This game was tough to watch. Especially because I was unable to watch it until today. I knew the outcome and had read the reviews before viewing, which is never easy with a loss. I tried to pick up on some of the positives, because many of the negatives have already been harped on.
I did notice a few things. For example, we need to run the ball more early in games. It's clearly not working super well to wait like we have been. Some more I-formation, off-tackle runs, especially now that we have Bakhtiari back would be great. Get Ryan Miller pulling and Deehan blocking down the line. I think it would work wonders for our offense. If Stewart is able hit the tackle's outside shoulder once the LB's have been drawn inside, he can make things happen. Hopefully our coaches work that into the opening script, because what we're doing now doesn't work.
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You know what? I think if our offense and special teams hadn't completely screwed the pooch, our defense could have kept us in this game. They started out solid and with some passion, but it's hard to keep yourself up like that when you're on the field so much, with such bad field position and when your team doesn't help you out at all.
I know people were getting on Paul Richardson about drops, but on the first pass his way he was completely covered and Hansen just threw the ball where the defender couldn't get to it, but neither could Richardson. A good play by Hansen.
The drop by Evan Harrington was big because he had some space after a good block by Toney Clemons, but remember, he's still less than a year removed from playing linebacker. He's played pretty well so far this season, but you have to expect a mistake or two by the guy. It's not great, but it happens.
Hansen left the pocket before he had to, but he made the smart decision to throw the ball away once he did. His options to that side were covered. I know 3 & outs aren't always great, but it wasn't because of poor decisions by the QB.
That first punt definitely hit a Buckeye, and we had a clear shot to recover it. If we had, this would've been a much different game. What could've been...
It's tough to play bend-but-don't-break defense (or any kind of defense) when you have such a short field to work with every time the opponent gets the ball.
Also, Doug Rippy is STRONG. He was standing up OSU offensive linemen left and right.
On OSU's first TD, the 1 yard TD leap by Hall, our front seven actually held their ground, but the RB effectively used the old jump-over-the-defense play. Stupid jumping Buckeyes...What's important is that we weren't necessarily getting physically dominated along the line of scrimmage early in the game.
Ugh... option read plays. That isn't Tyler Hansen's strength, and while there still shouldn't have been a fumble on the handoff between him and Rodney Stewart, I'm not sure that play should be in our repertoire. But that is certainly what you would call a drive killer. It's no wonder our defense got worn out so quickly.
Conrad Obi has been doing a pretty good job all season of getting his hands up and deflecting passes. He really has come on strong this year.
Ray Polk made a good TD saving shoelace tackle of Hyde after OSU ran an incredibly effective draw play. Our defensive line shifted to the strongside of the formation and Josh Hartigan lost containment when he rushed too far upfield, but I'm not sure Hartigan would've been able to make the play either way. Polk has been looking more and more like a safety this year, which is good news. And Hartigan made up for it on the very next play with a sack of Braxton Miller. He made a great spin move to get inside the tackle, and then used his hands well to keep himself free enough to grab Miller on his way down.
And then on the very next play, Greg Henderson showing us why he's our best cornerback as a true freshman. He stuck with the receiver, and showed slightly improved instincts and reaction time in getting his head turned and knocking the ball away from the wideout. That easily would have been a TD against any of our other CBs.
And then we had good coverage and put enough pressure on the OSU QB to get him to leave the pocket, forcing the FG. Again, our defense played solid with terrible field position. Without the mistakes, we might've been winning at this point. But even with the mistakes, we should've been down 14-0. Thank goodness for our defense.
The penalty on Gus Handler wasn't great, but he is still pretty inexperienced. Not that penalties are okay, but it's hard to fault the newer/younger guys for everything. As long as it doesn't happen again. It also doesn't help that it was another play where one of the few options that Hansen had was the fullback.
