02
Oct
12

a good trip.

You should expect going into a season with a new head coach — even one with a excellent reputation — that you’re going to see some rough edges, some things that aren’t quite clicking on Saturday.

And yeah, we’ve seen those. Uneven, inconsistent offense. A defense that looked to be soft on the edges. Awful, awful tackling. And even some glaring special teams errors.

What should we expect to see as the season progresses? Improvement.

And that’s what we saw on Saturday.

We still have a problem with relying too much on Braxton Miller to carry the offense, and that resulted in a couple of scares; he wasn’t on the field when Ohio State scored its first-quarter touchdown, after he was run into an equipment box on the sidelines, and I thought his second-half injury — the one where he also fumbled — looked especially scary.

But Miller is getting his arm dialed in, and in the second half, he seemed to do a better job of making a quick read and following that with a quick decision; if he’s able to cut back on indecision, we’re going to see fewer plays where he’s running for his life.

Even better: the offensive line was outstanding. Pass protection was solid, especially in the face of nearly constant blitzing, and the run blocking — especially in the second half — was better than we’ve seen all year. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that the O-line won us the game in the second half, as Ohio State’s run game held the ball and ran the clock.

But the best part was the defense. It was pretty clear that shutting down Michigan State’s monster tailback Le’Veon Bell was the focus … and Bell had no space to run all afternoon long. And the pass defense, while still suspect, didn’t give up the kinds of big plays that allowed Cal and UAB to stay in games they shouldn’t have.

And then there was the tackling. Yes, there was one horrible play, when attempts to strip the ball instead of making a solid hit and wrapping up Keith Mumphery, who scored on the play (Mumphery’s run was an outstanding effort, by the way, one that should be acknowledged). But after spending several weeks of griping about poor tackling, that was pretty much Saturday’s only lapse.

Improvement.

We’ll need to see more on Saturday. Relying too much on Miller is still a concern. And Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez has improved his throwing motion and can make defenses look stupid when he pulls down the ball and takes off.

Ohio State can get better. And will. Week by week. As we’ll see on Saturday.

Photo source.

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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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