Welcome to the first edition of the Grumpy Old Buckeye. In this column, my aim is to be the voice of negativity, even when things are generally pretty great. I’ll point out the things from each game that make me want to walk out onto my lawn in my bathrobe and yell at people about it. First up: Ohio State vs. Oregon State.
It all started before the game even kicked off. ABC’s broadcast started with a four-minute intro before the opening kickoff and none of it was related to the football game. Instead, the focus was on the Urban Meyer suspension, including a Bleacher Report-esque slide show of the timeline of events. Yes, it’s a big story and sure, there might be those four guys who just returned from the Amazon rainforest who may not have heard about it, but it feels like we’ve heard plenty about the story over the past several weeks and it’s a disservice to the players of both schools not to spend any time on key matchups or players to watch.
Kickoff Fair Catch Rule
If I wasn’t already salty about the broadcast intro, the opening kickoff reminded me of how dumb rule changes can be. A fair catch on a kickoff should not come out to the 25. That’s a tremendous reward for the receiving team and a penalty on a team with competent kickoff coverage. Special teams are part of the game. If you want to protect the players, that’s fine, but a fair catch should come out no further than five or 10 yards further up the field from where it was caught. If you want to fair catch it at the 5-yard line, you can have it at the 15. At worst, it should come out to the old touchback spot, the 20.
Big Plays Allowed
A common theme early in the game, which returned on Oregon State’s final drive of the first half, was allowing big plays. Most of these were short passes into the flats that turned into big gains. This was an issue a few years ago and it’s no surprise that having a suspect linebacker group and new players at safety that it came back. There was a busted coverage and terrible angles taken on the first Oregon State touchdown.
My biggest gripe was with the final drive of the first half when the Beavers achieved three of their five third-down conversions in the half. All of them were third-and-long situations. The first came on a play we’ve seen too often. Chase Young did well to pressure the quarterback and Kendall Sheffield was well positioned to intercept or knock away the pass. Instead, he did neither and allowed the completion on a deflection off his shoulder. Hopefully this won’t be a trend again for Sheffield. The last of the three conversions was the most maddening, as the Beavers picked up a third-and-19 on a simple draw play.
The Buckeyes weren’t done, with Antwuan Jackson completely botching a tackle to start the second half, and everyone else assumed he’d make the play, while Artavis Pierce bounced outside and ran 80 yards for a score. Pierce had another big run a drive later with Jahsen Wint taking a bad angle and the linebackers being too aggressive. Yuck.
Chase Young and Jeffrey Okudah ramped up my blood pressure with a pair of identical mistakes just a couple plays apart. Young, who should be looking down the line at the ball, jumped offside twice. Those two penalties were bad, but Okudah doubled down on them by committing pass interference on both plays. Instead of 10 total yards allowed, the Buckeyes allowed 30.
Although it only resulted in a missed field goal, C.J. Saunders’ muffed punt was awful. But I don’t put it all on him. Not only did Damon Arnette not handle his business in blocking the Oregon State gunner, but he also crowded his own return man and ultimately created the turnover.
Did You Know Urban Meyer is Suspended?
The ABC/ESPN broadcast team doubled down on the extensive intro devoted to the Meyer suspension by reminding us of it at the start of the second quarter for no apparent reason. I guess there might have been one straggler who just came out of the Amazon in time for the second quarter.
This one is nobody’s fault and it’s not something anyone can control. Having attended hundreds of sporting events in my life, I find this is a worrying trend in recent years. In dozens of college football games throughout the time before, during, and after I attended Ohio State, there was one weather issue. Just one. That came when USC visited in 1990 and John Cooper conceded the game with 2:36 remaining, after a failed onside kick.
The Buckeyes were down nine points, but had some timeouts remaining and, although a comeback was unlikely, Cooper showed his team that giving up was fine. There was no delay, just an end to the game. Now there are seemingly multiple lightning delays every week. I’m not sure if I missed a fatal, in-game lightning strike or if there are simply way more thunderstorms today than there were in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Either way, this is becoming an issue in sports and it’s killing broadcast schedules.
Well, those are the things that bothered me on Saturday. Obviously there was a lot with which to be delighted, including the performances of Nick Bosa, Dwayne Haskins, Mike Weber, and more. Even the lone punt was pretty awesome. It’s nice to have the season underway. Bring on Rutgers.