I have to say, I haven't been enamored with the play of Ryan Miller this year (or the last couple of years). He's got the perfect body and mindset to be a great offensive linemen, but he's still not there. He still gets beat more than he should, and by players who have no business overpowering him. On the third play of this drive, he was unable to keep an OSU linebacker from getting into his body and tackling Stewart for a short gain.
And Bieniemy called a great play on 3rd down. OSU went for the fake screen, but Hansen got the ball to Toney Clemons too late for him to have a chance to get to the 1st down marker. Clemons tried and managed a few extra yards, but he had been wide open with an much less difficult path to the 1st down earlier in his route.
Darragh O'Neill will be a very good punter for us. When he's allowed to punt like a normal person, he can get the job done. The 46 yard punt out of bounds was solid. Not the greatest hangtime, but no chance of a return, so it doesn't matter. We really need to get our special teams figured the heck out. We are clearly capable of making solid-to-good plays in this area, but we keep finding new and creative ways to do something stupid. This was one of the few times we didn't, and we actually made work for their yards.
Derrick Webb made two nice plays to start this drive, with a large-gain saving shoelace tackle and then a nice tackle for a loss, playing the zone-read perfectly. He's showing some improvement, which is good news for us.
And then on 3rd down, Miller made a great effort with his feet to get the first down, make Anthony Perkins miss (though he also didn't square up his hips and might've been able to make the tackle) for a big gain. This was more of a good effort by the QB than a bad play by our defense, but it's still tough after great first and second down efforts.
Derrick Webb creates some of the hardest hits on the field I've seen in a while. On the next play, he absolutely clobbered the very good fullback that OSU uses, and knocked him back a little. The play still went for a solid gain, but would've been bigger if our linebacker wasn't able to take the FB out of the play.
The next play was another big run by the QB, but we had good coverage down field and solid pressure, which is why he took off. The defense reacted to the run quickly, but it still went for a first down. These plays are tough and it's why you want a dual threat QB.
Our linebackers are good. Rippy and Webb can fill against the run with surprising strength and speed, and Jon Major is just very good. Not only that, but our defensive line is still playing pretty strong to start the second quarter. Again, they end up spending way too much time on the field as the game wears on, but they do a good job of keeping us in the game.
On the 2nd down play, our defense had good pressure, which caused Miller to escape the pocket and we were able to draw a penalty. Good job by our line and a well-called blitz to force the penalty.
We then had good pressure again to force a bad throw by Miller to get us to a big third and long. We prevented the first down, but there was still a missed tackle by Patrick Mahnke and then another by Nick Kasa, though Mahnke had a better angle. We forced a 4th down still, though. I really believe that if all of OSU's drives had been longer, our defense would have looked much better. They had trouble sustaining drives against us, but it's easy when you've got less than 50 yards to go each time.
And speaking of field position, Stewart called for a fair catch, and then mistakenly grabbed the ball inside the 5...that's just a bad play. Mental errors on special teams are some of the worst things a team can have. Seriously, they deflate both your offense and your defense, and they create bad field position. You can't compete when you make mistakes like that.
The first play, they (wisely) roll Hansen out to his right, but everyone is covered. Your playbook is limited when you're working so close to your own endzone, so it's too bad Hansen had to throw it away.
Play number two was a well-executed quick pass to Clemons, who fought for the extra yards and managed to make it a 3rd and 5.
On third down, though, we couldn't convert. Richardson was double covered and couldn't break free and Hansen had no room to run for it even though we moved the pocket for him. He had to throw it away.
The punt was pretty good in terms of distance, but he didn't get enough hangtime on it. Still the coverage got there and prevented a huge return, but the Buckeyes still got the ball with less than 50 yards to go. Not the way to win a game, Buffs.
The first play of this drive was the first real mistake I saw our linebackers make, and fortunately Will Pericak was able to trip up the ball carrier. Ray Polk was coming down to fill against the run, but he and Rippy went for the same gap, which left Major to overrun the play slightly and leave a lane open for Hall. Better awareness would've kept both Rippy and Major in position to tackle the RB after only a short gain.
