Ohio State – Colorado: notes and thoughts

Photo courtsey of Stephen A. Wolfe - Flickr Creative Commons

Sure. Colorado wasn’t very good.

But after the rancid Ohio State performance from a week ago, like many Buckeye fans, I was only cautiously optimistic about this afternoon’s game against Colorado.

Colorado entered the contest on a 17 game road losing streak and had hobbled to a lackluster 1-2 start this season. Pound for pound: they simply were not as good as Ohio State.

But would we see the Buckeyes who struggled so mightily against Toledo and Miami? Even a bad Colorado team could beat those Buckeyes. In Braxton Miller’s first career start as the Ohio State signal caller, Oho state had an abysmal opening offensive series. The team had a quick 3 and out where the third down snap was fumbled. It looked like a return to past struggles. “Maybe Miller’s game isn’t ready yet,” I thought.

Colorado’s offensive response was equally unimpressive, ending in a shanked punt which gave the Buckeyes good field position.

From that point forward, this game was never in question; the Buckeyes were not seriously challenged. Throughout most of the first half, Colorado would struggle to move the ball. As the game wore on, the Buffalo’s passing game opened up. The secondary concerned me at times with the ease with which Colorado was able to move the ball.

The strength of this Buckeye defense is clearly the line. Even with the absence of standout Nathan Williams, who missed his third consecutive game with a knee injury, the line was able to pressure Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen.

Defensive end John Simon was a major player in terms of pressuring Hansen. Hansen did a very good job of alluding tacklers, avoiding sacks, and creating yards on broken plays. On Colorado’s first scoring drive of the game – a 95 yard drive, no less – much of the yardage gained by the Buffalos was through broken plays.

Braxton Miller performed well this afternoon. It is easy to draw comparisons to Terrelle Pryor, in the context of seeing mobile OSU quarterbacks, but I feel this is an over simplification. Miller runs differently.

Pryor had great speed, but was most effective running in the open field. Miller is more elusive. There were times in this game when the defense was in pursuit, and when there was no doubt that Miller was about to go down; and then, magically, he would get free. His running style reminded me more of Denard Robinson than Pryor. Certainly I’m not saying that Miller is at Robinson’s level at this point, there are just some similarities.

Passing, Miller completed 5 of 13 passes. The first completion didn’t come until the 9:44 mark in the second quarter to tight end Reid Fragel. It was a short completion, but after the receptions drought, the crowd gave a booming cheer after the pass.

While 5/13 still leaves lots of room for growth, Miller also had at least 3 or 4 passes dropped. On one second half drive, consecutive Miller passes were dropped. Aside from a 1st quarter pass that was thrown a bit behind a receiver, Miller never threw a pass that was in serious danger of being intercepted. He threw two touchdowns, both to Devin Smith. The first of which was a great pass, catching Smith in stride in the end zone.

Colorado has now lost 18 consecutive road games, and for a reason.

They’re bad.

They turned the ball over, they were weak on special teams. In the first half, when they continued to load the box, and when all Ohio State had going for them was the running game, Colorado was unable to slow the Bucks down.

With all of that said, the Buckeyes have far more positives to take away from this game than they have over the past couple of weeks. Jordan Hall has continued to be very impressive on the ground, and is showing to be a threat on special teams as well.