Ohio State tried really hard this week not to give me much to gripe about. For much of the game I didn’t have a whole lot of complaints. But I’m nothing if not persistent, so I stuck with it and found plenty of things to be angry about despite the ultimate 73-14 win over the Maryland Terrapins. Let’s get to what made me want to spray passersby with the hose.
Chase Not in Place
Obviously the single biggest event to enrage me this week was the Chase Young story. And the details that have come out in the past few days have only served to make me the grumpiest I’ve been all season. Reports are swirling that Young accepted a loan so that his girlfriend could go see him play in the Rose Bowl last season and the loan was paid back in April. The person who gave him the loan, according to reports, is not a booster or an agent. In light of the NCAA starting to realize that it isn’t the end of life on earth to allow players to share in a paltry sliver of the incredible riches their sweat produces, this shouldn’t be an issue, but it is because…NCAA. Any student can take a loan from a family friend but, more importantly, any student can earn money for their labor so that they don’t have to take out such a loan. It’s not that Young’s presence was necessary for this game, but it was just a stupid prelude to it. So, Chase not being in this game already had me irritated.
Flag Day Part I
On the second OSU possession, freshman wide receiver Garrett Wilson hilariously (but illegally) took off down the field early. He got 10 yards downfield before the whistle blew the play dead and the officials enforced a 5-yard penalty against the Buckeyes. A couple of plays later, Binjimen Victor got a false start penalty as it seemed as if Ohio State had moved J.B. Shugarts to wide receiver.
Penalties in general were an issue in the first half. The Buckeyes got a penalty celebrating Chris Olave’s onside kick catch and Shaun Wade ended up getting a personal foul facemask to gift Maryland its first first down of the game. It was the only first down of the first quarter for the Terrapins.
Additionally, the Buckeyes got dinged for 12 men in the formation on an obvious Maryland punt play in the second quarter as the slop continued.
Please Go Forward
Wilson started the game as the primary punt returner but had to settle for a couple of fair catches early. He finally got a returnable punt late in the first quarter but he tried to do too much as a result. Wilson gave up too much ground trying to reverse his field and ended up losing yardage. I’ve never coached special teams, but the situations in which a player is instructed to run backward toward his own goal line are probably few and far between. Wilson was trying to make a play, which is good, but this isn’t high school and lots of teams in college football have fast guys who can track down guys who go the wrong way.
Wake the Chugz Up
Chris Chugunov failed the awareness test on back-to-back plays on Ohio State’s first drive of the second half. After a decent drive to get the ball deep into the red zone, Chugz failed to look at the play clock (this is also a fault of the coaches) and took a delay of game penalty. He then didn’t feel former Buckeye Keandre Jones coming around gigantic backup left tackle Dawand Jones and lost the ball on the sack. It was the first drive outside of a one-play victory formation at the end of the first half in which the Buckeyes didn’t score any points. K’Vaughn Pope got the ball right back, however, and Chugz threw a beauty to Wilson for yet another OSU score.
Drue Chrisman’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day
It was late in the third quarter before Drue Chrisman was asked to punt the football. The normally reliable punter didn’t do a very good job of it, shanking his first kick just seconds after a perfectly executed tandem announcer’s jinx from Gus Johnson and Joel Klatt. His kick traveled only 26 yards and he might have been fortunate it went that far. Woof. Then he booted his second kick into the end zone for a touchback. Chrisman averaged 37 yards per punt and downed neither of them inside the 20. Remember when Ohio State punting was sexy? This wasn’t that.
Flag Day Part II
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Zach Harrison, Jahsen Wint’s facemask and then a roughing the quarterback call on Alex Williams on three consecutive plays led to Maryland’s first touchdown of the day. The Wint facemask was obvious while the other two were iffy as hell, but the combination of 45 free yards on three consecutive plays (especially since the first one of those came after a sack by Harrison) gifted the Terps a score they didn’t even need to earn. You can bet the starters on defense weren’t pleased to see Maryland get on the board and you can also bet that I wasn’t either.
It spread to the offensive side of the ball on the ensuing drive, as a blindside hit and a holding call on back-to-back plays not only placed the Buckeyes in a 1st-and-33 situation, but also wiped out a long touchdown pass to Wilson on which Chugunov took a big hit while delivering the ball.
Long Kickoff Return
Javon Leake tried returning kicks all day long and most of those did not end well for Maryland, as the Terps were repeatedly backed up. But Ohio State conceded a long kickoff return to Leake in the fourth quarter that set up Maryland at the OSU 27. Tyreke Johnson got a pass interference on the next play and the Terps went on to score again the play after that. It might be irrational to be angry when your team is ahead by 45 points but I never claimed to be rational.
Matthew Jones and Marcus Crowley both sustained late injuries in the game, which you hate to see. The game was well out of reach and the teams were playing out the string, but any game that features violent collisions can create stresses that the body can’t handle. Hopefully both young men will be OK. Seeing players get hurt will always make me grumpy.
That’s it for the Maryland edition of the Grumpy Old Buckeye. I realize that being miffed during a 73-14 win seems impossible but I’m an overachiever in the grumpiness department. Obviously the good outweighed the bad by a landslide. We’ll be back to do this again next week when the Buckeyes travel to Piscataway, NJ, to face Rutgers at 3:30 p.m.