Football

Ten Things We Learned From Ohio State’s 42-0 Shutout Over Cincinnati

JK Dobbins Ohio State Buckeyes Running Back

This was the game we were going to have notions confirmed, and after Ohio State’s 42-0 win over Cincinnati on Saturday, there were plenty of confirmations going on.

Justin Fields looked as comfortable as a goat in a junk yard and his receivers gave him more cushions than a bumper pool factory.

The running game responded as well, providing room for three explosive runs for JK Dobbins. The only sack allowed was a coverage sack with just two receivers out in the pass pattern.

Defensively, the Buckeyes were again impressive against the run. They allowed 107 yards rushing, but 79 of those yards came on the final drive with the backups of the backups in the game.

The secondary allowed a few passes to get through, but it required precision throws to get it done.

This was a solid win against a conference contender.

But what did we learn?

1. The Buckeyes still have more in the tank.

This week the Ohio State offense added some more tweaks to the offense, including the pistol formation. They continued to find room running the ball in two tight end sets from under center, and more will continue to come from those play-action possibilities. Defensively, we saw some more blitzes this weekend, particularly from Shaun Wade. There were more moving parts against Cincinnati than there were against Florida Atlantic, and it feels like this is just the beginning.

2. Chase Young is Bosaing.

Before the season, somebody on the message board asked about Chase Young being on Nick or Joey Bosa’s level at the start of the season. I laughed it off because the notion was a little optimistic. And then the season began. Young has tallied 1.5 sacks in each of the Buckeyes’ two games and would have more if holding wasn’t allowed. He looks every bit as good as either of the Bosa brothers as juniors and he is bad news for the Big Ten this year.

3. The gunners have potential.

Drue Chrisman punted from Cincinnati’s 39-yard line on Ohio State’s first drive. He put enough air under the ball that sophomore receiver Chris Olave was waiting for the ball to come to him at the goal line. At one point I think I even saw Olave check his watch. He coaxed the ball to him and downed it at the 1-yard line. Chrisman’s second punt was fair caught at the 8-yard line because of the coverage. His third punt just made it into the end zone ahead of Jeff Okudah. Against FAU, Olave arrived at the same time as a punt and was almost a bit out of control. Both Okudah and Olave have a standard to uphold and while they aren’t quite there yet, they’re working hard (and fast) to get there.

4. Baron Browning has found a home.

Give credit to Baron Browning and Tuf Borland sharing the middle linebacker spot equally, and both being able to slide over to Will whenever needed. This is a versatile group of linebackers who can do many different things. Baron Browning is one of the best examples of that. He can cover ground well, which allows him to be used in both pass coverage and blitzing. You know how it took Curtis Grant four years to look like he belonged? Browning beat him by a year.

5. Binjimen Victor is turning into a go-to guy.

The thing I like most about Binjimen Victor right now is that when he catches the ball — no matter where that is — he is looking to do something with the ball after the catch. He isn’t satisfied with simply getting the first down and moving the chains. He wants more and he’s putting moves on defensive backs to get it. But he isn’t doing it at the expense of protecting the football. If there is nothing there, he gets down. Victor is doing a nice job of being in control.

6. Master Teague runs with purpose.

The way I phrased it on the Buckeye Weekly podcast after the game was that Master Teague runs like he has been disrespected or insulted by the end zone and wants to fight it, but people (tacklers) are trying to hold him back from that fight. He continues to try to rip himself free because there’s no way he’s going to let what the end zone said to him go unanswered.

7. Jeff Hafley trusts Pete Werner.

When you watch the Buckeyes next week — or if you want to watch either of the two games that have already been played — let me recommend a game to you called “Where in the world is Pete Werner?” It’s endless fun and not as easy as it may sound. There are times when Werner will be in the box, times when he’s flexed out into the slot, and there are yet other times when he is rotating or dropping back as a safety. He could be rushing the passer, or he could be 15 yards deep. Ohio State already has a hybrid safety/linebacker on the defense, and so when they ask Pete Werner to move around as much as they do, that should give you a pretty good idea of how much his coaches trust him and how much he does exactly what they want him to.