On the next play, we dropped the RB for a loss on a great play by our defense. Juda Parker and Jon Major forced the play to the sideline and Parker made a great job of fighting off the block, while the rest of the defense arrived to finish Hall off to force a 3rd down.
They convert after the TE gets around Jon Major and he can't quite recover in time. It was a well run route and a good job of converting by OSU.
After a false start by OSU, Perkins does a good job closing on the tight end as he runs across the field to force the incompletion on first down.
On the very next play, Chidera Uzo-Diribe does a good job of forcing Miller to keep the ball on a zone-read play, but Nick Kasa misses another tackle. Fortunately Perkins is able to wrap the QB up before he can get too far into the open field, forcing another 3rd down.
And that's when Deji Olatoye was unable to stay with the Wide Receiver and OSU threw their first big TD. We kept containment, but it didn't matter because the coverage broke down. Oy.
First play is a well set-up screen pass, but Stewart can't go for too many yards before Ethan Adkins messes him up. The offensive linemen slows down while he tries to help Keenan Canty take care of the CB and Stewart is unable to get around him. He had more room to run, but still a solid gain on first down.
On second down, the pocket stays incredibly strong for Hansen even with an OSU LB blitzing and Hansen is able to find Richardson for the first down and more. Richardson does a great job of running back across the field, and then finishes the play by lowering his shoulder for an extra yard by the sideline. This kid is awesome. We just have to keep feeding him that ball!
On the next play, Hansen leaves the pocket before he has to, instead of finding the soft spot that his line has given him, and he's unable to hit an open Kyle Cefalo for what could have been a first down. Cefalo had a step on his defender, but the ball was thrown off balance and nowhere near him.
The next play was an excellent job by both Hansen and Stewart. It was a screen pass, but a blitzing OSU linebacker had the drop on Hansen who got the ball off just in time. Stewart had barely turned to look for the ball before it was there, and he managed to make the grab and get downfield for a 4-yard gain instead of being dropped for a loss.
On the third down play, the line did a good job of handling a blitz, including Stewart who had a great pickup of an OSU linebacker. Hansen got outside of the pocket and ran for it, behind Stewart who took out an OSU DB on the play as well. Rodney Stewart will make some NFL team very happy as a 3rd down back. Another very good effort by both Hansen and Stewart.
Side note: It's nice to see Keenan Canty getting some reps out there. He is lightning quick and can be a contributor for us, and he gives great effort to block downfield despite the fact that he's only about 160 lbs.
The next play the line did another great job of keeping Hansen clean, allowing him to hit Ryan Deehan in the middle of the field for a gain of 24 yards.
On the very next play, Tyler Hansen stood strong in the face of pressure and threw a pretty good ball into the endzone for Paul Richardson, who very nearly came down with it. It would've been an absolutely incredible one-handed catch because the coverage was pretty good, but the defender knocked it out of his hand as he went to the ground.
This time, we run the ball and Ryan Miller makes a pretty good block by moved the Defensive Linemen a few yards off the ball with help from Gus Handler.
On third down, Hansen connected with Richardson who did a great job of bringing the ball in between a couple of OSU defenders but was short of the marker.
And then on 4th & 1, Hansen gets flushed from the pocket but throws an EXCELLENT ball to Clemons who does a nice job of confounding his defender and going up and getting the TD.
Now the Buffs are within 10...knowning the outcome is making this game harder and harder to watch...
And how do we follow up a nice drive to bring ourselves within 10? We KICK THE FRIGGIN BALL OUT OF BOUNDS!!!!!! For those of you counting at home (I wouldn't suggest it because it's really depressing), we have now kicked the ball out of bounds in EVERY SINGLE GAME WE'VE PLAYED. That's just bad.
On the first play of the drive, Polk misses a tackle and Miller is able to run on a designed QB keeper for a first down and into CU territory.
