bosa at strongside defensive end is borderline gratuitous. The addition of Tommy Schutt has allowed Joel Hale to take more breathers, and they remain as solidly unheralded as two talented nose tackles should be. This Ohio State defensive line is 10-deep right now, and there aren't any charity snaps among them. They all produce.
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