Week 2 of the Ohio State football schedule pitted the Buckeyes against the Red Wolves of Arkansas State. Butch Jones brought his team into Ohio Stadium for its paycheck and its beating, the latter did happen, although it was at times a bit more annoying than expected. How dare the Red Wolves not roll over and allow Ohio State to play every guy on the roster by the end of the third quarter!
Here are the things that yucked my yum Saturday in the Buckeyes’ 45-12 win over Arkansas State. (And remember, much of this is a kernel of truth saturated in 36 layers of sarcasm. I won’t say not to “@” me about it, but at least keep that in mind if you do.)
Don’t Be Unsportsmanlike
After the first touchdown, Xavier Johnson committed a completely unnecessary penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Johnson, the hero of last week’s game, is a guy who is supposed to be seen as a leader on the team, and although passion is a good thing to show, there’s no need for Goliath to antagonize David. Just take away David’s stones and pummel him good, and that’s it. The former walk-on should know better than that. The only good thing about that penalty was that it gave me something to write about the opening drive in this column. So, thanks Xavier, I guess.
Penalties: Still Bad
A week after committing seven penalties for 75 yards against Notre Dame, the Buckeyes apparently thought that was an area where more was necessary. Ohio State committed nine fouls for 85 yards against Arkansas State, and that would have been more but a Red Wolves receiver was able to haul in a pass despite being interfered with, and two fouls were committed on one play with Arkansas State only allowed to take one of them.
One of the most egregious fouls was a Teradja Mitchell leaping violation on a punt play. Now, I will give Mitchell a bit of a break, since every player jumps to try to block a punt and not every player who does so gets hit low and flipped over the top of the shield like that, which makes it a pretty obvious call. It extended the Red Wolves’ drive, as did one of multiple Denzel Burke pass interference penalties. That isn’t to say that the referees were calling a consistently tight game. After all, Emeka Egbuka was hit three yards out of bounds a drive after those earlier fouls I mentioned.
Several of Ohio State’s penalties were pre-snap, like last week. But this week it was the defense jumping offside that was the bigger issue, whereas last week it was Dawand Jones trying to get a head start.
Harrison Got Hosed
Marvin Harrison Jr. had a terrific game, with seven catches on nine targets for 184 yards and three touchdowns. However, it should have been four and a crime was committed in stealing one of them from him. Harrison caught the ball short of the goal line, dove, and the ball crossed the plane just before it was punched out of his hands. The ruling on the field was incomplete, but the replay seemed just as conclusive as the live action.
Since Harrison did not go to ground while making the catch, the play should have been dead once the front of the ball broke the plane of the goal line, which it apparently did — if cameras are at all to be trusted. He did not have to “make a football move,” because he already did that when he pulled the ball in and dove for the goal line. Diving is a football move. The replay was inexcusably not looked at by the referee on the field and the Buckeyes kicked a field goal.
This is what happens when you hire an officiating crew from the dollar store.
Maybe Burke is…Bad Now?
A lot is expected of cornerback Denzel Burke after a breakout season last year. It’s only been two games so far, but Burke doesn’t look like the same lockdown cover man as last year. He’s been repeatedly burned in space, has allowed catches when his coverage is good, and he’s panicked and taken pass interference penalties when he’s got things pretty well handled.
Other than looking a bit more bulked up than last year, I haven’t seen any physical reason for this. Yeah, Notre Dame is expected to make plays, but Arkansas State is not a team that should be able to pick on your lockdown corner for chunk plays. His penalties were a problem, and he also gave up a big play right after the Noah Ruggles field goal — the one above that should have been a Harrison touchdown…Grrr! — that allowed the Red Wolves to pull those points right back on their next drive.
Muff and Stuff
It was late, with lots of backups in, but the muffed punt late in the game was another aggravation. There was insufficient communication between the return man and his blockers, and the ball hit a Buckeye and was recovered by Arkansas State, giving the visitors another opportunity to get points. It was the only turnover of the first couple of games, but it happened and I don’t have to like it.
Two and Counting
I’ll let everyone else proclaim the defense has been fixed. Sure, it’s been more physical and has been much more reliable through two games against the run than last year. It remains to be seen if that trend holds after Notre Dame’s home loss to Marshall, which might indicate the Irish are less good than expected. The issue that galls me is the number of four- and five-star athletes running around out there not taking the ball away.
Jim Knowles’ defense has forced no turnovers through two games, and one of them is allegedly the easiest one on the schedule. I realize it’s only been two games, but if the Silver Bullets are indeed back, let’s see some forced fumbles and interceptions.
Those are the things that burned my bacon on Saturday. What ticked you off? Let me know in the comments section below. Let’s get our collective gripe on!