Cal vs. Ohio State: Postgame Grades from the Buckeyes' Win vs. Cal
Cal made it interesting, but Ohio State pulled out the win, 35-28 in the 'Shoe.
The loss dropped Cal to 1-2 on the season, and gave the Buckeyes a 3-0 start in Urban Meyer's first season.
Ohio State was carried by Braxton Miller, and the defense made some key plays to pull out the win.
Let's take a look at the final grades for the Buckeyes.
Quarterback - A
Miller had a great day today, throwing four touchdown passes and rushing for another. He threw one bad interception, and struggled in the third quarter with his accuracy. He finished the day with 324 yards of total offense to lead the team.
It's runs such as this one that show us how great he can be on the ground.
Miller showed poise and skills in loads during the fourth quarter, explosive offensive talent during the first, and the ability to follow the gameplan during the second.
If it were not for an awful third quarter, when he could not hit a target if his life depended on it, Miller would have had a nearly perfect game.
It's pretty clear that as goes Miller, so go the Buckeyes.
Running Backs: A
Running Backs - B+
Jordan Hall's ability to step in from injury and be effective taking over rushing duties for the injured Carlos Hyde was big for the Buckeyes.
Hall finished the day with 87 yards on 17 carries.
He did a great job of reading blocks and gaining the yardage that was available.
Braxton Miller did not need to be carrying the ball 27 times again in this one, and Hall's effectiveness meant that he did not have to.
Wide Receivers: B+
Wide Receivers - B+
Devin Smith hauled in two touchdown passes, and Jake Stoneburner matched him.
That was the good.
But Smith also had some drops, and at times the routes run, particularly by Smith and Philly Brown, were not sharp.
The receivers amassed 249 yards receiving between them, a pretty solid number against a BCS opponent.
Tight Ends: B
Tight Ends - B
Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett caught a combined three passes between them for a total of 15 yards.
However it was their activity in the run game and pass protection that earned them the solid grade.
Both guys displayed solid blocking abilities all game long, consistently getting into the second level of the defense and hitting linebackers during run plays.
Heuerman in particular did a great job of getting to the second level and blowing up would be tacklers.
Offensive Line: B+
Offensive Line - B+
Andrew Norwell and the rest of the Buckeye offensive line was key to the win today.
Cal brought pressure at times, but the big guys up front did a great job of protecting Braxton Miller and paving the way for the run game.
There were a few missed assignments in the third quarter, but the effectiveness of the line in passing situations was a large part of the Buckeye's big day on offense.
Defensive Line: C
Defensive Line - C
Given the fact that the defensive line spent all day long putting pressure on Zach Maynard, this may seem somewhat low.
But consider that the defensive line allowed 224 rushing yards to Cal, and missed a tackle on Brendan Bigelow's second long touchdown run of the game.
The performance was not dominating, although the line made plays at times when needed.
Hence, the average grade.
John Simon was the definite star of this unit, making plays all over the field.
This unit was pretty sorry in run defense against Cal.
On the longest touchdown run in Ohio Stadium history against the Buckeyes, Cal running back Brendan Bigelow evaded Orhian Johnson, then spun away from a pathetic tackling attempt by Ryan Shazier and took it to the house.
That play, and the linebackers' inability to slow receivers on crossing routes and bubble screens, led to their sorry grade.
Secondary - B-
Yes, Cal was able to come up with 288 yards through the air.
However, many of those came on bubble screens and short passes that led to missed tackles by linebackers and linemen.
The secondary never allowed the big passing play over the top, and kept Keenan Allen from dominating.
Christian Bryant's interception and 38-yard return on Cal's final drive put the game away.
Special Teams: A
Special Teams Overall - A
Other than the missed extra point in the first quarter, the kicking game was solid. Kick and punt coverage was superb, and punter Ben Buchanan did a great job of keeping Keenan Allen out of the game.
Basil did his job, in spite of the missed extra point, and in a game that was decided by only one score, the ability of the punt team to keep Allen out of the game cannot be overstated.
Coaching - B
We liked the way the defensive staff unleashed pressure early in the game when rushing four did not produce any sort of pass rush.
Also good was the decision to allow Braxton Miller to do his thing, while still trying to protect him from injury.
The bad was lack of adjustments to the defense, but you cannot blame the coaches for missed tackles and poor execution by that unit, any more than you can blame them for Miller's sole interception.
However, the fact that the Buckeyes allowed 510 yards of offense, won by seven, and Cal left nine points on the field in missed field goals had better light a fire under this coaching staff.