Ten Things We Learned From OSU’s 27-26 Win Over Penn State

Tuf Borland Ohio State Football Buckeyes

For the Buckeyes, the Penn State game was the ultimate measuring stick following the first measuring stick of the TCU game.

We knew we’d know more after the trip to Jerry World, but we also knew we’d know even more after the trip to Happy Valley.

Ohio State went to Penn State and overcome a 26-14 deficit in the fourth quarter, squeezing out a 27-26 win thanks to a great screening process by Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson, as well as key defensive stops from Chase Young and the rest of the Buckeyes.

So what did we learn from the Big Ten East Championship Game? Plenty, and not all of it was good.

Let’s talk it out.

1. This passing game is not flawless.

This was the first time all season that Dwayne Haskins wasn’t pinpoint on his throws. In fact, he was downright inaccurate at times. Throws were at receivers’ feet, or well out of their reach, or not even in the vicinity. But at the end of the day, Haskins was still 22-of-39 for 270 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. This wasn’t a wakeup call to anybody inside the program, but maybe it was for the rest of us. Dwayne Haskins is not perfect, and neither is the pass protection. But it’s still pretty damn good.

2. There is hope for the linebackers.

One week after failing to record a single tackle, the Buckeye starting linebackers had a total of 12 tackles in the first half alone against Penn State. Tuf Borland (8), Malik Harrison (8), and Pete Werner (5) combined for 21 total tackles in the game. Harrison was effective as a spy, and each of the starters had a tackle in the backfield. Werner and Harrison flipped back and forth between Sam and Will, and Borland and Baron Browning traded the Mike spot throughout the game. After some rough patches this season, this was their most complete game as a unit.

3. But it will need to micromanaged.

Everyone saw Tuf Borland struggle to chase the football in the open field, but don’t forget what you also saw when he forced a fumble that led to OSU’s first touchdown, or his sack of Trace McSorley. Of course, on the same drive as that sack, Borland gave up a touchdown pass while also committing pass interference. Baron Browning has replaced Borland on many passing downs and that probably needs to continue moving forward. I know there is clamoring for more of Browning or Justin Hilliard, but Greg Schiano clearly prefers Borland as the run stopper.

4. This team is still learning how to run the ball.

Ohio State rushed for 119 yards on 37 carries (3.2 ypc), which is less than half what both Pitt and Illinois rushed for against Penn State when they played the Nittany Lions earlier in the season. J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber combined for 108 yards rushing on 26 carries, which isn’t very good, but both players get better with opportunities. The Buckeyes are still working out the kinks on how to best run the ball when the quarterback isn’t a running threat. Ohio State’s rushing totals have gone from 375 to 225 to 182 to 151 and then to 119 in their five games this season. The 1,052 yards rushing over the first five games this season is the worst total for the Buckeyes since 2011. And while many have concerns with the short-yardage game, Ohio State never (ultimately) failed on short-yardage with the running backs. OSU had six short-yardage situations against Penn State. Dobbins picked up eight yards on third-and-two, Haskins threw an incompletion on third-and-three, Dobbins picked up one yard on third-and-two, then followed that up picking up a yard on fourth-and-one. Haskins was stopped on fourth-and-one, and then Weber picked up 11 yards on third-and-three. So while none of the running game is pretty, there are things that can catch  your eye.

5. Chase Young has taken the next step.

After failing to record a tackle against TCU — and seeing Nick Bosa succumb to an injury in the same game — Chase Young has stepped up his play, as has the entire defensive line. Against Penn State, however, Young went full Bosa. He became a household name with two sacks and three tackles for loss. As the story goes, he was everything the Buckeyes needed and more. This is just the start for Young. He dominated a great opponent and was key in Ohio State’s win. But now he needs to follow it up and keep the momentum headed in the proper direction.

