It’s your Week 2 edition of Grumpy Old Buckeye and we’re talking about Ohio State vs. the University of Cincinnati. 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.
Holding Penalty Derails First Drive
Jonah Jackson didn’t need to hold on the first OSU drive. Obviously there are few holds that “need” to happen, but this one was egregious because it made no difference in the result of the play. Once Jackson’s defender went inside, he was never getting back to Justin Fields. The ultra-conservative second-down play call of J.K. Dobbins up the middle exacerbated the situation and prevented Ohio State from having a manageable third down. Had the team run the third-down call on second, there was a chance of either picking up the first down or kicking a field goal. At least the punt team and defense rose up and performed well to get the ball right back.
Hill with Another Drop
It’s been a curious start to the season for the normally sure-handed K.J. Hill. After dropping a pass for Fields’ first incompletion last week, he did it again. This time he had the ball at the 20-yard line and took a step up the field without securing it against his body and the defense knocked it away. Had he stepped backward onto the sideline, it would have been a completion and a first down. A bit later, Hill had the ball stripped but he was ruled down on the play, but it was a questionable call. Although a defensive penalty would have negated the turnover anyway, a senior with Hill’s history has to be more secure with the ball.
The Spot and the Play Call
Ohio State appeared to get a first down on a second-down carry by Fields, who looked like he started his slide right at the marker and ended up two yards beyond it. The initial spot was enough for the first down and then it was arbitrarily moved a full yard back behind the line to make. Ohio State threw incomplete on third down and then ran a disastrous quarterback keeper out of the shotgun spread on fourth, which Cincinnati’s defense easily stopped. For all the under center talk this off-season, it seemed a terrible decision to line up in the spread and run the quarterback on a slow-developing play on fourth down.
The Trouble with Togiai
Defensive tackle Tommy Togiai extended a Cincinnati drive with roughing-the-passer call as the Buckeyes stopped a third-and-long play. The Bearcats got new life on the play because of the penalty, which was a bit soft, but Togiai can’t put the referee in position to make that call. Making unnecessary contact with the quarterback after the ball is out is just asking for trouble. Fortunately, Ohio State blocked a field goal at the end of the drive to bail out Togiai for the mistake.
Law of Averages Late Returning from Vacation
Shaun Wade did well to get a strip sack in the second quarter but again the Buckeyes couldn’t fall on a loose ball. Ohio State’s defense has done well at forcing fumbles but hasn’t been good at recovering them. And that’s really the important part of the fumble, the recovery. Anyone can just force a fumble. But it’s the recovery that really makes the fumble special. Maybe the luck started to change with Justin Fields falling on his own loose ball later in the quarter, because the defense finally covered one in the end zone late in the fourth quarter to preserve the shutout.
Chase’s Dropped Pick
Look, I’m not angry with you, Chase Young. I’m just disappointed. You could have made an epic play on the ricochet but you dropped the football while thinking about the ensuing touchdown that almost surely would have occurred. I wanted that epic play. It didn’t happen. Again, I’m not angry, just disappointed.
Lack of Two-Minute Drill
One aspect of non-conference games that often goes overlooked is the opportunity to work on things. Ohio State has now had the ball before halftime twice and hasn’t bothered to try running the two-minute drill. Is Fields capable? It seems like he should be but Ohio State isn’t getting him any practice at it.
Allowing the Big Play
Ohio State allowed a big play in the passing game in the second half. With Damon Arnette in coverage, the receiver got over the top of him and Desmond Ridder dropped in a perfect pass. You hate to see a cornerback give up a deep ball like that, but where was the safety help? Ohio State may have gotten caught in the wrong defensive call on the play. At least the defense stepped up and didn’t allow a score afterwards.
That’s what stood out to me in an unexpectedly easy 42-0 win over the Bearcats. Obviously the good far outweighed the bad, including a return to form for Dobbins, getting to see three quarterbacks, another nice game for Fields, the debut touchdown for Garrett Wilson, some turnovers for the defense, and much more. Next up, we’ll visit Indiana.