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Monday, October 17, 2016

Ohio State - Wisconsin, the Aftermath


By Chris Lauderback on October 16, 2016 at 11:00a 
Urban Meyer's squad needed overtime to erase a 10-point deficit and defeat No. 8 Wisconsin on the road in Camp Randall.
After starting in a 10-point hole thanks to a dreadful performance in the 1st half, Ohio State outscored Wisconsin 24-7 in the 2nd half and overtime to escape Madison with an anxiety-riddled 30-23 win, remaining undefeated through the midway point of the regular season slate. 
The win improved Urban Meyer to 14-3 against ranked teams during his tenure at Ohio State and the Buckeyes stayed perfect on the road with Meyer at the helm improving to a ridiculous 20-0
Oh, and Meyer improved his career record to 7-0 in overtime games. 
As for the players, J.T. Barrett once again rose to the occasion after a so-so start rushing for two touchdowns and throwing for another after halftime, setting another new school record in the process. 
Considering that as a site we have straight blanketed the game with coverage, here are Five OtherThings that stood out during Ohio State's come from behind win in Camp Randall. 


In my ongoing effort to recognize some of the unsung special teams heroes, I've typically reserved such talk for Cameron Johnston, Ohio State's legendary punter with the golden leg. 
Today however, the leg-love segment must pay homage to placekicker Tyler Durbin. 
Taking over the field goal kicking duties from Sean Nuernberger after his bout with injury followed by what feels like a more mysterious reason for his long-term disappearance, Durbin has been nothing short of spectacular. 
Entering last night's game a perfect 5-for-5 on field goal tries, Durbin was again clutch last night nailing all three of his attempts. 
The first was a fairly benign 25-yard try in the 1st quarter getting OSU on the board and cutting Wisconsin's lead to 10-3. His second came via a career-long 40-yarder midway through the 2nd quarter trimming the Badger lead to 10-6. That sounds simple but 40-yarders in the era of #CollegeKickers is no joke. 
Finally, with less than four minutes to play and Ohio State trailing 23-20 on the road at night in a hostile environment, Durbin calmly buried a 31-yarder to force overtime. 
With Durbin's clutch effort not only did he remain perfect on field goals for the season but also increased his total points to a team-leading 62 which is 26 points more than the next Buckeye on the scoring list (Barrett, Samuel, Brown all with 36). 
What really makes Durbin's efforts special is the fact this is just his second season of competitive football after walking on to the squad in the spring of 2015 with a soccer background. Throw in the reality he was not really supposed to be the starting placekicker on the No. 2 team in the country and with Nuernberger going ghost, Durbin's contributions this far can't be understated. 


First let me give some quick love to a defensive line that came on strong after the first half led by Dre'mont Jones (8 stops), Sam Hubbard (6 tkls, 2 TFL, 1 sack), Jalyn Holmes (2 TFL, 1 sack), Tyquan Lewis (2 tkls, 1 sack) and Nick Bosa (2 tkls, 1 sack). 
With the hat tip to those guys complete, how about linebackers Jerome Baker and Chris Worley last night? 
Baker racked up a career-high 13 stops including eight solos with 1.5 TFL while Chris Worley added seven tackles and forced a fumble on a long Corey Clement run that was inches away from being a game-changer. 
After 13 stops last night, Jerome Baker leads Ohio State with 39 tackles through six games.
Baker wasn't all that great in the 1st half, sharing the blame as Wisconsin rushers repeatedly got to the edge and had little trouble turning up field for sizable gainers. The 2nd half was a different story however as Baker and company mostly shut down the Badger rushing attack especially on 1st down (3.5 ypc) after getting carved up on 1st down runs (11.7 ypc) in the opening half. 
With Baker's big day combined with just three tackles from Raekwon McMillan, he is now Ohio State's team-leader in tackles with 39 after starting the season as a reserve. He is also tied for 4th on the team with 5.0 TFL. 
Worley, while not as eye catching as Baker in part due to his positional responsibilities, has also been steady and really stood out last night in run support with those seven stops which brought his season tally to 30, good for 3rd on the team. 