We then get a nice little treat when OSU incurs a personal foul for blocking below the waist.
The Buckeyes then call another QB keeper and Miller is able to pick up most of the yards lost on the penalty. He gets hit hard, but it doesn't matter.
The next play went the Buffs way with a lot of nice pressure and a sack by Rippy (and others including Pericak) to force another 3rd down.
Then Obi and Perkins to a great job of stopping a draw play at the LOS to get us to 4th down with only 25 seconds left in the first half.
And that's when Stewart bobbles the punt and OSU recovers the ball on our 11 yard line. We should be going into the half only down 10, or even possibly going for a field goal to bring us within a TD despite all of our mistakes. Instead, we make another one.
Miller breaks free of our containment and Kasa is able to drag him down from behind before he can get the first down or score, but there are still 6 seconds left.
And that's when OSU kicks a field goal to send us to the half down 13 points.
Not terrible, but also much worse than it should have been.
We get the ball to start, but a holding penalty means we begin from our own 9 yard line.
We run left, but can't get much of a push and he can only go for 4 yards.
Solid protection and a good job of Hansen of feeling the pressure on the next play allow him to gain 2 yardson the ground to make it a 3rd and short, despite good coverage on the play by OSU.
Again, we had great protection, but Hansen threw it to Richardson. Not the right choice because he was short of the 1st down, while other receivers, including Logan Gray were open and could've converted. That drive is on Hansen and his decision making.
What followed was another rugby style punt. Oy, please no more of these! It goes for only 33 yards, which means OSU gets the ball at midfield. This is not the way to make a comeback. This is the way you lose a game, folks. Thank you, CU special teams.
The first play is a OSU run up the middle that goes for 5 yards. Interestingly, before the whistle is blown, Major strips the ball and recovers it. The RB was on top of defenders and teammates and therefore, wasn't down. But, it was ignored and we moved on.
We force a 3rd and short by making a solid open field tackle on the OSU RB, but you can see the game wearing on our defense.
That's when OSU opens up a great hole on the right side of their line while drawing our linebackers to the left side, creating a lot of open space for the RB to get into our secondary. He's brought down, but not before he can get to the 22 yardline.
The next play Doug Rippy stands up the OSU fullback and Webb and Curtis Cunningham are able to bring the RB down after only a couple of yards.
And on the run wide, freshman Juda Parker is able to bring the back down along with Perkins and Webb before he can get far, forcing a 3rd and 5.
And on that play, OSU completes another 3rd down TD. Greg Henderson this time shows his inexperience and in an effort to find the ball, loses the receiver a little bit. It was a very nice play by the WR.
And how do we follow that up? Another holding penalty on the kickoff return, which means we're starting with 90 yards to go again. Not the recipe for success.
We again get lucky with an Ohio State facemask penalty after a run for no gain, so we move up to the 25 yardline.
And then we come right out and get our own penalty. An illegal formation call negated a very nice quick slant to Keenan Canty for what would've been a first down...this is the definitely of shooting yourself in the foot.
Rodney Stewart does a great job of getting to the edge quickly on the next play with a little help from a mediocre block by Richardson. Mostly it was a great individual play by Speedy, and it got us 8 yards.
That led to another great pass by Hansen to Ryan Deehan down the middle of the field. Deehan did a great job of holding onto the ball after getting hit, and Hansen did a great job of getting the ball off in time to beat a blitzing LB.
And then on the very next play, Handler, Adkins and David Bakhtiari do a great job of creating space for Rodney Stewart to run for his longest run of the night, down to the 24 yardline. I believe this is the play that Speedy got dinged up on.
And how do we follow that play? A holding call on Dannewitz after he got beat around the edge. Oy.
Stewart runs up the middle on the next play, but Ryan Miller isn't able to sustain his block on the second level and his guy gets free to make the stop after only a few yards. Miller is big enough and strong enough that this shouldn't happen, and yet it does.
