The Washington Capitals Are Lucky Because Theyre Good

The Washington Capitals are on fire right now. They’ve lost only three times since the calendar flipped to 2017 and have outscored their opponents 95 to 44 over that stretch. Aside from an 8-7 overtime loss to the rival Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 16, the Capitals have only surrendered more than three goals two times during their hot streak. In a league in which holding the opponent to three goals or fewer will earn you at least a shootout most nights, it’s easy to see why Washington is piling up points in the standings.Not only do the Caps own the league’s best record, but they also have the most dominant stats in hockey. They lead the league in Hockey-Reference.com’s Simple Rating System (SRS), which estimates the strength of every team in the NHL,1Technically speaking, SRS measures a team’s average goal differential after adjusting for strength of schedule. as well as team goals against average, the mark of a stingy defense. They also rank in the top five in several other major statistical categories, including goals scored per game; power play percentage; penalty kill percentage; and Corsi percentage, which estimates a team’s all-important possession rate by measuring the percentage of shot attempts it directed at the opponent’s net during games.2Adjusted for score, zone and venue.This is all to say that the Capitals look really, really ridiculously good on paper. But they’ve also ranked highly in a few key stats that are traditionally more in the realm of luck than skill. For example, they’re No. 1 in PDO, which is the sum of shooting percentage and save percentage (a notoriously unstable indicator in stathead circles), both of which the Capitals also either lead the league in or are tied for No. 1. Ordinarily, a high PDO could be seen as a red flag — suggesting that a team’s statistical résumé is like a house of cards, ready to collapse at any moment. But in Washington’s case, the team even seems to have come by the percentages that make up PDO (mostly) honestly. It’s the consequence of a roster design that could mean it’s finally Washington’s year to hoist Lord Stanley’s cup.The Capitals’ statistical excellence is nothing new — in each of the past three seasons, they’ve ranked among the NHL’s top eight in both points and SRS. Perhaps even more telling, they’ve been among the NHL’s top three in PDO for the past two seasons. Their good fortune in the percentages is commonplace by now.So how do we know Washington’s success isn’t purely based on good luck? For one thing, they’ve assembled a roster that perennially shoots the lights out. The Capitals have finished outside of the top 10 in shooting percentage only once since 2009-10. And since Barry Trotz took the helm as head coach in 2014-15, the team has ranked no worse than fourth. Only the Dallas Stars outperformed the Capitals in shooting percentage in both 2014-15 and 2015-16, but while the Stars have regressed — they sit in the middle of the pack (12th) in 2016-17 — the Capitals continue to put the puck in the net with a high degree of efficiency, thanks to that group of good shooters.A handful of said marksmen are having personal best shooting percentage seasons: T.J. Oshie, whose career shooting percentage of 13.1 percent is good for 24th among active players, is scoring on 23.7 percent of his shots in 2016-17. Frequent playoff hero3This is one of the reasons the Capitals signed him. Justin Williams has a career shooting percentage of 9.7 percent, but he’s scoring on 15.7 percent of his shots. Left winger Marcus Johansson has a career shooting percentage of 14.0 percent but is scoring on an astounding 22.9 percent of his shots. And he looks poised to shatter his career high mark for goals in a season. Some of that overachievement is bound to regress to the mean, but if the Caps’ history as a team is any indicator, Washington should be able to hold onto at least some of their improvements.That’s just one of PDO’s two (usually unstable) components. The other half of the Capitals’ brilliant, odds-beating equation is goaltender Braden Holtby. Holtby is among the best netminders in the world (his career save percentage is third-best among active goalies), and he’s only getting better. His goals against average and save percentage are both better than they were last season, and if it weren’t for Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk’s ridiculously impressive performance in 2016-17, Holtby would be a lock for a second consecutive Vezina Trophy. Goaltending statistics can be notoriously fluky, but they tend to be more stable over a career, particularly when they’re as consistently great as Holtby’s have been.The main criticism of the Capitals — and especially their captain, Alex Ovechkin — has been that they’re playoff underachievers.4It’s hilarious to assign an “underachiever” tag to a guy who ranks sixth all-time — and first among active skaters — in goals scored per game. Alexander Ovechkin is a gift and a once-in-a-generation talent, and every hockey fan on Earth — Washington Capitals fan or not — should cherish his existence. They’ve qualified for the postseason in eight of the past nine seasons but haven’t managed to get past the conference semifinals despite having rosters stacked with such quality players as Ovechkin, Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Alexander Semin (when he was actually good), Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green (when he was actually good), and Holtby.When juxtaposed against the Capitals’ inability to make a deep playoff run, Washington’s degree of statistical dominance suggests that, sure, perhaps the team has underachieved a bit. But there’s no doubt that Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan have built a team poised to succeed in the modern era of the NHL. Not only do they have a group that controls the puck well, but they’ve also hacked through the noise of PDO to assemble a roster that isn’t just lucky when it beats the percentages. Who knows if the Capitals will win the Cup this year, but they’re a legitimately dominant team and, as things sit now, championship favorites. Maybe this is the year they finally shrug off the underachievers tag and deliver on that promise. read more

