Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Look Whose Back!!

Iowa: Buckeyes Back!! 27-24 in OT
In a game that started out slowly... then looked like a rout.. turned into a thriller! Predictably the game was a defensive struggle for much of the 1st half with both teams playing in somewhat close to the 'Vest' and traded jabs. Tresselball was in full effect (too much so for some folks, but more on that later) and Ferentz as expected had his team ready to go despite the numerous injuries. The thought process following last weeks loss to Northwestern and their starting quarterback, Stanzi, the Hawkeyes weren't given much of a chance to win. In one week they went from being picked to win the conference to being 17 point underdogs! But you know the saying, the most dangerous animal, is a wounded one and with nothing to lose the Hawkeyes played their hearts out and Ferentz for the most part let the reins off his redshirt freshman qb James Vandenberg and he delivered. That Vandenberg youngster was smoking Hot! oh yeah, and her son played well too. Seriously, he didn't resemble a freshman who was making his first career start in a hostile environment with a confernce title on the line! Save for a few errant passes when pressured (why more blitzes weren't called is a head-scratcher) and his execution in overtime, he looked and played liked a poised 5th year senior. I'll go as far and say that if Stanzi had played, I believe the Buckeyes would've had an easier time. Hats off the the young qb, who'll only get better.
Was it just me, or how many of you believed that following the Homan interception and the subsequent Saine 49 yard burst putting the Buckeyes up 24-10 that the game was over. I mean there was no way possible that any team could score 14+ points against this Buckeye defense, right? Well they didn't ofcourse, given the inexplicable let down of the special teams and allowing a 99 yard kickoff return. Forget the pin, you could hear a feather drop! after the Derrell Johnson-Koulianos return. The Buckeyes had soooo many opportunities to put the game away and didn't that I'm sure many Bucknuts got that queasy feeling in their stomach. I prior post, I stated that these Hawkeyes despite comparisons by some, were no 2002 Buckeyes, but boy did they seem to get glossed with some of that magic that has carried them throughout this year so far, exception being ofcourse last week. How many chances;
*The 99 yard kickoff return - Hold them to the 20/25 yard line on the return, make them drive the field without giving up any big plays, good chance with time on the Buckeyes side,
Game Over!
*On the ensuing kickoff after the Johnson-Koulianos td, the not one, but TWO penalties that put the Buckeyes in Hawkeyes territory. Now like most of Buckeye Nation, the conservative playcalling at this juncture in the game was a harder pill to swallow than the conservatism at the end of the game, (but more on that later). Here Tresselball backfired as Devin Barclay in only his 2nd career start, missed a 47-yard field goal. A make here Buckeyes regain control 27-17, Game Over!
*The milli-inch neutral zone infraction by Nathan Williams that wiped out a Thaddeus Gibson pick six. Williams stays in his stance, touchdown good Buckeyes up 31-17,
Game Over!
*Later during that same drive, the Chimdi Chekwa/Brian Rolle botched up interception, only to fall into the hands of the Iowa receiver. Chekwa catches it without interference from Rolle or vice-versa, Buckeyes still lead 24-17, have control of the ball with about 4 minutes to go in the game. Not a lock, but
Game Over!
Kudos to Iowa, to Coach Ferentz, their gritty defense, and up and coming star Vandenberg for their peformance. But for all the frustration it causes many fans and eye rolls from all the pundits, up until that kickoff return, Tresselball worked. And it worked with less than stellar performances from, according the Tressel, the most important part of the game. Punting!! This had to be by far, the worst performance from Jon Thoma and it couldn't have come at a worse time. People wanted to see Pryor get benched during the Purdue game, well I wouldv'e liked to have seen Thoma get benched during the Iowa game. He averaged less the 40 yards per kick, allowing Iowa to maintain the advantage in field position for the majority of the evening. Secondly, the defense wasn't up too its dominating self that we've witnessed over the last three weeks. Facing perhaps the best receiving corps this season in Johnson-Koulianos, Marvin McNutt, and tight end Moeaki, the secondary was taken to task a bit. More surprising that it was a redshirt freshman taking them to school. The vaunted defensive line that wreaked havoc the previous week against Penn State was held sackless during regulation. Which brings me to the same problem I had watching the Purdue game. If the front four is unable to apply pressure and dominate, then why aren't more blitzes being called. Against Purdue, Joey Elliot, enjoyed a nice comfortable pocket throughout most of the game, except on the few- too few occasions that the Buckeys came with a blitz. Same thing occured in the Iowa game, on the few- tooooo few occassions that they brought pressure, Vandenberg was somewhat rattled and erred in his throws. The only sack that was registered was the overtime sack by Worthington. Great timing, but a few more sacks in regulation and the Buckeyes might not have had to go into the extra period. It's nice to have a dominant line like what the Buckeyes have, but in games when they are unable to get to the quarterback, more most be done to make the opposing qb at least somewhat uncomfortable and mess with his mind.
Now, on a evening when two-thirds of Tresselball aren't performing to customary expectations, it sure was nice that the OFFENSE bailed out the team and got the win. That's right, I said the OFFENSE bailed out the team and had a huge hand in winning this game. Now, if I told you that Terrelle Pryor didn't have a passing td nor a rushing td, what would you think? Yeah, the Buckeyes lost! If I was told that, It be an easy assumption that they would've lost. Pryor didn't have a big game, in fact, he was hardly noticeable. But thanks to a dominant offensive line.. you heard right, a Dominant Offensive Line, Pryor didn't have to play big. With Pryor nursing an assortment of injuries, it was very impressive that they rushed for over 200 yards against perhaps the best defense in the conference, outside of Columbus ofcourse. A defense that knew the Buckeyes would be running and they still couldn't stop it. For all the flack that this battered and injured line has taken this season, this is the 4th time that over 200 yards was amassed via the running game. Saine and Herron, both ran hard and was consistently dragging piles forward.
Despite the underperformance of the special teams, it was the special teams play that made the most significant play of the evening. He had to be nervous and dejected following his miss in regulation, but Devin Barclay, the 26 year old walk-on ultimately made the most of his moment when given that second chance. With the Defense once again playing like the Defense we have come accustomed to seeing and holding Iowa scoreless in the overtime period, everybody knew how it was gonna play out once the Buckeyes had their turn. Everybody and thier mother knew Tressel was not gonna put the ball in the air (more on that later) and was gonna take his chances running the ball and settling for the field goal. No need for Iowa to "Ice" him, because once Anderson Russell's interception in overtime, Devin knew his number would be called. And when Tressel dialed him up, Barclay - this time was ready. He nailed the 39 yarder and set the Buckeye Nation back on its axis. Following that Purdue game, one would've thought that the world had come to an end. Tressel had to go..Pryor had to go..the O-line had to go (well we could still use a line coach)..But look, here we are right where the Buckeyes had hoped and were picked to be - Big Ten Champions! and Rose Bowl Bound. My nose got a little stopped up during that 4th quarter but It cleared up and boy do the Roses smell Good!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Penn State: Buckeyes Dominant 24-7

