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 go from a fistfight in the first quarter to a TKO by the second. (Yes, this describes most of Ohio State’s games this season.)
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 34-10 win over Michigan State.
My Buckeye leaf goes to Justin Fields. When the offense was struggling in the first quarter he kept his poise and figured out a new way to get things done. He started executing on a high level and got things moving on the ground. For the first time he showed that he can handle adversity when it is thrown his way. He also still put up numbers against a top defense. It wasn’t his best performance but it says a lot about what he can do.
My peeve is Jordan Fuller’s interception return for a touchdown being called back. Selfishly, I had a great video that could have been more of a hit on Twitter if the touchdown had actually counted. Also, that would have made the score 41-10… so you know what that means. [Editor’s Note: Caroline’s staff pick was 41-14.]
I’m giving my leaf to Master Teague. Others may have contributed more to Ohio State’s victory, but using Teague’s physicality against a worn-down defensive front in the fourth quarter helped the Buckeyes grind out the clock without putting the ball in harm’s way or forcing Justin Fields to take more contact. As he showed against Sparty, Teague is going to absolutely punish tired defenses and he can take it to the house on any play because if he gets into the secondary, he’ll force defenders to make business decisions. Remember, he’s not just a pretty good Teague. He’s a Master Teague.
The peeve goes to the referee who threw the flag on Baron Browning. There’s letter of the law and spirit of the law. Just like you can call holding on every single play from scrimmage, you can call a blindside hit on just about every play because would-be tacklers are locked in on the ball carrier and are not looking at the blockers. Browning put nobody in danger, did not injure or attempt to injure anyone, and honestly threw as gentle a block as a linebacker can reasonably expected to make on essentially a shoulder-to-shoulder nudge. Taking away Jordan Fuller’s pick six made me hate everything.
This week’s Leaf goes to wide receiver Binjimen Victor, who was the central character in a mini redemption play in the first half.
Victor got behind MSU corner Kalon Gervin and Justin Fields hit him right in the hands for what should have been an easy catch-and-run. But Victor dropped it. It was one of the crucial missed opportunities from a frustrating start to the game.
But Victor got another opportunity in the second quarter, catching a short pass from Fields along the sideline, juking a defender, and then diving to beat another Spartan to the pylon for a touchdown.
It was an impressive catch-and-run, made better by the fact that the Buckeyes believed in Victor enough to go back to him, and that he made the most of it.
For home night games, I am allowing myself three Buckeye leaves. The first goes to JK Dobbins who continues to be everything he looked like he would be as a true freshman. He is faster, stronger, and runs harder than ever, which is exactly what Ryan Day wanted to see. Dobbins put up 172 yards rushing against a defense that was allowing just 55.8 yards rushing per game.
My second leaf goes to Chase Young, who was only credited with 0.5 sacks and no forced fumble, but created much more havoc than that. He consistently had MSU quarterback Brian Lewerke leaving the pocket. His presence allowed Baron Browning to run in untouched on a blitz for a sack, and he also caused Michigan State’s fumble on the option pitch by simply being near enough to terrify everyone.
My third leaf goes to the Ohio State offensive line because I never saw Michigan State giving up 323 yards rushing. It was the most rushing yards allowed by the Spartans since they give up 335 yards on the ground to the 2017 Buckeyes. But trust me, it’s a lot more rare than Ohio State makes it seem.
If I must give out a peeve, I’ll hand it to myself because I ran out of leaves before I gave one to Binjimen Victor who looks faster and shiftier than I’ve ever seen him.
Leaves for J.K. Dobbins on another terrific performance against a Michigan State defense that was giving up less than 60 yards per game. Dobbins’ long touchdown run was what eventually broke the game open for Ohio State. It is tremendously reassuring that Ohio State can run the ball when they have to, which is not something Ohio State could have said last season at this time.
Peeves for the official who threw the penalty flag on Baron Browning that negated Jordan Fuller’s interception for a touchdown. I am always in favor of player safety, but to call that play a “dangerous blindside block” was preposterous.
Before you get too worked up, MSU is a quality team. Will they be in the top 10 at the end of the year? No. But don’t act like they are not a darn good team and Saturday night wasn’t hard. Yes, OSU looked bad at times. No, they’re not bad, that’s because they played a team with more than just a faint pulse.
