Football Hayes & Cannon

The Grumpy Old Buckeye: OSU vs. Penn State

It’s time for your weekly dose of the Grumpy Old Buckeye, the column producing the voice of negativity, even when things are generally pretty great. In this space, I 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. This week we’re talking Ohio State at Penn State in a top-10 matchup.

Malik’s Misses

Linebacker Malik Harrison had a rough start to the game. He whiffed on Trace McSorley on a third-and-long situation which set up a makeable fourth-and-2, which Penn State converted. The defense eventually did force a punt on that opening drive, but, if not for a poor punt, it could have hemmed the offense in deep early when it wasn’t at its best. It looked like Harrison had him dead to rights on the play, but maybe he assumed McSorley was going to step out of bounds or something. He later missed another tackle on a third-and-long situation. Overall, he rebounded well, leading the team with eight tackles (six solos) and contributing half a sack, but early on he was raising my blood pressure.

Return of the Drops

We saw a return of the dropsies in Happy Valley, but this time it went beyond Austin Mack (who wasn’t even involved in the parade of miscues — in fact, he caught the first Dwayne Haskins pass of the night for a first down). Parris Campbell got the drop parade started on Ohio State’s second offensive snap, missing a gimme. The normally dependable K.J. Hill was hit in the hands on the second offensive series and uncharacteristically dropped it. The worst, however, was when Haskins found junior tight end Rashod Berry on a crossing route and hit him with a frozen rope of a pass. Berry not only missed the catch, but he also tipped it into the air for an easy interception for Garrett Taylor, who returned it 45 yards to the OSU 28. That eventually turned into Penn State’s second field goal of the game.

A Berry Bad Night

We already discussed the ball in Berry’s hands that ended up tipped and picked off, but that wasn’t the only bad moment for Berry. The tight end had a holding penalty on a punt return that cost the team 10 yards on the play in which Antonio Shelton got hit with a personal foul. Rather than starting with the ball on Penn State’s half of the field, the Buckeyes started at their own 44. Ultimately, Ohio State missed a long field goal on the drive.

Further, Berry got blown up as a blocker on a number of running plays, putting the offense behind the chains on a few drives. He wasn’t the only one getting beat, but it was something I noticed on some of those delayed handoffs to the outside. I will give Berry credit for making a good downfield block on Binjimen Victor’s long touchdown in the fourth quarter, but it was a tough night for him overall, I thought.

Missing McSorley

A team that spent half a decade watching J.T. Barrett in practice shouldn’t get surprised by a running quarterback, especially when the head coach has talked all week about the quarterback making plays with his feet. Yet McSorley ran freely through the Ohio State defense much of the night — sometimes on designed runs, sometimes on scrambles. He ran for 175 yards on 25 carries, which completely nullifies the great job the Buckeyes did on Miles Sanders, who was held to 43 yards on 16 carries. The low point was a 51-yard scamper in which all of Ohio State’s linebackers were left chasing him down the field before Kendall Sheffield made the stop. Luckily, the Nitts missed a field goal on the drive.

Ohio State routinely was caught blitzing, getting too far up the field on pass rushes, or simply not keeping a player back to spy on the quarterback. It was frustrating to shut down the receivers repeatedly only to see McSorley tuck it and pick up the first down, or to run a quarterback draw when it seemed obvious and have it work.

Ferraris Left in the Garage

Ohio State failed to do what Illinois did last week to Penn State — run the football effectively. Some of that was dictated by crowding the line of scrimmage, shooting gaps on called run blitzes, and generally pushing around the OSU offensive line. But the Buckeyes seemed determined not to try to get the run game going. They eventually found some success, especially with J.K. Dobbins, but there were far too many predictable, slow-developing wide runs that got blown up. Through the last two games, Dobbins has feasted on inside runs and we didn’t get a good dose of that until the third quarter. Have we learned nothing from losses in the last several years in which the stud running backs weren’t fed? Roll Hyde. Feed Zeke. Give the damn ball to Dobbins. OK, I need to work on something more snappy for J.K.

