Sometimes there are games, as readers of my blog have heard me say before, that just need to be flushed. Sure, there is always something you can learn, but in this week’s case, the problems were the same that we have had all year and unfortunately the solutions are the same. You can watch all the film you want, but that is not going to build your defensive line depth. You can watch all the film you want but that is not necessarily going to fix the issues in the pass game. The Beavers need more time to recruit to the system they are implementing, so while there will be changes week to week, there is not going to necessarily be a light that goes on and all of the sudden the players are totally different than what we have seen the first six weeks.
That being said, there are some fixable items that can be addressed and at least give OSU a better shot. There are also some things that seem to be popular complaints that I think were not actually bad, just an unfortunate byproduct of getting “boat-raced” out in the desert.
- The Fixable:
There were a few plays where Arizona felt like they had players parachute into the game. Defensively we can make sure that there is at least someone there. People want to get on Larry Scott for that big pass play on the first drive, but he was there and he was in great position. There is nothing anyone could have done with that good of a throw and that huge and fast of a receiver. This was not a Victor Bolden type body on an under-thrown ball. Larry had great coverage and it was just a great offensive play. 8-10 that coverage wins.No a few minutes later, when Solomon under-threw a ridiculously wide open receiver is something we can fix. That is just communication and knowing who has what in what formation. In fact, that is a bit of film where you can point it out and the safeties and corners have it the first time.
Offensively, can we not call screens in our own red-zone? I have issues with this kind of call in general, which I will get into later, but for this team, and these players, that is not going to work. Of OSU’s only 3 interceptions this year, two of them were on screen plays. Basically, the defense is most likely in some kind of man protection because they are bringing pressure. The line is trying to hold blocks and then let them go (which can always be dicey) and it usually entails the QB backpedaling a lot and throwing off their back foot over pressure.
All of those scenarios do not play into out strength and thus have lead to two terrible plays. Against Weber State, it was fine. Against Arizona it was a nail in the coffin.
- The Unfixable:
Let’s be honest, we are not going to all the sudden have Trevone Boykin at QB. We are not going to be throwing dimes all over the field and start really hurting teams through the air. Unless there is someone better on the bench, we are going to have variations of the passing game we saw on Saturday. Some days we will match up well and get some big plays. We matched up better against Stanford than we did against Arizona for sure. We may improve a bit over the year, but after six games, no one is just a freshman anymore and no one is going to all the sudden be a Heisman Hopeful. Which is ok. It doesn’t make me excited about getting a ton of wins, but it is also the byproduct of massive philosophical shifts in how OSU does everything.We are also not going to be able to get a ton of pressure on the QB. Maybe against the ducks, but in our remaining games, there are a lot of solid offensive lines out there. Cal, Utah, UCLA and WSU all have better offensive lines than Arizona does. That is not going to be something that gets easier. Our defense will need our offense to put pressure on our opponents but that is not going to happen just because who we have are going to get better. I have heard some people talk negatively about Peko, which I find sad. Peko has been a man, he just has not had as much support. It is not hard to isolate and deal with one defensive lineman. It is much more difficult if you have two or three that can hurt you. The same Kyle Peko that was tossing Michigan linemen around is still playing, they are just not going at him and they are doubling and tripling him.
- The Non-Problems
I have noticed a lot of people mentioning that we should have ran more. With Storm Woods averaging 6 yards per carry and Ryan Nall looking like a devastating running back, many were calling for more and more running. As a rushing fan myself, I am always in favor of more of that, but when you are down 27-7 early in the second quarter, all the sudden your options for running are limited. And really, rushing wasn’t the issue.The first drive they got 9 yards on two passes and one rush. Maybe the first play could have been a run, but 3-6 is a tough down to run on, especially early in the game when the pass is open and the defense is loaded to stop the run.
The next drive OSU ran twice for 14 yards and passed 3 times for 6. So there is a legit option to run more there, but OSU was down 7-0 and it looked like they needed to turn the tide. They didn’t and Arizona scored on the next drive making it 10-0. OSU responded with 3 straight runs to Ryan Nall who got 9 yards. That was what we wanted. We may gripe about the runs called or whatever, but they were pounding the rock, trying to turn the tide of the game and establish something on offense since passing wasn’t working. After that 3 and out, Arizona scored another field goal making it 13 – 0
The ensuing drive OSU got it done. They ran more than they passed (7-5) and drove down for the score to make it 13-7. Momentum had sifted… for about 30 seconds. Arizona gets a 70 yard pass. 20-7. The Beavers get the ball back and get two rushes for about 7 yards, then a 15 yard penalty puts them deep in their own territory. A bad pass leads to the fated Screen Call and boom, an interception and two yard TD later it is 27-7 and running the ball is out the window.
We may want more runs, but based on what Arizona was showing and where the game was going, I don’t blame Baldwin and staff for their game calls. At some point you have to be able to make basic throws, make your blocks, hit the hole and be efficient with what is called. Those first three drives, there was nothing called that wasn’t open or able to get yards. They just didn’t and coaches can call whatever they want, but the players have to make those plays. I know from discussions within the team that the coaches are VERY conscious of what the players CAN do and what they ARE doing well. I don’t like the screen calls deep in your own territory not because schematically they are bad, but because this 2015 version of the OSU Beavers struggles with them.
We can be upset, as we should. We can start talking about where blame should go and looking for answers which is totally normal. But sometimes we need to step back and be honest with what we have. OSU is not going to be able to pass well. They are going to face defenses that load 8 or 9 in the box and dare us to throw. We are going to have a hard time running blocking 6 on 8 all game long. Our defense is going to need more production from the offense because they are not going to be able to just stay out there and dial up stops all day long. The defensive line is not going to all the sudden develop more talented depth. OSU has a small window of error moving forward and while there are some winnable games, there are going to be potentially more blow outs like this. That may not be acceptable to many, but it is reality and until the coaches get a few years of what they want to see from recruiting, from preparation and just time with the offense and defense, reality will sometimes be cruel to us.
We can want the moon, but wanting doesn’t make it ours.