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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Everything Ohio State after a Loss to Michigan St.

Everything Ohio State after a Loss to Michigan St.

The latest AP Top 25 poll was released Sunday. Iowa and Notre Dame entered the top four at No. 3 and No. 4, respectively, while Ohio State dropped to No. 8 after its first loss of the season. 
1. Will Iowa’s jump be reflected in the playoff rankings?
Few would have predicted the Hawkeyes would be one of the last two remaining undefeated teams and in contention for a Big Ten title and a College Football Playoff berth. But Kirk Ferentz's squad continues to win—and win easily—each week. Iowa was at No. 5 in the last playoff ranking and No. 6 in last week's AP poll, behind Notre Dame in both. Now the Hawkeyes are ahead of the Fighting Irish in the AP rankings after the Irish's lackluster win over Boston College on Saturday. Iowa will surely move up in the playoff top 25 after the Buckeyes’ loss, but can it jump the Irish, who sit at No. 4 with the selection committee?

2. Oklahoma takes the top spot in the Big 12
The Hawkeyes' resume is compelling. They have a 30-point road win over No. 17 Northwestern, which continues to find ways to win. Notre Dame’s only loss is a two-point defeat at top-ranked Clemson, the least damaging loss of any this season. Regardless of whether Iowa passes the Irish this week, it has the clearest path to the playoff of any Big Ten team. Win next week over Nebraska and then in the Big Ten championship game, and the Hawkeyes are surely in.
The Big 12's contenders continue to beat up on each other in November. Oklahoma handed Baylor its first loss of the season last week, but the Bears rebounded to knock off previously unbeaten Oklahoma State on Saturday. The Sooners, meanwhile squeaked out a one-point win over a Trevone Boykin-less TCU. The Cowboys' defeat makes Oklahoma the top-ranked Big 12 team in this week's AP poll at No. 5. The Sooners have a bad loss to Texas on their resume but benefit from the fact that the loss occurred earlier in the season. They're currently riding a strong wave of momentum on a six-game winning streak, including victories over ranked teams in each of the past two weeks. The Bears and Cowboys are lurking just behind at No. 7 and No. 9, respectively, in the AP poll, and Oklahoma State will get its shot against Oklahoma on Saturday in the Bedlam game. After the conference got shut out of the playoff last season, there's still no guarantee it will get a team in the top four this year. Even determining which team is most likely to do so remains a challenge.
3. Ohio State is not out of the picture—yet
The Buckeyes suffered a brutal loss at the hands of the Spartans, leading for the entire game until Michael Geiger's 41-yard field goal as time expired. Ohio State has looked shaky for most of the season and far from the team that rolled through its final three games to make and win the playoff last year. Amid Saturday loss,Ezekiel Elliott criticized coaches and declared his intention to enter the NFL draft, while quarterback Cardale Jones also looks ready to leave the Buckeyes after the season. Despite the apparent chemistry problems that emerged Saturday, Ohio State isn't out of the playoff conversation just yet. The AP poll has the Buckeyes at No. 8, only two spots behind the Spartans. The Buckeyes still have a chance at the conference title, though they will need some help from a Penn State upset of Michigan State next week. With four Big Ten teams in the AP's top 12 (Michigan rose two spot to No. 12 this week), the conference is far from settled, and the Buckeyes will have a lot more than pride on the line in their matchup with rival Michigan to close the regular season next week.
Here is the complete AP Top 25:
1. Clemson
2. Alabama
3. Iowa
4. Notre Dame
5. Oklahoma 
7. Baylor
8. Ohio State
9. Oklahoma State 
10. Florida
12. Michigan
13. Stanford
15. TCU
16. Navy
18. Oregon
19. Ole Miss
21. Houston
22. UCLA
24. Toledo
25. Temple


Ohio State's playcalling and offensive line did nothing to throw Michigan State off balance.
Senior Day wasn't supposed to go like this. 
With Ohio State facing its first legit opponent of the season and looking to send out the seniors and numerous juniors headed to the NFL with one last home victory, the Buckeyes couldn't get anything going offensively and failed to make key stops late allowing Michigan State to pull off a17-14 stunner in Ohio Stadium. 
The loss all but assuredly halted Ohio State's bid to repeat as national champs, stopped a 23-game winning streak and further magnified the struggles of an offense that through 11 games has yet to click on all cylinders. 
As painful as it is the Buckeyes must figure out a way to circle the wagons and turn their attention to The Game which now sits just seven sunrises away. 
Before the focus shifts to Jim Harbaugh's outfit here are Five Things from a dreary, teary night in the Shoe.


