The Buckeye Watch - UAB
By Tony Gerdeman
Even after seeing it for nearly a season and a half now, I still can't get used to the missed tackles by the Buckeyes. It would be one thing if they just weren't outstanding tacklers, but they need to work just to reach “good”.
Though I say that and then when I watch another team play, I'm surprised when that team consistently makes one-on-one tackles. So perhaps I am completely used to this new brand of Ohio State defense now.
Offensively, I'm not that concerned with where things are because I can see where things are going. This is eventually going to be a very good offense, but we still haven't seen it fully healthy. And it's still missing the homerun hitter on the ground that Meyer needs.
That all being said, it might be the special teams that has been the most disappointing. We all assumed the defense would improve, but knew what they were working with. The regression of the special teams has to be a concern. You can sometimes overcome a shaky defense if you have superb special teams, but it's hard to overcome poor play from both in the same game.
Had UAB played this game with a desire to win, they very well could have won it. Though I have to assume the Buckeyes would have scored enough on offense to get the win because they have a knack for getting points when the need arises.
9:58 Prediction: Braxton Miller catches a pass this week and both he and Kenny Guiton are in the backfield together.
11:18 I can't help but think that had Jim Tressel still been at Ohio State, Braxton Miller would have never been able to reach his full offensive potential. I don't have those same concerns anymore. This staff is going to try to get as many points out of Miller in his career as he has to give.
11:23 C.J. Barnett is out. He was dealing with a sprained ankle this week. Orhian Johnson will step in for him, which means Pittsburgh Brown will move to star. Not a great day to have a safety miss a game considering how much UAB likes to throw downfield.
11:38 South stands is so empty the glare of the sun off of the stands could be a factor for the QBs today.
12:00 The Buckeyes win the toss and will defer. I'd almost take the ball to get Braxton Miller as many snaps as possible before the chain is pulled on him. But this tells me that at least he'll play into the third quarter.
12:01 Not sure anything makes me angrier than students who don't show up for games. Maybe the only worse is the people who take up two parking spaces.
12:03 Storm Klein gets the start as the game gets underway. He was working with the ones in warmups. Never saw Curtis Grant do anything. Nathan Williams is starting too. I wonder if J.T. Moore will even play today. Bradley Roby is out as well. Doran Grant is in for him. Even though Roby is the best thing going in the secondary, I think Grant is a capable replacement. The staff does consider Grant to be their third starter, and Kerry Coombs told me in the Spring that he'd have no worries about putting him out there.
12:05 Third and one. Jonathan Perry rolls out, nearly gets sacked by John Simon, gets away and picks up 13 yards. Welcome to Groundhog Day, everybody!
12:08 Third and ten. Perry picks up seven yards on the completion to the Ohio State 46-yard line. UAB will punt. Why punt? Are you here to win the game, or are you just trying to keep from getting blown out?
12:09 Nice. The Buckeyes rough the punter. I guess that's why you punt. Sorry Coach McGee, didn't mean to question your decision making. You know this Ohio State special teams better than I do.
12:10 Third and nine. UAB runs a screen to Darrin Reaves and amazingly he only picks up six yards. The Blazers have to go for it here in order to make Ohio State pay for their special teams penalty.
12:11 Fourth and three. Empty backfield. Perry scrambles, but comes up a yard short after being tripped up by Ryan Shazier. The Buckeyes dodged one, as they tend to do early on.
12:12 OSU opens with a play-action bomb to a supremely wide open Devin Smith, but it's overthrown. It looked like he was ten yards open right at the snap. Just keep throwing that. Though, admittedly, the wind is pretty crazy down on the field.
12:13 Third and three. There's a quick pass to Jordan Hall, but it was too far out in front of him. It also didn't help that Hall never looked back. Those no-look catches aren't something that you generally do just two weeks back from injury. The Buckeyes will punt.
12:14 Ben Buchanan gets his punt blocked, and UAB returns it for a touchdown. Wow, he didn't even get a chance to kick it. It was swatted down before it even hit his foot. Poor kid had absolutely no chance. Taking a knee would have been acceptable right there. Urban Meyer's special teams are not that special. Wait, I stand corrected because the extra point was just blocked. That totally makes up for a running into the kicker call and a blocked punt returned for a touchdown. Everybody go get your orange slices and let's draw pictures of our feelings!
