Football Hayes & Cannon

The Grumpy Old Buckeye: Ohio State vs. Northwestern

It’s the B1G Championship Game edition of the Grumpy Old Buckeye, the column that represents the voice of negativity, even when things are going great. It’s where 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 about a meeting with the Northwestern Wildcats in Indianapolis.

Let’s Get This Out of the Way Early

The referees truly set the tone for the game early. Isaiah Prince pancaked his man and then flopped on top of him, just like you’re taught, to finish your block and erase the opponent from the play. Doing his job cost him 15 yards and established that one team’s players might be in for a long night. Meanwhile, the other team’s players were given a much longer leash. Northwestern’s long touchdown run was filled with violations of college football rules by the offense but none of those were called. Perhaps the referees just couldn’t decide to call the hold or the facemask on this?

The final tally: Ohio State was flagged nine times for 90 yards to Northwestern’s three flags for 15 yards. I’m sure the Buckeyes got away with a few fouls that weren’t called, but I’m even more sure that the Wildcats got away with several. FOX showed a replay where Parris Campbell was obviously held trying to come out of his break and analyst Joel Klatt soft played it, saying “Northwestern may have gotten away with a little bit of a hold.” It was not an isolated incident. I don’t like to discuss the referees and wish I didn’t have to here, but when the Wildcats could have four extra guys on the field and the officials needed to go to video review to see it, you know there’s a problem.

Pre-Snap Penalties

Dre’Mont Jones jumped offside twice, Michael Jordan forgot to snap the ball, and the Buckeyes continue to have pre-snap issues. I will never fault the referees for calling those. Those are obvious and have to be called and it’s on Ohio State to fix that. They haven’t fixed it all year and it’s unlikely to change now.

Another Ridiculously Long Touchdown

The defense gave up another long running touchdown when John Moten went 77 yards early on the aforementioned missed holding/facemask call. As Northwestern violated Kendall Sheffield, Moten took off down the sideline and scored. Which was the worst part? The missed call? The bad angle from Brendon White? The missed tackle at the line? I can’t decide. Moten finished with 76 yards on four carries after going 77 on his first, so…there’s that, at least.

What Are They Doing?

The play calling was curiously bad and some of the worst we’ve seen all season. One thing that this coaching staff absolutely will not do is take a shot down field after the defense creates a turnover. It’s almost always a running play and has been such all season. Mike Weber had a short run up the middle after Chase Young forced a fumble and that entire drive was all runs by Weber until the final play, which was a 5-yard pass to Weber on third-and-13. It fizzled out and the Buckeyes kicked a field goal.

The Buckeyes also continued to call bash runs all night even though they generally lost from three to five yards every time. One such run lost yards on second-and-18. Whatever they saw on film never emerged during the game and the coaching staff didn’t throw that one out after several examples of it not working. There were also too many run plays for Dwayne Haskins. The man threw for nearly 500 yards and didn’t seem too bothered by Northwestern despite a few sacks. Maybe let the Heisman candidate make some more plays?

An Old “Friend” Returns

Northwestern seemed content to fair catch all kickoffs by Ohio State on the evening, so it was a bit perplexing that Blake Haubeil kicked two of them out of bounds. It was an unwelcome return of something that plagued the team in recent years. Maybe it was just a tribute to the classes that had come before, but it was just dumb when the Wildcats had no desire to even try to return one.

Untapped Potential

Sometimes Binjimen Victor can’t catch. Sometimes he holds to wipe out a nice play. There’s so much raw athletic ability in that young man but he’s having difficulty putting it all together consistently. He’s big, he’s fast, he’s strong, and he has long arms. He should be able to block and catch but his play sometimes leaves you wanting much more. The ball that he dropped would have been a tough catch — and was originally called one — but it’s a play he needs to make, coming back to his quarterback, to help his team. Hopefully he’ll put it all together next year.

Wasted Opportunities

Weber fumbled just a few plays after Damon Arnette’s interception. Haskins threw an interception shortly after Shaun Wade’s pick. The Buckeyes had to settle for a field goal after the fumble. That’s three points off of three turnovers and it’s the kind of thing that helps average teams hang around, which Northwestern did. Another thing that helps a team hang around is missing a chip shot field goal. Haubeil had one partially blocked at a critical junction of the game but thankfully the Buckeyes were able to put the game away.

I’ll admit that it wasn’t easy for me to write this one. I’m generally a pretty happy dude when the Buckeyes win the Big Ten championship. And I always write these after the game, so it’s really difficult to get my grump on when I’m in a great mood. But hopefully you’ll all remember the huge nights by Haskins, Young, and Johnnie Dixon.

Which of the above items gave you the most grief? What else stuck in your craw? Let it all out in the comments section and we’ll do this one more time this season.

11 Responses

  1. The amount of penalties this team has wracked up this year is embarrassing. I attribute some to poor officiating (see pass interference calls against scUM), but the false starts, holding on both sides, jumping offsides, personal fouls etc etc have contributed to this team failing to continue drives or getting the other team off the field on 3rd down over and over and over and letting inferior teams hang around too long. I know this team is very young for the most part but it looks like it never got fixed all year. Also, the inability to convert 3rd and 4th and short running the ball was also soooooooooooo frustrating when it seemed to be automatic the last 5 years. The lack of push from the Oline in short yardage shows we need a new Oline coach along with a new LB coach. This Oline at times was dominant but against scrubs they sometimes got whipped over and over. Both guards were not good and both were seniors! I hope next year our Oline plays more consistent then this years. We will need it with a new QB and WR’s for the most part.