8. The Buckeyes can win with these corners.

With Damon Arnette, Jeff Okudah, and Shaun Wade, the Buckeyes have their best trio of cornerbacks since they had Denzel Ward, Gareon Conley, and Marshon Lattimore rotating in 2016. It is still early and nobody is perfect yet. Damon Arnette gave up a deep catch after he had already been removed from the game and unbuckled his shoulder pads. Okudah gave up a couple of decent-sized catches. And Wade had his back turned to the quarterback on what would have been an easy pick six. But more than enough has already been seen to feel comfortable with all three. They are making plays at the line of scrimmage and also covering well enough to make completions downfield atypical.

9. The offensive line is in control.

Justin Fields was sacked once on Saturday, but the Buckeye offensive line had nothing to do with it. With just two receivers running a route on the play, Fields knew he had time to throw the ball, but both Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack were covered. He was waiting for one or both to break free on his scramble, but it didn’t happen and rather than throw the ball away after about seven seconds, he ended up taking the sack. In terms of the running game, there were some gigantic holes in this game, and not only were there holes, but the Cincinnati defensive line was getting pushed back as well. It was a long afternoon for the Bearcats because of the Ohio State offensive line.

10. Malik Harrison would get a lot more tackles in a bad defense.

Malik Harrison is one of the best linebackers in the Big Ten and is being talked about as a first-round NFL Draft pick next spring, but he is currently tied for 34th in the Big Ten with just 10 tackles. Harrison has probably played about six quarters so far this season and the Buckeye defense isn’t allowing too many sustained drives under his watch. And even when the opposing offense is moving the ball, Harrison has constant competition getting to tackles. On a lesser defense, he would be doubling his tackle numbers. He will get more productive in conference play, but it might be tough for him to get to the 81 tackles he had last year. Harrison is second in the Big Ten with 4.5 tackles for loss right now, however, so what he lacks in quantity, he makes up for in quality.

4 Responses

  1. 10 Popular & Self-Conflicted Notions to Die for….? ;-{)}

    1- “Still have more”. Rhymes with “I did the best I could”?

    2- X is Y, except for Z. Rather, each person & situation is unique… so how the Buckeye coaches and players ‘weave it together’ each play, is the only measure of quality in the only time we’re all in… NOW.

    3- [Everybody] who ‘has a future’, ‘has potential. No one ‘has’ the future; so we have a variety of ‘guesses’ extrapolating current and past perceptions.

    4- Everybody ‘has’ a home… while they still ‘have a heart’. We’re all seeking THE Home… each in our own way… which is why ‘few’ find it… and so many of us ‘student drivers’ ‘tell’ the Driving Instructor how to teach. “Tells”…tell.

    5-What is quite as delusional as “a go-to-guy”… other than THEE go-to-guy? We continually hear about ‘progress’ and ‘progressions’ and ‘process’… but… this is the very endeavor to ‘get’ the Guy we so say we so want…. To say nothing of the brilliant strategery of “Here We Come” to “Get That Yard” “but”… “only when we ‘really’ need it.”

    6-10. [Gives himself a ‘break’ to ‘find himself’ in #6-10 …to ‘gather his courage’ to find himself in 1-5 as well.

    Johari say…. “build a better team? Expand our Arena.”

  2. I just dont get the Pete Werner thing. Dabo, Lincoln, and Nick would have fun exposing him wherever we lined him up… put him in the slot or space against those teams and see what you get!

    OLine looked better. Hopefully they continue to improve.

    Where did the under the center package go? I actually think its better for the running backs.

    This defense could be special if it stays healthy.

    1. Christopher, I agree with you on the Werner thing. I still say he is a MAC player at best.

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