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Is the DH Rule Slowing the Game Down

I checked the data provided to me by ESPN Stats & Info, focusing on 1997 to 2013 (interleague play started in 1997 and 2013 is the last full year in the data set).My first check was the simplest. I divided all games into four categories: games between AL teams, those between NL teams, interleague games hosted by AL teams (which have the DH) and interleague games hosted by NL teams (which don’t). Games between AL teams were, on average, two minutes and 15 seconds longer than games between NL teams.But that gap might be because certain AL teams — notably Boston and New York — are slower than NL teams and not because of different rules. Luckily, interleague and World Series games provide a useful test, because teams typically have played each opponent roughly the same number of times at home and away — albeit not necessarily in the same season. That should control for any effect from particular teams or matchups.So, when the same two teams played each other in an NL park or an AL park, which game was longer?On average, surprisingly, the longer game has been in the NL park — by 15 seconds. That calculation is based on more than 2,000 games each in NL and AL parks — defining interleague to include regular-season and World Series games between an AL team and an NL team.That’s solid evidence that it’s the style of individual teams, rather than the DH rule, causing the discrepancy in length of AL and NL games. And, in fact, if I isolate the 1997-2013 data set to just games without Boston or New York, then AL-only games are faster, on average, by a minute and five seconds relative to NL-only games. (Interleague games without the Red Sox and Yankees continue to be roughly the same length with or without the DH rule — one second longer without the DH.)But maybe that’s unfair — of course AL games will look faster once I’ve removed the league’s two slowest teams. So I tried two more tests.First, I removed the Red Sox and Yankees, but also the two AL teams with the fastest games, on average: the Blue Jays and White Sox. AL-only games without the league’s four biggest outliers averaged two hours, 55 minutes and 5 seconds. All NL-only games averaged two hours, 55 minutes and 2 seconds — just three seconds faster. Meanwhile, interleague games without those four AL teams were 18 seconds faster, on average, in NL parks. So, again, there’s no evidence that the DH lengthens games.Finally, I instead removed the NL’s two teams that played the longest games, to complement my removal of the AL’s two slowest teams. From 1997 to 2013, those two NL teams were the Mets and the Dodgers. Without them, and without the Yankees and Red Sox, the average NL-only game was nine seconds slower than the average AL-only game. And the average interleague game in an NL park took 13 more seconds than the average interleague game hosted by an AL team.So while the DH theory made sense, I’m confident the DH doesn’t lengthen baseball games. When I wrote last week about the slowdown of MLB games in recent years, I noted that the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox were the two slowest teams. Both are in the American League, and maybe that’s part of the explanation. After all, AL games are played with the designated-hitter rule, which means pitchers don’t have to bat. That allows managers to change pitchers without affecting the lineup, which could prompt them to yank more pitchers mid-inning. Since pitching changes lengthen games — by about two minutes each, according to my analysis — games played in AL parks could be longer simply because of the DH rule.Reader Gabriel Haro wondered as much: read more

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JT Barrett loses summer scholarship following drunkdriving citation