Wildcat Kills Momentum (Again)

Ohio State got back in the game early in the second half using a more determined effort to run the ball and quick plays designed to use the Penn State defense’s aggressiveness against it. But Ohio State got too cute. Just like in the TCU game, with things moving in a good direction, the coaching staff called a wildcat play that lost three yards. Before the next play, Ohio State was called for a false start. The drive stalled and resulted in a missed field goal after a penalty negated a made field goal (more on that in the next item). That gave the Nittany Lions good field position and started a series of punts for both teams. After the ball changed hands a few times, Penn State got back on the front foot and regained the lead. and then extended it to 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Flag Day (Again)

A week after getting a ton of penalties against Tulane, the flags kept coming and nearly cost the Buckeyes a crucial win. The 10 penalties for 105 yards came in all varieties. There were more idiotic dead ball unsportsmanlike conduct calls, a super questionable targeting call on Isaiah Pryor, a soft pass interference, and some that were just plain odd. One such strange penalty wiped out an Ohio State field goal on an accidental facemask by Luke Farrell, who was just trying to make himself as wide as possible and caught a defender’s headgear while blocking another player. Chase Young also got nailed for 15 yards on a facemask on one of the few times the defense bottled up Trace McSorley in the backfield. This is something the coaching staff has to clean up, but it’s also one of those things that the more you harp on it, the more it kind of feeds on itself sometimes.

Targeting: What Is It?

Speaking of targeting penalties, I’m really not sure why the NCAA doesn’t have different levels of fouls with regard to targeting. The two calls in this particular game couldn’t have been more different. Penn State’s came on a hit out of bounds in which the player launched himself, led with his helmet, and made forcible contact with Hill’s helmet. That’s open and shut. Pryor’s was anything but. He arrived after the receiver had made a catch and was behind Jordan Fuller. He came into the confrontation thinking he was the only player standing in the way of a Penn State touchdown. Even so, with the receiver stumbling, he pulled almost completely out of the contact, but the receiver stumbled and hit Pryor’s shoulder pad with his helmet. I’m not sure that there was anything else he could have done. The play didn’t just stand, but the referee announced that targeting was confirmed. I disagreed with some colorful language.

Those are the things that made me spittin’ mad on Saturday night. Honestly I thought the list was going to be much longer based on the first half performance. The positives were flowing much more freely after halftime, as the Buckeyes did what they had to do to get the job done on the road in the most hostile of environments. Those positives include Haskins’ 7/10 performance in the fourth quarter, Victor’s catch and run, Hill’s shoulder fake that sprung him into the end zone, wide receivers blocking downfield, and a great night from Chase Young.

Which items on the list bugged you the most? Were there other things that really fried your bacon? Let me know in the comments and I’ll see you next week after the Indiana game.

35 Responses

  1. Why, and this is from the first game, do the defensive backs not look back for the ball or the play? Many times from the end zone cameras you could see the defensive back only looking at he receiver with no clue that McSorley had already made it 10 yards down field with none of the back realizing he had taken off. This continue up to the last run he made. This has to be corrected.

    1. That’s what happens when you play man coverage. You are covering your man. Everybody else is supposed to take care of the QB. The DBs are doing their jobs. They can’t worry about somebody else’s.

  2. Yes to Tim Weaver….where was Dante Booker…was a champion last week…
    and thanks to Michael…agree with everything you pointed out despite a great win.
    And, I would be out in the front yard yelling in my bathrobe in regards to how many times McSorley ran up the middle…even when we knew it was coming…

  3. Here’s what I learned on Saturday night. If you’re being tackled and another player assists on the tackle late, making contact with your headgear at all, stay down and fake a head injury. This will lead to the ejection of an opponent’s starter.

    I’m not saying this is what that PSU player did, but it sure seems like an easy way to game the process.

  4. 2 times this year Ohio State has given up the longest play in it’s history! And there is still 2/3 of the season to be played.

  5. I think we get enough “Grumpy Old Buckeye” comments in the comment. From my point of view I was great win over a worthy foe. Great heart by the entire team and coaching staff to win a game that I had already given up for dead. The first article I read the next morning was fine, but followed-up by two “grumpy old buckeye” comments. Then I see the Grumpy Old Buckeye column. I saw the first paragraph, but decided to let Michael Citro know that I didn’t think that a negative column needed to be part of the next day coverage of a signature win. This is a team that makes mistakes, it should be a story about overcoming their mistakes. I went to for that. Mike Citro’s journalism is fine, but I would not want it to become a regular Sunday morning story.

