Saturday, November 7, 2009

Buckeyes 24, Nittany Lions 7

[photos of Ray Small and Cameron Heyward by Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer]

This installment of the weekly Buckeyes wrap-up is brought to you by every veteran's favorite appetizer: deep-fried onions.

OK, I'll admit it. I predicted a Buckeyes loss before the game began. I thought the Buckeyes would lose 17-12 (I was giving them credit for 2 TDs, but no PATs). Considering how the Buckeyes have fared in big games in recent years, that seemed feasible. What a pleasant surprise to see the scarlet and gray play the way they did.

The Good
The end of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th quarter were pretty amazing. Starting of course with the 62-yard TD pass to Posey. I never expected that play to be called. (I'm sure Penn State didn't expect it.) I was even more amazed when it was completed for a TD. Why doesn't Bollman try things like that more frequently. The final TD drive had some surprises too. Like a pass to the FB (the 2nd of the game, mind you) on a short-yardage play. And also rolling out Pryor and throwing to Saine for the TD. Penn State had no idea how to handle that because they had never seen a Tressel team try anything like that. Oh, and props to the coaching staff for discovering a little play called the bubble screen. Boy, it sure didn't feel like the offense racked up 225 rushing yards, but it did. Saine had some really good carries, and the O-line opened up some nice holes. I don't like to play the "should've" game, but just think about this. This easily could have been a 34-0 game if: the team attempted and made a field goal from the 28-yard line, Darryl Clark's TD was rightly negated, and TP connects with Dane Sanzenbacher at the end of the first half.
The defense just strangled PSU all game. It was nice to see the D register a sack on Clark's first snap. He never did get comfortable, as demonstrated by his 42.9 completion percentage and only 125 yards passing. Chew on this. The defense allowed only 201 total yards and 9 first downs. That is pretty incredible, particularly against the #11 team in the country. Cameron Heyward was en fuego in this game. He was unstoppable. Thaddeus Gibson had a really solid game also, and Ross Homan should have had at least 2 interceptions. Oh, and since Clark didn't actually cross the goal line, this really should count as another shutout for the defense.
Special Teams
Ray Small was incredible. He gave the team just what it needed to get started in this game: a chance to start a drive at Penn State's 9-yard line. He ended up with 128 return yards, and that was nice to see.
The Bad
Early in the game, it looked like it would be another sputtering performance. There were a lot of 3rd-and-long situations, which of course is not where this offense excels. The receivers dropped a couple balls that looked like easy completions. I'm not sure what was up with that.
There isn't really anything to put here, except the penalties. And Ross Homan's dropped interception.
The Ugly
In the 2nd quarter, this looked like a movie we have seen before. The offense scores early, the defense is nails, and then the offense can't stay on the field long enough to give the defense a break. Then at the end of the game, the D is dead tired and gives up a game-winning TD. OK, so that didn't happen. I'm still mystified by the fact that the offense made it to the 28-yard line...and punted. I doubt any other team in college football would have handled it that way. Of course, it was even more maddening when the Buckeyes tried a FG from only 3 yards closer. Weird decisions.
Under the Radar player of the game
Naturally, there are a lot of good candidates for it this week, but for me it is not a difficult choice. Ray Small was a tremendous catalyst for the offense, setting up the first score. And all in all, he just had a good day returning kicks. And then there was Cameron Heyward. Darryl Clark got quite a few introductions to Mr. Heyward in this game. So, there you have it. Small and Heyward are your UtR players of the game.


neslagle said...


The defense, Small's two long punt returns and Pryor's big 2nd half crushed Penn State 24-7. The defense held Penn State to 76 yards rushing in 30 attempts including Royster's 36 yards on 13 carries. QB Clark was held to 12 of 28 for 125 yards and an INT. Penn State's 201 yards of offense was worst of season - next worse was 307 vs Iowa. Small returned punts for 41 and 45 yards to set up two OSU TD's. Pryor was 5 of 8 for 80 yards and 2 TD's in the second half on bad wheels.

Most thought Tressel was way to conservative especially on first down. With Pryor playing with two turf toes, a painful sprained ankle and 4th leg injury the game plan (in my opinion) was too protect Pryor at all costs. It worked to perfection. Pryor was never sacked and Tressel only called one play for Pryor to run, an option which he quickly pitched forward to Saine. Pryor ran 5 times for 50 yards and a TD all on scrambles. Four times he ran out of bounds and once he dove over the goal line thus was never hit. In addition after running all those back up the middle on first down for 9 consecutive series, Pryor faked it just once and hit wide open Posey for a 62 yard TD. Tressel couldn't have called a better game plan. His QB never got hit once and the Bucks ran for 228 yards on 49 carries for a 4.7 yard average. Penn State hadn't given up 200 yards rushing all season although OSU was only the 2nd decent team they have played.

Pryor was inconsistent passing per usual. I am not sure how much the Turf Toe contributed to poor passing since it was little difference from the rest of the season. However, he threw no interceptions and one perfect bomb to increase a 3 point lead to 10. For all of those who long ago gave up on Pryor, his stats are still a tad better than Vince Young at the same stage in their careers! And in the last 8 games Pryor has thrown for 14 TD's and ran for 6 TD's.

Pryor leads some of the top QB's in TD's per pass attempt in last 8 games played (Some QB's last game not available) as follows:
TD's Pass Att. % TD Passes
Pryor 14 177 12.6
Tebow, Florida 10 153 15.3
McCoy, Texas 15 275 18.3
Clark, Penn St 12 220 18.3
Barkley, USC 8 180 22.5
Locker, Washington 13 277 21.3

And Tebow and Pryor both have about 550 yards rushing and 5 TD's and none of the other 4 has 200 yards. Of course there are other passing stats like yards per attempt and INT where Pryor lags. Sill, not bad for a guy that gets a lot of bad press for his performance. Can he improve - certainly. Potential - unlimited. Can he win big game and perform in clutch. Looked ok to me on two bad wheels while beating Odds by 22.

OSU is now 8-2 vs the Odds and have won turnover battle 8 times and tied once in 10 games. OSU has out rushed opponent in 6 of last 8 games and are 4-5-1 in passing yards,

OSU had season high 86 yards in penalties today. OSU has won 17 of last 18 Big Ten road games.

Terrelle Pryor passed Rex Kern for 11th on Ohio State's career yardage list and he is only a Sophomore. Last week he moved into 4th place in career rushing for an Ohio State QB.

OSU led the nation averaging 5.7 three and outs on defense. Today they had 7 more.

Gone with the Schwind said...

Good analysis as always, Nelson. It was nice to see TP not getting hit. I'm not going to say the game was called to perfection. It was good, but that 2nd quarter lull was typical Buckeyes. In fact, that lull is typically where the Bucks lose a big game.
Hmmm 8 wins, and 8 times winning the turnover battle. I guess Tress is right about that. If only TP had been able to hold onto the ball against Purdue.