Remember when Urban Meyer tried to score 50 points every team by speeding up the tempo and throwing haymakers at opposing defenses? I do, but not this year. 
Instead, with a three-headed monster of Ed Warinner, Tim Beck and Meyer calling the plays for an offense featuring bouts of indecision around staffing the quarterback position, a line that has yet to match last year's effectiveness and spotty wide receiver play all complemented by the best running back in America, the playcalling became painfully conservative. 
Beyond the passive playcalling the offense's overall strategy and identity became cloudy and it all came to a head versus an aggressive Spartan defense. 
Front and center in the calamity was Ezekiel Elliott receiving just 12 touches which served as his lowest touch total of the season (13 vs. Va. Tech). Amazingly, eight of his touches came on Ohio State's first touchdown drive. From there, he'd earn just one touch over the next three possessions before halftime and recorded just two over the game's final 30 minutes with Ohio State's season on the line. 
J.T. never got comfortable going against Sparty's defense.
Effectively, the trio of playcallers eliminated Zeke's opportunity to be a factor in the game though it's fair to note that when Elliott did tote the rock there was no room to run as evidenced by his 2.8 yards per carry. 
Meanwhile, J.T. Barrett was called on 15 times in the run game (2.9 per carry) and in the passing game – as we've seen all season – he was basically given two options; throw it laterally or (sparingly) throw it deep. Of course throwing it deep proved difficult with so little time to throw. Barrett just missed Braxton Miller on a bomb and would've likely connected if he had just a hair longer to throw. 
I am still puzzled with the lack of any intermediate passing attack in this team's arsenal. Through 11 games it feels like the only time this offense employs slants or crosses or mid-range out routes is when it's 3rd and 10 and the routes are designed to get seven yards. 


While the questionable offensive game plan was the most frustrating aspect of the game it can't be overlooked that some of Ohio State's most talented players turned in disappointing performances. 
The team's biggest pro prospect, Joey Bosa, looked out of sync for much of the night (4 stops, 0 TFL, 0 sack) and one of his three offsides penalties, shortening a 4th and 8 to 4th and 3 which Sparty converted and scored the game-tying touchdown (14-14) five plays later, was particularly deflating.  
Bosa's third offsides penalty, changing a 4th and 8 into a 4th and 3, was crushing.
Mike Thomas, a man destined for NFL fortune himself, had a drop and finished with two catches for eight yards. Fellow receiver Jalin Marshall had a couple drops. 
There were whispers of Eli Apple also claiming he's going pro as part of the postgame drama. He's certainly an NFL talent but the timing seemed odd, if true, considering Aaron Burbridge won every one on one matchup with Apple on the way to four catches for 62 yards, or 70% of Sparty's total pass yards. 
The great Cameron Johnston put three punts inside the 20 but shanked another just five yards giving Michigan State the ball at the OSU 23 though Sparty failed to capitalize. 
Barrett, a year after torching the Spartans, looked timid and completed just 56% of his throws.
The offensive line lost the battle up front early and often with the game plan seemingly petrified of the Chase Farris / Shilique Calhoun matchup and even the team's best lineman, Taylor Decker, wasn't at his best especially as the designed rollouts forced him to block on the run. 
Josh Perry got beat by a fullback on a wheel route for at touchdown. Vonn Bell had just three tackles. 
This is not to single anyone out or insinuate any player was more worried about the NFL (as I've seen suggested on twitter etc) – the players fought hard for 60 minutes – it's just to provide perspective that the outcome wasn't solely on the coaches. 


So much for the effectiveness of the media "cooling off period". 
By now we've all seen and heard Elliott's critical comments of the playcalling as part of his postgame presser culminating in the announcement that he won't be returning to Ohio State. 
I get it, Elliott is an emotional guy who was frustrated by what he felt was his own coaching staff eliminating him from having a legit shot to save Ohio State's season. There's certainly a lot of truth in that argument. That said, Elliott's rant showed very poor judgment and form. 
Elliott is one of the main leaders on this team and to publicly call out Urban Meyer and the offensive staff was disappointing to say the least. Proclaiming he won't be returning to Ohio State next year as if this game had anything to do with that decision was just icing on the turd cake. Anyone applauding his diatribe doesn't understand what it means to be a leader and/or struggles with emotional intelligence. 
I love Ezekiel Elliott. He seems like a great kid who got caught up in his frustration with how the day unfolded which was further fueled by the emotional significance of knowing all season this would be his final game in the Shoe. He'll be fine. Ohio State will be fine. But I hope that's a moment in time he wishes he could take back once the smoke clears. 