  6. Gotta be honest. The one single thing that got my blood boiling above everything else all night when I saw it, was that $%*&@#$ wildcat. My blood was boiling even BEFORE the play was run, not after. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh…if I ever see OSU run another wildcat play in my lifetime, it will be too soon. “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.” SMH !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. Schiano tried his best to give the game away lining up all LBs along the line of scrimmage. Just to be sure, if B Victor drops that pass, we could have lost by more than 10, which was my prediction based on how we line up our LBs and who we were facing. PSU did exactly what I expected, and as expected we sucked being prepared for it in the first half. Haskins was worse than expected when rattled. In my opinion, Meyer needs to be looking for a new defensive coordinator for next year. The Rutgers job will be open by the end of the year, so his old friend can go back and leave on good terms. But he will cost us the NC first garanteed, if Meyer does not step in right now. Watch how MSU will shut down McSorly and PSU offense again by playing simple defense.

  8. My grumpiness, outside of the ridiculous targeting call, is that I will NEVER get used to 4th and inches to a yard and teams/US, are in the shotgun. You’d think a team could be capable of going under center in a pinch which opens up the easy qb sneak and obviously starts you three yards closer to the line of scrimmage.

    1. Hi Bill- not sure if you follow up your own comments, but on October 1 HC Meyer answered (a very generous term in this case) your very question. The D1 college coach thinks that our QB might fumble (!) a direct snap from UNDER CENTER because they don’t practice it very much! That is dictionary definition of a BS answer. QBs start taking snaps from under center in 5th grade! Memo to HC- start “practicing”! Dear God.

  9. Every game will be a trap game until we teach our safetys how to play the position. Too many times this year, our opponents have had an open field once they get past the line of scrimmage.
    McSorely is very good but not 175 yards good.

  10. OSU is lucky to get out of there with a W as we pretty much laid an egg for most of the game. Quick observations.
    1. OSU’s O showed up when it needed and both drives realized small chunks of real estate would lead to scores. OSU exposed PSU’s poor DB’s on those two drives. should have been exposed much more!
    2. Chase Young made a name for himself, we would of lost w/o him!.
    3. OSU dominated the last 4 minutes of the first half, the first 6 of the 2nd half and the final 8 minutes.
    4. That “Wild Cat” play changed momentum until 8:15 left in the game.
    5. McSorley played the game of his life, he burned us on 3rd and longs!
    6. OSU’s could of game planned their O much better, when we attacked the perimeter with speed, slants and screens,we were pretty much invincible.
    7. NOT shocked that PSU scored 26, very shocked OSU only scored 27. The D did well enough, if the O should be putting up 17-21 each half.
    8. Terrible game ending O play call by PSU on 4th and 5.
    9. This entire team still has strides to make!
    10. We’re basically in control of the B1G east and a trip to Indy and beyond.

  11. I’m most bothered by the stupid penalties, especially by Young. The kid is a great player, but he needs to grow up fast and keep his emotions under control or it will cost the Buckeyes.

    1. If you’re talking about feeding “Zeke” against MSU, then you didnt’ watch that game, Zeke could of ran that ball 50 times and lucky to get to 75!

      1. Sorry, w/o Young we would of lost. He couldn’t help it that McSorley is rather short and leans in on his runs. Good thing that wasn’t a face mask on the PSU’s closing drive.

      2. Oh no, I watched. But I’m also a believer that the more you feed Zeke (or Hyde, or any dominant feature back for that matter), the better the results are later in the game. Even if it doesn’t work early, the cumulative effect is that it wears the D out trying to tackle him and trying to shed those big blockers. That’s why eight carries (or whatever it was vs. Sparty) is unacceptable.

          1. Did you not read the part where I said I did? Here it is again:

            “Oh no, I watched.”

            1. We all watched the game and is Zeke was fed the ball for a normal amount of carries then OSU would have won. It is that simple. All the line needed to do was block better and feed Zeke.

  12. On 4th and short, we run from the shotgun? Why isn’t the QB under center and going forward. He’s a big boy who should be able to pick up necessary yardage.