What the hell was the deal with the skies deciding to open for exactly ONE FREAKING PLAY which just so happened to be a gigantic play for Ohio State's offense?
Trailing 16-6 with a tinge of momentum after the defense forced a quick Badger punt, Ohio State's offense started its first possession of the 2nd half from its own 36 yard line. 
The Buckeyes promptly marched to the Wisconsin 14 yard line in six plays, chewing up 51 yards mostly via Barrett runs/scrambles and a nice sliding catch by Parris Campbell. 
Then, just as Ohio State's offense was looking like a competent machine for the first time all night, a biblical downpour erupted as Barrett lined the Buckeyes up for a crucial 2nd and 9 play. 
Electing to stick with the play call (?), Barrett rolled left and had James Clark open inside the 5 yard line but the slick ball wobbled out of his hand on the throw, sailing over Clark's head and into the diving arms of Wisconsin's D'Cota Dixon for what could have been a crippling turnover. 
Dixon's pick was so close to hitting the ground that a replay review was in order and, of course, during that short delay, the rain stopped completely. Again, I ask WTH? 
Thankfully for Ohio State, the defense stood on its head the next series forcing a 3-and-out and the offense seized its next opportunity – which came with zero precipitation – driving 47 yards on 13 plays capped by a short Barrett touchdown run to make it 16-13 bad guys. 


Disclaimer: I'm probably grading on a slighty unfair curve because I think Zach Smith has a tendency to put OSU in a negative light far too often via social media and such but for all the bluster about Zone 6, the group, despite improvements here and there, remains the weakest link on the squad. 
Barrett has taken a beating the last few weeks for the lack of a passing game and yes he's the seasoned-guy and hasn't been perfect but now that Ohio State is six games in, the wide receivers need to more consistently step up. 
With Wisconsin daring the Buckeyes to throw in the 1st half, Ohio State's wide receivers couldn't gain much if any separation leading to just three completions to wideouts for 28 yards. 
Zone One: Noah Brown
Early in the 2nd half, Terry McLaurin who I get is still on the inexperienced side, dropped what should have been a 36-yard touchdown catch. 
For his part, Noah Brown stepped up with four catches for 48 yards including a nifty game-winning grab on a 7-yard out from Barrett in overtime after recording just three catches over the last two games. 
I'll also throw in the collective downfield blocking from Zone 6 appears to be a strength and I still feel like Parris Campbell or K.J. Hill can be a factor but consistency remains an issue. 
I'm not a coach so I'm not sure if Smith needs to finally trim down the rotation or if he feels he can't because the guys after Brown are so closely bunched together in terms of ability but if Ohio State wants to make a serious run at a national title, its going to need a wide receiver not named Brown to complement the work done by the hybrid guys (I see you Dontre on that sick 43-yard snag late in the game) on a more consistent basis. 


Straight up, Wisconsin is way better than I gave them credit for coming in. It wasn't just the Camp Randall juju that nearly knocked off the Buckeyes. 
Coming into the game ranked just 8th in the league in rushing at 166 yards per game, Corey Clement (25 rushes, 164 yards) and company did work amassing 236 rushing yards though only 66 of that came in the 2nd half. 
Props to Paul Chryst as a playcaller especially in the 1st half. The Badgers repeatedly gashed the Buckeye defense on the edges early with jet sweeps, and with plays designed to do so, Chryst's squad successfully picked on Ohio State's lesser coverage guys like Damon Arnette and Damon Webb despite having a meh quarterback. It definitely looked like Bucky took advantage of the bye week.
I was particularly impressed with Wisconsin's touchdown drive to go up 23-20 which saw the Badgers go 3-for-3 on 3rd downs via targeting Arnette in coverage for a 36-yard catch by Jazz Peavy on 3rd and 9, a well-timed shovel pass to tight end Troy Fumagalli for four yards on 3rd and 3, and finally a surprise fullback dive for a 4-yard touchdown on 3rd and 2. 
Defensively, Jack Cichy was all over the field with 15 tackles, 3.5 TFL, a sack and a forced fumble. 
So often, we as fans only focus on what Ohio State didn't do but the fact is the opponent often has good players and coaches rise to the occasion and while the Buckeyes didn't play great, some of that is absolutely attributed to the effort put forth by Wisconsin. 

Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 30-23 Overtime Win at Wisconsin
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — You don't really know about a team until you see their resolve, and on Saturday night the Buckeyes showed everybody what they had, and then they showed them a little bit more.
Ohio State was unimpressive in the first half against Wisconsin, but then gathered themselves up at halftime and made the adjustments that they needed to make in order to outscore the Badgers by 17 points in the second half and win it 30-23 in overtime.
It was the gut check of gut checks. Ohio State was challenged and they stood up to that challenge and walked out of their win with a 6-0 record and a new understanding of just what this team could be capable of.
What did we learn? A lot.
1. This team believed they could rely on each other, but now they know it.
Anybody can talk a good game, but until they play a good game, it's all just words. Every team talks about how close they are and the Buckeyes were no different. On Saturday night, however, they backed it up. Both sides of the ball were struggling for Ohio State, and there was no finger pointing. Urban Meyer said after the game that he was ready to tear into his team at the half, but when he got to the locker room all he saw was professionals. Everybody went to work, confident that the job was going to get done. Afterward, J.T. Barrett told the media, "Just understand that we've got guys that love each other." Everything they thoughtthey knew about each other going into the game was confirmed in the second half of this game. That is only going to drive them moving forward.
2. Dre'Mont Jones is one of the most active defensive tackles in the B1G.
I wrote during the game that Dre'Mont Jones might end up leading the Buckeyes in tackles one of these seasons because of how active he is. That's pretty much unheard of for a defensive tackle and won't really happen, but it's impossible to ignore how often he is involved at the line of scrimmage. He finished this game with eight tackles against the Badgers and has averaged seven tackles per game over the last three contests. When you look at the box score and see that Raekwon McMillan only had three tackles, Jones is one of the reasons why. His next step will be making plays in the backfield.
3. The old J.T. Barrett is still in there somewhere.
It was six-straight quarters of rough going for J.T. Barrett, but throughout the second half of Saturday night's game we saw the J.T. Barrett that we all remembered from 2014. He was keeping drives alive with his legs, he was moving piles with his determination, he was dropping dimes from the sky, and he was standing tall in the pocket and delivering the ball to open receivers. It was a #ThrowbackThursday on a Saturday night.
It was good to see Barrett put the team on his shoulders -- which he also did against Indiana, but this time he was also able to use his throwing shoulder. Does this catapult him to consistency the rest of the season? I don't know, but it does reinforce that there is still a reason for everyone to believe that he can get the job done when he absolutely has to.
4. The passing game is still too much of a struggle.
That all being said above, in the first half of this game every completion should have been followed by a celebration. After all, isn't that what you should do after overcoming a struggle? For the first two quarters last night there was no intermediate passing game and the deep balls once required Terry McLaurin to actually stop and wait for a pass. That is unacceptable, but it is clearly the situation the Buckeyes find themselves in this season.
They showed in the second half, however, that they are capable of an effective passing game, but who knows if that's something that comes and goes. The fact that we don't know the answer to the question tells us that this is going to be an issue moving forward.
5. Third and long is a hectic place to be.
You almost had to feel bad for Wisconsin quarterback Alex Hornibrook on third and long in this game. Paul Chryst felt so bad that he called an obvious screen play on the second third-and-long situation of the second half because of how effective the Buckeye pass rush had become.
That OSU pass rush was inevitable and the coverage on the back end was solid enough. On eight third-and-long situations (at least six yards to gain), Hornibrook was actually 4-of-6 passing with three first downs and a touchdown, but he was also sacked twice and one of his completions was the aforementioned screen pass which lost four yards.
Things weren't perfect, however, as evidenced by Hornibrook's 86 yards passing and a touchdown on third-and-long, but it was always exciting. Credit the Badger quarterback for getting the ball off in the face of pressure, especially when he was well aware of what was coming for him.
6. The deep ball is a problem on more than one front.
The Buckeyes completed one deep ball against the Badgers and it came on a scramble drill, which doesn't really count when you're talking about wanting to establish a downfield passing game. J.T. Barrett's 43-yard completion to Dontre Wilson was a perfect throw, but it came on a broken play. That's not an offense, that's just talent getting the job done.
Barrett was effective throwing the deep ball in 2014 because of his anticipation and because he got the ball out quickly. Perhaps that was because he had faith that Devin Smith would get open -- or he was already open. Is Barrett holding the ball so long now because he doesn't have that same faith? This was not the first time a receiver had to wait on a football, but it may have been the first time one had to physically stop running in order to try and make a play.
Are the receivers not getting separation quickly enough to trigger the throw? And by the time they are pulling open is it too far for Barrett to even get the ball there? The lack of a deep ball right now is a shared responsibility that everyone has to get figured out.
7. This team can adjust with the best of them at halftime.
Wisconsin wide receiver Jazz Peavy rushed for 70 yards on six jet sweeps against the Buckeyes. It was an unstoppable play and Ohio State was powerless to stop it -- until they did. In the first half Peavy ran that play five times for 67 yards. On the third play of the second half he ran it again, and he was blasted out of bounds by Malik Hooker after just a 3-yard gain. The Buckeyes never saw the play again. The Badgers tried to use it as a decoy, and they did so with some effectiveness, but nothing that approached their successes actually running it in the first half.
Speaking of the first half, running back Corey Clement rushed for 97 yards on just seven carries in the first quarter. What did he do after that? He rushed the ball 18 times for just 67 yards. After putting up 313 yards of total offense in the first half, the Buckeyes held the Badgers to just 137 yards total in the second half. 
On the offensive side we all saw the night-and-day difference with the passing game. Everything that was going wrong in the first half quieted down and the things that were going well took center stage. Ohio State adjusted well and Wisconsin didn't have the necessary answers on either side of the ball to counter.
8. Damon Webb and Damon Arnette need to pick it up.
It was not a good night to be a Damon in the Ohio State defensive backfield on Saturday. Damon Webb at free safety and Damon Arnette at nickel continue to be the least-resistive force in the OSU secondary, and opponents know it. Neither of these jobs are easy, which is why it normally takes somebody as talented as Vonn Bell to excel at it. None of the Ohio State defensive backs were perfect in this game, but there is a lack of consistency at free safety and nickel that needs to be addressed.
9. These defensive ends are setting quite the tone.
If you have Sam Hubbard, Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes, and Nick Bosa at defensive end then you probably spend a lot of your time with your feet kicked up leisurely on a footstool at your upscale social club while you talk loudly about how great life is between puffs of your cigar and sips of your bourbon.
That's Larry Johnson, and the amazing part is that redshirt freshman Rashod Berry has apparently performed well enough in practice to get involved in the action as well. He came up with a big stop on second-and-goal in the second quarter last night. This is the type of thing coaches dream of, and it's why they spend so much time recruiting. Generally, it's a pipe dream.
This pipe dream, however, is becoming a waking nightmare for opponents. The Buckeyes had four sacks last night, one each by Hubbard, Lewis, Holmes, and Bosa. Those four also produced six of OSU's eight tackles for loss. Holmes and Bosa get measurably better every week, while Hubbard and Lewis stay as solid as you can ask.
And when Holmes and Bosa go inside, offensive guards have no chance. Then like any structure, if the inside is collapsing, the outside will follow. It has been entertaining to watch all four of these guys do what they do, especially when they get to do it together.
10. The Buckeyes' simplicity in their beliefs makes a bye week a dangerous thing.
We all know that Ohio State has a basic defense and an offense that hasn't really changed in a few years. It works for them, but it also allows the opponents to prepare for it. The Buckeyes do what they do and they do it very well, but that also makes them somewhat predictable -- especially for a team coming off of a bye week.
How many times have you heard Buckeyes on both offense and defense say after a game that the opponents did things that they never showed in practice? At least four or five times per season? How many times have you heard an opponent say that of Ohio State? Maybe during the 2014 postseason? Maybe.
But if you are as talented as Ohio State is, then you can stay simple. After all, the simple answers are always the most effective answers. Sometimes, however, simple answers need a bit of time depending upon how complicated the questions, and Wisconsin was asking some doozies last night.