Mark Dantonio is a boss. 
Dantonio's squad didn't give Ohio State fans much to cheer about.
Coming in as 13-point underdogs, playing without Connor Cook and losing the turnover battle 2-0, Dantonio's squad was the far more prepared team not to mention being physically and mentally tougher than Ohio State. 
The win dropped Urban Meyer to 2-2 against Dantonio's Michigan State program during his OSU tenure. Against all other coaches, Meyer is 46-2 during that same span. 
At 10-1, Dantonio has his team right back in the thick of the college football playoff hunt despite a rash of injuries. He lost stud LB Ed Davis before the season started, two starters in the secondary, a host of offensive linemen have missed major time and now he just beat Ohio State without Connor Cook. 
We can all focus our attention on what Ohio State did to lose the game but don't forget to give Dantonio some credit for what Michigan State, under the direction of Dantonio, did to win it. 


The season is far from over but last night served as the greatest example yet that Ohio State needs to shake up the offensive staff's roles in the offseason. Maybe that's through turnover, maybe it's through shuffling responsibility but the status quo won't suffice. 
The playcalling has been suspect since Tom Herman left for Houston and Meyer hired Tim Beck and promoted Ed Warinner creating a three-pronged approach to offensive game planning. 
The current setup has taken some of Warinner's time away from coaching the offensive line and it seems logical to correlate that fact with the lack of consistency and improvement from a group that was the strength of last year's championship run. 
Ohio State's QB development has bogged down since Tim Beck's arrival.
Chase Farris plays hard but hasn't gotten any better at pass pro over the course of 11 games. Billy Price's growth feels a bit stunted. Jacoby Boren has more penalties and shaky snaps through 11 games than he did through 15 last year. Meanwhile, Pat Elflein has been awesome and Taylor Decker has been solid though not spectacular. 
Next year, it's conceivable only Price will be back with best case seeing Elflein join him. That means if Warinner doesn't take a head coaching job somewhere his efforts will need to be solely focused on shaping an overhauled line instead of dabbling in 33% of the playcalling and game planning efforts. 
Beck has taken over some of the playcalling duties while moonlighting as the quarterbacks coach and it's telling that the offense looks rudderless at times as both quarterbacks have shown zero improvement – if not regression – in comparison to last year. Specific to yesterday, to not even attempt to attack Sparty's depleted secondary was flat out criminal. How much of that decision was Beck and how much was Meyer isn't totally clear but either way it's on Meyer as the head coach. 
While Meyer evaluates how he employs Beck and Warinner in the offseason I hope he also to take a long look at himself when it comes to answering why OSU's best skill players have been marginalized by its own staff in both losses to Michigan State since his arrival while the overall offensive approach has become so passive this season. 

Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 17-14 Loss to Michigan State
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS — Boy, oh boy, was that an irresponsible offensive gameplan by the Ohio State coaches, or what?
How do you verbalize incredulity when silence speaks louder than anything that I can type in these spaces?
I guess maybe I could just leave 10 blank spots below and let you fill them in with your own anger, but there’s too much to say to just go with blank disbelief, so let’s get started.
1. Urban Meyer has gone too conservative.
I cannot believe that what we witnessed on Saturday was an Urban Meyer offense. This was not the offense of an elite head coach. This was the offense of a guy who has lost a team and is on the way out. This was like Ron Zook’s last stand with players going through the motions and coaches checking their phones throughout the game looking for texts from prospective future bosses.
Obviously, that does not describe the reality of Ohio State and Urban Meyer, but that’s what it looked like. Realistically, this was the kind of performance that leads to some shuffling on the coaching staff. It’s just one game, but it’s really not. This isn’t entirely new this season. It has never been this bad, but that doesn’t make it new. And it all leaves me wondering where the Urban Meyer offense that used to score points and move the ball has gone.
Meyer cites the lack of big hits in the running game because of the lack of big hits in the passing game, but you’ll never have either if you a) don’t throw the ball deep; and b) don’t run the ball with your big-hitting running back. Instead, Meyer was content during the game to try to fight and scratch for each yard and hope they could get a good punt off and then the defense could maybe get them the ball back in decent field position.
Meyer admitted last week at Illinois that it got to a point with the wind and weather that he just wanted to get the win the quickest way and get out of town. He wanted the clock to burn. We then saw the same thing in this game. Meyer said after the game that the play calling wasn’t acceptable, but then added that he was one of the play callers. The weather was terrible and it was absolutely a factor, but I don’t know why it would leave the quarterback run as the only viable option. Oh, and speaking of the option, how many times did the Buckeyes even run the read option in this game? Three times? There’s no way those are reads when J.T. Barrett is handing the ball off up the middle into 15 defenders.
So yes, Urban Meyer has gone too conservative, and it may have started all the way back in January with his hire at quarterback coach.
2. MSU didn’t need to defend the entire field, OSU did it for them.
After the game Michigan State defensive end Shilique Calhoun said this: “At one point I looked at the DBs and said, ‘The game is going to come down to you guys because they’re going to try to pass the ball.’ But I expected them to pass the ball a little more and they didn’t do so. We were happy though. That’s our motto: stop the run, be aggressive, all green helmets to the ball. That’s basically what we were trying to do. When they became one-dimensional the game became a lot easier.”

