Ohio State "Rolles" Into An Escape Over Navy 31-27

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(Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Instant Post-Game Analysis:  Thank you to all of you who wrote back saying I was overrating Navy's ability to keep this a close game.  Without a few turnovers, and a big play by Brian Rolle, Ohio State very well could be into its overtime period with Navy, perhaps into its locker room with a loss to Navy.

Navy played as I expected them to, and all of their opponents should because Navy never quits.  Navy played hard until the end of the game.  Navy's coaches, players, students, alumni, and fans should walk with their heads held high for their outstanding effort today in Ohio Stadium.

As for Ohio State...watching the game with my good friend Tim (thank you again for your always outstanding hospitality), I believe Chris Spielman articulated it best while he was commenting for ESPN.  Mr. Spielman was looking for Ohio State to come out with a killer instinct in the second half—to the dismay of all Ohio State fans everywhere, the killer instinct never materialized against the Navy Midshipmen.

What I Liked From This Game

  • Passing to the tight end(s):  Jake Ballard had three receptions, Jake Stoneburner with one.  Instead of treating the TE as an extra blocker, Ohio State can give opposing defenses something else to think about in future games.
  • Brandon Saine's return:  Saine totaled 53 yards rushing, 21 yards receiving, and 2 kickoffs for 65 yards.  Saine showed more to me as a power runner versus Daniel "Boom" Herron in this game; more on that in the "What I Did Not Like From This Game".  If Saine can stay healthy, his overall versatility will be of tremendous importance this season to Ohio State's hopes for a successful season.
  • Kurt Coleman:  Arguably the player of the game.  Coleman ripped out a fumble that was recovered by Ohio State, and also intercepted a pass.  Without those turnovers, Ohio State probably loses this game.  This is the type of performance that endears Coleman to Ohio State fans as well as NFL scouts.
  • Brian Rolle:  Yes, Brian Rolle does not look like other Ohio State middle linebacker with regards to physical stature when compared to predecessors James Laurinaitis or Andy Katzenmoyer.  Rolle is a football player.  Rolle's interception and return on Navy's two-point conversion saved Ohio State from the upset, and I look for other big plays from Rolle this season against other Ohio State opponents.
  • The 4th down call versus the field goal kick:  Boy am I anticipating push back on this one.  4th and 2 on Navy's 16 yard line, and the opportunity to put three points on the board and possibly the game out of reach.  Ordinarily, I would want to go the safe route.  Knowing that is Navy, who will never quit, and the time on the clock being an issue, I would have gone it for again.  The only difference is I would have run an option play to the perimeter with Terrelle Pryor or possibly have Brandon Saine run that play that failed, which leads me to...

What I Did Not Like From This Game:

  • Running "Boom" Herron on the 4th and 2 call:  I like "Boom" Herron, and maybe it is going to strike some as a panic move with this one, but it is looking like Brandon Saine is a better power runner for this offense than "Boom" Herron is at the moment.  Herron had a decent game, but a relatively quiet game in comparison to Saine's performance.  Again, just one person's opinion.
  • Anderson Russell's performance:  Yes, I believe in loyalty to seniors, especially 5th year seniors such as Russell.  The blown touchdown against Navy, combined with last year's touchdown versus Texas, are going to start weighing heavily on the coaching staff to start Jermale Hines at safety.
  • The offensive line performance overall:  Ohio State's running game earned 210 yards against Navy, which also accounts for any lost yardage due to quarterback sacks.  Ohio State's offensive line outweighed Navy and was never truly able to establish a dominant running game.  Pass protection against Navy was truly inconsistent as well.  Something has to change big-time over next week versus Southern Cal may be something akin to a NC-17 horror movie for Ohio State fans.

Ohio State has now its 32nd consecutive home opener, best among Division 1 teams.  I applaud Navy for its outstanding performance.  Southern Cal is one week, and a few hours from now from stepping foot to do battle against the Buckeyes in Ohio Stadium.  Hope remains that Ohio State can shore up between now and then.

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