A common saying is “the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over while expecting a different result.” At times this season, it has seemed that this was actually the Ohio State mantra.
After getting their collective soul cleansed by an old-fashioned butt-whooping at Purdue, the Buckeyes have finally realized they need to change things. Like a light bulb going off, they accepted that they need to improve if they want to play for a championship this season. On Saturday, Ohio State did everything they could to continue the chase.
There also is an old saying that goes “To win championships, you have to run the ball, play great defense, and have outstanding special teams play.” On Saturday, Ohio State took this to heart. There was a dedication to the running game, even against the number one rushing defense in college football. The defense played their best game in 2018. Finally, the special teams unit was lights out.
Urban Meyer was talking about Tate Martell getting more playing time when he said “I think we’re gonna do more of that” in Saturday’s post-game press conference. Buckeye Nation hopes that this extends to the other things the Bucks have done to improve these last two weeks.
Looking a little closer at this week’s victory over Michigan State, lets hand out some Hayes & Cannon awards:
All season, I have tried to highlight the people who made big plays and had a monster game, without being the game MVP. That is why Dwayne Haskins has not been the Hayes Gaze recipient game in and game out.
This is why, as much as I want to, I will *not* name Drue Chrisman here. Chrisman was easily the game MVP against Sparty, with a huge assist from Terry McLaurin. Putting five punts within the 6-yard line in a fantastic effort. As Buckeye fans, we all understand how important this is.
But seemingly overlooked on Saturday was Mike Weber, who is this week’s Hayes Gaze winner. The Detroit native seems to step up anytime he gets to play in his home state. Saturday was no different.
After getting the surprise start over JK Dobbins, Weber was able to rush for 104 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown. Not only was this good enough for a 4.7 yard-per-carry average, this was done against the number one rushing defense in the nation.
Weber ran tough when needed to. He was able to be the steady rock that the offense needed to control the game. Even bigger, he managed to not fumble twice like he did against Nebraska.
The last thing Weber was able to do, with hitting that 100-yard rushing mark, was guarantee the Buckeye win. As I mentioned before the game, Ohio State has never lost a game when Weber tops 100 yards rushing.
Was Saturday a perfect game for Ohio State? Absolutely not. In fact, it was far from it. Ohio State only managed 347 yards as a team. That included 120 yards on the ground, on 45 carries, good for a measly 2.7 yards per. Additionally, Dwayne Haskins only completed 61% of his passes.
So, what was the biggest negative takeaway from Saturday? This week, it once again lands on the offensive coaching staff. I’m sure you’re mumbling to yourself, “But Mike, Ohio State won!” “But Mike, Haskins set another school record!” Or, “But Mike, Weber topped 100 yards!” I know, I know. But there was still a major issue that the staff could have handled better than they did.
During Saturday’s game, we finally saw Tate Martell return to game action for Ohio State. This is a positive. However, the way this was handled was less than ideal. Martell’s offensive package was successful when employed, the Buckeyes moved the ball. So what was the problem? It’s all in the way they handled the Martell package.
Watching the broadcast, you could see the annoyance in Dwayne Haskins’ face. It was bad enough, Joel Klatt and Gus Johnson had to address it on air. After the game, as Tony Gerdeman reported: “on having to come out in favor of Martell: ‘It’s a little hard.’ It’s a package. He can’t complain, but it’s a little frustrating having to come out of the game.”
Long time Buckeye fans remember the last time Ohio State had to handle two quarterbacks. Both are extremely talented. And no one is suggesting there is a quarterback controversy. However, as a staff, you have to handle these small things better or they will evolve into something bigger than they should be. And this team cannot afford to have little things like this boil over this season.
Maryland week comes up next, and the Terps are the one team that has had more off-field issues this past off-season than the Buckeyes. They have not only lost their coach, but obviously have had to play all year dealing with the loss of a teammate.
Add that to the fact that they are not a great football team in general, and this looks like it should be trouble for the Fightin’ Turtles. Maryland is 5-5, and would love to become bowl eligible while knocking off the Buckeyes finally.
Maryland has relied on their ability to run the ball all season. This poses a problem as the Ohio State rushing defense has been their brightest spot, although it’s not been extremely bright. Maryland is scoring 29 points per game while giving up 25 points per.
However, in their five losses, they are scoring only 14 points per game. That number is inflated by 32 they put up in a losing effort against Indiana last week. Without that, they score just over 9 points per game in the other four losses.
That being said, I am expecting Ohio State to continue to build on the momentum the rushing attack is building. Look for a heavy dose of JK Webber, and more Tate Martell.
Super early prediction? Ohio State 35, Maryland 10.
Go Bucks! O-H!
“Hayes Gaze and Cannon Fodder” is the weekly look at the good and bad for Ohio State football from Mike Meals. Each week, Mike will look at the good of the week with a loving Hayes Gaze, and at what was the Cannon Fodder at best. You can also catch Mike along with Hayes & Cannon Content Manager/Writer Brandon Zimmerman on the weekly episodes of “The Sons of Schmidt” podcast on the Ozone Radio Network. Follow Mike on twitter (@mmeals)