Chase Young of Ohio State proved to be too much for the University of Wisconsin football team to handle.
The No. 18 Badgers knew coming into the matchup with the No. 3 Buckeyes that slowing Young would be crucial to their success, and they couldn’t do it. Young tallied four sacks, two of which caused fumbles, and added a statement performance to his case for Heisman Trophy candidacy. His 13½ sacks this year are the most in the nation.
As good as Young is, UW didn’t help itself by committing mistakes in its pass protection and with some of the blocking schemes it used against him. Let’s take a step inside the film room to see what went wrong:
Situation: Fourth-and-8 at the OSU 37, late third quarter
Play: Jack Coan sacked by Chase Young for a loss of 7 yards, fumble forced by Chase Young, recovered by Pete Werner
Breakdown: This play-design and blocking-scheme decision by Paul Chryst and Joe Rudolph was destined for failure.
Jake Ferguson (84) is a good player, and a solid blocker at tight end, but asking him to handle Chase Young (2) one-on-one is flirting with disaster. The concept is to force Young’s pass-rush lane to be so far outside that Ferguson can push him by the pocket and allow Coan to step up. But Young’s get-off on the snap is better than Ferguson’s and he collapses the edge to get to Coan in 2.3 seconds, per my stopwatch.
With the offensive line sliding right, the Badgers have five players blocking two. Garrett Groshek (37) steps into the hole between Ferguson and the sliding line, but can’t get back to help on Young quickly enough.
Two other frustrating aspects to this play — it only became fourth-and-8 after the ball slipped out of Tyler Biadasz’s hand and drew a snap infraction penalty, and Quintez Cephus (87) is wide open on a crossing route, and appears to be Coan’s target before the sack and fumble.
Situation: First-and-10 at the OSU 21, early fourth quarter
Play: Jack Coan sacked by Chase Young for a loss of 5 yards, fumble forced by Chase Young, recovered by Pete Werner
Breakdown: The game has already gotten away from the Badgers at this point, but some kind of communication breakdown happens on this play.
Coan had just hit Quintez Cephus for a 35-yard gain the previous play, which got UW into scoring territory. But watch how quickly Young gets off the ball — he has two steps into his rush before Badgers’ right tackle Logan Bruss (60) has one into his blocking set. It was a loud crowd at Ohio Stadium, with an official attendance of over 102,000, so it’s possible Bruss didn’t hear Coan’s cadence. Bruss can barely get a hand on Young before he’s around the edge and bearing down on Coan.
Coan is juggling the ball immediately, and fumbles as soon as Young arrives to hit him. By my stopwatch, Coan has 1.9 seconds between snap to Young’s contact, so a sack was going to happen regardless, but this is an example of compounding issues. If Coan hangs onto the ball, it’s second-and-16 and the team’s still in scoring range.
Situation: Third-and-16 at the UW 39, early second quarter
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Play: Jack Coan sacked by Chase Young for a loss of 8 yards
Breakdown: The first problem with this play is getting in third-and-16 in the first place. On the second-and-10 play that preceded, Jonathan Taylor lost 6 yards on an outside run, setting up an obvious passing down and letting Young and the Buckeyes pin their ears back to get after Coan.
UW junior Cole Van Lanen (71) kick steps out to Young, and is able to stop Young’s outside rush to start the play. But when Young makes his move to the inside, Van Lanen hasn’t yet established his right foot as a post foot and can’t stop Young from crossing his face.
Fox broadcaster Joel Klatt pointed out another aspect of this play — left guard David Moorman (68) appears to be responsible for double-teaming Young, but doesn’t get back to him in time to stop the inside move. If Van Lanen thought he had help inside, the fact that he set to the outside would make sense.
Coan has 2.4 seconds between snap and contact, not nearly enough time to get receivers down field or near the first-down sticks.
Situation: First-and-10 at the UW 20, late first quarter
Play: Jack Coan sacked by Chase Young for a loss of 5 yards
Breakdown: UW coach Paul Chryst said after the game that because of OSU’s talent across the defensive front, the Badgers couldn’t afford to sell out against Young. This play shows an example of that fact — Young ends up with the sack, but Robert Landers (67) creates the initial pressure.
Young’s inside move occupies Van Lanen and then draws the help of Taylor, but he’s still pushing the pocket. Landers loops around after pulling Moorman to the ground, and Coan steps right into Young.
This is the kind of pressure with a four-man rush that the Badgers haven’t been allowing this season.
Situation: Third-and-8 at the UW 44, mid first quarter
Play: Jack Coan pass complete to Garrett Groshek, tackled for loss of 1 yard
Breakdown: Even when you call the right play, Young and Buckeyes can still stop it.
Van Lanen said twice over the past week that UW’s issues offensively have boiled down to one missed assignment per play, and that assignment costing the Badgers a big play. That happened here — UW has the screen set up and Groshek has a lot of room to work with when he catches the ball, but senior guard Jason Erdmann (78) isn’t able to get the key block on Baron Browning (5). If Erdmann could’ve knocked Browning off course, thus letting Groshek run after the catch as opposed to trying to juke, there’s a lane for a big gain.
Instead, Young can spin around from his rush, come back into the play and make the tackle for loss.