12:15 For a few weeks now the special teams have been pretty terrible.
12:19 Is it time to get the quarterback involved in the run game? Hall motions in and gets it on the inverted veer, picking up nine yards out wide. Looks like it's time to get serious on the ground.
12:19 Interesting. Braxton Miller is now changing things up at the line, just as he was asked to do. The give goes to Hall, and he picks up three yards. As long as he stays out of negative plays when changing things, I suppose he's doing his job properly.
12:21 He's changing the play for the third time in a row. He gives to Hall for seven yards. Maybe he can only check into Hall runs. I bet Miller is the worst gift giver. He probably thinks he's unpredictable, but he's totally not. “Surprise, I got you something!” “Is it a t-shirt with Jordan Hall's face on it?” “How did you know!?!?”
12:23 Third and four. Miller's pass is dropped by Devin Smith. A little bit behind him, but right in his arms. His first mistake was trying to use both hands to catch it. Buchanan's punt lands at the nine-yard line. The OTHER team's nine-yard line, for a change.
12:28 Second and nine. Whoa, Big Hank just pushed his way to the front of the line, forcing Perry out of the pocket who then throws an incompletion. Hankins was serious on that play. Like maybe he heard the Ice Cream Truck music coming from the quarterback.
12:29 Third and nine. It's a flat pass to Reaves, and he runs by both Nathan Williams and Etienne Sabino for 13 yards. They looked flat-footed. This is an offense with running backs who can't make plays, so when they begin to make plays against your defense, you have to ask yourself why.
12:30 Now an eleven-yard pickup on the rollout. Hankins is down, grabbing his ankle. Got rolled up on. Yes, there was another missed tackle. Not that that should come as a surprise. Looks now like it might be a knee. Time to get Adolphus Washington warmed up. Hankins is walking off, which is good.
12:33 Actually, Tommy Schutt comes in for Hankins. Makes sense, as Schutt is better against the run.
12:34 Third and one. It's a quick snap and Reaves picks up about ten on the carry. Absolutely blasted the defensive front for the Buckeyes. Wait, there's a penalty flag. Personal foul, illegal block below the waste. Drive killer. Buckeye saver.
12:35 I really hate that Ohio Stadium plays loud music on third down while the opposing quarterback is trying to relay signals. I would think Ohio State was better than that. Third and eight. Perry scrambles for six to get the ball into Ohio State territory, and the punt unit comes in. Again, why? Yes, I'm sure you appreciated the check that OSU wrote to you, but wouldn't you also appreciate a real life attempt to win a game? Did the contract state that you must meet a certain number of punts?
12:35 Before the punt, Ohio State calls a timeout to talk it over. “Remember guys, no dumb penalties.”
12:39 The Buckeyes go under center, and the give is to Rod Smith for two yards. Under center? Wait, what?
12:39 Third and four. Empty set. Offense seems hard right now. Double blitz. Flag before the snap. False start on Boren. Well, that's one way to pick up the blitz.
12:40 Third and nine. Empty. Miller scrambles, and throws downfield to an open Philly Brown, and it's just out of reach. Wow. 6-0 Blazers at the end of the first quarter. Well, the positive is that the Buckeyes have open receivers. The negative is that they're too far away to complete passes to.
12:41 Obviously the plan was to provide Michigan State with a false sense of security for next week.
12:42 Guess I shouldn't rip on the OSU students who stayed home. At least they're getting to watch the Wisconsin game.
12:43 There is nothing confidence-inducing about this. However, the Buckeyes have had receivers running free and open, and the running game hasn't been stopped yet. Miller is just 1-5 passing for seven yards. No rushes yet. The Buckeyes will start the second quarter with a punt.
12:45 No new faces on the defensive line for the Buckeyes with Hankins back. Reaves gets the ball and picks up nine yards, breaking tackles and moving the pile. He has to have reached his season average by now, which is pretty ridiculous.
12:46 Interesting. New quarterback Austin Brown in the game. He immediately completes a pass to Nick Adams for ten yards. Fortunately, with a new quarterback in the game, by rule my 63-0 prediction is negated because it only took Jonathan Perry into account. Boy, do I feel better about my prediction now.
12:48 Brown is marching the Blazers right down the field. He keeps it for three yards on second and two. This is getting pretty unbelievable.
