Ohio State Struggles - Is it the End of the World?

With the 3:30 games finished, and a half hour until Saturday Night Football, I'm taking a quick break from the action and thought I'd go on the record with a few thoughts about No. 6 Ohio State's narrow escape from Navy. 

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It almost goes without saying that this was a disappointing showing.  The Buckeyes were tepid on offense, and surprisingly inconsistent on the defensive side of the ball.  Today's struggles will inevitably re-frame next week's contest with USC.  Especially, since (by the final score) the Trojans didn't appear to miss a beat, rolling San Jose State 56-3 with a true freshman behind center.

Does this scenario sound familiar?  The scarlet struggles to put away a lower tier opponent (Ohio) a week before an epic collision with an elite power.  Meanwhile, Pete Carroll's guys play fast and loose.

Should Columbus be concerned?  Yes.  But this afternoon's performance isn't the end of the world.  Here's a bullet point summary of what I saw from the South Stands.

Offense:

The Good:

  • Terrelle Pryor looks a little more comfortable with his reads, connecting with a host of targets.
  • The offense appears to be moving towards a better run/pass balance.
  • The offense finally appears to be ready to use tight ends.

The Bad:

  • Pryor's talented receivers covered up for a number of aerial miscues.  How many times did Jake Ballard have to jump to bring down the ball?
  • The Buckeyes failed to establish a run game (usually a stable of Tressel ball).

The Ugly:

  • The line continues to struggle to both pass and run block.  I'm particularly concerned about our failure to establish a north/south ground game against a mediocre defensive line, especially with the grit and power Michael Brewster and Justin Boren were supposed to contribute.

Defense

The Good

  • The new crop of linebackers looked aggressive, particularly Brian Rolle.  The Buckeyes arguably haven't had a hard hitter behind the line since A.J. Hawk.
  • Led by punishing tackles, the Buckeyes forced two (ultimately critical) fumbles.

The Bad

  • Ohio State struggled to keep up with the triple option -- supposedly superior athletes were consistently beat on the pitch.

The Ugly

  • Ohio State gave up a big play (an 85-yard touchdown turn and burn pass from Ricky Dobbs to Marcus Curry) for the first time in as long as I can remember.
  • Our worst fears have been realized in the defensive backfield.  Our secondary didn't appear disciplined enough to play man to man with Navy's mid-level receiver crops.
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