AP Top 25

2Ohio State6-01457
3Michigan(1)6-01368 1
4Clemson7-01337 1
6Texas A&M6-01218
8Nebraska6-01037 2
9Baylor6-01021 2
10Wisconsin4-2935 2
11Houston6-1766 2
12West Virginia5-0744 8
13Florida State5-2733 1
14Boise State6-0694 1
15Florida5-1626 3
16Oklahoma4-2612 3
17Arkansas5-2584 5
18Tennessee5-2550 9
19Utah6-1479 2
20Western Michigan7-0285 4
21Auburn4-2277 2
22North Carolina5-2254NR
23Ole Miss3-3188 11
24Navy4-1163 1
Dropped from rankings: Miami 16, Virginia Tech 17
Others receiving votes: Colorado 110, Miami 69, Oklahoma State 47, Washington State 39, Virginia Tech 38, South Florida 31, Stanford 15, Iowa 7, Arizona State 6, USC 5, NC State 4, San Diego State 3, Pittsburgh 2, TCU 1, Troy 1

Coaches Poll

2Ohio State(2)6-01524
6Texas A&M6-01287
11Houston6-1841 1
12Florida5-1830 2
13West Virginia5-0781 5
14Boise State6-0772 1
15Florida State5-2709 1
16Oklahoma4-2600 4
17Arkansas5-2570 5
18Utah6-1538 3
19Tennessee5-2457 8
20Western Michigan7-0317 3
21North Carolina5-2250NR
22Ole Miss3-3182 9
23LSU4-2176 2
Dropped from rankings: Miami 17, Virginia Tech 19, Arizona State 24
Others receiving votes: Colorado 121, South Florida 108, Miami 74, Oklahoma State 51, Washington State 49, Virginia Tech 37, NC State 18, Stanford 16, Memphis 14, San Diego State 13, Troy 10, Pittsburgh 7, TCU 6, Arizona State 6, USC 6, Iowa 4, Appalachian State 2, BYU 1, Tulsa 1

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