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Position Grades: Ohio State

(Sigh) Let’s get this over with.

NCAA Football: Penn State at Ohio State Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

You will never believe this, but writing these posts are a hell of a lot more difficult to do after a loss like yesterday’s. Somebody’s gotta do this, though, so let’s just go ahead and rip this band-aid off as quickly as possible.

Quarterback: B+

One of the few positions that will get a good grade in this one. Trace threw some 50/50 balls that came down in the right hands (or at least won tie-breakers, looking at you, DeAndre Thompkins) and also threw a lovely fade into the end zone for DaeSean Hamilton early in the game to put the team up 14-0. He also rushed for 49 yards and a touchdown to go with his 192 yards and two passing TD’s. Given the circumstances (i.e. an offensive line that couldn’t hold their blocks for longer than a nanosecond by the fourth quarter), Trace fared pretty well overall.

Running Back: C

Saquon Barkley’s 36-yard touchdown run is the only thing keep this grade from being even worse (his opening kickoff return for a touchdown will be factored into the special teams grade). Barkley was held to 44 yards on 21 carries as it seemed there were several grey jerseys in the backfield whenever Trace would hand it off or try to pitch to him. Unfortunately, with the offensive line being what it is and with opposing defenses keying in on Saquon, you’ll just have to accept the fact that at this point, he is a very boom-or-bust performer. The booms had certainly outweighed all the busts up until this game.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: B+

DaeSean Hamilton and DeAndre Thompkins both scored for PSU, and Mike Gesicki was the receiving leader with six catches for 57 yards. It’s truly unfortunate that Gesicki was not targeted on a fade in the end zone late in the game when PSU was inside the OSU 10-yard line up 35-27 and failed to punch it in, settling for a field goal instead.

Offensive Line: D

I seriously flirted with giving this unit the first-ever ‘F’ grade in this series (at least, since I took over a couple years ago) but for some reason, decided to hold off. Don’t ask why. This unit got flat-out manhandled by perhaps the best defensive line in college football right now, and showed that they still have a long ways to go in order to become a unit that you can rely upon, no matter who the opposing side is trotting out in the trenches.

Defensive Line: D+

Curtis Cothran and Shareef Miller recorded sacks, but otherwise this unit had a difficult time getting pressure on J.T. Barrett, particularly later on in the game when OSU was dominating in both sides of the trenches.

Linebacker: C

Manny Bowen recorded nine total tackles, and Koa Farmer wasn’t too far behind with seven of them, plus a fumble recovery on Ohio State’s first possession that set up PSU’s second touchdown of the day. Still, much like the D-line, this group was unable to exert any pressure on J.T. Barrett and the image of Jason Cabinda getting beat over the top on the OSU’s go-ahead TD drive is something I am still trying like hell to erase from my memory.

Secondary: D

Much like the O-line, I seriously pondered giving this group an ‘F’, but backed off after seeing Marcus Allen was once again the tackles leader (10 total), and the fact that you can’t expect the secondary to cover receivers like blankets for 6-7 seconds while nobody in the front seven is getting any kind of pressure on the opposing quarterback. Shout-out to Troy Apke for a quality pass breakup, as well. That being said, JT Barrett’s 33-for-39 passing for 328 yards and four TD’s (including a perfect 13-for-13 and two TD’s in the fourth quarter) speaks for itself.

Special Teams: B

Saquon’s opening kickoff fireworks sure were nice, as was Koa Farmer’s return later on that set up a short field for the offense to reach the end zone from (and caused a meltdown on the sidelines from Urban Meyer, who thought he was in the clear with his ‘don’t kick it to Barkley’ strategy. Unfortunately, Blake Gillkin’s punt getting blocked brings down this grade, especially when you consider how it shifted momentum for the Buckeyes.