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Column: Buckeyes’ main problems against Penn State

Yes, Ohio State won the game against the Nittany Lions. However, a lot of weaknesses were exposed that definitely need to be corrected moving forward.

Penn State v Ohio State Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images

Okay, everyone. Exhale a sigh of relief. Ohio State did, in fact, win on Saturday. However, there were definitely some concerning issues that the Bucks had against Penn State. It was a nerve wracking game— OSU was not playing their best football, and the Nittany Lions took advantage. The four main problems I believe were the pass defense, the lack of scoring in the red zone, the offensive line struggling and the penalties.

Pass Defense

I know there might be some arguments on this one. However, PSU threw for 361 yards against the Bucks, when they only threw for 165 yards against Illinois last week. The Bucks gave up 127 yards alone to star receiver Jahan Dotson. While there weren’t any huge, explosive plays, the short passes really added up.

PSU’s average yards per pass was 10.3. Their average yards per play was 4.9. Penn State had a very fast tempo offense, and gained a couple of yards every quick burst. Our secondary was playing further back from the receivers in order to prevent the big plays, but as a result gave up a lot of 10 or 15-yard passes.

Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford’s longest pass was 32 yards. Additionally, he was 35-of-52 throwing the rock. Obviously the Nittany Lions relied on his arm the majority of the night, because Ohio State’s run defense totally shut them down. They held PSU to 33 yards rushing the entire night.

I do want to highlight how well the Buckeyes’ run defense and D-Line as a whole played: three forced fumbles, sixth defensive touchdown of the season and four sacks. The secondary just needs to cut down on the amount of short passes given up.

Dead Red Zone/Offensive Line Problems

The Buckeyes went 1-for-6 inside the 20-yard line, settling for four field goals of 35 yards or less. It was extremely frustrating to watch all of the missed scoring opportunities. This was mainly due to the ineffectiveness of the run game. This resulted from the offensive line really struggling against Penn State’s defense.

The O-Line could not give TreVeyon Henderson any gaps to wiggle through. That’s why Henderson was shut down in the first half (but he is still TreVeyon Henderson after all, so he returned back to his true form in the second half). Additionally, the short-yardage plays needed to result in touchdowns in the red zone just weren’t happening. Good thing Noah Ruggles is a great kicker.

Returning back to the O-Line problems, it really affected C.J. Stroud, too. They gave Stroud very little time to make plays. He was extremely rushed, which resulted in some overthrows and low throws, too (good thing OSU also happens to be WRU). There were many receptions where receivers were on the ground in order to make a play because of low, rushed throws.

Also, if receivers weren’t open and Stroud had to run, he chose to try and force a throw which often resulted in an overthrow. Stroud had zero rushing yards — a stat that is pretty concerning, but that is a topic for another day (but seriously, why does he refuse to run?).


Last, but CERTAINLY not least, the penalties killed the Bucks. Ohio State had 10 penalties for 74 yards. The Ohio State offense tallied seven penalties in total, with five false starts and two illegal snap calls on redshirt freshman center Luke Wypler. Six different players were flagged. It was uncharacteristically very sloppy play, which resulted in some costly errors.

Henderson had a false start penalty in a goal-line situation at the start of the second half, forcing Ohio State to settle for a field goal. Again, this goes along with the Bucks inability to score in the red zone.

Penn State ranked sixth in scoring defense coming into the game, and their talent certainly showed. The Lions exposed some of Ohio State’s weaknesses. Being optimistic, this could be a blessing for the Buckeyes — they still won the game, and now they have a fairly easy game against Nebraska to try and work on some things moving forward.


Are you concerned that Stroud refuses to run?

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  • 71%
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    No, he still has a cannon so it’s fine
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