The next play was an incredibly well defended screen pass that was broken up before it had a chance to develop. Even if the ball had been caught by Stewart, he wasn't going anywhere.
That means that we've got a 3rd and 16 from about the 30 yardline. And OSU is able to get a pass rusher free, despite only sending 3 guys (the right side of the line was to blame), Hansen got hit as he threw, but his throw would'nt have been for a 1st down anyway. Bad play by the Buffs all around.
Thank goodness for Will Oliver. He calmly knocks down the 47 yard field goal, making him 6/6 on the year.
So how do we follow up our field goal? Well, Castor was pulled after kicking the ball out of bounds, so Will Oliver kicks off. He doesn't have the leg that Castor does (of course, he also doesn't kick it out of bounds...) so Hall gets a running start, and the left side of our coverage breaks down. Hall hits the hole and is gone for what would be a TD (he beats Will Oliver to the edge easily) if not for Terrel Smith, who brings him down at the 5.
And then OSU tosses the ball to the left and gets an easy TD because Perkins can't get off of his block and Henderson is unable to get outside fast enough to get to Hyde, the RB.
That's what happens when you give your opponent the ball on your 5 yardline.
And how do we follow THAT up? We botch our blocking wedge and Washington can't bring the ball past the 15 yardline.
But a false start and then a holding call bring the ball back to the 12 yardline, so we've got EVEN farther to travel...yikes.
A quick pass out to Stewart got us to the 19 yardline despite Speedy losing the ball out of bounds, giving us a third and six.
Hansen is able to convert that by hitting Deehan again down the middle to the 44.
Stewart is able to move the ball 5 yards on a solid run up the middle.
Then we nearly had yet another disaster, as an incomplete pass to Matt Bahr is initially ruled as a fumble that OSU recovers, but is overturned giving the Buffs a 3rd down with 5 yards to go.
The Buffs are unable to convert as Hansen gets the ball out last second (and gets drilled) but into the area where there are only two Buffaloes and 3 Buckeyes, and the pass is broken up.
Then we try yet ANOTHER rugby punt. But this one actually kind of works...until Polk is unable to down the ball before it goes into the endzone. So yet another battle with field position is lost. At least it's not a ridiculous loss and OSU has to travel a whole 80 yards this time around.
At this point, our defense is tired. The first play should've been stopped after only a yard, but defenders are looking sluggish and the OSU RB powers his way through a tackle, gaining 6.
The next play goes for a first down right up the middle. Our linebackers are now getting pushed around by the OSU fullback.
On the next play, Major gets beat again by the Tight End on a quick little out and is unable to knock the ball loose. Olatoye finally knocks him out of bounds after giving up the 1st down, but that's not all. Uzo-Diribe gets flagged for roughing the passer, giving them an additional 15 yards.
We got lucky on the next play when we put pressure on Miller who then passed to a wide open back running down the right side of the field, but overthrew him.
Perkins then misses a tackle on a run down the middle that ends up going for 8 yards.
We effectively stop a wildcat play when Ray Polk beats Hall to the edge and drops him for only a yard, forcing a 3rd and short.
OSU converts the 1st down, after a solid effort by the CU front seven.
Hartigan brings Miller down on the next play for his second sack, but it's the story of too little too late.
A false start moves OSU back, but they nearly gain it all back and more. A nice pass down the field to a receiver that has beaten Henderson by just a little is broken up only by the impact of Polk knocking the WR out of bounds (or at least that's what the refs thought, which works for me).
Miller scrambled on second down, but only gained a few yards.
A miscommunication between Miller and his receiver led to an incomplete pass, forcing an OSU FG. So now we're ONLY down 27 points with about 12 minutes left...
We begin on the 24 with a bad pass to Richardson, who luckily gets his fingertips on it, or else it might've been picked off.
