So much discussion around the big plays given up by the Gopher defense on Thursday. Was is just because Ohio State is so explosive? Did the Gopher defense show that their issues of being out of position and not trusting their reads are still here? Yes and yes.
There were six Buckeye touchdowns, all were 32 yards or more. Here is a look at each of the Buckeye touchdowns and where the Gopher defense broke down.
Touchdown #1 - 71-yard run by Miyan Williams
It was either Tyler Nubin or Boye Mafe’s responsibility to have contain on the left side. Both got caught thinking the play was going to the offense’s left but it came back to their right and Williams went for 71. I think Mafe is the guy who should have been holding the edge to force Wiliams back to the middle where Mariano Sori-Marin or Nubin could make the tackle. But both the edge wasn’t maintained, both Nubin and Sori-Marin took steps the wrong way before having to change direction and it was all too late.
TD #2 - 38-yard pass to Chris Olave
The good news here is that MJ Anderson made a nice inside move to get a little pressure on CJ Stroud. Stroud throws this from his backfoot and is avoiding any contact.
The bad news is that Olave is pretty wide open, allowing Stroud plenty of room to drop that pass into Olave’s arms. The Gopher secondary is in zone coverage here. Justus Harris doesn’t get nearly deep enough, with Olave 4 yards behind him and Terrel Smith at least 20 yards behind him as the next closest Gopher defender.
TD #3 - Garrett Wilson 56-yard touchdown, untouched
This one was all Calvin Swenson who was trailing Wilson all the way across the field. This really isn’t fair
TD #4 - Defensive strip-sack
Zach Harrison beats Sam Schleuter around the end and gets to Tanner Morgan just as he gets set to throw. The ball is knocked out of his hand, Garrett Haskell picks it up and returns it for a Gopher-back-breaking touchdown.
TD #5 - Swing pass to TreVeyon Henderson with nobody covering and he sprints 70 yards for the touchdown
I have no idea who was supposed to be defending Henderson on this one. Thomas Rush ends up being the guy who is first chasing him down, but Rush is the left end on this play who is stunting to the middle before following the path of the ball and chasing down the reception. The Gophers blitzed one here, leaving 6 back in coverage. But nobody was near Henderson and he exploded for 70 yards.
TD #6 - 61 yards to Olave for his second touchdown of the night
A little misdirection play-action with Stroud rolling out to his right. He sees that Olave is wide open, 20 yards downfield and there wasn’t a Gopher defender within 10 yards of him. Swenson was guarding a deeper route and had a shot to tackle Olave at the 31 and whiffed. Once again, he was so wide open that it is really hard to tell who was supposed to be defending here.
Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment and this little exercise wasn’t necessary. Perhaps this will be good to refer back to so we can see just how much better the defense gets by the end of the season. Clearly there were several breakdowns in the Gopher secondary. All of the passing touchdowns did come when Howden was out with his injury. How much of an impact was his injury? Hard to say, but it certainly didn’t help anything.