    1. Doesn’t someone on the OSU coaching staff deserved to be held accountable for the possibly game changing penalty of delay of game prior to the two point conversion attempt? Ohio State sports journalism truly sucks when such gaffes are not even addressed!

      1. Hey, I’m sorry if my journalism sucks, but this actually isn’t a news story. It’s an opinion column (which is why we file it under the Hayes & Cannon section rather than the main football coverage). I’m going to talk about the things that bother me most and yes, that did bother me, but I file that under the larger subheading of “penalties” (which I addressed above) rather than specifically calling it out. I do like to occasionally sleep and do other things and although this COULD be a 5,000-word piece every week, it’s not going to be. I figure I’m already walking that TL;DR line as it is. 🙂

        1. Don’t worry about your journalism here, Michael. You’re not in J-school or working at some newspaper that’s slowly swirling down the drain financially. We just want to read what you’re thinking about the game and the team. That’s what we come to the Ozone for. Who really gives a damn about how many awards some journalist wins, anyway? We Ozone readers don’t care. All we want to read is stories about the team and analysis of the game, as appropriate.

      2. The coaching staff was claiming that the clock was reset improperly.

        1. I don’t doubt it. That definitely didn’t seem like a full play clock to me. The fourth down play that failed looked like it took longer to come in than the two-point conversion.

  13. Thank you Michael Citro for you comments supporting the Buckeye Team and enjoying the great comeback and victory over Penn State.

    1. Okay, Stan. We get it. You only want Scarlet-and-Gray coloured responses. When you made the exact same comment to me on the Haskins article I let it go because you’re certainly entitled to that opinion. But this column very clearly states (and the entire reason for it is because) having some perspective to the negative is healthy so for you to criticize the author of a column that’s SUPPOSED to be negative simply means your reading comprehension needs work.

    2. It’s The Grumpy Old Buckeye article, Stan. Michael’s opening paragraph explains the concept.

  14. Yea the targeting call baffles me..What even baffles me more is after it is REVIEWED, They still don’t get it right. The call on Pryor was absolutely outrageously ridiculous. The PSU player was falling and Pryor basically whiffed on the hit… there was minor contact. which was the receivers head hitting the defenders body as he was falling to the ground. Ohio State always seem to get the majority of Officials BAD calls….it is sickening. The late hit out of bounds wasn’t even called a targeting on the field even though the PSU player launched. Pitiful. What really pissed me off was the facemark call on the made field goal.If you watch the play, his arm was outstretched and the defender ran his head through the hand, face mask was never grabbed, his hand grazed his mask and helmet. I wasn’t aware that in football, that you can’t touch the face mask…once again officials against OSU……aways, and it is obviously one-sided. Defenders grab and hold and contact our receivers before the ball gets there, and always a no call. We touch any part of a receiver, and the flags come out immediately.. and always seem to be when we need a big play.. i don’t know , maybe I’m just bitchin. but i truly believe officiating is against OHIO STATE.

  15. That facemask penalty by Luke Farrell made me mad because 3 points were taken off the scoreboard. There is no more 5 yard facemask. They are all 15 yard penalties now. Players need to be aware of where their hands are. Chase Young almost got his 2nd facemask penalty late in the game where PSU would have gotten closer to field goal range.

  16. yes they need to stop using the dumb wildcat play at the worst times!

    1. Using the wildcat play is ALWAYS a “worst” time

  17. Contrary to what some may believe, I am not the author of this story- I just happen to agree with what he wrote (I addressed almost exactly the same list of concerns in Jon’s earlier piece). We desperately need to lose any playbook pages which contain Wildcat stuff, it is played out and wasn’t even good when it wasn’t played out. It would also be nice if a majority of offensive coaches didn’t have some undiagnosed passive aggressive behavior toward good running backs! Sheesh.

  18. Great win which could define the season. But running the stupid wildcat when we had them on their heels?? 21 to 13 at that point would have been huge and we come away empty. The D got it done but the big plays are killing us and will get us beat if we dont get this under control. Schiano calls an aggressive d which might be part of the problem as the young players on the back end continue to develop. Again why are we not seeing more of dante booker? Better watch out for purdue. Game has trap all over it.

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