In what was easily their most complete game of the season given the level of opponent, the Buckeyes looked every bit of the four time defending conference champion. FINALLY! Pryor in returning home seemed unaffected and undaunted by the student body and what they had in store for him. He left Happy Valley, quite happy and feeling even more confident in himself. And he should, this was the most comfortable that I've seen Pryor in any game yet, especially given the hostile environment. No he wasn't spectacular, but he made the big plays when they needed to be made. He made plays in both the running game and the passing game! The seam pass to Sanzenbacher was a thing of beauty and lead to the Buckeyes taking that 10-7 lead into halftime. The bomb to Posey near the end of the third quarter was well placed and hit him pretty much in stride. Missing Sanzenbacher at the end of the 2nd quarter made that 3rd quarter pass more impressive because it seemed Pryor adjusted from the overthrown ball at the end of the half. The most impressive run of the game was him gaining 12 yards on that 3rd and 11 in the fourth quarter. That first down eventually lead to the knockout punch and the 24-7 advantage. Pryor played calm, never seemed rushed and showed lots of poise on what was perhaps is biggest game to date.

Speaking of Pryor playing calm and not rushed, we must give many kudos to the much beleagured offensive line. Following the Purdue game they were slammed big time and deservedly so. One could only hope they would perform better against the leagues best defense (well stat wise anyway). They not only did well, they were dominant. No sacks allowed and well over 200 yards of rushing offense. The boys played their most physical game against arguably their most physical opponent. And quickly, my favorite player on this squad is Mike Brewster. The more I actually watch him play and the enthusiasm he displays is contagious. When the flag came down in the 4th quarter for unsportsmanlike conduct I knew it was Brewster not being able to contain himself. The kid is a player.