OSU redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) runs with the ball during a game against Rutgers on Oct. 24 at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway Township, NJ . OSU won 49-7. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorWhen Ohio State redshirt sophomore quarterback J.T. Barrett was cited early Saturday morning for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, he not only lost his starting spot for at least one game, but he also might have lost thousands of dollars.OSU coach Urban Meyer announced on Monday that in addition to a one-game suspension that Barrett will serve during Saturday’s home game against Minnesota, the Wichita Falls, Texas, native also had a scholarship taken away as punishment for the citation. “When a kid has an issue like that, there’s some type of punitive damage as far as missing a game or something, and then they forfeit their scholarship at some point,” Meyer said, adding that the scholarship revokement was something he has done in the past.The scholarship was later confirmed by an OSU spokesman to be Barrett’s summer aid — compensation given by OSU to athletes who are taking six or more academic credit hours during the summer term.The spokesman added that the team holds workouts over the summer, and players are required to take at least six credit hours to attend. The summer aid also covers housing and living expenses.According to OSU’s website, the out-of-state tuition rate for six credit hours in the Summer 2015 term was $6,676.10 for Barrett’s communication major, and that does not include the other cost-of-living expenses..Meyer confirmed that the suspension was not mandatory under OSU’s drug-and-alcohol policy, but the coach handed it down himself. He also said Barrett will undergo counseling through the university.Meyer said another punishment is still under consideration for the redshirt sophomore: the forfeiture of his team captaincy.“You know, I visited with some older players about that, my initial reaction was he might and let me just talk to some guys,” Meyer said. “But it was very strong with the leadership on the team to (not take it away). I’m still in my own mind going through that. And as of now, no.”Co-captain and senior left tackle Taylor Decker said Barrett had handled everything as he should since the citation, but he doesn’t know what the decision will ultimately be on the captaincy.“He took the responsibility,” Decker said. “He actually called me Sunday because he just wanted to explain to me what happened himself. I thought that was a really mature move by him.”Decker added that it is hard to believe that Barrett would be the one to get in trouble after witnessing his character for three years.“We haven’t really had a ton of issues on this team, and then in the bye week I thought we made it clear that we shouldn’t have any, and then for it to happen from a guy like him, I think (stunned) is a perfect word for it,” Decker said.Meyer said he initially learned about the incident from a 6 a.m. text message. He was so surprised by the news that he immediately called the person who texted him to confirm that he was reading it correctly.Barrett then visited Meyer’s house later on Saturday to talk to him in person about the situation. Meyer said he told the quarterback that he will now have to deal with something he never has before: a damaged reputation.“When they say, you’re too short, you don’t run fast enough, your arm strength isn’t good enough, you’re just an average quarterback, you can deal with that. You just outwork it,” Meyer said. “When they start attacking who you are, especially people who don’t know who you are, and I told him, that’s the toughest thing he’ll ever have to deal with is that now there’s some question as to who you are.”Meyer said Barrett drove to pick someone up to give him or her a ride home. The quarterback told his coach that he did not believe he was over the legal blood alcohol content limit of 0.08 percent to drive a motor vehicle, though the limit is 0.02 percent for an underage individual like the 20-year-old Barrett.As for the game against Minnesota, Meyer officially announced on Monday that it will be redshirt junior Cardale Jones getting the start at quarterback. Jones had started 10 consecutive games going back to last season’s Big Ten Championship Game before being pulled in favor of Barrett in OSU’s Week 8 game at Rutgers.Beyond Minnesota, Meyer said he hasn’t given the identity of the starting quarterback too much thought.“If he’s good enough and if he’s earns that right (he will start again),” Meyer said about Barrett. “I haven’t even gone that far yet.”The Buckeyes, with Jones returning to the starting quarterback spot, are set to take on Minnesota on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium. read more

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Barclay Pettrey split kicking duties

The story of Devin Barclay’s 2009 season was immortalized when he made the winning field goal in overtime against Iowa to make the Buckeyes the outright Big Ten champions. But the walk-on and former soccer player once again shared the spotlight with starting kicker Aaron Pettrey at the Rose Bowl Game.Barclay took over the season after Pettrey went out with a knee injury against New Mexico State on Oct. 31 that required surgery.The second-string kicker had a rough start, missing a field goal in the second half of Ohio State’s 45-0 win over the Aggies. However, he quickly recovered and became a solid contributor to the Buckeye special teams unit.When Pettrey was deemed healthy enough to play in his final game as a Buckeye, coach Jim Tressel decided to give him the chance while still rewarding Barclay for his regular season performance.“It was two days ago that he told me we were going to be sharing kicks,” Barclay said of getting the news from Tressel. “He was going to be taking extra points and field goals outside of 42 yards.”True to the plan, Barclay kicked and made three field goals from 19, 30 and 38 yards out, while Pettrey made a field goal from 45 yards in the second quarter to put the Buckeyes up 16-10. Barclay also kicked all six kickoffs.Though Barclay said that it was unfortunate that Pettrey was injured, he said he has benefited from stepping in while Pettrey was out.“It’s definitely a great opportunity to get some confidence for next year,” Barclay said of when he will likely step into the full-time starting spot. “I can take this and look back on some of the things I need to work on.”Barclay also echoed many of his teammates when he said that playing in front of over 93,000 people was an experience unlike any other.“When you get that kind of win and you actually get to be a part of the win, it holds its own,” Barclay said. “I’m just very glad that [Pettrey] and I got to play together in the Rose Bowl.”Pettrey, who is a senior, is set to play in an All-Star game in February, Tressel said, and is targeting a path to the NFL. read more

