The Buckeye Watch -- Michigan State
By Tony Gerdeman
On Saturday we witnessed the end of the Jim Tressel Era. If it wasn't clear before, it's see-through now.
What happened on Saturday can't happen beyond this season. There is too much money at stake for the University, and they're already feeling the pinch right now. You can see it in the amount of empty seats the last two weeks, and we saw it in the lack of postgame autograph seekers Saturday night.
These are the things that are visible, and it's not good for Ohio State. Don't think for a second that things behind the scenes—like donations—aren't being affected as well.
This means change is coming, but it's going to take a while to get here.
Nobody is saying there hasn't been adversity from every single angle for this team, but there really is no excuse to look so bad so often against average teams.
It's not Luke Fickell's fault entirely. This was just an unwinnable situation, but the games themselves are still winnable, and right now, this team looks like it has no shot to do so.
The offense is inept. The defense is frustrated, and the coaches will soon have to worry about keeping the two from strangling eachother, which will further take them away from actual coaching.
Next week Boom Herron, Devier Posey and Mike Adams return. Will anybody remember that they aren't saviors, but rather a large reason why the Buckeyes are in this predicament in the first place?
It's a mess for all involved. Fortunately the underclassmen will have a chance to write their own ending, as opposed to this one, which was written by the seniors.
11:09 My allergies were pretty bad yesterday so I took a bunch of generic Benadryl before bed. Benadryl usually gives me some pretty crazy dreams, and last night I had a dream that Ohio State won today. Of course my spirit guide wouldn't give me a score. Spirit guides can be real jerks like that.
1:37 There are a lot of Michigan State fans here today. That tells me that Ohio State fans are giving up their tickets this season.
2:27 Been trying to log on to the internet for the last half hour here in the press box. Ohio State feeds me well, but if they don't get this problem fixed soon, they can expect a scathing complaint to my wife that will fall on deaf ears.
2:49 Jaamal Berry is dressed and warming up today. I will say nothing further about the matter because it can only get me in trouble.
2:51 John tells me that a Michigan State official told him that the reason Mark Dantonio closed off his players from the media this week is because he saw how much they were talking about Ohio State during last week's postgame interviews and he felt that he had to nip that stuff in the bud before his players said something that ended up on a bulletin board.
3:35 It's very windy here. The ref's mic is getting destroyed. The Buckeyes win the toss and take the ball. I don't believe this. At least they'll get the wind in the first quarter. That will set the punting tone for the game.
3:37 Reid Fragel starts the game for Jake Stoneburner, which means this is a run. Yep. Stretch play to the right and Jordan Hall gets four yards.
3:38 Shotgun. Miller drops back and goes to throw it, then pulls it down at the last second and the ball goes flying out of Miller's hand backwards. That's an incompletion and not a fumble because of a terrible NCAA rule. Thank you, terrible NCAA rule. Will an Ohio State first series ever not be an adventure this season?
3:39 Third and six. Miller hits Stoneburner for three yards. He was going there the entire way and the design had no chance for a first down. Here comes the punt. Just as everybody but Luke Fickell knew.
3:41 There's a bad snap through Kirk Cousins' hands and Edwin Baker falls on it. So it's gonna be one of THOSE games, eh?
3:43 Spartans go three and out and have to punt. It's a bad snap! But the punter ran back, recovered it, and still got off a tremendous punt.
3:45 Jordan Hall gets stopped for nothing on a backside blitz by Isaiah Lewis. This is going to be a very ugly game.
3:46 Third and nine. Where Buckeye drives go to die. Braxton Miller with one yard on the quarterback draw. How ingenious! Third downs that require passing are going to require something different from now on. Buckeyes punt.
3:51 Second and one. Michigan State comes out with three tight ends. It's a play-action bootleg. Cousins points to B.J. Cunningham, and then throws it deep and Cunningham went up and caught it for the touchdown. Amazing. He's a big guy that can go over anybody, and he has perfect body control. Great block behind the line of scrimmage on the defensive end, whoever it was. Travis Howard wasn't even looking for the ball. The Spartans lead it 7-0. And that was against the wind.
3:52 That might be enough to win it today. Gonna be tough for the Buckeyes to kick three field goals.
3:53 Help us, Urbie-Wan, you're our only hope.
3:56 Better use the wind while you have it. (Here comes three runs.)