Everyone knew it would be a defensive struggle and the Silver Bullets certainly delivered. From play one where Heyward got the sack, it set the tone for the entire game. Heyward never let up regardless of who they put in there. Didn't you feel some sort of pity for the poor freshman that had to line up opposite Heyward. This D-Line is one of the best and dominant that the Buckeyes have had in a long time, arguably the best in the country. Just how dominant was this Buckeyes defense? Penn State had seasons lows in points scored (7), 1st Downs (9), Total Yards (201), 3rd down conversions (4/16), Time of Possession (25:58), and seven 3 and outs. Their leading receiver Derrick Moye, was held without a catch, not even sure if a pass was even thrown in his direction. But on this day Heyward was the man, 11 tackles, 2 sacks, and a number of pressures on Darryl Clark. The Buckeyes D, harassed Clark all day and he had his worst outing of the season. Clark who was becoming a fringe Heisman contender was completely frustrated by the time the 4th quarter came around.

Coming into this game, my feeling was that special teams would play a pivotal role and I stated that Ray Small could be the difference maker and he definitely was. In perhaps his best game as a Buckeye, Small was Big! His punt returns, ensured the Buckeyes would win the field position battle and it did as his two big returns lead to touchdowns. I believe that this is the real Buckeyes team that us Bucknuts have been waiting to see now can they repeat this performance against another top ranked team.

Back to Pryor for one moment, and one of the knocks against him was winning the big game on the road. Now, I thought his 4th quarter comeback win against Wisconsin last year was big, guess some peeps forgot about that one. But this win did mark the first time that Pryor and the Buckeyes have beat a higher ranked team on the road in a long while. Is the monkey off his back? did he really turn that corner? The upcoming game with Iowa for all the marbles will speak volumes in how much Pryor has really grown.

My Comments on Some Comments:

I believe my tv screen was broke or something, because that couldn't have been Mark May giving any kudos or props whatsover to anything or anybody associated with Ohio State. But alas, there he was, giving Cameron Heyward a 'helmet sticker' in the player recognition segment of their show. Let me say that again, Mark May, the Buckeye hater gave a Buckeye some props without any sarcasm or backhanded compliment. However, in the very next segment he suggested that Iowa would still go into the Shoe and beat the Buckeyes with the conference title and a Rose Bowl~BCS berth on the line with a freshman quarterback making his very first start. Oh by the way, it is Senior Day as well. The Buckeyes will be ready.

There's been a whole lot of fuss of LaGarrette Blount getting reinstated, I never believed that the penalty fit the crime, and some fuss about Brandon Spike only getting a half - excuse a full game suspension. Well according to the critics of those decisions, then they probably believe that Elizabeth Lambert, the New Mexico soccer player should be banned for life. I'm sure your familiar with the story by now, for those that aren't, she's the female Lobo player that went all MMA on the entire BYU squad during a recent match. Excuse me, the MMA has rules, rules that would've gotten Miss Lambert disqualified for some of the actions she displayed on the field. Punching, Kicking a downed opponent, karate chops to the face and neck, Hair pulling, eye-gouging, whoops - sorry got carried away, but you get the point, and amazingly she played the entire game, I don't even believe she got a yellow-card.

I recall that on several posts and blogs, ND fans got all over the Buckeyes for their narrow escape against Navy. Well ND fan, two times in 3 years, enough said. Well almost enough said, not be make excuses but the Buckeyes rarely sees a team that runs the triple-option and had problems as expected. But the domers see the triple-option every season and still couldn't defend it. Talking about getting outschemed! Yes, Charlie your player was right, you got outschemed and that was a bush league move to throw him under the bus.

Flash Forward: Iowa

Well this is it. After all the drama following the Purdue game, the Buckeyes are where most people thought they'd be. Playing for the Big Ten title - Again! Iowa's dream season came crashing down last week against Northwestern as did their starting quarterback, Stanzi. Despite the comparisons between the 2002 Buckeyes and this year's Iowa squad, I never bought into this Iowa squad. I never believed that they would come to the Shoe and beat the Buckeyes and that was with Stanzi. Will this be a gimme? Ofcourse not, Iowa still has an outstanding defense and Pryor that we saw against Penn State has to be to one we see Saturday. If we get the Pryor from Purdue, the Buckeyes will lose. This game was already gonna be an uphill battle for Iowa, given the fact that they lost 10 of the last 11 games against the Buckeyes and haven't won in Columbus since the early 90's, but as mentioned, this game is for the Big Ten Title, It's Senior Day, Tressel has an outstanding record in November. Iowa is coming in with a freshman quarterback and their 3rd string running back and the Buckeyes are more confident now than what they been all season. Only a Purdue like effort will keep the Buckeyes from winning this game. The defenses will dominant, again like last week though, I believe the Buckeyes have the more explosive offense and their defense will be just as dominant against Iowa making them a one-dimensional team. They'll harass the Iowa qb all day and should get atleast one pick. Prediction 28-3.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What To Do With The Mountain West & TCU

