Gridiron Report Card
The Spectrum grades the Bulls following 40-20 loss at No. 2 Ohio State
Published: Tuesday, September 3, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 01:09
The Good: Sophomore quarterback Joe Licata played admirably in front of the first big crowd of his career. Starting your sophomore season – after only starting four games as a redshirt freshman – on the road against the No. 2 team in the country is as tough as it gets.
But Licata looked sharp, accurate and poised in the pocket, which is the type of player Bulls fans have been expecting. He had his most success when relying on senior receiver Alex Neutz. Nine of Licata’s 15 completions went to the Bulls’ top receiver as well as one of his two touchdown throws.
The Bad: The biggest mistake of the entire game from the hands of Licata was a botched snap on fourth and goal at Ohio State’s 1-yard line in the fourth quarter. Such a simple mistake is unacceptable, especially late in the game. It is worth noting Licata took full blame for the error. He also threw an interception in the second quarter, but the ball was tipped off the hands of sophomore running back Devin Campbell, so he can’t take the full blame for that.
Running backs: B-
The Good: Senior running back Branden Oliver managed to rush for 73 yards but he only averaged 2.8 yards per carry and his longest run of the day was a meager 10 yards. Despite Oliver’s rare lack of production, much of the blame resides with the offensive line. The holes simply weren’t there.
The Bad: The group’s worst part of the day came on one drive. Sophomore Devin Campbell caught a 25-yard pass and failed to score when there appeared to be room to make a better play toward the end zone. On the ensuing first-and-goal series, Oliver rushed twice from the 3-yard line and the 2-yard line, failing to score on both attempts.
Wide receivers: B+
The Good: Neutz was good enough for the group to earn a B+, but there wasn’t much production from anyone else. Sophomore John Dunmore’s lone catch for eight yards on the Bulls’ first drive of the game was the only other reception made by a receiver.
The Bad: In the team’s search to find a productive second receiver, its No. 2 wide out, senior Fred Lee, was held catch-less.
Both Neutz and Dunmore failed to come down with separate well-thrown deep balls from Licata. Both passes would have needed a great play to complete the pass but both balls appeared catchable in single coverage.
Tight ends: B+
The Good: Sophomore Matt Weiser caught the first touchdown catch of his career. It was also the first touchdown of the Bulls’ season and helped fuel their attempted comeback after trailing 23-0. Freshman Mason Schreck finished second on the team in receiving and caught four passes.
The Bad: More is expected from senior Jimmy Gordon, who hauled in just one catch for four yards.
Offensive line: C+
The Good: It was expected that Ohio State would have mismatches across the entire field. The biggest difference came for the offensive linemen, who were clearly overpowered. Still, the line gave up just one sack – an impressive stat.
The Bad: The Bulls’ running attack is supposed to be one of the best in the conference, but Oliver’s 2.8 yards per carry in the season opener is disconcerting and the responsibility for that falls with the line.
Defensive line: C+
The Good: Senior defensive end Colby Way kept on track with his high expectations for the season, leading the unit with seven tackles and two tackles for loss.
The Bad: Run-stopping. The Buckeyes’ running backs were getting past the first level of the defense virtually untouched, the holes were gaping and Ohio State’s Jordan Hall averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 21 attempts. The D-line also failed to pursue quarterback Braxton Miller and did not contribute to any of the Bulls’ four sacks.
The Good: Senior Khalil Mack was named the national Defensive Player of the Week by cbssports.com. But it wasn’t just Mack who had an impressive game. Junior Blake Bean – playing his first game as a Bull – had eight tackles (second on the team), junior Lee Skinner and senior Adam Redden each had five tackles and sophomore Nick Gilbo stunned press row with his production (four tackles and a sack). Altogether, the linebackers were responsible for all four of the Bulls’ sacks.
The Bad: With how well the linebacking core played, we’ll have to be knit-picky to point out any flaws. Mack’s sack and forced fumble that was recovered by the Bulls on Ohio State’s 2-yard line was called back by an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty. We’ll go with that.
Defensive backs: C
The Good: Seniorsafety Derek Brim was third on the team with seven tackles. The D-backs held Ohio State’s quarterbacks to just 199 yards through the air. But that should be heavily discounted considering Ohio State ran the ball 45 times, compared to just 23 pass attempts.