3:56 Shotgun. Split backs. Hall to the right and Boren to the left. Stoneburner is split to the left as well. Gosh, I wonder where this play is going. Yep. Hall gets three yards running wide to the left.
3:58 Third and thirteen. Miller gets rushed, scrambles and throws it up and nearly gets it picked. He was looking at Stoneburner downfield, but there was a safety coming over the top. I hope I can keep my brat and pulled pork down.
3:59 The Buckeyes punt and Ben Buchanan couldn't even get it high enough to get caught up in the wind. The conditions are miserable right now.
4:00 If Joe Bauserman really offers you nothing better than what you've got right now, everybody involved in designing this offense should probably be talking to their realtors (as if they hadn't already). There are coaches all over America who will always produce an effective offense regardless of what they have in terms of talent and there are also coaches all over America who will always produce the same ineffective offense regardless of what they have in terms of talent. Which seems like the better choice to you?
4:03 Five wide for Sparty. Cousins rolls out and throws a quick hitch to Le'Veon Bell for nine yards. Quick passing, you say? How do you do that?!?
4:06 The Spartans punt and Jordan Hall fair catches it at the 13-yard line. When 87 yards feels like a mile...
4:07 Carlos Hyde loses a yard because Jerel Worthy just beat everybody. There's no threat of anything here.
4:08 Third and two. There's a quick pass to Chris Fields in the slot that moves the chains and the fans here are going crazy. That pass just picked up an amazing twelve yards!
4:08 The first quarter comes to an end with Michigan State leading 7-0. I'd talk more about what happened and what didn't, but let's be honest, nobody wants to relive any of it.
4:12 False start J.B. Shugarts. Drive killer.
4:13 Bad snap from Mike Brewster. Miller picks up the grounder and was going to try to go with a zone read with Carlos Hyde, but he just had to jump on it. Loss of four.
4:14 Third and thirteen. Let's just fast forward to the punt. When thirteen yards is too much to pick up in three plays, let alone one, there are design flaws. Don't blame the pilot because he can't fly a one-winged plane, blame the engineers.
4:16 I feel like I went to a football game and a snooker game broke out.
4:18 Keshawn Martin picks up fourteen yards on the out route. Travis Howard was in coverage. I don't think he is going to be able to go pro after this season after all.
4:19 If MSU makes no mistakes today, they win going away. But Sparty being Sparty, that probably is impossible. Stretch right to Baker for five yards. Christian Bryant on the tackle. They can get five yards per play all day long. The Buckeyes need a negative play to make something happen.
4:23 Third and fifteen. Cousins finds Keith Nichol for eleven yards down to the Ohio State 36-yard line. Dantonio is going for it here. There is no downside to it.
4:24 Fourth and four. Dropped by the tight end on the diving attempt. Good coverage by C.J. Barnett.
4:25 Is scoring an option? False start by Corey Linsley. Just punt now.
4:27 Third and twelve. Timeout Michigan State. They must need more time to stop laughing.
4:28 Play-action. Braxton Miller gets it to a wide open Chris Fields in the slot for 33 yards. Somehow! I have no idea how that happened. I bet I'm not alone. Good thing that play is only called once a month. Wouldn't want to let defenses catch on to it.
4:30 Miller drops back, scrambles and gets knocked down for a six-yard loss. Flag as well, but MSU will decline it. Chop block by Zach Boren. Every single week with these blocks. Hey, the penalty is accepted. They know Ohio State can't go 25 yards for one first down twice on the same drive.
4:32 Flag down again. Personal foul illegal hands to the face on Michigan State. That's the Sparty that gave Buckeye fans hope! I wonder how long it will take me to forget this game.
4:33 First down from the Michigan State 34-yard line. Can't waste this field position. Play-action is underthrown to Devin Smith and intercepted by Darqueze Dennard. It was underthrown, but Smith had it before Dennard took it away from him. Ballgame.
4:34 Sparty giveth and Sparty taketh away.
4:35 There is 7:39 left in the half. A score here would be devastating because they'll also score to begin the second half. I could rant about the decision to take the ball to start the game for days—especially when you don't have an offense that can overcome consecutive possessions from the opposition. I just can't understand it. I don't know how it can be considered an intelligent decision.
4:37 Shotgun. Cousins rolls right and finds Cunningham wide open for thirteen yards as Travis Howard continues to play way off of Cunningham.