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Ohio States John Simon named quarterfinalist for Lott Award as Wisconsin looms

Ohio State junior defensive lineman John Simon was named one of 20 quarterfinalists for the Lott IMPACT Trophy. The trophy, named after former University of Southern California safety Ronnie Lott, “recognizes college football’s Defensive Player of the Year who best exemplifies integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity,” according to the award’s website. Simon has been a force for the Buckeyes this year, recording 26 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks for the season. He also has three pass breakups and three passes defended. He recorded 8.0 tackles and 4.0 tackles for loss during OSU’s 17-7 victory over Illinois on Oct. 15. The performance earned him Lott IMPACT player of the week honors in addition to being named College Football Performance Award’s national defensive lineman of the week. Nebraska’s Lavonte David, Wisconsin’s Aaron Henry, Purdue’s Joe Holland, Michigan’s Jordan Kovacs, and Michigan State’s Jerel Worthy join Simon on the list as members from the Big Ten. The Big Ten leads all conferences with six players on the list. The SEC was second with four. Simon and the Buckeyes take on Wisconsin Saturday. In 2010, Simon had six tackles against the Badgers, but despite his performance, Wisconsin handed the Buckeyes their only loss of the season, 31-18. Freshman Braxton Miller will start at quarterback for the Buckeyes, but if Miller has to leave the game for any reason, sophomore Kenny Guiton will be the man to replace him according to OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. Although previously implied, Bollman confirmed Wednesday that Guiton has officially passed senior Joe Bauserman as the team’s No. 2 option at quarterback. Kickoff for Saturday’s game against the Badgers is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. read more

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The Wright start Ohio State mens basketball beats Wright State in season

If the first possession of the season was any indication of how the rest of the season may go, the Ohio State men’s basketball team is destined for success. Sophomore forward Jared Sullinger won the tip, the Buckeyes worked the ball inside, kicked it out and swung the ball around the perimeter to wide-open sophomore guard Aaron Craft who buried a three-pointer. OSU led 3-0 and never looked back. The No. 3-ranked Buckeyes dominated visiting Wright State on both ends of the floor and defeated the Raiders, 73-42. Head coach Thad Matta said he was pleased with the team’s performance. “Obviously, a good win for us opening up,” he said. “…Probably a little bit better effort of what we were looking for.” Sophomore Lenzelle Smith Jr. joined an OSU starting lineup that included Sullinger, Craft, senior William Buford and sophomore Deshaun Thomas. Sullinger led the way for the Buckeyes, scoring 19 points and nine rebounds. The Buckeyes struggled to find their offensive rhythm early on, allowing the Raiders to keep the score closer than some may have expected. OSU led, 19-14, with 7:30 remaining in the first half. “We were kind of sluggish in the first half,” Buford said. “I think some people had some jitters and needed to get the nervousness out of them.” With less than four minutes remaining in the half, Buford threw a pass to sophomore forward J.D. Weatherspoon, which Weatherspoon caught in mid-air and flushed through the hoop, giving OSU a 29-17 lead. “They came out with their best punch,” Sullinger said. “As soon as we took that punch we started elevating our game to a whole other level and we just kept pushing.” OSU’s defense was stout. Craft’s three first-half steals stifled the Raiders and helped the Buckeyes take a 34-20 lead into the locker room despite shooting 40 percent from the field and 29 percent from behind the arc. Buford struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 1-of-4 from the field, but scored six quick points to ignite the OSU offense as part of a 10-0 run to start the second half, giving the Buckeyes a 44-20 lead. Buford finished with 13 points and four assists. As OSU extended its lead, Matta began to look to his bench to finish the job. Sophomore guard Jordan Sibert and junior forward Evan Ravenel were the first Buckeyes to come off the bench, but all 12 players on the roster saw action. Matta said he was pleased with the bench players’ performance, but added that playing twelve players is not going to become a trend. “The rotation could get a little bit tighter,” Matta said, “but I thought the young guys did some pretty good things out there.” OSU next plays No. 10 Florida on Tuesday at 8 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus, Ohio. read more

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Ohio State releases week 1 depth chart

