Shortly after Ohio State football collapsed against No.14 Nebraska last Saturday, social media feeds were loaded with comments criticizing Buckeyes’ senior quarterback Joe Bauserman. Many pinned the loss solely on the fifth-year senior.
As I surveyed the rants of seething OSU fans, I began to wonder if all the condemnation was warranted. I started to feel bad for the guy, because, quite frankly, he wasn’t the reason OSU lost.
Like you, I watched Bauserman’s dreadful perfromance. It wasn’t pretty, but he shouldn’t have been in that position to begin with.
When Bauserman entered the game after freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was injured midway through the third quarter, the Buckeyes led 27-13. From that point on, OSU ran 10 passing plays compared to eight rushing plays.
With Miller out, the Buckeyes needed to change the game plan and shorten the game as much as possible by running the ball.
Why was the offense relying on the arm of the backup quarterback rather than sophomore running back Carlos Hyde’s legs? Hyde averaged 4.2 yards per carry in the second half.
Leading 27-20 early in the fourth quarter, the Buckeyes had a second-and-13 on the Nebraska 32-yard line, desperately needing to extend the deficit to two-scores and regain some momentum. At that point, a field-goal attempt would have been 49 yards, and with a couple of short runs, it could have been cut closer to a 40-yarder, well within kicker Drew Basil’s range.
In a situation that begged for Tressel-ball, OSU ran two pass plays, both incomplete tosses by Bauserman. Then the Buckeyes took a delay of game penalty and punted the ball away.
The rest is history.
All of this goes back to the point that despite his awful performance, it is unfair to pin the entire defeat on Bauserman, even if he he appears to be an easy scapegoat.
A more worthy target of criticism should be head coach Luke Fickell and the coaching staff, and their failures to recognize that Bauserman was overwhelmed and tweak the play calling accordingly.