12:50 Third and 17. They predictably run a screen to Reaves, but he only picks up nine yards as Doran Grant and Christian Bryant were there to stop him. UAB will now attempt a 47-yard field goal with the wind...and it's good! The Blazers lead 9-0 with 10:34 to play in the half. Insurmountable?
12:55 Inverted veer to Hall for 14 yards. You can see that when the Buckeyes get a tailback who is a legit track guy, there will be a large amount of yards to be had in this offense. Hall is talented, but he just doesn't have the burst to get through the holes out wide and squirt through the other side.
12:57 Hall up the middle for 13 more. This looks like one of those angry drives by the Buckeyes. Like when you make a comment about how the stove might need to be cleaned and the wife tries to spite you by cleaning the entire house to immaculate condition. Yeah, you really showed me.
12:58 Miller's first carry of the game is an electric juke of two Blazer defenders that picks up 14 yards. If there was such a thing as Human Frogger, I bet Miller would be pretty good at it.
1:00 First and ten from the UAB 13-yard line. Buckeyes are back under center with two tight ends. Rod Smith gets the carry and busts it wide down to the one. Now you have to reward him with the next carry as well, right?
1:01 Buckeyes go back into the shotgun. Interesting. Smith gets it...touchdown! Took a about four seconds for the refs to call it. They'll review this one. I think his butt hit the ground, but not sure you can tell from this angle. Play stands. Touchdown. Now the real question, do you do go for two so a safety can win it? Nope, the Buckeyes kick the extra point to make it 9-7 UAB.
1:06 Kickoff goes to Jacki Williams and he returns it down the sideline to the UAB 39-yard line. That's they side they pinned him to and they still vacated the sideline. Very odd. Oh, and an illegal formation on Ohio State, so add five more.
1:07 Great field position for the Blazers. Just what the defense needs. Option pitch to Reaves for six yards. Shazier is down. That would not be good. He limps off. Shazier is on the sideline with six medical personnel surrounding him. Two to look at the knee and four to say, “oh god oh god oh god...”.
1:11 Conner Crowell comes in for him. He's covering one of the slots. He immediately misses the tackle in the backfield that would have been a big loss. In other words, the defense hasn't missed a beat.
1:12 There's a quick hitch for eight yards out wide. Open all day with the off man coverage.
1:13 Fourth and two from the Ohio State 37-yard line. Shazier is back in, by the way. UAB is going to kick a 54-yard field goal. It's good, and also meaningless. Why bail out the Ohio State defense again? When a defense is relieved at an offense's decision, the offense has made the wrong decision. The Blazers now lead it 12-7. Oh, that was the longest field goal in UAB history? Then I stand corrected. That's worth more than just another random touchdown.
1:18 Buckeyes are beginning to show some rhythm with the passing game. Miller just read the blitz, stood in there and hit Philly on the corner route for 20 yards.
1:19 Now he goes to the other corner and finds Philly again, this time for 25 yards down to the UAB twelve-yard line. With protection, Miller will find everyone.
1:20 Called QB run as Miller follows Boren into the hole, spins around a linebacker, treating him like a Lazy Susan, “Who moved my nutmeg!?”, and then dives into the endzone. Buckeyes lead it 14-12 with 1:50 to play in the half.
1:23 Hankins stops the Reaves carry for two yards. OSU calls timeout with 1:39 to play. Love it. Go after more points. Don't let these guys off the hook.
1:25 Fumble! Doran Grant forces it, recovers it and then takes off down the sideline, but his knee was down when he recovered it. I'd say at this point that Grant is doing a pretty fair job of replacing Bradley Roby.
1:27 First and ten from the UAB 32-yard line for the Buckeyes. Miller drops back and looks, then finally takes off, leaving three defenders in the dust as he is spun out of bounds at the twelve-yard line. I'm almost surprised when he gets tackled on a carry now.
1:28 Zach Boren gets it at the two-yard line and he makes the first man miss and then powers into the endzone for the touchdown. Nice shake and shimmy by the big man. Buckeyes lead it 21-12, and now it's time for the confidence-building onside kick.
1:32 Etienne Sabino drops an interception. He's good for one or two of those per game, which must mean that he's in the right spots at the right time on passing plays.
1:33 We have thankfully reached the end of the first half. The Buckeyes somehow lead it 21-12. For the most part, both teams have stopped themselves. UAB chose not to be aggressive, and the Buckeyes chose not to complete passes until absolutely necessary.