Gonna take a brief moment to step away from talking Buckeyes and give some food for thought on the latest BCS rankings. Rankings that currently have TCU of the Mountain West Conference sitting in what many think is a great position at Number 4. However, after listening to the talking heads on both radio and TV, it seems quite clear that unless Texas and either Florida or Alabama suffer at least two losses between now and BCS selection day on the December 6th, an undefeated TCU squad (if they're that fortunate) would be left out of the BCS title game. Prompting once again for the Mountain West officials wondering what they need to do. Look, TCU has done everything it possibly could to position themselves and make a good argument that they belong in the game. They went to ACC country and beat Virginia, okay their not all that good, but they also beat Clemson in Death Valley and that win is looking more and more impressive given Clemson's recent play and rumblings about C.J. Spiller working his way into the Heisman debate. Utah was left out of the title discussion last year and then promptly pummeled Alabama in what was basically a home game for the Tide. This year TCU has a much stronger argument than the Utes did last year.
Should an undefeated TCU be left out of the Title game in favor of a one loss Texas or SEC team then they meaning MWC Commissioner Craig Thompson really needs to take matters into his own hands and take action and make it difficult for the Big Boys to ignore the MWC. The MWC needs to become a Big Boy and should seriously consider expansion. By all accounts Mr. Thompson is a bright person at his previoius stint as the Sun Belt Conference Commissioner, has experience in expanding and growing a league.
Now mind you, I don't know if this is something that's already been considered by Mr. Thompson, but if it hasn't he and the other MWC officials need to look into the possibility of expanding the league. The league currently stands with nine member schools consisting of;
Air Force
Colorado State
New Mexico
San Diego State
Now If I were commissioner for a day and could get my wish granted, I would expand the MWC to 12 teams, guaranteeing a conference title game and the new conferece would consist of;
Mountain Division
Air Force
*Boise State
Colorado State
Valley Division
*Fresno State
San Diego State
Okay, Mountain/Valley you could call it whatever, but expanding and getting this particular teams would make the MWC a much more legitimate conference and certainly one that could no longer be ignored or slighted. Ofcourse the invitees would have to agree to join the conference, but for a team like Boise State which gets perennially passed over, would it really be that tough a sell. Let's look at the new teams one by one. Lets look at the possible pros and cons for each of my invitees.
Boise State
pros: Strength of schedule would no longer be a major issue. Other BCS teams would be more likely to schedule them as well because there would be more to gain be beating a Boise State team from a legitimate conference. A loss in this conference may not necessarily mean a death blow to their BCS chances. Just imagine how far Boise would've dropped had they lost that game at La Tech last week. Speaking of La Tech, geographically speaking they would'nt have to make that cross country flight every other year, or the Pacific to play Hawaii, unless they wanted to as part of their non-conference schedule. On second thought the Hawaii trip may not be all that bad. Playing a solid Utah and BYU team every season and potentially meeting up with a TCU, Houston, or a rising SMU team would look great on the schedule. Finally, they could get rid of that wacky blue field. It's a gimmick, and your program has outgrown it. It was cute and a good conversation piece while the program was finding itself and needed something to be identified with, but if the team and administration want to be taken seriously then they need to seriously get rid of the blue turf and get a real field in place like the other BCS teams.
cons: With the upgrade in scheduling, they may be exposed as paper tigers. As it stands, they only have to really get up for 1 maybe 2 games all year long. They'll have to actually prepare and be ready to play for the most part every week just like the teams from the other BCS conferences. Will they be able to handle the mental and physical aspect of tough competition week in and week out.
Fresno State