My leaf this week goes to a man with a rightfully-so very covered helmet — Chase Young. We all know he’s having a season for the record books. But when you can, go rewatch the game and watch what this man does when he isn’t making highlight plays. He fights to keep contain so stretch plays don’t turn upfield into big plays. He takes on 2 or 3 O-Linemen so his teammates can make plays. He hustles, ALWAYS. We all know he’s good. Most of the fan base doesn’t honestly know just how good he is.
My peeve this week again is with Tuf Borland being on the field as much as he is. I love the guy. I don’t know if he’s still hurt or if he’s actually permanently injured. But he should not be on the field as much as he is, even as a captain. And I know, I KNOW…there are going to be people here in the comments about how “I’m not at all the practices and weight rooms” etc., but watch Tuf play and you’ll see it too. When you show me a game where he plays better than Browning has played, I’ll stop being peeved. Until then, it’ll continue to be Tuf to change it *rimshot*. [Editor’s note: Tuf Borland finished with 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Baron Browning finished with two tackles and a sack.]
I think we all can agree the peeve this week is Tony winning staff picks. That’s like the boss having a raffle and winning the grand prize. Clearly it’s rigged and he went back in and edited the article.
Agree with Michael about Borland. The missed tackles and lack of speed will kill us some game, like Wiscy.
Leaf goes to the defense. Through six games NO ONE has gotten more than 285 yards that Sparty did against them. Six games UNDER 300 yards total offense.
Peeve goes to the armchair coaches who whine about the LBs in a season like the one noted in the Leaf.
I am disappointed, Andrew. The article is “Leaves AND Peeves”, not merely “Leaves”. There are “armchair coaches” who comment and actually have the foresight to consider the future, can spot weakness, and are concerned about it enough to voice an opinion. ( in fact, you are occupying an armchair yourself when you reply…) Perhaps a visit to Mr. Webster for comparative definitions of “whine” and “evaluate” is in order.
Also- no Leaf for an offense that just eviscerated a good defense? Okay…
Longtime. When people diss a LB for something legit I’m fine. When people diss an LB for out-performing the guy they want to replace him with, that’s whining.
Not sure if you are referring to Borland or Werner, or both. My point is that, if this team is a legitimate playoff contender, the LB unit itself will be a comparative weakness. Anecdotally, it’s hard for me to stomach that Borland gets so much time. If he gets more snaps he SHOULD get more stats. The lack of tackling numbers in that unit are troubling (Werners are LOW for a starting linebacker.)There’s not one bit of whine in that.
Longtime — One of the reasons the tackle numbers are low is because there aren’t a lot of tackles to be made. Few teams are driving long distances against these guys — and this was the first time the starters played four quarters. Malik Harrison is only averaging 4.7 tackles per game and he plays inside where the ball is. Werner has six fewer tackles and plays away from the ball. Also fwiw, Browning had played more snaps coming into this game than Borland.
Tony- defending Tuf is a rabbit hole type of venture. Browning comes in on pass plays where the action is typically away from him/over him. And no LB should play “away from the ball”- that’s the problem, Werner is a peripheral player. Bottom line is this. The D Line and D backs have a wealth of players who significantly contribute on a consistent basis. One or more players in these groups can be off, and others can make up for it. If Malik H gets hurt/is ejected/etc, there is a void in the LB unit that can’t be filled. That’s what I mean by comparative weakness. Remember, the article calls for Leaves and Peeves. I’m looking forward to/hoping for a playoff run- who knows of course- and the LBs are a peeve (so is the placekicker).
Longtime, I respect your opinion more than many who post here, but in this, imo, you’re off. Tony pointed out that Browning plays more than Borland and you still want to try to deflect by implying the Buckeyes are facing more passing situations than run or either? Given the Bullets’ penchant for forcing 3-and-outs or at least 1 – 2 first downs and that’s it – as Tony points out, very few sustained drives your argument doesn’t hold water there.
Sorry but my peeve seems always to be Pete Werner. I’m sure he does everything right off the field and should be commended for that. But it’s painful to watch game after game of not getting off blocks, poor angles and missed tackles. I used to love to watch Nate Ebner on kickoffs, couldn’t take my eyes off him. Now I can’t take my eyes off Pete. I’m sure he’s our best option at the position since two coaching staffs have said so but…..I think we will pay eventually.