1:36 Yes, it's a positive thing that the Buckeyes can seemingly turn their offense on for a couple of drives in a row. It tells me that this will eventually be a 40-point per game outfit. The receivers are open, the running game is working, but they just can't put it all together at the same time for long stretches of snaps. It also doesn't help that they can't get the ball back once they give it up.
1:43 I love Alumni Band day. 60-year old batonery should be an Olympic sport. “Oh, that cracked hip will definitely affect Dale's score here.” “I liked his gumption, but that cartwheel attempt is best left to the 50-year olds.”
1:55 Back to football. Kickoff. Onside pooch kick by UAB, and it's a beauty. The Blazers recover quite easily. The Ohio State special teams strike again. Like Halley's Comet, but much more frequently, and with repeated impacts.
1:58 Third and seven from the Ohio State 45-yard line. Flare pass to Reaves, who is stopped for a gain of one. And now they punt. Why? You've got the ball, why would you willingly give it up? UAB is throwing haymakers, but stopping at the end of each round to help patch the Buckeyes up.
2:02 The Buckeyes go three and out, which just makes UAB's decision to give the ball up on the last possession even worse. Now you've just lost about 40 yards in field position.
2:04 Jackson gets the handoff for the Blazers and gets tracked down by Johnathan Hankins for two yards. Why must Hankins make so many tackles? It can't be fun getting chased by Hankins. I would compare it to Indiana Jones getting nearly run over by that giant boulder, but when the boulder catches you, it doesn't simply keep rolling. It just lays on you like you are the most comfortable couch in the world.
2:05 There's a missed tackle by Travis Howard on a flare pass to Adams, first down. And now a flag on OSU with a late hit out of bounds on Christian Bryant. Well, at least you can't miss tackles out of bounds, I guess.
2:07 Five more yards for Reaves. Too much free room. Hankins shouldn't have to make every tackle. Uh oh, Nathan Williams is down. Not good. He's limping off. Cramp? Tweak? Didn't look like a ding.
2:09 Third and one from the Ohio State 38-yard line. UAB picks up eleven, but there's a flag. Chop block by UAB. How many of those have we seen this year? Once again, the Blazers help the Buckeyes. At least this one wasn't called by the head coach.
2:10 Third and 16. Blazers pick up eleven to get it down to the Ohio State 42-yard line. More missed tackles on the hand off, fortunately for Ohio State they had too far to go.
2:11 And yet another UAB punt for no reason. It falls dead at the 15-yard line. I think I've agreed with ONE of UAB's punts today. If UAB has an athletic director, I bet he's furious as he happily counts his money for agreeing to this game.
2:17 Third and twelve as the Buckeyes have moved it out to the 50-yard line. Miller drops back and throws it behind Boren in the flats. It wasn't going to get any yards anyway. Bad decision. These odd quarters are terrible for Ohio State. Bring back the even quarters!
2:18 The punt is downed by Bryce Haynes at the four-yard line. That kid is awesome. The only bright spot on the special teams today, and when the bright spot of your special teams is your long snapper, you've got serious problems.
2:24 The Buckeyes jump offside and Brown throws an interception to Travis Howard that will come back. More mistakes, as you have come to expect. Still, this defense has only given up six points. Though much of that is because UAB hasn't really been interested in scoring more than those six points.
2:25 Hey, another chop block for UAB. That must be how they coach it. “In fact, I want you to chop block so blatantly that you also say 'HI YAH!' when you do it.”
2:26 Reaves picks up five yards. Sabino threw him away and he stayed on his feet. Well, at least he wrapped up for a moment.
2:29 UAB is down to the Ohio State 42-yard line. They're getting into prime punting position.
2:30 Shotgun. Nathan Williams drops Bashr Coales for a loss of five, wait, no he doesn't. He lets him go for a gain of two.
2:30 Third and one. Reaves runs through Ryan Shazier for three yards. UAB is punishing the Ohio State defense right now. And by “right now”, I mean “since the start”.
2:31 The third quarter ends with the Buckeyes still holding their 21-12 lead. What's proper etiquette on writing a thank you card? Should the Ohio State defensive coaches write it between quarters, or is it okay to wait until after the game?
2:35 Third and 16 from the Ohio State 40-yard line. There's a throwback screen that picks up 21 yards and a first down. How...expected. Will this ever stop happening? A.J. Hawk is rolling over in his grave.
