COLUMBUS, Ohio – Nr. 3 Ohio State Buckeyes beat No. 9 Indiana 42-35 on Saturday, and here are three observations as Ohio State moved to 4-0 and now awaits the first College Football playoff ranking on Tuesday.
1. Seven years ago, Ohio State would not pull the trigger and promote a rookie in the starting lineup in the secondary, and the reluctance cost the Buckeyes the Big Ten Championship. I would recommend learning from that mistake.
Then Bell started in the Orange Bowl and chose a pass as a first-time starter. The coaching team was so late in relying on talent over experience. They may have a similar choice now. I’m not sure what the solution is, but I do not think the Buckeyes can continue to run safety Marcus Hooker and slot corner Marcus Williamson out there as basically all-down starters. There were enough mistakes against Indiana’s big attack on Saturday to make it clear.
I suggested this a few weeks ago and on Saturday it only intensified. There may be no obvious answer. Cornerback Cam Brown suffered a season-ending injury, safety Brendon White was transferred in the offseason and two defensive backs (Jahsen Wint, Amir Riep) were kicked out of the team in the offseason. There were also recruitment accidents in high school in the last few classes and it has come home to live.
But 2013 showed what happens when a very good team does not give an untested, talented youngster a shot, even when it is clear that it has to happen. Ohio State needs to try something now because it’s hard to imagine putting the current secondary staff on the field in the College Football Playoffs.
Maybe Josh Proctor, who plays many cover buttons as a strong safety / lock corner, is moving to deep safety instead of Hooker. Maybe real novice Lathan Ransom gets a security look. Maybe Proctor will not slip back, but will instead start at the slot corner for Williamson. Maybe real beginners Lejond Cavazos or Ryan Watts will get a shot in the corner. It’s not easy to pull guys off the lineup, but it’s part of the deal.
“Sometimes you have to make tough decisions. It’s part of coaching, ”Ryan Day said after the match.
He said that when there are problems, it comes either to staff, scheme or coaching. But he said each problem has components of all three.
“At the end of the day, put the best players on the field,” Day said. “We believe in our guys, so I’m surprised if we have to make changes. But maybe we do. We have to watch the movie and watch. But nearly 500 yards of offense in terms of delivery is too much. That’s just not acceptable. ”
So do the same that does not work without at least trying some of the other options.
2. In the spring of 2018, Ohio State had a quarterback match that led to Dwayne Haskins winning the job, beating almost every season that passed the Ohio State record in the fall of 2018, while Joe Burrow transitioned to LSU and won the Heisman Trophy and National Championship in 2019.
A low-key Big Ten version of this is currently working on the conference.
A year ago, Michael Penix won the starting quarterback job for Indiana, but only started six games due to injury. Peyton Ramsey started the other seven. But with Penix ready to start again in 2020, Ramsey transferred the degree to Northwestern.
On Saturday, Penix threw for 491 yards for No. 9 Indiana in a tight loss to No. 3 Ohio State, while Ramsey threw for 203 yards for No. 19 Northwestern in a win over No. 10 Wisconsin.
For the season, Penix and Ramsey have led their team to an overall 9-1 record while throwing to 2,487 yards with 22 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Two former quarterback teammates find both ways to succeed.
3. Indiana’s driving game did almost nothing on Saturday – tailbacks ran 11 times in 18 yards – and the IU pass game tried to emphasize the OSU linebackers by putting them in coverage matchups. For the most part, they held up pretty well. Outside linebackers Baron Browning and Pete Werner led the Buckeyes with eight tackles each, and no one else had more than three.
Indiana continuously split David Ellis wide several times, and he knocked Werner down the field once, but dropped what would have been a 35-yard finish; he beat Browning for a 16-yard reception at the fourth decline in the fourth quarter as the linebacker was selected twice by other routes; and backup linebacker Teradja Mitchell blew up a cover as he let Ellis go when there was no help behind him. It went 51 yards. On the day, Ellis had four catches in 86 yards because Indiana planned him open. But Werner and Browning are still two pretty good cover guys for linebackers.
“They ran the little mask route and he came in the end zone and there was a little misunderstanding with me and the safety of it,” Browning said of Ellis TD. “The pass game in general, we have things we can clean up.”
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