6. The defense is more than capable.

The Ohio State defensive line won this game, but they got help from every level. There was plenty of bending, yet very little breaking. The big plays still need to be worked out — and I’m not exactly sure they will be, but the way the Buckeyes stalled Penn State’s drives was very impressive. They were outstanding on third-down defense, be it long yards to go or short yards. Everyone on this Ohio State defense knows they have yet to play their best game as a unit, but so far they have done enough good things to be effective. Eventually, however, this effective Buckeye defense needs to grow into a defense that dominates opponents.

7. The penalties are spreading.

Now the offensive and defensive penalties have spread to the special teams. I guess at this point the only positive is that Urban Meyer hasn’t been flagged for being on the field yet.

8. Drue Chrisman is the truth.

Drue Chrisman has been outstanding since he took over for Cameron Johnston last year, and Saturday night may have been his best game as a Buckeye. He punted a career-high nine times and his 47.9-yard average is a career best in games where he punted more than twice. He had three punts over 50 yards and put three inside the 20-yard line. He flipped the field as well as he flips bottles and was one of Ohio State’s best players. Chrisman answered every tough situation with a clutch kick.

9. Zone 6? More like Block O.

The receiver blocking in this game was outstanding, which is why it was suggested to me by a very intelligent person that the receivers should change their name from Zone 6 to Block O. Ryan Day told the receivers at the half that the offense was going to go to more screen passes and the receivers would need to be ready to block. They clearly were ready and they executed. Day and Kevin Wilson and Urban Meyer would have never gone this route if they weren’t completely confident in both the playmaking abilities of their receivers and their blocking. And the coaches were proven 100% correct.

10. Dwayne Haskins is better today than he was on Friday.

Expecting Dwayne Haskins to go 21-of-24 against Penn State was unrealistic, but having experienced what he experienced Saturday night in State College has made him a better quarterback than he was before the game started. No, he wasn’t perfect, but he’s closer to it than he was before. Games like this make him better equipped to handle tough situations the next time they arise. Haskins was under fire the entire game and never folded. In fact, he only got stronger.

16 Responses

  1. No doubt PSU played the game of the year, this was their Super bowl. Can OSU play at PSU w/o it being a “White out?” This is third time in a row and its getting rather old. I don’t mind every other trip. Not sure how serious OSU took PSU. Not surprised that PSU scored 26, very surprised OSU scored 27! Believe our play calling lacked a lot to be desired during the first 25 minutes, that improved greatly. A few other observations, that ‘target’ call is non sense how is anyone suppose to know what a defenseless player is? With 4 minutes left, we had the game in the hands in which it was very winnable. Notice how OSU shredded PSU’s D when the right plays were called. Franklin, you blew it with that fourth and 5, empty the back field and let McSorley do his thing.

  2. All the penalties are disturbing and are a reflection on the coaching staff. Penalties (especially the stupid ones) are a result of a lack of discipline, period. The coaches need to teach their players to focus and control their emotions. If certain players continually demonstrate that they can’t do this, then they need to be benched until they “get it”.

  3. I am a Buckeye homer and I admit it freely but if the play by Pryor is targeting then targeting can be called on every play. He was out of position and just rushing over to make a play and Penn State player falls down and hits his shoulder. I could not believe the play was not overturned. I did not even think there should be a roughing penalty. I also hated the first pass interference call on us. Once again our DB way out of position so running hard to catch up on the play and I agree his back was turned to the ball, but I have seen much worse not called pass interference and I would not have called pass interference on the play. Speaking of Pryor did all of you notice his terrible angle again on the Penn State short slant that went for a 90 something yard touchdown. This defense is just off. Coaching and playing both. What was the name of the Penn State QB again, Michael Vick????, thank goodness it was not as he would have had over 400 rushing yards. Defense is just off and I have no idea what was wrong with our offensive line this game.
    From above Lane is correct as several people have been talking about Dwayne Haskins turning pro after this year. I think he makes a huge mistake if he goes pro, way too early for him, but Bucks Fans I love this young man. O line had an off game and he was having an off game but he kept his wits about him and found a way to deliver on an off night. Remember him in the spring game? Dwayne Haskins has exceeded everything I was expecting from him this year. I know he will have some rough patches ahead this year, but I really like his game and makeup, but we have to and I mean have to learn to have him run the QB sneak. I do not want QB runs all the time but we need to QB sneak and on occasion take off on a pass play when no one is open.