I see the “Tuf-Tards” are in full voice despite the object of their contempt having (another) outstanding game. I look forward to their tears in 2020 when Mr Borland is a fourth year starter and three year Captain. You are an outstanding Buckeye, Tuf, and other than an overly vocal few, Buckeye fans (as well as all of the many coaches) appreciate your efforts! Go Buckeyes!!!
Oh yes, we appreciate him to death. But we also know that love is blind.
Steven, is Tuf your son? That’s the only explanation for you thinking he deserves to be on the field. Did you miss the series where MSU ran and threw right at him with ease? All you borland defenders needs to quiet down bc he is CLEARLY not an osu linebacker. He wont get drafted and he shouldnt play in the cfp. He’s slow, not good in space, and has zero coverage skills.
Michael, thank you for stating the obvious about Tuf Borland. Regardless what the numbers are, he does far less at that important position than Browning. If his numbers are better in this game, either he played too much or the ball-carrier ended up in his lap far more fortuitously. Coaches often suffer from incumbent-itis, which clearly is the case with Tuf. Yes, he’s undoubtedly a great guy and an exemplary captain, but he’s a 2nd-team defender all the way.
Leaves Offense: JK Dobbins – Offensive line.
Leaves Defense: Jashon Cornell – Malik Harrison
Peeves: The ongoing clown show known as Big 10 officiating. They are by far the worst officials in the history of football. They should be straight up flogged on pay per view for that criminal call of the sissy rule Blind Side Blocking. Horrible horrible call on Baron Browning.
My peeve goes to Michael Meihls who thinks he sees things on the field that the merely average fan is uncapable of.
@ Michael Citro you state: “The peeve goes to the referee who threw the flag on Baron Browning. There’s letter of the law and spirit of the law. Just like you can call holding on every single play from scrimmage, you can call a blindside hit on just about every play because would-be tacklers are locked in on the ball carrier and are not looking at the blockers.” This shows a lack of understanding concerning the blindside block. I can assure you that as an official…blind-side block cannot be called on every play….not even close. Was it a questionable call??? I could argue both sides of the call. Question is: what have the officials been told when it comes to an apparent or close to being a blindside block? I can tell you that player safety is a major concern so that anything close to a blindside block will be called.
“[Editor’s note: Tuf Borland finished with 5 tackles and 1 tackle for loss. Baron Browning finished with two tackles and a sack.]”
You’d think this would keep people from making the sort of comments they seem insistent on making.
Maybe you’re right, Robert. After all, had Borland been out there on Fuller’s interception, he would not have been called for a blindside block, as Browning was. Borland would not have been able to trundle to the sideline fast enough to make a block.
Robert, You want borland slow ass waddling around out there vs bama or clemson do you? The only thing all you borland fans claim he can do are leadership skills, which is hilarious considering the defense is significantly better when tuf is on the bench. Browning will start in the nfl for 7-8 years and Tuf will be coaching in two. Stay quiet.
There was lots of good from the win, correctly pointed out above. JK and the O line really did the job, as did the Master…
Michael Meihls- I’ll see your Tuf Borland and raise you a Pete Werner. The main difference between Borland and Werner is that we still keep hearing how good Werner is. Don’t look now, but the LB group is clearly the weak link of the D. The lone bright spot is Harrison, who is excellent and played as such yet again. Werner is knocking on the Jabril Peppers door for me- “people” say he’s good, yet there is a curious and persistent lack of production (unless getting to the ball carrier after he’s down and slapping the butt of the actual tackler is a stat, that is). Yeah, I know I don’t see the practices- I just watch the games. Love the D Line and D backs for sure- the LBs as a group are a couple notches below them for sure, though.
They all played their heart out and most mistakes made were because they were eager to do something special, i.e dropped passes and fumble; correctable.
My peeve goes to the pink attitude on a couple of our players, #1 pulling their receiver helmet when he got beat and three or four of our players getting in the kick defender’s face and getting a penalty.
Borland is a MAC level athlete. Enough is enough. Get him off the field
He just looks so damn slow out there it’s hard to watch.
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