That’s their motto: Be happy when teams voluntarily go one-dimensional.I could just copy and paste that quote again for further effectiveness, but I won’t. Basically, Michigan State didn’t have to do any guessing in this game because there were only a few plays that they had to worry about. The Buckeyes pretty much brought the ball right to them every time. This game plan will never not be baffling.
3. This is the real 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes.
This isn’t a team that was bored by the schedule. This wasn’t a team that was waiting for a real challenge. This is a team that scored twice at home against Michigan State on touchdown drives of 32 and 6 yards. Those are fake drives. This is a team that struggled on offense at times all season long.
Still, it’s an offense capable of big things. They have four 500-yard games through 11 games. Jim Tressel’s final two teams had three such games in each of 2009 and 2010, and yet those offenses weren’t as disappointing as this one because we have seen what these players are capable of.
It would have been impossible for this offense to live up to its billing, but even falling a little short would have been more than plenty. If it wasn’t for the Ohio State defense in this game, the Buckeyes would have been shutout.
4. The defense played well enough to get the win.
Ohio State’s defense gave up 17 points while being on the field for over 38 minutes in a 60-minute game. They held Michigan State to 294 yards of total offense. Yes, the Spartans rushed for 203 yards, but they did it in 51 carries. They didn’t even average 4 yards per carry. As the game went on, however, the defense did tire out and they got pushed around and couldn't quite get the stop they needed. Even so, it took a last-second field goal just to reach the 17-point mark. The OSU defense did have four offside penalties, but only one of them resulted in keeping a scoring drive alive. That one, however, came on fourth-and-8 and in the fourth quarter. Without that penalty, MSU would have likely had to pass — or try the QB run on third-and-long, and neither were winning propositions. Instead, they ran the QB on fourth-and-3 and picked up 8 or 9 yards and soon after the game was tied at 14-14.
5. The defense cost the Buckeyes the win.
This is totally not fair, but the Joey Bosa offside penalty on fourth-and-8 cannot be glossed over. You can’t pin the outcome of this game on that play, but you can certainly pin the possibility of a different outcome on that play had it not happened.
However, this isn’t Tresselball and the defense should be granted the ability to make a mistake since the offense was making two or three on every drive of their own. When you continue to put that much pressure on a defense, you can’t be surprised when it eventually breaks.

