Football Hayes & Cannon

The Grumpy Old Buckeye: Ohio State vs. Michigan State

Welcome to the Michigan State edition of the Grumpy Old Buckeye, the voice of negativity, whether I have cause or not. This is the place where I write about 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 vs. Sparty.

Whatever Happened to Forward Progress?

Michigan State tried to make an early statement, using power football on the Spartans’ first drive. Brian Lewerke’s quarterback sneak was short on third-and-1 and it was also short on fourth-and-1 if you go by any normal officiating, whereby the referee blows the whistle when forward progress is stopped. Lewerke was stood up at the line of scrimmage for several seconds, but for some reason the whistle didn’t blow the play dead. When it finally did, Lewerke still may not have gained the line to make but there was no review on the play, although the lack of a whistle would have made it difficult to overturn anyway. Instead of Ohio State getting the ball deep in MSU territory, the Spartans got a fresh set of downs and then flipped the field on a punt.

Another Sluggish Start

Ohio State started slowly again, beginning its first offensive drive with a bad snap that ruined the timing of a Mike Weber running play, followed by having to take a timeout because the coaching staff couldn’t get the play call in on time. An ineffective screen pass and throw to Parris Campbell short of the sticks later, and the first drive ended as a three-and-out. These sloppy mistakes are not the kinds of things that elite programs suffer from week after week but we continue to see it. The whole thing is just a bit discombobulated right now.

Not Crisp, Man

Ohio State’s first punt was the kind of thing we don’t see often, and thank goodness for that. Drue Chrisman did well to field a snap off to his right but then completely shanked the punt. It was officially a four-yard kick and it was ugly. Somewhere Jim Tressel may actually have uttered a curse word (I know I did). The Buckeyes forced the Spartans to punt, but lost more field position on the exchange, getting pinned deep in their own end. However, it’s safe to say that Chrisman ended up being the game’s MVP, dropping punt after punt just in front of the goal line and leading to points on what looked like an intentional safety and a fumble in the end zone.

What Are First-Down Markers For, Anyway?

In the second quarter, Michigan State faced a second-and-11 play deep in its own territory. A pass play picked up 10 of the 11 yards, yet the officials gave Sparty a first down. The play was clearly a yard short of the line to make and the official on the scene appeared to spot it shy as well, but the chains were moved without a measurement and without any argument whatsoever from Ohio State. Do the Buckeyes even have someone in the press box checking replays?

Bailing Out Sparty

The Spartans made a meal out of Ohio State cornerbacks using a bail-out technique, throwing back behind the receiver for several first downs and big gains throughout the day. Ohio State seemed loathe to change things up for a while, but eventually Michigan State stopped going to it so either the Buckeyes did change things up a bit or else the Spartans completely forgot about a successful part of their offense.

Losing Hidden Yards

K.J. Hill cost Ohio State a truckload of hidden yards in the first half by letting punt after punt roll down the field. He was giving away free yards like they were candy on Halloween. The second one in particular appeared easy to handle on a big bounce, but Hill played safe. I can’t blame him too much because I’m not sure what his instructions are and we’ve all seen too many punt return plays that are more frightening than they should be, but it definitely affected Ohio State’s play calling and ability to drive down the field in the opening half.

Even More Untimely Penalties

Dwayne Haskins saw his best run of the year — for a key first down, no less — called back on a penalty by Malcolm Pridgeon, forcing a third-and-22. Pridgeon got his hands up in the facemask of an MSU defensive lineman and then…just left it there. You can often get away with a quick one if you immediately pull back your hand. Since it’s nearly impossible not to know you’ve got your hand up in someone’s face, it was a dumb mistake on Pridgeon’s part that may not even have affected Haskins’ ability to slide outside and make the run. After a short pass to K.J. Hill, Blake Haubeil missed badly on a 44-yard field goal attempt.

Another costly mistake was a false start on a short-yardage fourth down play in the third quarter. Tate Martell came onto the field and apparently clapped differently than Haskins. Ohio State’s line jumped and the Buckeyes punted instead. The Buckeyes also had a false start on second-and-6 following Michigan State’s second straight turnover. There is now one game remaining for this to be cleaned up or it’s going to cost the Buckeyes a game.

I Don’t Even Have a Headline for This Section

Ohio State was on the cusp of putting the game to bed in the fourth quarter after several Weber runs off Martell hand-offs. On third-and-goal Michael Jordan delivered a bad snap on a day when he had several of them. Martell couldn’t handle the ball way off to his right and compounded the problem by trying to reach down and pick it up rather than simply covering it up and preserving a field goal attempt. It’s the kind of mistake young quarterbacks make, and it’s understandable, but I don’t have to like it and you can’t make me.

Those are the things that made me want to yell loud things on Saturday. Which ones bothered you the most and what else did you see that made you crabby? Let me know in the comments section below and we’ll reconvene following the Maryland game.

8 Responses

  1. They beat Michigan State. The way they did it just increased my sense of doom looking forward to Michigan.

    Will the offence ever score any points? Would something be wrong with the offence scoring 21 points in game unaided by the defence?

    Will Tate Martel learn giving up on a play is better than giving the ball to the other team?