  2. My 2.0
    First, “the officials needed to go to video review to see it, you know there’s a problem” the ahem “flashbulbs” obscured their vision on many occasions.

    AND!!!!

    Second, “Wasted Opportunities”…part of that stemmed from “play calling was curiously bad”

  3. You really have to wonder what in the hell is going on with Big officials after watching the same crew in both the scUM and championship game make many head scratching calls and the no calls. If a crew is going to be flag happy that’s fine as long as they call it both ways. Against scUM we got flagged 15 times for 150 yards while only 5 flags went the other way (or something like that I don’t recall exactly). Same thing Saturday night a huge disparity in the number of flags thrown. I was sitting field level and #70 for northwestern was basically mugging chase young all night and not one holding call. How does a team throw 44 passes and not get flagged even once for holding? The personal foul against Prince? Defensive holding when thorson ran in for a TD? A block below the waist called on Fuller on a NW running play? NW got away with holding our receivers all night and not one single call? I assume officials watch film and what probably hurts us is our reputation all season because we were almost dead last in FBS in penalties and penalty yards per game while NW was first in FBS with the least amount of penalties and penalty yards per game. Shouldn’t matter but you have to really wonder.

  4. I have to agree, the officiating was cause for head scratching. Particularly the face mask against Haskins that pulled his mask down over his eye so he couldn’t see downfield.

    But overall, I enjoyed the gae. Northwestern is my second favourite team, so, I didn’t really want to see them totally obliterated. They played well enough to keep it interesting, so I got what i wanted from them.

    The defence, we got spoiled by years of NFL guys in the middle. I suspect this is what the rest of the world lives through all the time. The coaches are definitely giving these youngsters to much ability to improvise. Gap integrity has to come first to shut down those long runs. Once they show their ability understand their gap responsibilities, then turn them loose. No one ever gave up a long run because everyone was in their position and covering their gap.

  5. My main grumpiness isn’t over the Buckeyes, although I agree with the article and some of the comments (not you, Dave). I’m mad that the committee has devalued conference championships by ignoring their rules. ND shouldn’t be in and Georgia being rated Fifth is ridiculous. B1G gets penalized for having 9 conference games and a championship. Delaney needs to raise hell.

  6. On Dre’mont’s first offsides they showed a wonderful closeup view from the sidelines. The center visibly bobs his head and directly causes Dre’mont to jump. As with many of the other missed calls, the game announcers either missed it completely or glossed over the missed/bad call

  7. Agree the officiating was bad and one sided. How about the defensive “block below the waist” call….really, what is that anyway? How about the “defensive hold” call during the NW QB run for 30 yds for TD. What kind of call is that? How about the overturn of the NW fumble by Arnette? I was at the game and saw the replays from all angles. If anything the N players knee is on top of Arnette’s foot. Not enough evidence to overturn. The BIg officials have been terrible of late. Just review the Maryland and Michigan games. It will make you throw up when you see the ineptness.

  8. I do not understand why coaches who make heavy six/low seven-figure salaries cannot understand the basic concept of the new kickoff rules.
    1) Kick to one ‘side’ of the field but never too close to out-of-bounds BECAUSE
    2) Instead of long hang-time kicks hit missiles that are designed to hit turf between the opponents 22 and 13 yard lines. You want to hit rockets rather than hang-time specifically so no receiving team member has time to circle under it and make a fair catch.
    3) Hit the ball so that when it hits it squibs as best as a kicker is able. Because it isn’t caught in the air it nullifies fair catches completely. Because it’s hit with a squib spin it makes it harder to corral, creating possibilities of mis-handling which both negates returns and leads to a faint possibility of recovering the kick.
    4) That extra time tracking down and fielding the ball cleanly helps offset the lack of hang time in allowing the coverage to get to the ball. Kicking consistently to the same side of the field but not the corner (to allow for squib bounces) provides the same benefits the current kick strategy does.
    5) Have at least 2 alternate kicks for when opponents get complacent about covering the side of the field you normally kick to for emergency/on-sides kicks.

  9. The Buckeyes showed why they were not playoff worthy in spades. Stupid penalties, a horrible defense (as usual) and a failure to dominate. They would have been killed in the playoffs, so be thankful we don’t get to see another Clemson debacle. And, hopefully, Meyer will wake up and finally realize that Schiano couldn’t coach a high school defense and fire him.

    1. Dave- um, how about applying your own comments to Oklahoma and (apparently) the 5th best team, UGA? OU’s defense is TRULY horrible, not mediocre like OSU’s (do something crazy and actually LOOK at the NCAA rankings). Failure to dominate? Okla won their title game by 12, and it was a ONE SCORE GAME late in the 4th. They won and did NOT dominate. Georgia, anyone? The 5 million dollar coach calls a FAKE PUNT on his own half of the field, with the lead(!), and needed ELEVEN yards? And that perennially choking outfit with TWO losses was judged superior to OSU? OSU is a ONE LOSS CONFERENCE CHAMP who won their title game by THREE touchdowns. Geez.

      1. 2 points for a takedown! Georgia ahead of us…there is no justification for that nonsense.

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