Really, that's all we can do with this game. I'm already working on the game wrap as the fourth quarter and we've accomplished less than nothing. You felt it from the first "uh-oh" moment, when Waynelle Gravesande had a blocker shoved into him (apparently a legal play, unlike tripping over the 40 yard line which Michigan did last year) resulting in a fumbled punt. Had that play not happened, we would have been down seven with the ball in good field position after a big stop. Instead, the Buckeyes had new life, drove down, and scored.
It was over after that.
This was an embarrassment on the level with last year's trip to Madison, yet I would not be surprised if Purdue pulled off a win in Champaign next week. It seems like Hope's teams are establishing a pattern of playing a stinker against a MAC team each year and getting embarrassed on the road in one conference game, yet looking night and day better in the following games.
I didn't expect to win today. I thought it was a possibility with a banged up Ohio State defense and much of the same defensive line that hassled Terrelle Pryor all game last year. I thought we would at least be competitive. Instead, we had guys out of position and safeties that might as well have not been on the field at all for all the good they did. I don't understand how Pryor can roll out and it looks like we have 7 guys on defense, but when Rob Henry rolled it looked like Ohio State had 15. This is the first time our secondary has been totally exposed, and it was by a guy that is not a good quarterback. Yes, he threw for about 300 yards in the first half, but any quarterback can make throws to receivers with no one near them.
Offensively we were shoved around by a defense that was bigger, stronger, and faster. There is no other way to say it. Keith Carlos and Rob Henry couldn't get the read option going when their defensive line was blowing through the middle on every play. Both Henry and Sean Robinson barely had any time to throw, and when Henry did roll out his receivers weren't open. Al-Terek McBurse is starting to border on being a bust. It's easy to shut down an offense that way.
The positives are very few. Cody Webster had a good game punting for a 45 yard average with three inside the 20, but it did little with a tired defense that let receivers wander 15 yards down field with impunity. Ricardo Allen, Will Lucas, and Ryan Kerrigan played with some fire. I liked the work Robert Maci did in the third quarter, but again, one or two guys making a handful of plays against Ohio State isn't enough.
We can't take anything away from this. We need to just burn the tape and readjust for next week in a critical game against Illinois. We bounced back after a similar loss last year in Madison, so we can do it again. We don't know how bad Henry's finger injury is, so we may have to do it with a true freshman quarterback. They aren't nearly as unbeatable as Ohio State though.
Once again, it is up to the coaching staff to turn this thing around. It has had its good moments and bad moments over the first 19 games of Danny Hope's tenure. The redshirts of Gabe Holmes and Reggie Pegram were burned today, so they are more players we can use if they are willing to make a difference. I can't help but think you can't hide from a loss like this, however. I am not ready to join the "Fire Hope" bandwagon, but a game like this certainly raises a lot of questions.
There is no question Ohio State is better than us. They were better than us last year though and we rose tot he challenge. Today we were just dominated in a fashion few expected.
For now, we just need to get one more win before the Indiana game. This season is about improvement, and has been for some time. Get the two wins you need and get to a bowl game. That is still very possible.