Any worries of a hangover after the USC game were erased as the Buckeyes dominated Toledo 38-0. There was still some sloppy aspects to how the Buckeyes played, but overall it was a confident statement a week after taking a major blow. So let's take a look at some of the things that stood out...
#1 - Number one on the list has to be the defense. It's obvious that slowing the Trojans down a week ago gave the defense some serious confidence. This was a high potent offensive attack they played in Toledo, and they couldn't even move the ball. It starts on the defensive line, with a unit that is athletic and hungry. They got after the ball all afternoon long, stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback. There was only 2 sacks in the game, but Opelt didn't have a throw where there was not a Buckeye defender in his face.
The secondary is holding up its end of the bargain as well. Having a great defensive line makes life a lot easier, but they continued to look great in one-on-one coverage Saturday. Chekwa was tested twice (something rarely seen this year), and showed why you don't throw his way. What is so impressive about him is that he plays the ball as well as the defender. Coleman also had another great game. I loved seeing him force the fumble late in the game on the goal line . At a time when many defenders give up, Coleman was still fighting for the shutout.
Tressel also called a lot more plays for Pryor to use his legs. I really believe this helps Pryor with his confidence as well, and also helps him get in rhythm. His 110 rushing yards are hopefully a good sign of things to come.
#3 - Dane Sanzenbacher is becoming a big time receiver. I said before the season started that I thought he was the most valuable wideout the Buckeyes had, but I didn't imagine him being the big play receiver he is becoming. His 126 yards and two touchdowns proved once again that no one should overlook him anymore. We all know he runs great routes and has deceptive speed, but has anyone ever seen him drop a ball? As long as he brings balls in the way he is, Pryor will look his way a lot more!
#4 - We also learned that Brandon Saine and Jordan Hall are very solid backup running backs. Boom Herron hasn't exactly had a great go of things thus far, no thanks to the offensive line, but his 2.4 yards per carry against Toledo was disheartening. He better watch his job because Saine and Hall both brought a breath of fresh air to the game when they were in. Saine averaged five yards a carry while going for 45 yards, despite getting stopped behind the line several times. Then Hall came in late in the game, and finally got to show his stuff. His seven carries for 44 yards opened my eyes, and I wonder why he hasn't seen the field before. He has very quick feet, and hits the hole faster than any other back we have. Kind of funny that people said he was only brought on because he was Pryor's teammate!
#1 - The biggest negative had to be the errors from the offensive line. This was part of the reason the Buckeyes found themselves in 17 third downs on the afternoon. There is no excuse for that, especially against a team like Toledo. Luckily they were playing one of the worst pass defenses around, so they were able to move the ball, but the staff has to clean that up for next week. Three of those were against new starter, J.B. Shugarts, and you have to hope he will be more on top of things next week against the Illini.
#2 - Tressel called a very good game for the most part, but actually drew the "boo birds" when the Buckeyes predictably tried to pound the ball on the goal line late in the first half. The Buckeyes were stuffed multiple times, and Pettrey would go on to miss the easy field goal (off the goal post) after a failed pass attempt from Pryor. There were hints of predictability with the Buckeye running game, and without a premiere back Tressel will have to mix it up more.
All in all...the Buckeyes showed little signs of a hangover from the USC game, which was reassuring to see. They still seem hungry, and with some more consistency from the offense, this team could accomplish some big things. Let's hope things keep rolling next week against the Illini!