"We came in with a game plan and then it didn't work as well as we wanted it to. Go with what works. We like running tight zone right up the middle. Even a weird defense you don't see -- our tight zone works great against four down -- but we think it can work good against anything. We'll run it against a Bear, an odd team. That is actually what we were wanting as an offensive line on the sideline, just run it up the middle, run our base plays. It ended up working."
Ohio State senior offensive tackle Taylor Decker is well aware that the Buckeyes aren't playing as well as most projected them to coming into the 2015 season. After capping off a brilliant 2014 campaign where the 'Slobs' started off slow and finished as one of the best units in the country, expectations were sky high for this season. With another slow start, the offensive line will have to yet again improve if Ohio State wants to make another run in the postseason.
Decker discussed some of the varying factors to explain the reasoning behind the line's rough play so far. One of the reasons is that the line prefers to run the ball power-style, with Ezekiel Elliott rumbling his way to victory. Another was the short week (though not as an excuse from Decker directly) along with the Bear front that Virginia Tech used in week one.
"I felt like that Michigan State game, honestly, it took my confidence away. I was just thinking about other things and I just felt like, when I thought about my teammates more than myself that's what made me take it more serious and prepare more because I wanted to do it for them more than I wanted to do it for me."
Gareon Conley's first start came in 2014, but that didn't go as well as he originally planned. After stepping in for an injured Eli Apple, the Spartans' offense targeted Conley for much of the first half as they frequently took advantage of the unproven Conley. Eventually, Apple was forced to go in and play, which (understandably) knocked Conley's confidence off quite a bit. Now, however, with a new number and a starting spot to boot, Conley is seizing the moment that he thought he could have ever since he became a Buckeye.
The one-time Michigan commit has been playing very well this season in his first season as a starter opposite Eli Apple. While many of the teams look to throw away from Apple, Conley isn't an ideal option for opposing teams to throw to either, which he proved with his first interception against Hawaii last Saturday. Now, it's Conley's spot to lose.
"He played actually pretty good on Saturday. He disrupted a lot. He feels great about himself. He's been working his tail off. I don't know how much improvement he needs to make. He just needs to continue to get better. He's going to play at a very high level."
Joey Bosa made his return to the field this past Saturday after being suspended for the Virginia Tech game. The junior defensive end started the game at defensive end and was backed up by Sam Hubbard (who filled in nicely when Bosa was out). It's pretty well known that Bosa was upset about not being able to play against Virginia Tech, but he got the chance to bring back the shrug against the Rainbow Warriors.
The biggest threat to opposing teams is not only Bosa himself, but his his presence and necessity to force so much attention on stopping him. That sort of strategy usually just means that Darron Lee, Joshua Perry, or Raekwon McMillan is going to make a play. Many of Ohio State's players talked about the benefit of having Bosa back on the field and that his mere presence was huge for both confidence and execution from the defensive side of the ball.
"He comes with that energy and enthusiasm that you want in a running back. He motivates the offensive line."
Former Buckeye running back Carlos Hyde, also known as El Guapo, made his first start of the NFL season and is now the leading rusher in the NFL after one week of play. The San Fransisco 49ers rode Hyde all night en route to a 20-3 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. On one touchdown run, Hyde channeled his former teammate Braxton Miller, and hit the spin move on a pursuing defender on his way for a touchdown run.
It's been a long time coming for Hyde, as he progressed last season under Frank Gore as his backup. Now, it's Hyde's time to shine, and he took full advantage of the moment on Monday night. It's always awesome to see former Ohio State players making their mark on the next level, and seeing Hyde run circles around the opposing defense was great to watch again.