pros: Fresno State, Pat Hill's bunch is the team that will play anybody, anywhere. Well in their new conference, they won't have to go to everybody else's place in order to upgrade their schedule. Normally, their out of conference schedule is so tough, that by the time conference play comes along, their beat up and drained both mentally and physically. Again, they might get some of those BCS teams to come to Fresno because now there will be a definite benefit by beating a Fresno State team at their place. Additionally, the Bulldogs could schedule them some 'cupcakes' and not suffer in the polls.
cons: As of now, when they lose the conference games late in the season, it is normally attributed to the fact that they have played such a tough non-conference schedule. However, if the non-conference schedule softens some and the Bulldogs suffer the same late season losses to conference foes, will Hill still get a pass. No more excuses!
pros: Pretty much the same reasoning with Boise State. If not for that loss to UTEP, the title of this article would be 'What To Do With Conference USA & Houston'. Look at what the Cougars have done this year. Beat Oklahoma State on the road, the following week knocked off Texas Tech and two weeks later have an easier time beating Mississippi State than Florida. The loss to UTEP has pretty much derailed their BCS hopes. Being in a legit BCS conference and Houston would still be in the Top Ten. Look at USC, who lost to Washington and got blown out by Oregon yet are still ranked ahead of Houston. Moreover, the MWC is already has a better reputation than Conference USA. Also, Case Keenum who rarely gets mentioned in the Heisman discussion, could very well be the frontrunner at this point. Lastly, being in this new conference, would allow Houston to level the recruting ground some what with the other Texas schools of the Big 12 conference and geographically makes better sense.
cons: Similiar to that of Boise State. Is this just one of those great years or is this something that the program will be able to build off of.
pros: I remember the SMU program bdp (before death penalty) and they were a power. The DickerJames backfield was one of colleges best tandems (Eric Dickerson/Craig James). The Mustangs are up and comers and with June Jones at the helm I believe their ascent will be rather quick. Like Houston, they're in a recruiting hotbed and being in this conference will be alot more attractive to high schoolers than C~USA.
cons: Really! I just don't see why they would decline an invite.
pros: Bringing in these teams through expansion gives the conference immediate exposure and would be the talk for weeks on end by the radio and tv pundits. In Boise State, the conference gains a team that has earned respect and is well thought of and has one of the best winning percentages over the last several years. In teams such as Fresno State, Houston, and SMU the conference gains even more access into the recruiting hotbeds of California and Texas. This would instantly make this a more viable conference than the Big East. The MWC and Mr. Thompson would have a much stronger argument to be included or added as a BCS conference. Moreover it would expand the television audience even more from the Northwest region into California and the Southwest. The Big Boys could not ignore or slight this conference and these additions would help in their other sports as well. Extra revenue could be generated from a conference title game and could be played later in the season the same as the other BCS conferences that have title games and the conference have a great possibility of gaining access to more post season games earning even more revenue.
cons: Really! don't see any.
Now in seeing, my revised and expanded MWC, some may have noticed that New Mexico is nowhere to be found. Well, in order to get better, unfortunately some one had to go. It came down to New Mexico or Wyoming. I stuck with Wyoming mainly because of geographics, it made more sense to lump them in my Mountain Divison and also, I believe the Cowboys offer more from a competitive standpoint. Booting a team is not without precedence. Recall the Big East recently did this very thing to Temple because they were viewed as bringing the conference down. Lets face it, the Owls were terrible, but hey if the keep showing improvement, the Big East might be forced to ask them back.
Anyway, If I were Mr. Thompson, this is something I would seriously consider or explore the possibility of expanding. Your thoughts.

