There is good and bad in every game.
Some games have more good than bad, and some games have more bad than good.
And some games have no bad for the first nine minutes, and then sometimes more bad than good over the next 51 minutes.
This feature is about acknowledging both the bad and good, or whichever stood out to us most.
Borrowing from Ohio State’s practice of handing out Buckeye leaves for good plays, we will do the same. But unlike OSU, we are also going to include some peeves.
If a peeve was a sticker, it would have a picture on it of a wolverine with a smirk. And there’s no way you want too many of those on your helmet.
So we — staff, contributors, and hangers-on — are handing out some leaves and peeves following Ohio State’s 45-21 win over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.
My Buckeye Leaf goes to graduate senior defensive tackle Jashon Cornell. Cornell played defensive end in the game and recorded a career high two tackles-for-loss and a sack. Cornell was a strong point on the defense and helped hold FAU to negative 14 yards of total offense in the first half of the game. Without Jonathon Cooper playing in the game, the defensive line needed another leader alongside Chase Young and I think Cornell stepped up and did that. Cornell’s performance was critical.
Chase Young. On a day when the Buckeyes were very short-handed on the defensive line, their biggest star stepped up big. Young looked virtually unblockable at times, finishing with five tackles and 1.5 sacks.
When he and the rest of the first-team defense were on the field, the unit looked absolutely nothing like the 2018 version.
The competition is about to get tougher, but if they can continue to lock down opponents like that, it raises the ceiling for this year’s team about as high as possible.
What do you mean there was more than one quarter of football played on Saturday in The Shoe? My Buckeye Leaf this week goes to Brendon White. For a man who was almost cast aside last year at this time to become a huge contributor late in 2018, and to take on a new hybrid role this year, and to do it so well, he was the player who flashed the most for me. Great win, lots to work on, but BWhite gets my leaf.
A win is a win, and the entire team gets a leaf for that. However, my Buckeye Peeve, Peaf, or is it B-eeve? Goes to the coaching staff, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. I understand wanting to get game reps for the starters, but Fields was in too late Saturday. They also need to get game reps for the backups in the QB room. Next week probably won’t allow much PT for them either, so I expect Miami to see a lot of QB2 & QB3. Otherwise, celebrating the first win is great, let’s get ready for the Fickells!
My Buckeye leaf goes to Baron Browning. While he only finished with 4 tackles, 1 tackle-for-loss, and 1 QB hurry, he played with an aggression that we have not seen from him. There were quite a few “wow” moments early by the Buckeyes, but his lone TFL was one of my favorites. The angle he took, the speed he utilized, and the powerful tackle was a sight we have not seen since Raekwon McMillan was patrolling those parts.
I give my Buckeye Leaf to Ryan Day for keeping the Ohio State train rolling… for making needed and intelligent coaching changes on the defense… for not running Fields with the game decided even though it upset so many people on Twitter that Ohio State didn’t score 70 points.
Buckeye Leaf for Baron Browning. For possibly the first time since arriving in Columbus, Browning seemed like he was just playing, and not overthinking it. Perhaps that is a comment on the previous coaching staff/scheme, but I am optimistic about Browning’s role in this defense after that performance against Florida Atlantic.
I am handing out a Buckeye peeve to the Ohio State running game. The Buckeyes rushed for 105 yards on 10 attempts in the first quarter, with nearly half of that coming via Justin Fields’ 51-yarder. But that’s fine. The other nine attempts averaged six yards per carry. You can win with that.
The second quarter, however, was bad. Ohio State ran for 3 yards on 12 attempts. That is unacceptable against any opponent on their schedule this season, let alone one that gave up 28 points in the first nine minutes of the game. They only did marginally better in the third quarter, rushing for 39 yards on 10 carries.
If you take away Fields’ 51-yard run, OSU went for 96 yards on 31 attempts — barely 3 yards per carry. This was as bad as any game last year, but having Fields can equalize some things. Regardless, the offensive line needs to get momentum building and JK Dobbins needs to continue running hard.
Also, let’s throw a Buckeye leaf in the direction of Jashon Cornell. He had two tackles for loss and a sack at defensive end after moving over from defensive tackle in camp.