To avoid making myself more frustrated with the game last night, I’m going to keep this nice and brief. Like every Buckeye fan, I was happy every 5 minutes and sad the 6th. It was probably nothing short of thrilling for any football fan to watch, but if you had any invested interest in either team, it was a “Bang your head against a wall” type of game. Even with the loss, there are several positives to take away from the game last night. There are also many points to forget.
Take the good with the bad
- The Blocking — Rarely will you hear that come out of any Buckeye fan’s mouth, but the protection last night was garbage. This not only stems from the offensive line but the Tight Ends and Running Backs as well. Braxton was sacked 5 times and buried many more. There was no middle rushing game and whenever the Bucks needed a crucial 3rd down conversion, the blockers couldn’t pick up the blitz.
- The Coordinators — How much Urban has to do with scheme and play-calling, I don’t know. But, the scheme and play-calling were both off last night. Offensively, it seems like Herman caught too much flack for getting “cute” in the B1G Championship and therefore went back to the basics: Hyde, Hyde, Hyde. It’s what everybody wanted, but seemed predictable. Defensively, Fickell just needs to go. Granted they were very thin on defense, Boyd had no problem reading the blitzes and they could not defend a bubble screen for their life.
- Braxton Miller’s decision making — Miller said he got hurt on the 5th play of the game and it showed. He was hesitant in the pocket and looked to use his legs as a bail out time after time. With that said, his decision making on the read option was bad. He gave it to Hyde when there was nothing there, and pulled it back when he needed to give it to Hyde. One play stands out to me. Starting the 2nd half with 4 straight read options, Hyde picked up 19 yards. On the 4th play, the Bucks needed half of a yard and instead of giving it off, he kept it and got hit for a 3 yard loss. Can’t happen. The next bad decision was obvious: the INT at the end of the game. He needs to see that.
- The Untimely Mistakes — This is quiet obvious. Up 29-20 with 5:00 left in the 3rd quarter, the Bucks were getting the ball back with a chance to make it a three possession game and Philly Brown tried to return a punt that was in the air nearly 5 seconds. It was an obvious fair catch call, and a very typical Philly Brown fumble. Needless to say it completely changed the game. Then, the Braxton Miller INTs. The first coming after the Philly fumble and the second to ice the game. If you want to win games (and more so, championships), these mistakes can’t happen. Good players and good teams convert on these opportunities.
- Future Stars Emerged in Pass Rush — Although the Bucks have had a miserable defense all year, some guys stepped up and proved their worth (and some exposed it). The main guy that stands out is obviously Joey Bosa. He was playing on one leg and managed to make game-changing plays and lead the defense. He’s a true freshman and boy am I glad to have him 2 more years. The next guy that stood out was Jamal Marcus. He came out of nowhere to replace Noah Spence and he looked like the most experienced player on the defense. The pass rush of Spence, Bosa, Adolphus, Marcus, Perry, Raekwon McMillan and possibly Shazier? makes me a little more comfortable for next year.
- Vonn Bell and Armani Reeves — It seemed like it was going to be a long night after Vonn Bell got burned by Sammy Watkins on the second drive of the game, but he responded with an incredibly huge pick and a decent game. As a freshman, hopefully he only gets better and becomes Roby-esk. Armani Reeves filled in for Roby last night and actually played decently. It’s hard to say that anybody really played awesome on defense last night, but these guys stepped up. Next man up.
- Braxton May Be Back — Although he gave 0 indication last night, I can’t seem him leaving after last night. This draft class is deep at QB but that is far from the point. He did not have the passing game he needed last night to show scouts he is ready. The injuries did not help his case, but I can’t see him taking the risk this season. If you give him another offseason to develop, I believe he will make a monumental stride… and it would be huge for next year’s team and their chances at a title. If he goes, J.T. Barrett is an okay option, too.
- Urban Doesn’t Take Losing Well — There are a few guys who lose and say “we will be back next year” but never actually become stronger. Urban is a guy who I believe hates losing more than he likes winning… and he really has never lost. He was 4-0 in BCS games and 2-0 in National Championships entering last night. He will only push this team harder and make them better. That, to go along with the fact that this team actually needed to lose to kick them off their high horse. Nobody had experienced it. I believe that you need to feel rock bottom to achieve great success. These losses will only fuel the fire.