Baver's Buckeye Bag, 9/10/14 "Crawling From the Wreckage"

Baver’s Buckeye Bag, 9/10/14

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Not sure where to begin.  I guess the one positive I can say is, after watching the game a second time, I am not sure things are as dire as many Buckeye fans are making them out to be.  The Bucks caught more than their share of bad breaks against the Hokies, and if you take away just one or two of them, Ohio State certainly could have won the game.  But the “good breaks vs. bad breaks” distribution seems to be leveling out.  Ohio State benefited from many breaks in Urban Meyer’s first 24 games as the Buckeye head coach.  Let’s face it; the Buckeyes weren’t nearly as good as their 12-0 regular season record made them appear to be in 2012 or 2013.

Some “It’s not the end of the world” thoughts, before we get into some uglier thoughts….

JT Barrett is going to be fine.  In fact, he is going to be better than fine, eventually.  Anyone who thought that there was not going to be much of a drop off from Braxton to JT was living in fantasy-land.  You don’t replace a 3-year starter, top-3 Heisman race candidate with a kid who hadn’t played in a game since mid-way through his senior season IN HIGH SCHOOL two seasons earlier.  But, the stat that shows four picks in two games for JT doesn’t tell the whole story; Barrett hasn’t played badly for a kid thrown into the fire in mid-August.

The OSU defensive woes on third down…..okay, it wasn’t pretty.  The D couldn’t get off the field, and in the end, that was the difference in the game.  But, you have to give some credit to Va Tech QB Michael Brewer and his receivers.  There were countless 3rd down plays where the Buckeyes just missed making big plays by a hair, and VT in turn made big plays.  Similar defensive efforts by an Ohio State defense normally yield better results.

I am not convinced that the problems with this Buckeye team relate to talent concerns, other than some depth issues.  As mentioned, Barrett is only going to get better, and I think you will see a much improved JT Barrett in November.  First year starters like Eli Apple, Darron Lee and Vonn Bell are going to be very good.  And, despite the less than stellar stats, there is plenty of talent at tailback and at the H-back spots on offense.  The lack of experience on the O-line and their putrid play, however, makes this difficult to see.

Now for the uglier thoughts….

Va Tech DC Bud Foster ran a “double-eagle” defense, with extra nose tackle support to stop the run, which dumbfounded Urban Meyer and Buckeye OC Tom Herman.  The Buckeyes never fully adjusted to it and Urban even admitted to how surprised they were to see that type of defense.  On the flip side, when interviewed Monday, new Buckeye DC Chris Ash didn’t take much, if any, responsibility for the defensive shortcomings against VT.  Ash noted that mistakes on defense “….had nothing to do with effort or calls that were made”.   Not sure which coach’s comments are more troubling. 

If you are going to talk the talk, you’d better walk the walk.  Meyer is the anti-Tressel, and sometimes, that is refreshing.  But, when Meyer tells you in August that he is confident at every position except for the left guard position, one would think you would have seen better results so far.  Whether you call it confidence or arrogance, Meyer’s beliefs are instilled in his players, many of whom told you how good and “ready” this team was heading into the season.  Well, the coaches and players got a major reality check Saturday night.

I’ve always thought Buckeye O-line coach Ed Warinner was as good of an O-line coach that you could find, but to say he has some work to do now is the understatement of the year.  Other then Taylor Decker at LT, the O-line was an abomination Saturday night.  Center Jacoby Boren looks completely over-matched at center at this point in the season, and Billy Price and Darryl Baldwin aren’t much further along.  Not sure how many times Boren got blown up Saturday night…too many to count.  I thought there would be growing pains on the O-line, but not to this extent.

The Buckeyes have now lost 3 out of their last 4 games, and that could easily have been 4 of the last 5 had Michigan converted the 2-point conversion at the end of last year’s OSU-Mich game.  Okay, you can talk all you want about Buckeye fans being spoiled, but…..if you are going to charge what you are charging for everything that is related to Ohio State football, then the recent efforts from this Buckeye football team aren’t going to cut it.  Simple as that.

Where to next?  Well, the Bucks have a game this week where they can again play like they did against Va Tech, and still likely come away with a two-TD+ victory.  Kent State is 0-2 with losses to Ohio University and South Alabama, and KSU did not cover the spread in either game.  The Golden Flashes are probably not one of the top 100 teams in the nation and are a 32-point dog in this one. 

The Buckeyes need to get many things figured out between now and September 27th, or they will be in a battle with Cincinnati and another one the following week at Maryland.  I tend to think things will gradually get better and that Ohio State will head to Happy Valley in late October with a 5-1 record, but that is far from a given. 

As for the Kent State game, I like the Bucks laying the points.  The Bucks will want to make a statement on Saturday.  Bucks roll 45-10.