4:38 Whoa! Cousins is nearly picked by Christian Bryant as he jumped the pass to Linthicum. That's his second dropped pick six this season. The last best scoring chance for the Buckeyes just fell to the ground.
4:40 The Spartan punt rolls to the 18 with 5:58 remaining in the half. As if time really mattered. The yardage is the only thing that matters, and 82 yards—or 52 yards for a field goal—is just too much to ask of this offense right now. How is this acceptable? Actually, it isn't acceptable, but there's nothing that can be done about it this season.
4:45 Jerel Worthy just ran right by Jack Mewhort and tackled Braxton Miller before he could even hand it off. Maybe the Buckeyes should change up the snap count if they're not going to bother to block.
4:46 Third and eleven. And Miller gets sacked again. Mewhort just let another guy go by. Max Bullough on the blitz and Ohio State had no idea how to handle it. Braxton Miller has no chance. He can't check out of plays, and the Spartans are simply bringing too many guys to block. It's kind of a jerk move by Dantonio. Like cheating a kid at Go Fish by lying about your cards. Time to punt.
4:49 I wonder if Dantonio feels bad about this. I will guess no.
4:52 Sparty! Cousins fumbles the ball on a pass attempt. He then tried to land on it and squirted it even more. Big Hank fell on it. Well, we can't use that football anymore.
4:53 One-yard QB draw for Braxton Miller. OSU calls timeout with about 45 seconds to play. I don't think there's time enough for 62 more of those in order to score a touchdown.
4:57 Corner blitz by Johnny Adams sacks Miller for a ten-yard loss. And the coaches let the clock run out. The fans rightfully boo the decision. Michigan State leads 7-0 at the half.
4:59 How in the world is this only 7-0?
5:03 Not sure what else the Buckeye can do. I say they've run all seven of their plays, but John says they're holding two back for the second half. I'm guessing one is their misdirection play and the other is their screen play.
5:07 This game is setting football all the way back to the Penn State – Indiana game from a couple of hours ago.
5:18 This is an opportunity for Braxton Miller to take this team and establish himself as the...Hahahaha...sorry, I just can't type stuff that I don't believe. This offense has zero chance to win this game without Sparty being more Sparty than they could have ever Spartied.
5:19 The game is back on. Sorry.
5:21 It's third and one on Michigan State's opening drive. Silver Bullets, if you've got a play in you, find it now. And they do!! The right side of the offensive line is collapsed and John Simon is in there to stop Edwin Baker for a loss of one. That is huge! The Spartan punt goes out of bounds at the Ohio State 32-yard line.
5:22 I'm guessing the offensive discussion goes something like this: “Great. Now what?!?”
5:23 Jordan Hall kicks it out wide and picks up nine more. The Buckeyes are trying to establish something here and they've got the field position to do it. That halftime speech must've been something.
5:26 Third and three. Devin Smith and Stoneburner come in, which means that this is a pass. Shotgun. No, it's a draw to Hall and he gets nothing. I guess that counts as a trick play. Oh well, who wants to possess the ball that long anyway. Defense is funner! Ohio State punts.
5:30 Gonna need Cousins to screw something up here. Sparty is not cooperating.
5:35 Dan Conroy misses a 51-yard field goal attempt. It was short and wide right. I feel like the Buckeyes are playing against coach pitch right now and whiffing terribly.
5:36 Play-action and go deep here, which is the universal play that should always be called after a missed field goal.
5:39 Draw to Hall. There is nothing. Loses two yards. Vomiting.
5:40 Jordan Hall gets hit after the play. Flag on Sparty. Thank you Sparty. Need about six more of those if the Buckeyes want to be able to score though.
5:42 Play-action. Miller takes off because there's nobody open. He gets sacked. No wonder Bauserman threw it away all the time. There's never anybody open.
5:43 Third and sixteen. Miller scrambles for three yards. At some point you have to throw the ball. And at some point you have to be able to design plays that help your players. Ohio State punts.
5:44 Ohio State can't pass. They can't get open. They can't give Miller enough time to throw. There is nothing that they can do on offense. How is that possible? How is that acceptable?
5:46 Slant to Cunningham on Howard again. This goes for twelve more. This game will be left off the resume tape. This is approaching Ron Johnson vs. Nate Clements territory.
5:48 Howard dropped a pick six. His rough day continues.
5:49 Cousins getting pressured and finds a wide open Cunningham for 52 yards on Travis Howard. Get Dominic Clarke in there.