    Can Dwayne Haskins perform at peak against the Michigan pass rush? This has the potential to be a Dwayne Haskins nightmare, although there’s not a quarterback anywhere that can throw accurately while being tackled. The saddest thing about Dwayne is that he can be great if protected, but the protection isn’t up to scratch. The success of the Bucks rests totally on the o-line and their ability to do tier jobs. There’s no J.T. Barrett to make them look good when they actually stink.

    The sad thing at this point is, Maryland is not going to be a blow out, and Michigan could be a blowout for Michigan.

    The last few years Michigan played us tough and I expected the Bucks to win by more than they did. This year I expect Michigan to win or lose close. If my previous expectations are any indication, the Buckeye could lose by 14.

    The good is, two more weeks and the season is over which ends the stress, unless they somehow make the play-off. In that case 31-0 becomes a relevant concern. And you get a whole month to think about it.

    As a Grumpy old Ohio State fan, I feel right at home here.

  2. I mentioned this point in another article off of a commenter, and now it is the author. Anyone digging into Martell for that “fumble” either doesn’t watch much football or hasn’t played. The snap was ATROCIOUS, he did well just to get a finger on it. Do people expect him just to give up? Sheesh. The problem was yet ANOTHER poor snap from a SENIOR lineman. Come on folks, be better at this.

  3. Werner does look like a high school back up and Isiaha Prince is a 5star bust he is horrible

  4. The defense looked serviceable against a hilariously comical MSU offense. But, other than horribly slow adjustments to bailing corners there was improvement, especially with the safety play. It was a pleasant surprise seeing the cobwebs power washed off of Donte’ Booker and Justin Hilliard as well. I remain lost as to why Pete Werner is so highly thought of at this point. He makes entirely too many errors and DESPERATELY needs to get stronger. If the staff is waiting for the light to come on for him, they’re going to be waiting for a long time. Two years into the program and he still plays like a high school back up who has never seen the inside of a weight room.

    Thank goodness for Mike Weber for the offense because it’s absolutely obvious that the Buckeyes don’t have a single offensive lineman worth a plugged nickle. It’s the worst offensive line since 2004. That might even be a stretch saying they are even as good as that ’04 unit. Michael Jordan shot his draft potential in the ass by moving to center, but he’s lousy at it, OR, some of those errant snaps were done intentionally. Either way, he’s a terrible center.

    Also guess that the defensive player from PSU was dead center right about Dwayne. Just threaten the guy with pressure and he’ll fold….and he’s proving that condemnation 100% accurate. Is it too late in the season for a new rule to be put in that says that defenses aren’t allowed to shout BOO at Dwayne? They don’t even have to get near him and his mechanics are falling to shit.

    I fully anticipate the Buckeyes beating the Spartans in Spartan stadium. It’s an even worse venue than Horseshoe west at Bloomington, and until they can get actual fans into the stadium proud of the green and white, and, willing to actually do some cheering, I’d rank it right down there with Doyt Perry Stadium in Bowling Green as some of the least intimidating stadiums on the face of the planet.

    This game will go down as the Weber, Chrisman, McLaurin chilli bowl special.

  5. Over 50 drop backs for MSU, zero sacks against a very mediocre O-line. For those who think Larry Johnson is an all-star on this defensive staff, look again. Or is he a star compared to the rest.

    1. I think there’s been a scheme adjustment. When the defensive front was going after the backfield like their hair was on fire, the result was the defense was gashed because of weak linebacker play. It looks more like they are now merely holding point and THEN when it’s clear it’s not a running play they go after the QB. I noticed the same thing last week against Nebraska, but also wanted to see if it was a weakness or a predetermined adjustment. It looks like an adjustment that came out of the Purdue fiasco.

      Anyone who has followed Larry Johnson’s career knows the man can flat out coach, so I’m more inclined to believe that after the beat down in West Lafayette the only way for the staff to hide terrible 2nd level play was to shorten the second level itself and alter press man for a mic of catch man and zone coverages behind it.

      My biggest question is WHY has it taken so long to make adjustments. That failure of recognition belongs to Schiano.

      Slightly off your observation. Did you notice on Lombardi’s 47 yard QB run on MSU’s first 3rd quarter possession, how Tuf Borland trailed the play. There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s still playing with an injured achilles. As Lombardi (a 4.6 – 4.7 guy) went past Tuf, Tuf lost ground with each step and he was noticeably limping. I don’t think he’s regressed from mid point of last season on, he’s simply injured. That’s there’s nobody capable or ready to fill that spot whose healthy is a poor disclaimer on the worst linebacker coach in ALL of college football.

      1. James- Your observation about Tuf Borland is spot on. I’ve been making the point since before the season started. There is no way- no way- for someone to recover from an Achilles that quickly. The HC was quoted as saying, ” Tuf doesn’t understand pain”. Um, yeah he does…and we are watching it every week. Some people also think that OSU’s medical staff are like the doctors from Star Trek, that they can waive a magic wand and horrible injuries are somehow magically healed. Spolier alert- they aren’t. The whole thing has been handled shamefully. The player loses by risking further harm and the team loses by watching what we’ve watched from the play on the field. What does it say about the state of LB play that a one legged player can beat out 4 and 5 star athletes?

        1. It’s sad, but true. There’s just no reason to risk this season and possibly NEXT season for Tuf Borland by putting him in there when he’s obviously injured. Personally I’m confident that Justin Hilliard can step in and handle the responsibilities.

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