    Big Ten does not look strong this year based upon out of conference games played this year so if we go undefeated this regular season I still will not know how good we are until the playoffs and a game against Bama or Georgia or maybe even our boy Joe Burrow and LSU, that would be cool, Joe has been far from perfect, but he is playing well and making big plays when needed, I wish he was still a Buckeye, but I understand and wish him all the best except if he plays us in the playoffs.

    Go Bucks!

  4. Glad to see Ben Victor make such a great play, I was afraid he might become a coach-killer, the player who plays because he practices well but doesn’t shine under the spotlight.

    To run the ball better you have to first run the ball. Would like to see both Weber and Dobbins get more work. And when they do, how about an occasional play action pass on second and short?

  5. The top of the list should be Chase Young, raise #5 to #1 for #2. He was just a man out there!

  6. Not crazy about our alignment on defense against trips, or the way the LB’s are almost always crowding the line of scrimmage. No wonder we’re getting beat on quick screens an the LB’s are getting caught up in the wash and taking bad angles. I’d like to see us crowd the trips more and loosen the LB’s so they could read and play downhill more. JMHO.

  7. Urban looks exhausted, irritated and just plain out of it! I don’t think there is a better offensive coaching duo in college football than Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson! Give credit to Penn State for rattling and going after Dwayne in the first half. However, the adjustments made by Day and Wilson and the ability for them to work were quite impressive in the second half with the short passes and screens. Haskins is still a young QB, and that was his first start playing in what is arguably the toughest environment in all of college football against a team ranked #9 to boot! Hats off to the young man! He passed the test! But the penalties! God Damn! This has been an on-going issue for the last several years. I don’t see them improving either. I just don’t! The fundamentals simply aren’t being taught or not being taught correctly. I’ve just learned to accept them at this point.

  8. Indiana could actually be a trap game. Anyone remember Iowa 2017?

    1. That was in iowa at night last year with a different qb. I think we will be fine this week for homecoming. They made enough mistakes against psu for the coaches to keep them focussed all week.

    2. Purdue worries me as the trap this year. At Purdue, well coached, and they are getting better. Indiana might give us some trouble Saturday as they have every year Meyer has been here except 2013 but in the end they don’t have the talent to beat us.

  9. After the break the blocking was a whole lot better across the board. The left side is still troublesome, but this game should have provided them with a confidence boost. The last 8 minutes of the game they were really good. The effort is what stood out, along with their conditioning.

    Really happy for Ben Victor.

  10. Borland does his best but good God he looked like he would run a 5.4 40.
    Meyer needs to find a new home for Schiano and his best man.
    Haskins went from a first round pick potential to a no thank you right now. He is clearly not ready for the NFL, and it will take a lot of consistency going forward for anyone to take a risk on him. My feeling is that he is not done with bad games this year. He needs to prove he can take a pounding and stay accurate.
    Stop lining up all the LBs along the line of scrimmage. Stop it!

    1. I don’t think anyone is thinking about the NFL after his 5th start into his college career.

      1. Lane

        Several podcasts I listened to relayed that Haskins will definitely be moving on aftythus year and would likely be the first QB drafted.

        So yes, lots of people I’m the know are/were putting this out there.

  11. I learned Dwayne Haskins is human. Kid played badly but never hung his head and kept ‘swinging’ and when the game was on the line he was good enough.
    I learned that his playmakers have done more in 5 games under Brian Hartline than they did in years under Zach Smith. Hartline can flat-out coach!
    I learned that this defense is Jeckyll and Hyde – when it’s good, it’s VERY good, but when it’s bad it’s AWFUL!
    I learned that this season is gonna be quite a ride – not until Sparty in November as the rest are likely gonna be tuneups (combined 9 – 9 until Sparty as of this writing), but we won’t know if the issues on offense or defense are worked out until they do face the last few opponents and maybe not until the bowl game as there aren’t any other undefeateds in the B1G to test ’em.

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