2:38 Third and 10 from the 19-yard line. It's a pass into the flats and Shazier misses Reaves but Nathan Williams is there to clean it up. The Buckeyes again hold UAB to a field goal. This one is from 34 yards out and it is good. Buckeyes lead it 21-15. The Blazers had the ball for over seven minutes on that drive. That is ridiculous. The fact that it only ended up in three points is secondary. Get off the freaking field.
2:42 Pretty unbelievable that once again it is time to start thinking about the possibility of a loss, in this, the worst year of non-conference games ever.
2:44 Third and ten. Trips left. Philly doesn't know the play. It's a straight run for for Miller behind Boren and it gets nothing. The the crowd boos. Ohio State punts.
2:46 Big push for five yards for Greg Franklin. This defensive line is getting punished yet again. The games are too close to give guys breathers, but then they get so tired that they eventually have no choice. I understand that Mike Vrabel doesn't like to rotate defensive linemen, but that's why college teams have almost double the roster of NFL teams.
2:47 Third and five. Trips right. Hankins gets pressure and Brown throws it incomplete. But now there's a penalty. Taunting on Christian Bryant. Another dumb penalty. What exactly do you have to taunt about? “Yeah, man, you guys are losing by six points. You suck!”
2:49 UAB immediately runs a play-action pass and completes it down to the Ohio State 28-yard line. Travis Howard slipped on the play and the Blazers took advantage of it. There is 10:45 to play.
2:50 Third and five from the Ohio State 24-yard line. UAB gets flagged for a substitution infraction. They're doing more for the Buckeye defense than the Buckeye defense is right now.
2:51 Third and eleven. Brown throws an incompletion and there are no Ohio State flags for taunting him for failing to throw a touchdown pass that would give the 37-point underdog the one-point lead. Now it's time for a 46-yard field goal. He yanked it left. No good. By the way, there was almost an offsides call.
2:57 Hall picks up a yard on second and 20, but he just can't break it. Still, he's played very well today considering where he was two weeks ago. Not sure those same yards will be there next week though.
3:00 QB draw by Miller and he picks up 18 yards down to the six-yard line. Delayed run. Nice looking play. Like a fake inverted veer where Jordan Hall is the lead blocker.
3:01 First and goal at the six-yard line. Pistol. I like it. Smith gets the carry and goes straight up the middle to the one-yard line. Wow, Boren plants his man eight yards deep into the endzone. That was a five-yard carry for Smith and a 15-yard carry for Boren.
3:02 Miller powers in for the touchdown from one-yard out to make it 27-15. Go for two here to make it a 14-point game? Yep.
3:03 Generally, this is the rollout to Philly in the flats, but Miller fakes the play that everyone thought was coming, then cuts back for the one-on-one move for the two points. Personal foul defense. Buckeyes lead it 29-15 with 5:03 to play. Time for me to head down to the field.
3:09 Brown drops back and throws an interception to Doran Grant at around the 40-yard line. Not a bad day for him. A sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and now a game-clinching interception. The best first start for a Buckeye since Terrelle Pryor opened with four touchdown passes against Troy in 2008?
3:12 It's pretty windy down here. I just about got my eye taken out by a hotdog wrapper. Imagine explaining that injury to people. “So you lost an eye to a rapper? Did he shoot you?” “No, not a rapper, a hotdog wrapper. A piece of plastic. It scraped my cornea and infection set in.”
3:14 Miller goes deep for some insurance stats and Devin Smith drops it in the endzone. He had both hands on it, just couldn't squeeze it home. The Buckeyes punt. The ball dies inside the four-yard line. Well, that's at least two drops for Smith today, which is an ongoing thing. There has to be concern there because eventually one of those drops are going to come on a late third down with the game on the line.
3:19 Let's just call it a ball game. It's too windy to write and I always have to be aware of the flying debris. Buckeyes win it 29-15.
3:30 I've said repeatedly that this was a terrible non-conference schedule, but looking at the condition of the Big Ten right now, perhaps this was the exact schedule to get the Buckeyes ready. No need seeing anybody that was too good in the preseason because they were never going to see anybody that good during conference play. Gene Smith is a very smart man, I just hope he didn't pay full price for those games because he certainly didn't get full price for the ticket purchases.
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