Overall that was a terrible performance by the defense. Even when we were only winning three or four games a year in the early part of this decade you could still count on the defense to keep it close. The offensive clinic the Buckeyes put on was unlike any I can remember seeing an opponent put on the Lions. That is unsettling to me. If we need to count on the offense to win games in a shootout then we may not win many more ball games this year.
Maybe losing Jared Odrick was bigger than we thought. Our first game against an opponent that runs right at you without Odrick and we got steamrolled. The veteran offensive line of the Buckeyes pushed our young defensive line around all day long. Chris Wells finished with 137 yards on 25 carries and Maurice Wells finished with 60 yards on 13 carries. They couldn't get any pressure on Boeckman all night long allowing him all kinds of time to find open receivers. I was really disappointed in this group and this was a major factor in the loss.
I thought the linebackers played a decent game overall. But it was nothing great. The Ohio State play calling did a good job of keeping them off balance. Connor and Lee were all over the place making tackles, but nobody could get to Boeckman on the blitz.
I'm not sure what to think about the third linebacker spot. It seems like the coaches just can't settle on a player to put in there. Early in the year it was Sales and Bowman until Bowman got hurt. Then the walk on Josh Hull started seeing a lot of snaps. Bowman is working his way back from the ankle sprain and seeing more snaps each week. He was the only player on defense able to get to Boeckman all night. But then on Saturday we started seeing Chris Colasanti on the field while the game was still in question. His snaps were definitely more than just garbage time. So to review, at the third linebacker spot we have a Junior that has struggled for playing time his entire career, a walk on sophomore, a redshirt freshman, and a true freshman. Mind you none of these guys have played really bad. I'm just wondering why we haven't been able to settle on one guy yet. I think the future of the linebacker position is probably Bowman and Colasanti.
It's a small consolation, but let it be known that Dan Connor vastly outplayed James Laurinaitis. Granted, Connor was on the field a lot more than Laurinaitis (74 offensive plays for OSU vs. 49 for PSU), it doesn't matter. Penn State averaged 6.0 yards per carry to Ohio State's 4.2. Connor had 18 tackles. Laurinaitis had two, both assisted, both ten yards down field. So basically Connor was involved in the tackle in 24% of the plays he was on the field. Laurinaitis was involved in less than 5% of his plays. Connor also had a TFL and an interception. Connor now has 94 tackles on the year to Launinaitis' 66. I have been saying all along that Laurinaitis is overrated. Saturday night did nothing to change that perception. The only difference between Laurinaitis and Connor in Laurinaitis' favor is that his team is 9-0. If he wins a single post season award over Connor it will be a crime.
Horrible. Absolutely horrible. They couldn't cover Woody Hayes if Jim Tressel dug him out of the ground and pushed him around in a wheel chair. Justin King does not look like the shutdown cornerback we saw last year. The thing that makes me scratch my head is that he hasn't just slipped back from being great to being average. He's terrible now. He routinely gets beat by several steps. He doesn't turn his head back to look for the ball. And he can't tackle. Instead of wrapping up a ball carrier now he just throws his body into them trying to knock them down. On some really pathetic attempts he just throws himself on the ground in front of them hoping to trip them like a speed bump. His play is almost single handedly why this defense has struggled the past two weeks. The coaches need to look good and hard at his play and ask themselves if he gives them the best opportunity to succeed. At this point I would almost prefer A.J. Wallace, Devin Fentress or Knowledge Timmons. Heck, I'm even willing to give Brendan Perretta a shot at this point. I can't see any scenario in which King goes pro at the end of this season. At this point I don't know if that's a good thing or bad thing.
Lydell Sargeant wasn't much better. When your starting cornerback has 10 tackles in the game it's a pretty good indication your opponents are picking on him. At least with Sargeant he can wrap a guy up and bring him down.
Mark Rubin got the start over Tony Davis who did not play at all. Like the third linebacker spot, this is a position that bothers me. We were told in the preseason that the move of Davis to safety was brilliant. Then Spencer Ridenhour transferred and Davis got hurt and now here we are starting a converted wide receiver while we struggle mightily at corner where Davis played last year.
Thank God they let A.J. Wallace start returning some kickoffs. In the early part of the year we had a very dynamic kick return game when it was Wallace and Kinlaw back there. But then as it became apparent that Kinlaw was going to have to carry more of the load at running back they pulled him off and put Derrick Williams back there and for whatever reason made him the primary kick return man. On nine kick returns this year he has averaged 18.2 yards per return. Wallace has averaged 32.5 on his 13 returns. I had explained all of this in my review last week before the post accidentally got deleted. Hopefully now the coaches see they have to get the ball to Wallace going forward.
Jeremy Boone had an off day only averaging 38.5 yards per punt. Kevin Kelly did ok making his one field goal attempt from 27 yards and averaging 70 yards on his kickoffs with a touchback. The kick return coverage also did well after struggling most of the season.
That was the worst defensive game plan I can remember seeing Tom Bradley ever running. Hmmm...let's not blitz in the first half and drop the secondary back ten yards off the line of scrimmage. Is it any wonder that Boeckman picked us apart all night?
In contrast we saw the Ohio State cornerbacks up in the faces of our receivers throughout the whole game. And it was pretty obvious which offense had trouble moving the ball. Why can't we do that? Are we really that concerned about getting beat deep? Are we dropping them off to cover for Mark Rubin? Someone please explain this to me?
Something has to change right quick with the secondary management. The current model is broken and doesn't work. This was supposed to be a strength of our team. Now it is our biggest weakness.