An Ohio State football spokesman tweeted out the team’s week one depth chart Wednesday afternoon, but a few questions still remain about pending position battles.The Buckeyes are scheduled to take on Navy Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Kickoff is set for noon.Credit: Courtesy of OSU Athletics

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Ohio State mens basketball trip to Bahamas cost more than 200K

Click to enlargeThe Ohio State men’s basketball program spent $223,221 on hotel and airfare for a team trip to the Bahamas in August, OSU athletics spokesman Dan Wallenberg told The Lantern.The team was in the Bahamas Aug. 5-10 to play two exhibition games against the Bahamas All-Stars and the Providence Storm.The Lantern originally requested this information on Aug. 11 before receiving the final numbers after a third records request Wednesday afternoon.The cost for the Atlantis hotel was $65,000, while the airfare totaled $158,221.While on the trip, the team also participated in extra activities that included snorkeling, a three-hour catamaran tour and a trip to a USA soccer game being played nearby, according to an OSU release.According to a search on travel website Kayak made Wednesday night, the minimum price on a round-trip flight for one adult from Columbus to Nassau, Bahamas, departing Oct. 5 and returning Oct. 10, was $528 as of Wednesday evening, while the same search on travel website Priceline showed a minimum price of $346.According to Atlantis Paradise Island website, the cheapest hotel rooms available average a cost of $142 per night for one adult, while the average cost of the most expensive room is $539 per night for one adult.The Lantern also requested a list of players, coaches and personnel flown by OSU to and from the Bahamas, however did not receive an immediate response from Wallenberg.On the trip, the Buckeyes went 2-0 in their games, defeating the Bahamas All-Stars, 88-66, on Aug. 7, and dominating the Providence Storm the next day, 115-63.Freshman forward Keita Bates-Diop led the Buckeyes in scoring against the Bahamas All-Stars, scoring 16 points, while sophomore forward Marc Loving led OSU against the Storm finishing with 19 points.Virginia Tech transfer Trevor Thompson did not attend the trip because of NCAA transfer rules, and senior forward Jake Lorbach was not listed on the stat sheet for either game the Buckeyes played on the trip.The Buckeyes are scheduled to begin their 2014-15 season Nov. 14 against the University of Massachusetts-Lowell at the Schottenstein Center. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. read more

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Football 5 plays that mattered in Ohio States 387 win over Army

Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) throws a pass in the first quarter of the 2017 OSU- Army game on Sep. 16. OSU won 38-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorEach game, the momentum can shift from one team to the other on one play. Every week, we will list five plays, elements of plays or series of plays that made the most significant impact in Ohio State’s games. Here’s the five plays that mattered most in No. 8 Ohio State’s 38-7 win versus Army.Barrett’s 107th career touchdownQuarterback J.T. Barrett etched his name further into history Saturday with his fourth-quarter touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Austin Mack.The 9-yard strike with 7:01 remaining in the game was touchdown No. 107 for Barrett, surpassing former Purdue quarterback and eventual NFL Hall of Famer Drew Brees on the Big Ten’s all-time touchdowns responsible for list.Barrett finished the game 25-for-33 for 270 yards and two touchdowns through the air, with 41 yards and a touchdown coming on the ground.Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett (16) catches a snap in the fourth quarter of the 2017 OSU- Army game on Sep. 16. OSU won 38-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorErick Smith’s touchdown-saving pass breakupAs expected, Army’s triple-option style offense didn’t put the ball in the air much Saturday. However, with 10:24 remaining in the second quarter, Army quarterback Ahmad Bradshaw fooled Ohio State’s defense and went long to running back Kell Walker who had no one in front of him.Senior safety Erick Smith ran from the left side of the field, dove and batted away a would-be touchdown. The play was reminiscent of the athleticism former safety Malik Hooker showed last season.Dobbins, two plays for 74 yardsOhio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins had just two carries in the second quarter compared to five carries for 50 yards in the first. When his number was called in the third, he put the game out of reach.Ohio State freshman running back J.K. Dobbins (2) runs the ball in for a touchdown in the third quarter of the 2017 OSU- Army game in Ohio Stadium on Sep. 16. OSU won 38-7. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorWith 8:23 remaining in the third quarter on the Buckeyes’ first drive of the second half, Dobbins turned on the jets for a 52-yard touchdown after unleashing a devastating juke move to get into the open field. The score put Ohio State up 24-7 and was set up by a Dobbins 22-yard gain on the play prior.18-play, 99-yard, 9:37 Army touchdown driveOhio State gained 204 yards in the first quarter and led 14-0 after 15 minutes. It was clear that Army would have to limit the Buckeyes’ possessions if it wanted to keep the score close. In the second quarter, Ohio State had just one drive that ended with three points due to Army’s 18-play, 99-yard touchdown drive that spanned nearly 10 minutes.The triple-option offense allows a team to have long drives and wear out opposing defenses. Eighteen consecutive plays will tire any defense, and Army’s long, methodical drive was the reason why the game was only a 10-point difference at halftime.Third-down stop results in Army missed field goalArmy began the second half with the ball and drove all the way to Ohio State’s 23-yard line. A touchdown would have cut the game to just three points, but the Ohio State defense made a stand.On the 10th play of a six-minute drive, safeties Damon Webb and Jordan Fuller played in the box and attacked the backfield, dropping running back Darnell Woolfolk for a 3-yard loss on third-and-3. The next play, Army kicker Blake Wilson missed left on a 43-yard field goal try, which kept the score 17-7.Two plays later, Dobbins found paydirt for the decisive score. read more