5:52 We have reached the end of the quarter. I think Michigan State still leads it 7-0, but I don't really care anymore.
5:56 Third and goal from the six. OMG!! Oh My!! There is no cheering in the press box, but disbelief is allowed and rampant right now. The fade route to Dion Sims was tipped and picked off by C.J. Barnett! Sparty!! For Life!! Sideline interference on the Buckeyes, moves the ball to the 15. Crap. Now they have to go 85 yards in just one quarter.
5:57 Joe Bauserman is now in. It is now on. I actually have zero problem with this. You have to throw the ball, and they actually taught Bauserman the pass plays, so maybe we'll see one or two of them on display. Pick play. Offensive pass interference by Chris Fields. Tremendous scheme. You run a pick play to free up your fullback in the flats. Is that really what they consider a good risk? What reward is there for throwing a pass to your fullback in the flats. Who are the ad wizards that came up with THIS one?!?
5:58 Hall gets nothing. Loses two. And the crowd boos. I've just been handed the third quarter stats from an Ohio State staffer. I tell them that these stats must be wrong because Ohio State's stats haven't changed from the first half.
5:59 Bauserman rolls out and finds Stoneburner for three yards. Or maybe five. Yes, yes! It's five yards!! Five yards all at once!! I hope the offense can handle that. I worry that the offensive struggles are almost like getting your stomach stapled and gains that are too big will be forced back up the offensive esophagus.
5:59 Third and fifteen. Bauserman gets sacked at the three-yard line. William Gholston has been pretty invisible this year and he's destroying Ohio State today. Loss of eight yards. He had zero sacks coming into this game. Buckeyes punt.
6:01 Think of this season as a festering wound. Yes, it may smell like death, but it's also part of the healing process that will bring about something better in the very near future. Your skin will grow back even stronger next year.
6:05 Dan Conroy hits a 50-yard field goal to make it 10-0 Spartans. The Buckeyes are now free to score their touchdown for the game.
6:09 Corner blitz chasing the rollout and they get Bauserman anyway. Loss of five. This is abominable. There should be a midweek resignation. And it might be mine.
6:11 Bauserman sacked again. Boos. This time I think some of the boos are being directed at a player other than Bauserman. The quarterbacks have had no shot today. And things are suddenly going to get fixed by the insertion of Mike Adams next week? It's a nice thought, but the middle is getting destroyed more than the edges.
6:12 Buckeyes punt. Ryan Shazier personal foul. Who's Spartying who here?
6:15 Time to head down to the field. I may continue taking notes, I may not. I'll have to see once I get down there.
6:21 I missed on entire Ohio State possession on my way down to the field. (Well, I wouldn't say that I “missed” it.)
6:25 Cousins on the bootleg throws an interception to Bradley Roby. That's three turnovers for Sparty and none of them were costly. Through no fault of their own, of course.
6:26 Bauserman comes back out and the crowd boos him before he even gets a snap.
6:31 Fourth and ten. Bauserman overthrows Hall in the flats. The crowd begins to leave. They've had all of the booing that they can stand.
6:32 But seriously, passes into the flats are a tremendous way to move the ball down the field when you have absolutely zero time to do it. Just tremendous. So much better than actually, you know, MOVING THE BALL DOWN THE FIELD!
6:38 Pretty soon there will be more Spartan fans than Buckeye fans here.
6:39 Bauserman scrambles and slides down. The crowd boos. “How dare you scramble without taking a hit! WE PAID FOR BLOOD!!”
6:42 Bauserman scrambles and gets hit for it. The crowd cheers. I just saw a father and son hug, and the son said, “I love you, Dad. I hope Bauserman gets hit again.” “So do I, Son. So do I.”
6:44 Take that, blood thirst father and son! Bauserman just hit Evan Spencer for a 34-yard touchdown pass! It is now 10-7 and there is still time to win this. Granted, that time is just ten seconds, but this IS Sparty, after all.
6:46 Michigan State somehow came up with the onside kick. I thought the Buckeyes had it. Great, Verlon Reed looks pretty hurt. Looks like a knee. Devier Posey's return will come just in time—or five games too late. Whatever.
6:47 That's the ballgame. If you want to call it that. I choose to call it the world's worst teaser trailer for the 2012 season.
6:48 I don't want to talk about this game anymore. Especially since I'm just talking to myself at this point.
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