Sunday, September 18, 2011

OSU'S PERFORMANCE WAS GOOD, BAD AND A WHOLE LOT OF UGLY

Ohio State tailback Jordan Hall was one of the few bright spots for the Buckeyes in Saturay night's 24-6 at Miami. (AP/Lynne Sladky)
MIAMI — Ohio State's 24-6 loss at Miami (Fla.) on Saturday night had a little good, a little bad, some ugly, and even a bit of embarrassment sprinkled in between.

THE GOOD? Being the eternal optimist that I am, I did actually see some good come out of Saturday night's blowout loss for Ohio State. It was difficult to dissect the tiny diamond amongst the piles and piles of manure, but after digging diligently, I found it in the offensive backfield.

Junior tailback Jordan Hall, who made his first appearance of the 2011 season — after being suspended two games for accepting $200 cash from a charity event — announced his presence with vigor Saturday night, rushing for gains of 13, 13 15 and 12 yards on his first four touches of the game.

Hall finished with a team-best 87 yards rushing on 14 carries — both career highs.

Starting tailback Carlos Hyde also ran with authority in the defeat, gaining 54 yards on 12 totes. He also added a reception for 12 yards.

Hall and Hyde combined for 153 of the Buckeyes' 209 total yards on Saturday night.

With those type of numbers, it makes you wonder why the Buckeyes didn't run the backfield duo until the wheels fell off?

"I think it would have worked (to continue to just run the ball)," Hyde said. "To me, I don't think they were stopping us on the run."

Even fifth-year senior quarterback Joe Bauserman — who you will read more about in the bad and embarrassing portion below — admitted he didn't like the fact that the coaching staff decided to throw deep in Miami territory.

"We were running the ball well there for a little while," Bauserman said. "So there's no point in passing. We got down to the goal line and tried to throw the ball in there and it didn't work."

That takes us to the next chapter of the Buckeyes' meltdown ...

THE BAD? The Buckeyes had opportunities in the second quarter to punch it across the chalk, but ended up having to settle for field goals after Bauserman was unable to complete passes in the end zone.

On a third down and goal at the Miami 5-yard line, Bauserman decided to throw the ball away, instead of letting his receiver Chris Fields try to make a play.

During the next offensive series — this time facing a third and goal at the 6 — Bauserman displayed indecisiveness on a throw to tight end Jake Stoneburner, who was unable to haul in the pass which was thrown hard and behind him.

Sure, many could say Bauserman was just playing it safe and ensuring the Buckeyes of at least three points. But as many know — in big games — threes don't add up to victories too often.

"We shot ourselves in the foot," Bauserman said. "We didn't execute, plain and simple."

Bauserman wasn't the only one that didn't fulfill his end of the deal Saturday night.

"There's a lot of blame to go around the whole team," Fickell said.

That segues us to our next portion of Saturday night's happenings ...

THE UGLY? The Buckeyes' defense, which usually prides itself on sure tackling, looked completely out of sorts at times trying to corral Miami ball carriers in the loss. The Hurricanes rushed for 240 yards — on a ridiculous 5.7 yards per carry — and did it by breaking a plethora of Buckeye tackles all night long.

The Buckeyes defensive front was pushed around for much of the game, and although the OSU secondary played relatively well for the most part — intercepting Miami quarterback Jacory Harris twice, while allowing just 123 yards in the air — the Hurricanes success on the ground was demoralizing.

Miami tailback Lamar Miller had a huge day against the Buckeyes, rushing for 184 yards on 26 carries, including tackle-breaking runs of 54, 19 and 25 yards in the win. The Hurricanes success on the ground was quite reminiscent to the Buckeyes lone loss in 2010 at Wisconsin.

"We can't have those big plays against a good team and expect to come back," OSU linebacker Etienne Sabino said. " We have to tackle better and be sound in our assignments."

THE EMBARRASSING? Four completions on 18 throws for 35 yards. That's what the Buckeyes' passing game mustered against the Hurricanes on Saturday night.

Fickell, who played musical chairs at quarterback on Saturday night between Bauserman and true freshman Braxton Miller, didn't allow either player to get into any type of flow. Especially Miller, who was pulled in the second quarter after just two pass attempts, and again in the third quarter after a botched handoff on a first down.

"We had a plan that series and then we got behind the 8-ball," Fickell said describing why he pulled Miller after the fumbled first down. "We didn't want to put him in a situation where he wasn't comfortable."

So far, the coach's "plan" of how to use Miller appears to be flawed. He played him just three snaps in the first half against Akron, before reinserting him midway into the third quarter of a game where they were well ahead on the scoreboard. Then Fickell decides to sideline him for the entirety of the Toledo game last week.

To make matters worse, Fickell decides to let Miller cut his teeth on a nationally-televised, primetime tilt on the road.

And people can't understand why he turned the ball over twice in the loss? It's obvious that Fickell and his staff wasted away their opening two games against Akron and Toledo — contests where they could've prepared the young quarterback for the meat of the schedule.

Now they must digest an embarrassing loss to an average football team — a game in which the team was clearly unprepared to play.