Welcome back to the first Grumpy Old Buckeye of 2019. If you’re new to this column, welcome! The aim here is to be the voice of negativity, even when things are generally pretty great. 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 vs. Washington in the Rose Bowl.
Pre-Snap Penalties Start Before First Play
Oh, Wyatt Davis. Why you gotta hurt my heart? If you’ve read this column this season, you’ll know of my disdain for the pre-snap penalty and the game had barely started before it happened yet again. Davis’ penalty before the first play from scrimmage led to a three-and-out. Josh Alabi got one to start a drive later after a Washington field goal drive. What is it with the first play of the drive that is so difficult?
Prince also got one on a key third-and-short play early in the second quarter. Thankfully, Dwayne Haskins threw a touchdown pass to Johnnie Dixon on the next play. Prince did screw things up on the next drive by taking one on third and nine, with the Buckeyes unable to pick up all of the necessary 14 yards.
Malcolm Pridgeon got in on the action later as well and there were a couple on defense. There were a lot more of these than we usually see and we usually see too many.
Dwayne Haskins: Still Not a Zone Read QB
The Buckeyes got the ball back after scoring and had a chance to seize early control of the game. But Ohio State called a zone read play on third-and-two on the third possession. Haskins was baited into keeping the ball by the defensive end and the play blew up in the backfield. A hand-off may have netted the two yards but I hate the play call either way.
Chase Gets a Loaf
Broken plays on offense kept Washington in the game in the first half and one such play seemed preventable if not for some nonchalance on the part of Ohio State. Jake Browning scrambled out of the pocket and despite his speed and freak athletic ability, Chase Young just kind of…followed. He didn’t run; he didn’t sprint; and he certainly didn’t live up to his first name on the play. He just sort of followed along at a jog and watched the Huskies pick up a first down. Maybe he wouldn’t have made the play, but that was some poor effort and it’s not what we expect from Young.
You’re Late, Chris
Late in the first half, Haskins threw his 50th touchdown pass of the season. Afterward, play-by-play broadcaster Chris Fowler seemed duly impressed by the feat and by Haskins’ body of work on the season in general— as well he should be. Fowler then went on to marvel at the lack of Heisman ballots that had Haskins’ name on them. This should not have come as any surprise to a guy who works for the ESPN machine, which largely helped create the Tua-vs.-Kyler narrative in the run-up to the Heisman Trophy presentation.
OK, seriously, these are the worst. Every single one of them makes me grind my teeth. I rarely used the product (which I won’t name here) before, but I’m off it forever now. Let’s move on.
The Entire Fourth Quarter
I don’t think Ohio State meant to take its foot off the gas but everything about the team was discombobulated in the fourth quarter. Play calling, execution, offense, defense, special teams. Everything was bad and it allowed the Huskies to — well, not threaten, so much as close the gap to where they nearly, but not quite, had a shot at completing the comeback. When tight ends are having balls just stick to one of their hands while battling in midair, things are not going your way. When the normally accurate Haskins is missing open receivers, it’s all out of sorts.
Look, there’s no such thing as a six-inch “line.” It doesn’t exist, but both Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit said it. I’m tired of hearing announcers use a term for anything that is less than a yard from the end zone as some kind of line. The lines are clear for all to see and they are spaced a yard apart.
Down the Stretch Officiating
Ohio State may have done everything possible to allow Washington to avoid embarrassment, but the Huskies had a little help late. There was an iffy pass interference, another that was so soft that you couldn’t even call it iffy, and a free touchdown awarded by an official who ran himself out of position to avoid contact with the players at the sideline. The latter was too close, apparently, to overturn, but it was a late holiday gift for which the Huskies should be thankful.
That’s what stood out to me in the Buckeyes’ final win of the Urban Meyer era. Obviously the good outweighed the bad, including a great night by Jeffrey Okudah, Haskins reaching 50 touchdowns on the year, Parris Campbell setting a receptions record and reaching 1,000 yards, and a good final game from Mike Weber.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading the Grumpy Old Buckeye posts as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them this season. If The Ozone lets me come back, we might just do it all again next year as we start the Ryan Day era.