The Buckeyes beat the Indiana Hoosiers last night, 33-14. They were expected to win, and by about the actual margin of victory. And, in the Big 10 as in any league, conference wins on the road are to be savored.
As with most games, however, last night’s contest saw some positives and some negatives. The positives included scoring four TDs (all of which involved Terrelle Pryor) and, for the most part, bottling up Indiana’s offense. It appeared that the Ohio State coaches called a few more planned options and running plays for Pryor, and they were very effective because Pryor is a tremendously gifted runner. He also showed his trademark elusiveness and ability to scramble, attempting to turn a blocking breakdown and busted play into a positive gain (although some of the throws that resulted could have used a bit more zip). I liked that Ohio State spread the ball among its receivers, including a touchdown throw to the fullback, and I thought Brandon Saine ran the ball effectively. On defense, the Ohio State front four once more won the battle of the trenches. Indiana moved the ball with relative ease last week against Michigan; this week (with the exception of one first-half drive and a touchdown against Ohio State’s subs at the end of the game) they struggled to gain yards and move the chains.
The negatives were Ohio State’s inability to put the game away in the first half and, in my view at least, less than stalwart play in the defensive backfield. Although the missed field goals were troubling — particularly because Coach Jim Tressel’s scheme relies so heavily on the kicking game — I was disappointed Ohio State needed to try those field goals at all. On many plays, too, Indiana receivers appeared to be open; they just weren’t hit by the IU quarterback due to pressure. It makes me wonder, again, if Ohio State would have trouble with a team that can pass block more effectively. Other negatives were a botched effort to run the two-minute drill in the fourth quarter and some poor tackling on kick-offs.
So, the Buckeyes seem to be making progress, but there are things to work on. Next up is Wisconsin, Saturday afternoon at the ‘Shoe. I’ll be there.