6. The Cliffs Notes for OSU’s playbook is probably thicker than the playbook in use right now.
Just how many pages have been torn out of the Ohio State playbook and thrown away of late? Where is the idea of stretching the field north and south and east and west? There was no stretching of the defense in this game. If anything, they did the opposite of stretching and instead they crumpled the defense.
Think of it like a shirt and the difference in appearance and span if it is being stretched or crumpled. This Buckeye offense crumpled the Michigan State defense and all it took for the Spartans to stop OSU dead was a little static cling. I have no doubt that the Michigan State defensive coaches were thrown for a loop by nothing they saw. In fact, they had a better idea of what Ohio State was doing than Ohio State did, because there is no way an offensive coaching staff actually set out to do this on purpose.
7. We learned Ezekiel Elliott left for the NFL at the half.
Everybody saw or heard Ezekiel Elliott say that he was leaving for the NFL after the game, but I thought he already left at halftime because I don’t remember seeing him out there in the second half. Elliott’s lack of touches is supremely baffling, especially considering his sub-par first-half performance was actually par for the course this season. So many times this season the running game has started slowly only to pick up in the second half and wear the opposing defense down. That didn’t happen this time around and we’ll never even know if it would have happened because they never even tried. He carried the ball two more times than you did in the second half. I could see this happening if a defense was taking away the run and forcing a team to pass, but Michigan State apparently took everything away and forced the Buckeyes to simply admit defeat.
8. If you have a bad offense, it’s on purpose.
This is my longest-held and most firm football belief, and I have mentioned it many, many times: If you are a college football head coach and you have a bad offense, you’re doing it on purpose. There is no reason for it. There are far too many successful offenses out there with lesser skill looking like world beaters.
The only excuse for Ohio State’s offense to look like it did against Michigan State is that Ohio State caused it. You can’t give this much credit to the Spartans. Give them some, they took some things away from the Buckeyes, but the Buckeyes didn’t look for replacements, they just simply threw their arms up and hoped that they could get away with doing absolutely nothing.
9. There is no longer any pressure on this team, and that might be huge.
Now that the Buckeyes have lost their title hopes and their Big Ten Championship hopes are in somebody else’s hands, they truly have nothing left to lose, save for something as simple and solitary as a single game. Granted, it’s a very big game, but there is only the weight of this week on this game. There aren’t 11 games on top of it.
Urban Meyer needs to find the coach that he used to be who wanted to put 50 points on everybody every week and not try to squeak out a win and shorten the game. He should want to make every game take four hours. This is Ohio State. The players are here. If you aren’t happy with the lack of touches for your players, then speed the hell up with the tempo and the playcalling.
The Buckeyes ran just 45 plays, which is what good up-tempo teams want to run in a half. Getting 45 plays is due to a lack of trying on the coaches’ part and that’s a total disservice to the players. Limiting opportunities is the exact opposite of what Urban Meyer has always said his offense is about. He talks about writing down his list of 10 playmakers and how he’s going to get them the ball, but where is the evidence of that list and those intentions this season? It never existed.
It’s time for that list to come back out of the moth balls, and it’s time for Meyer to make that list a reality. He doesn’t have to worry about playing for a national championship anymore. He can simply focus on defeating Ohio State’s rival, and why wouldn’t you try to do that by involving as much talent into your plans as possible?
You saw what happened when you limited your options against the Spartans. Why do it two weeks in a row in the two biggest games of the year. What’s wrong with going out there and being bad asses? When did playing not to lose become part of this coaching staff’s plan of attack? There’s no way they can be happy with what happened on Saturday, so why would they ever, ever, ever take the chance of it happening again?
10. This is the kind of performance that can happen when you have a bunch of players with their eyes toward the NFL.
This is not pointing blame, this is simply speaking to the reality of having a group of players who are going to be playing in the NFL next season. When you have Ezekiel Elliott saying there’s “no chance” of coming back after the game and Joey Bosa earlier in the week saying that playing with his brother would be the “only possible thing” that would bring him back, it makes you wonder if the focus has been where it’s needed to be this season.
Comments like these come from players who sound like they have one foot out the door. These players know what their next step is and at what point does that next step take priority over the current step? Why does Bosa jump offside three times in the game? Was the focus where it needed to be? Yes, Michigan State game planned for it. They set out to do it, and it worked. But that doesn’t make it okay.
There is certainly no lack of effort on the part of Elliott or Bosa or anybody in the Scarlet and Gray, so don’t get my criticism wrong. This loss wasn’t on one player, especially one who only carried the ball twice in the second half and openly talked about how much it hurt him not to be able to impact the game more than he did. It’s merely a question of focus. And maybe none of this had anything to do with Saturday’s game, but does it explain the lackluster nature of the season as a whole? After a player wins a championship, the other goals can easily become personal. What’s left to do after winning a championship other than go on to the next level?
Part of even asking this question feels so foolish because Elliott and Bosa and Darron Lee and Vonn Bell have been four of the most consistent and productive guys on the team, if not the four most consistent, but with the talk of a “mass exodus” that began way back in January of this year, I just wonder if any of that came into play this season or in this game.
Heck, Urban Meyer openly talked about their duty and desire to get Braxton Miller ready to play receiver in the NFL. Perhaps other players saw that and viewed looking ahead as a completely normal thing to do.

Ohio State

"Last year, our committee made a decision to let Ohio State into the College Football Playoff. People yelled at us. But did you see Ezekiel Elliott against Alabama and Oregon? He was unstoppable.
After the Buckeyes' loss Saturday night, Ezekiel Elliott complained about how poorly Ohio State's coaches managed the game. They didn't give him the ball, and they lost 17-14.
It's our official stance as a committee that Elliott was absolutely right. Urban Meyer should've given him the dang ball, over and over and over again. Based on what we saw last year, the Buckeyes absolutely would've won if they'd just given Elliott the dang ball.
We know Ohio State's peak potential. We were wise enough to allow them to display it in the inaugural version of college football's new premier event, the College Football Playoff. We know the Buckeyes weren't allowed to play at their peak potential Saturday night, and for that reason, we're not dinging them for their loss."

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