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Ohio State football: Breaking down the offense vs. Wisconsin

The offense put up 52 points versus a tough Wisconsin defense, here is the complete breakdown.

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Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Cardale Jones

Designed runs Dropbacks Completions Incompletions TD passes Scrambles Overthrown Underthrown Throwaway
4 22 12 5 3 3 1 0 1
Pressured Hit during throw Sacked Pass breakup Batted at LOS Drops Defensive PI Intercepted TD run
2 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0
  • Jones' velocity showed early on his first two passes of the game. His velocity jumps off the screen on short and intermediate throws.
  • On his first touchdown pass to Devin Smith, Jones actually underthrew the football but it was made possible by a great adjustment from D. Smith.
  • It was key to get Jones into a rhythm early and Coach Herman did a great job at putting him in a good place to succeed. He finished the first quarter 5-of-6 passing the ball.
  • At the 12:20 mark of the second quarter, Jones riffled a ball outside the far numbers to Michael Thomas on a curl route. As Gus Johnson noted on the telecast, Jones really does have a JaMarcus Russell type arm.
  • I mentioned in last week's Cardale Jones' piece that he, "Can drive the ball vertically and shows good touch on the deep ball." This was exemplified on his second touchdown throw of the night to Devin Smith. The design on the play was excellent. All season, whenever Elliott would motion out of the backfield into an empty set it would indicate a quarterback draw. This time, Jones performed a "rocker step" which froze the defense, then he lofted a perfect touch pass to D. Smith for the touchdown.
  • Coach Herman did a good job of rolling him out of the pocket and he showed good accuracy while on the run. He has the arm strength to throw the ball on a line even when his feet are not set.

Running Backs

  • Elliott came out of the gate running hard on his first three carries. He set the tone early by delivering blows to defenders with his physical running style.
  • It was a tough catch but Elliott has to make that grab on the swing pass to go up 21-0. He is usually going the other way on swing passes (most likely due to his broken left wrist which he suffered in pre-season) and the pass was slightly off the mark but Elliott makes that catch 8/10 times.

  • They attempted the Wildcat Formation with Elliott for the first time but it did not work, resulting in a big loss on the play.
  • Freshman Curtis Samuel is now a proven back who can spell Elliott in big spots. I would look for more two-back sets with him and Elliott flanking Jones versus Alabama.
  • Bri'onte Dunn ran hard in the fourth quarter. He is another talented player who has been buried on the depth chart since his arrival.

Wide Receivers

  • As noted above, D. Smith made an excellent adjustment to the football on his first touchdown reception on Jones' underthrown ball. He boxed out the defender and put himself in position to go up and catch the football. Per Pro Football Focus, " On the field for only 11 pass plays, Smith was targeted four times, converting all of them into either a first down (one) or touchdown (three)." He made another great adjustment on the ball for his third touchdown reception.
  • Evan Spencer ran a beautiful stop-and-go pattern but Jones threw the ball to the inside, rather than the outside shoulder. It would have been a touchdown if the pass was on target.
  • The throwback pass from Jalin Marshall to Jones was a creative play-call but the backside defenders did a good job of staying home on the play.
  • I thought the receivers made plays after the catch and none of the perimeter players had any drops.

Tight Ends

  • Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett were not used in the passing game. They kept the ball on the perimeter for the majority of the game.
  • Heuerman and Vannett were solid in the running game, where they have been magnificent all season.

Offensive Line

  • The offensive line put the entire Wisconsin front seven on roller skates on Elliott's 81-yard touchdown run (although Jacoby Boren may have gotten away with a hold).

  • The line allowed only one sack, two pressures and zero quarterback hits. They opened holes in the running game and kept Jones upright for the entire game.

Defensive and Special Teams Tidbits

  • Michael Bennett arguably played his best game as a Buckeye. He was dominant from the first snap of the game until the last. He was consistent in all facets of the game and played with extreme emotion. Pro Football Focus credited Bennett with three sacks, three quarterback hurries, three tackles and four stops
  • Cameron Johnston had another great night, where two of his punts were downed inside the 5-yard line.
  • Kyle Clinton did a great job on his directional kick-offs, putting the ball into the corner where it forced the runner to hug the sidelines.
  • Doran Grant continued to have success this week and he did so by shutting down Wisconsin's leading receiver, Alex Erickson. Grant was targeted seven times, he broke up four passes, allowed one reception and intercepted two passes on the night. He will have his biggest test of the season versus Alabama's Amari Cooper.
  • Joey Bosa was his usual self as a pass rusher and he played excellent against the run. Against lesser competition, Bosa had been losing his gap control, attempting to make plays on his own. He stuck to the plan, which led to five tackles, five additional stops, three quarterback hurries and one quarterback hit, per Pro Football Focus.
  • The defense played as fast and as physical as I have seen since Coach Meyer has been at Ohio State.
  • Here are the full Pro Football Focus defensive grades vs. the Badgers, if you are into that type of stuff.