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Across the Border: Ohio State

For the final time this season, Massey from Buckeye Commentary drops by to give his opinions on Michigan's game.

What I saw: Ohio State’s big play offense, which had been largely absent for the entire season. Wells had two runs of more than 50 yards, Boom Herron tore off a 50-yarder, and both Pryor and Boeckman threw passes of more than 45 yards. In fact, the Buckeyes’ big plays were all that was necessary during a two-play, 92-yard drive that only took 45 seconds. Throw in the often disciplined, and sometimes suspended Ray Small’s third quarter punt return and you saw a more offensive bursts than Ohio State had produced all year.

I saw the Ohio State defense have its hardest hitting game of the year. Sheridan was constantly getting drilled and even seemed to be knocked out of the game briefly (although Feagin’s appearance could have been planned).

What I didn’t see: Michigan’s offense was did not have much success but I did not see the mistake laden productions that they have put on in the past. Michigan had one nice drive, but was otherwise stifled by the Ohio State defense. The Wolverines’ offense was not good, but they hardly shot themselves in the foot (relatively speaking). I did not see repeated fumbles or penalties, which tells me that they were prepared but totally outmanned.

I did not see a great game from Pryor. He receives so much praise that it is easy to only remember his flashes of brilliance. But a closer inspection of his performance, reveals some great plays – the 3rd quarter scramble and pass to Sanzenbacher and the deep ball to Hartline – mixed in with plenty of poor plays – the interception and holding the ball too long and taking some sacks. I understand that he was really pumped at the beginning of the game, which resulted in some high throws but his overall passing performance cannot be termed anything other than a work in progress.

I also did not see a super offensive line play from Ohio State and their play was certainly frustrated by Michigan’s front four. As an Ohio State fan you have to be excited by the dynamic runners on offense (Wells, Pryor, and Herron) but nervous about the prospects of the offensive line they run behind.
Who I watched: I was interested in the Michigan lines. I wanted to see if the defensive line would be able to consistently get into the OSU backfield and if the offensive line would be able to push around the underachieving Buckeyes’ front four.

In comparison, the defensive line played much better. As mentioned, Ohio State had some big plays but, in general, the Michigan front four played as well. I know that sounds crazy, but most of the Buckeyes’ long plays were the result of a bad linebacker and/or secondary play. If you watched Herron’s run, the safety is in position and gets burned near the line of scrimmage.

The Michigan offensive line had no such success. When a teams gains less than 200 yards there cannot be good offensive line play. The Ohio State defensive got pushed around on the Michigan scoring drive but won that battle the rest of the game.

What I expect next year: Michigan will be improved; they have to be. But I wonder if the record will be markedly better. I do not think they will be 3-9 again, but I could see 6-6 or 7-5. To me, it seems like that Rodriguez will play Feagin more or even opt for one of the incoming freshman quarterbacks. The upside for Threet or Sherdan does not seem to be there. All the Wolverine skill position players will be back. If they can get decent offensive line they could put up some reasonable stats.

On defense, I am less sure what to expect from the Wolverines. With three seniors on the defensive line (with 82 combined starts) along with draft-eligible Brandon Graham, the potential for an entirely new d-line is good, which is bad news. The linebacker corps is young and really seemed to struggle as the year went along, but they have an off-season to get it together. I think their secondary will only get better with the subtraction of Trent and Harrison. I think they are overrated. Put Cissoko back there and hope that some safeties appear on the scene in spring practice.

One thing I do not expect next season is to beat Michigan by 35 points again. I do not know if I will ever see that again.

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“Across the Border: Ohio State”

  1. Blogger kevin Says:

    "it seems like that Rodriguez will play Feagin more or even opt for one of the incoming freshman quarterbacks."

    Feagin is not an option. He was out of the QB rotation permanently the moment the last second ticked off the clock. Unless Tate and Beaver's arms fall off, Feagin is now and forever a slot receiver.