10 Things We Learned from Slipping Past Toledo
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It was an interesting game to say the least that unfolded Saturday in Ohio Stadium.
The heavily-favored Buckeyes struggled mightily to hold off a boisterous Toledo team that nearly overcame 102 penalty yards in a 27-22 loss at Ohio State.
OSU Head Coach Luke Fickell said there was a lot more to be learned about this group after Saturday’s win than after their 42-0 win over Akron last week. We take a look at the 10 things we learned from a week-two win over the Rockets.
1. This Ohio State team is beatable. Sorry Buckeyes fans, but it’s true. Ohio State lost a lot of talent from the 2010 team and they are breaking in new starters a lot of critical positions. That’s not typically a recipe for success. OSU has overcome this kind of adversity in the past, but they are clearly lacking playmakers on both sides of the ball.
2. Toledo is not your typical MAC team. We heard all week how this Toledo team was going to be a lot different than the Akron team Ohio State faced last week, and boy were they right. The Buckeyes have had some close calls with MAC schools before, but this might have been the best one yet. The Rockets were a handful on both sides of the line. They had two pretty good quarterbacks and wide receiver Eric Page was the fastest player on the field, for either team.
3. Tim Beckman had his team better prepared for this game. Even with all that said about Toledo, they still couldn’t match Ohio State’s talent level. Give Head Coach Tim Beckman and his staff credit for getting their guys ready to play. OSU’s offensive linemen said they felt like there were 12 guys on the field at times and a number of players talked about Beckman having too much knowledge about what the Ohio State coaches were going to do. Shame on the OSU staff if that’s true, because they are well aware of the fact he coached in Columbus for two years.
4. Not much has changed with OSU offense. After week one, Ohio State fans had visions of a high-powered explosive offense under new head coach Luke Fickell. What they may have forgotten is that Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman is still the one calling the plays. The Buckeyes mixed in some poorly timed reverses Saturday and even a screen play, but it was basically the same Ohio State offense fans have complained about for years. There was too much straight ahead running and seemingly no adjustment for the fact Toledo was putting nine in the box and over-committing their linebackers on every handoff. The one time they used misdirection, Carlos Hyde went 36 yards for a touchdown.
5. Injuries and suspensions have an impact. The Buckeyes always talk about reloading, and it’s clear that the cupboards are still stocked, especially with this freshman class. At some point, however, losing talented player after talented player from the two-deep is going to catch up with this team. They are already playing without arguably their three most important offensive players in Posey, Herron and Adams. Add starters Jordan Hall and Travis Howard to the mix, and now Nathan Williams and Philly Brown. At some point this team is going to run out of players. It was obvious that they felt the effects of Williams’ absence against Toledo.
6. Joe Bauserman’s honeymoon is over. After his week-one performance against Akron, it seemed liked Bauserman had won over a large chunk of the OSU fan base that had been quick to dismiss him after Terrelle Pryor’s departure. That love affair lasted exactly one week, as Bauserman quickly heard the boo birds Saturday at Ohio Stadium. He has yet to turn the ball over this season, but missed on a few deep balls that could have changed the momentum of the game. He has got to play well every week because he won’t be given the benefit of the doubt from the fans.
7. Braxton is still in the plans…we think. Fickell said after the game that he wanted to get Braxton Miller on the field in the first half and they still plan to use two quarterbacks, only it didn’t look like it. Obviously the blocked punt altered the flow of the first half, but there were opportunities to get Miller into the game. Unlike week one, Bauserman wasn’t out there setting the world on fire, so it speaks volumes that the young freshman didn’t take a single snap against Toledo.
8. Buckeyes still have major special teams issues. Speaking of the blocked punt, it is getting more and more frustrating to watch them line up in that silly formation only to have it blocked. Whoever came up with it should be banned from football. Ohio State needs to get this figured out because it’s going to cost them a game, just like it should have in the Sugar Bowl. Another thing that’s going to cost them a game is not having a field goal kicker. Drew Basil has yet to make one in his college career and his confidence has to be in the tank right now. They need to find a way to get him some makeable looks from short range to get his confidence back up.
9. Tyler Moeller is not the same guy we saw a year ago. After the game, Moeller took credit for Toledo having so much success with the screen plays, and he’s right. One reason teams haven’t been able to do that successfully against Ohio State recently is the creation of the star position. Jermale Hines may have been the best in school history at blowing up the screen play, but Moeller was supposed to be one of the top guys on the defense this fall. He was all over the field making plays last season before his injury, but he didn’t look like the same guy out there Saturday. He wasn’t really being used as a blitzer and he didn’t make any plays out in space. In fact, he finished the game with zero tackles.
10. John Simon is a gamer. With Nathan Williams already sidelined by an injury, the Buckeyes could hardly afford to lose Simon, who left the game with cramps. It was so bad, he had to go to the locker room at get fluid, and the defensive front struggled to create pressure while he was gone. But Simon came back in a big way. He seemed to play angry after that and made a number of big plays down the stretch. One was a key sack on 3rd-and-9 to force a Toledo punt with under six minutes to play and the other was the game-saver. He was the player who pressured quarterback Terrance Owens on the final 4th-and-5 stand, slamming him on the Turf before his pass fell incomplete.
Bonus Lesson 10 +1. Rod Smith is not quite ready for primetime. That last drive was only made possible by the fact redshirt freshman Rod Smith fumbled at the most inopportune time. He did that last week with a fumble inside the five on Ohio State’s second drive. This one was even more devastating. It gave Toledo a chance to drive down for the winning touchdown in the final three minutes of the game. With a healthy Jaamal Berry (we think) and the potential return of Jordan Hall (we think), Smith might be relegated to scout team duty the rest of the year.
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