The B-Boys Are Back! Buckeyes Roll Alcorn State

A very impressive season opening victory for the Buckeyes, albeit, very much expected. They came out, took control early and never looked back. To say Alcorn State was overmatched and undermanned is an understatement, with suiting up less then 10 players and the majority of them being freshman. Nevertherless, the Buckeyes looked sharp and their long-range shooting was indeed nice. A bulked up Jon Diebler nailed 6 treys and looked much more comfortable than in seasons past. Opponent aside, Diebler will be needed to display that touch he exihibited in high school. Other Buckeyes excelled behind the arc as well, mainly Buford, who seems ready to take his game to the next level. Man, it sure was nice to see a healthy David Lighty back in the mix, the intangibles he brings the the floor are unmeasurable. With him returning and for the first time in several seasons, there are no key losses of personnel to the NBA or graduation. Okay, B.J. Mullens, but really, how much did he contribute. If Dallas Lauderdale and Sarikopoulos can man the inside and provide some interior punch to go along with the outside shooting displayed against Alcorn St. the Buckeyes will definitely be able to challenge Michigan State and Purdue for the Big Ten title.

And with a prime time player such as Evan Turner, who became only the second Buckeye in history to record a triple-double, (the first being our man Dennis Hopson), Thad has that star player that can take over in the clutch when needed. With so much talent returning to the Big Ten this year, it could make for a really exciting campaign, much more will be learned during the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. I'm predicting that this will finally be the year the Big Ten breaks through and wins it this year after coming really close last season.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NMSU Glorified Scrimmage: Buckeyes Roll 45~0

After a sluggish start, things went pretty much the way many believed they would. Pryor for the most part looked confident on most of his throws, albeit he still stares down the primary target. That bomb to Posey on the first play from scrimmage was on point, as well, as his strike to Sanzenbacher on the post that went for six. He did throw a couple that should've been picked off though. His running again was decisive and I maintain that his increased running will also help the passing game. Nice to have Boom! back as he picked up where he left off when we last saw him healthy, and that was in the endzone. Don't forget, prior to his injury he had scored a touchdown in 8 consecutive games I believe dating back to last season. Him and the running game must be on point this weekend at Happy Valley for the Buckeyes to have chance at winning. However, it would've been nice to see the offensive line just steamroll the New Mexico State, especially in the 2nd Half once Bauserman took over.

The defense was better than expected it was Sufficating! Everyone knew New Mexico State was gonna struggle, but to hold them to less than 100 yards of total offense is sick to say the least. This defensive line may not be as good overall as the 2002 group, but without a doubt, this unit is much deeper. Not much is lost when rotating this group and regardless of who is in there, they get results, whether its stuffing the run or getting pressure on the opposing QB.

Speaking of the 2nd Half, those chanting for Bauserman to get some playing time following the "Loss" got their wish. He played the entire 2nd Half, despite the initial thought process, it was not by design. But after seeing him get some extended playing time, it's obvious why Tressel was quite decisive in his saying that he never considered benching Pryor during the Purdue game. No disrespect to Joe, but he is what he is, and that is a backup QB. When prized recruit Justin Zwick struggled while here, Tressel had Smith to fall back on. Remember, even though he was the very last member of the same class that featured Zwick, Smith had attended the same Elite 11 QB camp as Justin. When Todd Boeckman struggled, Tressel had the overall number one recruit to fall back on in Pryor. With Pryor's growing pains, Tressel has a former baseball prospect who walked on waiting in the wings! Bauserman played well and if pressed could probably do a respectful job, but Pryor is dynamic and can change a game by himself, when on.

It was nice seeing several of the other players get an opportunity to get in the game and get rewarded for all the practice time they put in as well. It was nicer still that the defensive reserves were actually able to preserve the shutout this week that they let slip away against Minnesota last week.

The one glaring negative obviously was Aaron Pettrey's injury. Worse still because now he will miss the rest of the season. Devin Barclay probably wasn't expecting to see any action and it showed. He was very shaky on his field goal attempts, but his kickoffs were good and the special team unit was able to keep the Aggies pinned back. Will losing Pettrey make Tressel even more conservative? He loves to punt, but may be forced to go for some more 4th and 1's in these upcoming games. Hopefully with a full week of work and knowing he's the man will give Barclay some confidence from this point forward or maybe Tressel will turn to the freshman Ben Buchanan who was ill last week.

My Comments On Some Comments

With Iowa holding strong at the Number 4 ranking in the BCS, pundits have predictably given them little to know respect. They have won ugly, and lets face it, got extremely lucky against Indiana. The volleyball interception that eventually went 90 yards the other way for a TD, seemed to suck all the life out of the Hoosiers. Yes, the 2002 Buckeyes won ugly and was lucky in some cases, but I must agree with several pundits on this one. I knew the 2002 Buckeyes, and these Hawkeyes, are no Buckeyes of 2002. That Buckeyes team was loaded with NFL talent. This Hawkeyes quite frankly is not blessed with a plethora of players that will be gracing the field on Sundays. However, if they somehow were to get to the title game, I don't think they would get blown out as many have predicted, frankly because Florida, Texas, Alabama, etc.. haven't been all that impressive in their own right. Fortunately, for the Big Ten haters out there, I don't think they have to worry about Iowa, because I do believe that next weekend, our Buckeyes will take them down.

