Home » Features » Five takeaways: Mike Weber is a workhorse, Silver Bullets too aggressive and De’Veon Smith a true test

Five takeaways: Mike Weber is a workhorse, Silver Bullets too aggressive and De’Veon Smith a true test

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OSU freshman running back Mike Weber (25) outruns two MSU players during their game on Nov. 19, 2016 at Spartan Stadium. The Buckeyes won 17-16. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

OSU freshman running back Mike Weber (25) outruns two MSU players during their game on Nov. 19, 2016 at Spartan Stadium. The Buckeyes won 17-16. Credit: Mason Swires | Assistant Photo Editor

EAST LANSING, Michigan — A score of 17-16 pretty much sums up the No.2 Ohio State and Michigan State game on Saturday. It was chippy at times, and ugly at others, but the Buckeyes prevailed over a three-win Spartans team looking to salvage what it can from a disappointing season.
OSU coach Urban Meyer and his players all agreed Mark Dantonio’s team is far better than the credit received from fans and analysts this year. To be fair, most of the team did say this during the entire week leading up to the game.
It took some gutsy running by redshirt freshman Mike Weber and a few defensive stands by the secondary to find a way to win, but that’s the point of having quality players at every positions. The term dogfight was thrown around once again in postgame interviews, and most of the players were far from overjoyed with the team’s performance.
Be that as it may, the Buckeyes are now 10-1, and are 7-1 in the Big Ten, with time to prepare for The Game against Michigan on Nov. 26. And as of right now, it looks like it’s going to be No. 2 versus No. 3. Here are five takeaways from OSU’s nail-biter in East Lansing.
Barrett needs to run as much as possible
Redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett has been a playmaker ever since he traveled all the way from Wichita Falls, Texas, to Columbus. One of the biggest threats he presents is the ability to tuck it and run when the defense has the pass covered, or whenever he feels like he has a crease.
Even with that ability, Meyer said he needed to cut down on the amount of carries his quarterback has in a game to ensure he can keep Barrett healthy. A quick glance at the box score would make it seems as though the Buckeyes’ coach forgot his earlier statement.
Barrett had 24 carries Saturday — two more runs than passes. In his second most carries in a game this season, Barrett had his second highest rushing yardage total, but failed to locate the end zone. When asked about how a scrappy game against a sneaky-good opponent leads to this kind of game for Barrett, Meyer shrugged his shoulder and nodded his head in agreement.
“The way it goes,” he said.
It’s doubtful Barrett gets over 20 carries next week against a hard-hitting Michigan defense.
Buckeyes defense a little too aggressive
A defense that jumps the ball and can read plays to blow up runs in the backfield is valuable. A defense that over-pursues plays and gives up big plays is not. Even though OSU’s defense is about as good as it gets at the Division I level, the Buckeyes have a severe problem with over running plays.
For example, redshirt junior linebacker Chris Worley said the team had some breakdowns and lack of edge containment. On one play in the second half, redshirt sophomore running back L.J. Scott broke free down the right side of the field. After breaking off the edge, there wasn’t a Buckeye within 10 yards of him.
On the play, a motion by the wide receiver caused sophomore cornerback Denzel Ward to shift from the right side of the offensive line to the left. The Buckeyes defense, including redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis and sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker, pushed to the left side of the offense on the snap and were totally fooled by the end-around.
Although the play didn’t hurt down the road, this kind of over-aggressiveness has caused some big plays against OSU, and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will be looking to capitalize next week.
Weber picking up steam at the right time
As a Detroit native, facing Michigan State in Spartan Stadium is pretty close to a homecoming for redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber. On Saturday, he was a big factor in OSU’s win with 111 yards and a game winning touchdown.
With the final regular season showdown less than a week away, OSU will need the services of Weber if it hopes to knock off the Wolverines.
His touchdown Saturday was his first away from Ohio Stadium this season, and ended up being the decisive score. Standing at just 5-foot-9, Weber has the stature of a power back with a low center of gravity, but flashed some speed on a 52-yard dash down the sideline that eventually set up his touchdown run.
And with Michigan up next, Weber is all business.
“Right now, we’re looking at it as a national championship,” he said. “That’s how we’re supposed to look at it. Go out all week, get a good game plan and work hard at it and try to execute the game plan. Now it’s really personal.”
Who did OSU play again?
Michigan State, at least according to the Buckeyes, is a quality opponent. OSU struggled with a team that has just three wins, and had to depend on late-game heroics from redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley to seal the deal with an interception.
This game will easily be forgotten in the weeks to come, and the College Football Playoff committee will most likely follow suit. It was a tough game that OSU earned the W in. Games like these are never a large downfall of a team. The Buckeyes, along with Clemson (defeated Troy 30-24) and Michigan (loss to Iowa and won 20-10 over Indiana) have been in close games against mediocre teams.
The important thing to remember is regardless of the outcome from this game, all eyes from the committee will be on Ohio Stadium next week. Whoever wins should find themselves in a playoff spot.
Michigan and De’Veon Smith the ultimate test
L.J. Scott had a monster day against the Buckeyes, compiling 236 yards total and crossing the goal line twice. Although he has the reputation of being a pretty good every-down back, there were some pretty uncharacteristic mistakes by the Buckeyes’ defense.
So many in fact, that Urban Meyer doesn’t see a win for his team if they play in a similar fashion next week.
“That’s very true,” Lewis said. “Come out next week kind of flat, you obviously won’t win the game. Give credit to Michigan State, they played a very good game, very physical thing. Just got to correct the little things — stopping the run.”
Michigan senior running back De’Veon Smith is about as easy to stop as a runaway train. The mistakes made by the Silver Bullets against Michigan State cannot be made against a team as dangerous as Michigan.
In the Wolverines’ lone loss this season, Iowa shut down Smith for just 28 yards on 12 carries. In Saturday’s win over Indiana, he had 158 yards and a pair of touchdowns. There seems to be a trend of good performances for Smith and a Michigan win.
It’s Michigan week for OSU, and the assignment at hand for the Buckeyes could not be more difficult. Kickoff is set for noon.

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