to review.

Ohio State is undefeated. After the team’s four non-conference games, it is where I thought it would be.

In a wins-and-losses sense, anyway.

I haven’t, however, expected the struggles the team has dealt with, especially in Saturday’s game against the University of Alabama branch campus that doesn’t play football nearly as well as its big brother in Tuscaloosa. That’s been unsettling, to be sure.

But on the other hand: Just win. That mantra got me through some pretty good years — and one great one — in the last decade, and if I have to fall back on it again in 2012, that’s OK.

Before we launch the conference schedule — a thing that suddenly has much more importance than it did back in August — let’s take a look at what we’ve seen on the field so far.

The good.

Braxton Miller. In this young season so far, I’ve seen quarterbacks who throw better balls than Braxton Miller. I’ve seen some who are more consistent, and more polished. And there are some — even some in our own conference — that have received more hype than the Buckeyes’ sophomore. But I haven’t seen a quarterback — not a single one — so far this year who can take over a game like Braxton Miller. I’ve generally been pleased with the development of the team’s receivers, and the tailbacks are improving (see Rod Smith) and getting healthy (see Jordan Hall), but there is no question who the coaches turn to when they’re looking for something to happen. There isn’t anyone in the country I’d rather have as Ohio State’s quarterback right now, and just think about this, kids: He’s only going to get better.

Receivers. If you listened to Urban during spring practice, you heard this: “Receivers? We don’t have any.” Look now, though. Devin Smith. Corey Brown. Michael Thomas is starting to play. Jake Stoneburner looks good after the move from tight end. The backs are included in the passing game as well. This is not a polished group, to be sure, but they’re better than I thought we might see, based on Urban’s comments last spring.

Jordan Hall. He looked tentative against Cal. He looked less so against UAB. And while he has good guys behind him, there is no question that the guy from Jeannette, Pa., — you know, the one who chose to stick around — is the team’s best tailback. And Ohio State will get better with every game he plays.

The offense. It’s different … but it’s not. This isn’t the spread we typically think of; it’s still Ohio State, run-driven football. But I couldn’t begin to count the number of different formations we’ve seen, just four games in, and I have no idea how a defensive coordinator figures out where the ball is going next. Mix in the passing game — and some of those dink-and-dunk passes are going to start breaking for big gains once the timing between Miller and his receivers improves — and that’s a scary offense. I can’t wait.

Red zone. In a refreshing change from the past regime, when Ohio State gets there, it scores touchdowns. The Bucks have been inside the other team’s 20 17 times so far; they’ve come away with 14 touchdowns.

The bad.

Braxton Miller. After the season’s first two games, it was clear that Ohio State was relying too much on Miller; even in an offense that’s built around his talents, it’s probably not smart for him to be the fourth-leading rusher in the country, as he was after Miami and Central Florida. But it’s possible to go too far in the other direction as well. Against Cal, he looked like he was thinking too much about not running, and it led to sacks and some poor decisions. I don’t think this is a huge thing, and it seems to me that he’s got a better grasp of the offense than did his predecessor at the same point of his career. It’ll get better.

The defense. There is one specific, defense-related thing I’ll address in a second, but in general, the defense has seemed a little lifeless. In the first two games, that might have been by design. Fickell and Withers didn’t call many blitzes, and we didn’t do much to pressure the other quarterback. That’s picked up some, but the team is still giving up an embarrassing amount of yardage — UAB outgained Ohio State 403 to 347, for example — and that’s going to bite us in league play. However — I like what Coach Withers told the Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz after Saturday’s game:

Great point, coach.

The ugly.

Tackling. As in, there isn’t any. OK, that’s not quite true — I saw improvement against UAB … but I also saw a lot of blown tackles, a lot of soft defense on the outside and a lot of intended big hits — most of which turned into whiffs — that should have been wrap ’em up and take ’em down. This is a fundamental thing; my coaches at Hastings Junior High School preached it over and over and over, and I assume that most of these guys have already had a longer football career than my five seasons. The Big Ten isn’t looking especially solid this year, but it’s going to provide tougher, more physical games than we’ve seen in the first four. And Montee Ball and La’Veon Bell will crush a DB who thinks a shot with a shoulder pad is going to take him down. Time to get this fixed.

Penalties. Thirty one of them. Two hundred and sixty yards. Many of them of the after-the-whistle-hits or yapping-for-unsportsmanlike-conducts variety. Stop it. Now.

Special teams. I wouldn’t have included this had I written it a week ago, but the performance of Ohio State’s special teams against UAB were atrocious. Know who our special teams coordinator is? Urban Meyer. Coach? Let’s not let that happen again.

2 Responses to “to review.”

  1. 1 James Williams
    September 24, 2012 at 8:53 am

    Pls add Suzette to your distribution.

  2. 2 kewyson
    September 24, 2012 at 8:10 pm

    Completely agree with your comments – offense looks a bit sloppy, from what I saw BM seems to be trying a bit too hard to make a play – could be a result of other aspects not clicking as well as we’d like – defense looks just off – as you mentioned, basic fundamentals are not apparent – and even though we will not be facing some top 10 opponents – we should be up against some better clubs than what we’ve seen so far – I watched the end of the South Carolina game, and that was good, hard football – fast pursuit – hard hits – things we like at home – here’s to Carolina Boy’s team – tough number of weeks in October – best of luck to you –

    As for us – well, maybe we are more like my tennis game – I always play down to my opponent – hopefully we have better production as we match up against our conference opponents.

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2017 schedule

Aug. 31: vs. at Indiana, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9: Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: Army, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: UNLV
Sept. 30: at Rutgers
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 7: Maryland
Oct. 14: at Nebraska
Oct. 28: Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Iowa
Nov. 11: Michigan State
Nov. 18: Illinois
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 25: at Team Up North, noon
Dec. 2: B1G Championship, 8 p.m.

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