Hansen is dropped on the next play for a loss by a blitzing OSU linebacker who knifes right through the middle of our line.
Then on third down (and 19 to go), Hansen hits Clemons on the sideline after scrambling, but it doesn't go for a first down.
And then Darragh O'Neill gets another chance to punt it like a normal person, but kicks it short and low. A 33 yarder.
On the first play of this OSU drive, Henderson gives up a huge cushion, which they take advantage of with a quick pass to the receiver who cuts inside after a few yards.
Solid pressure forces a pass that is too quick and strong for the receiver who had a step on Henderson.
The next play we apply very good pressure, but three defenders fail to drop him behind the LOS before he's finally tackled after a 3 yard gain.
OSU tries a screen on the next play, but pressure forced a bad pass and a drop on third down.
Guess where we start? That's right, inside our own 20 again. This time from the 9.
A quick pass to Tony Jones is incomplete on 1st down. He had some space, but couldn't reel in the ball.
An OSU linebacker made a nice play to drop Jones for a los on the next play, coming through a wide open space on the right side of the line.
On 3rd down, Hansen made a circus pass to Richardson over the middle of the field for a nice first down.
The next play was a quick pass to Cefalo for a few yards over the middle.
The Buffs gain 5 yards on a penalty against OSU for offsides.
Toney Jones does a great job with some pretty good blocking to stay on his feet and fight his way for 19 yards. He's a powerfully built guy and he can break some arm tackles.
Cefalo gets another short pass thrown his way.
Jones catches a pass and does a great job of making guys miss in the open field. Now, it is late in the game and the OSU defense is letting their foot off of CUs throat, but he's doing his best to earn more touches.
Richardson drops two straight passes. It will be interesting to see if he loses focus late in other games where we're way behind or way ahead again.
OSU spends much of the 4th quarter just rushing 3 or maybe 4.
Hansen completes a good pass on 4th down to Logan Gray, but the coverage was soft and it was clear that the OSU defense has moved on to the next game.
The next pass was thrown to Gray, but he was well covered over the middle of the field.
CU is penalized on that play, but on the next one, we toss a screen to Jones, who follows his blocks and gets back to the 14 yardline.
From there, that's where Hansen finds Tyler McCulloch for the TD. It was nice for the freshman to get his first TD, but otherwise meaningless.
Our onside kick attempt failed, but it was an interesting attempt to kick away from the OSU hands team. It didn't work, but nice effort.
The first play (OSU had their backups in), Brady Daigh made a nice play to stone the fullback and drop the running back after only a yard.
The OSU backup QB completes a nice pass to the guy that Olatoye is covering. It was a huge cushion and very soft coverage, but an easy completion even so.
On the next pass, Henderson gets beat to the inside, but it was by a guy who's 6'5" and 230 lbs. That's a tough cover for Henderson.
OSU drove down to the 1 yardline before letting the clock run out, and that was the ballgame.
THOUGHTS (I bet you thought I'd never get there).
I didn't see when Orms got hurt, but I have a feeling it was early. Terrel Smith was in there a bunch in nickel situations, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. If Orms is out for a while, that could be very bad news for us, though.
Our defense has the ability to keep us in games this season.
Our special teams continues to demonstrate a propensity for keeping us out of games this season.
Our offense waffles back and forth.
Stewart wasn't back there returning punts after his two mistakes, and hopefully won't be back there again. His mistakes were definitely hurtful, and we need to keep him healthy.
We didn't run the ball a ton, but we did employ the "running game" more than we gave them credit for. Screen passes and quick passes out to receivers behind the LOS are extensions of the running game that we like to use, and for the most part, use effectively. I'm OK if we use the pass to set up the run instead of the run to set up the pass. Really, all that matters is that one effectively sets up the other, and allows us to move the ball.
I have yet to see a Washington State game, so I'm going to desperately try to find film to watch in the next couple of days, because I have no idea what to expect...wish me luck!