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Football Flaws in pass defense exposed once again prove fatal in Ohio

Ohio State junior cornerback Denzel Ward (12) breaks up an Iowa pass in the second quarter of the Ohio State-Iowa game on Nov. 4. Ohio State lost 24-55. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorIOWA CITY, Iowa — Through its first two games of the season, No. 6 Ohio State (7-2, 5-1 Big Ten) had allowed the most passing yards per game of any team in the nation with 403, after being torched in back-to-back weeks by Indiana and Oklahoma.Several weeks after that against lackluster opponents and a surprising shutdown performance of Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley seemed to quiet the concerns many had about the pass defense.Those concerns re-emerged in the first half of Ohio State’s game against Iowa as the Buckeyes allowed Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley to throw for 162 yards and three touchdown passes to put the Hawkeyes up 31-17.No improvements were made in the second half as Stanley continued picked apart the Buckeyes as he finished the game going 20-for-31 with 226 yards and five touchdown passes, effectively ending any championship hopes Ohio State had heading into the matchup.Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer appeared disappointed in his team’s effort defensively, but had no immediate answer for the struggles. “After I visit with the defensive staff, that’s just right now the game just ended, so I don’t have any answers for you right now,” Meyer said.From the beginning, Stanley seemed to have all the answers Iowa needed. The pocket-passing quarterback seemingly found no issue picking apart Ohio State’s secondary as he found his tight ends wide open on seam routes across the middle of the field and worked play-action passes to perfection to throw off the defense.The play that seemed most prevalent and most effective against Ohio State proved to be the play-action passes with Stanley rolling out of the pocket. The secondary often bit the play-fakes and lost a step in coverage to receivers, who would often run corner routes, and surrendered big plays.Stanley finished the game with seven passes for 15-plus yards. He entered the game completing 57.5 percent of his passes, but finished with a 64.5 completion percentage. The Ohio State defense had just three pass break-ups, and one of those was from defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones. Though much of the blame deserves to be levied upon the secondary, the defensive line struggled to apply ample pressure to Stanley. Ohio State finished with just one sack in the game, and any time pressure was applied, Stanley was able to get the ball out quick enough or roll out of pressure to avoid being taken down. Redshirt senior defensive end Tyquan Lewis said the defensive line did not do enough to stop Stanley, and should have applied more pressure to aid the defensive backs in defending against the pass.“I just say, the defensive linemen, that’s on us,” Lewis said. “Pass rush has to get home. We’ve got to sack the quarterback. That’s our job. Disrupt the pass, that’s on us.”Lewis said the team allowed Stanley to get too comfortable in the pocket, and the inability to pressure the quarterback frequently enough allowed him to complete passes easier or effectively escape the pocket and make a play outside the pocket.“Given how quick [Stanley was releasing the ball], or most of the time, should definitely have to get home and affect the passing,” Lewis said. “And that’s the main thing when it’s a passing situation. Trying to find ways to affect the passer and getting the pass rush home, getting sacks. That’s the main goal. He stood in the pocket a few times.”The issues of the passing defense have been prevalent all season. For the most part, the defensive line has not been at the root of the problems, and it wasn’t Saturday. However, the letdown performance by the line prevented it from bailing out the struggles of the secondary as it had earlier in the season. The struggles of Ohio State against the pass is nothing new. It was just exposed again Saturday. read more

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