Again, Carroll overshadows Tressel. Following Purdue, Tressel got put on blast yet again. This time for doing something that he's rarely done, lose to an unranked team with a losing record. I guess good ole Pete couldn't take it. So what does he do? He goes out and accomplishes something that hasn't happened since he first arrived at USC. Get Blown out! The signs were there following the Oregon State game and to some degree the Notre Dame game. When was the last time that you saw a USC team get manhandled and look completely lost in a game. Where has the defense disappeared to? Where's Taylor Mays, oohh he's getting another personal foul penalty called against him. And don't give me that crap about them being young, blah, blah, blah. For years now all we've heard his about USC's legendary recruiting classes, All they have are 'Blue Chippers' Five Star prospects, they're two deep is better than most teams starters. Don't give me that crap about their road weary. You can't tout them as being road warriors and then blame road weariness when they lose. You can't say that Carroll makes great in-game and half time adjustments, and then go silent when he fails to make any adjustments whatsoever. Again, Tressel gets the blame and Carroll gets the excuses.

Dirty play is dirty play and Brandon Spikes that was a dirty play. Many people have given Spikes a pass on his eye-gouging incident. The common theme from former players is that 'Hey that's what happens in piles!' Robert Reynolds got ripped for his dirty play against Wisconsin a few years back. Remember the forearm to the throat incident to the downed player. Reynolds got ripped and deservedly so. Spikes for the most part got a pass. One of the few commentators that I heard come out strongly against Spikes was Mike Golic on his radio show. Others gave the standard double-talk garbage. I don't condone it, but he shouldn't have done it. Brian Jones of Inside College Football, even went so far as to say,that this episode will improve Spikes draft stock. Really! Urban Meyer, didn't think to much of it himself. Do you really think Meyer wanted to do anything but really 'Talk' to Spikes about. And his initial punishment of a half game suspension against Vanderbilt this weekend was a joke. So embarrasing that he pretty much was forced to make it a full game suspension. It's even sadder still, if Spikes actually had to ask to be suspended for the full game. I would say kudos to him, but its something that shouldn't have been done in the first place, to go after somebody's eyes.

Not to get into a BCS v playoff rant here, but one big reason I prefer college football's post-season format over the playoff like that in college basketball, is that every game to some degree counts. Take for instance, the opening weekend of the college basketball season, where the basketball Orangemen have outdone their football brethren. They lost to Divison II Lemoyne on their home court. And last season, didn't Gardner-Webb defeat mighty Kentucky. But come the end of the year and tournament time, nobody is gonna mention that Syracuse lost to LeMoyne. Did Michigan ever live down the Appalachian State loss. Would Iowa be where they are now had they not blocked those field goals against Northern Iowa, even with the later win over Penn State. I mean if a BCS conference team loses to a non-BCS team, they could pretty much kiss their chances goodbye. For the most part, every game counts, every game is important, there are no mulligans in college football.

Flash Forward: Penn State

To say the least, this is the biggest game of Pryor's young career. Returning to his home state to face the team that was at the heart of his biggest loss last season as a result of his fumble. This will the toughest game for him mentally to overcome because of that fumble. The Nittany Lions stat wise have the best defense in the conference, I still think the Silver Bullets are better based on competition. This will be a defensive struggle, much in the same fashion of the game they played last season. If Pryor comes out and plays for the team and not try to redeem "himself" for last year's loss, then the Buckeyes can still accomplish their primary goal for this season and that is to win the conference and go to a BCS bowl game. Despite the loss to Purdue, the Buckeyes control their own destiny. Win out, they're the undisputed Big Ten Champions and off to the Rose Bowl and a possible matchup with US-- whoops, with Oregon! sounds funny huh? Pryor must play within himself and rely on his legs just as much as he desires to rely on his arm. The offensive line must do a better job in all phases, welcome back Boren! They must establish a sound ground game to ease the burden on Pryor. Now when I say establish a running game, I mean with one of the running backs, not just Pryor. With Boom healthy, hopefully he'll be able to get going, if not, I hope Tressel doesn't hesitate to go to either Jordan Hall or Jermil Martin. I believe both of them are more instinctive runners than either Boom or Brandon Saine. Posey, Sanzenbacher, and Small are important but can we get Ballard or surprise me and throw it to Jacob Stoneburner. Tressel surprised us last week with the reverse pass, and the onside kick, well how about throwing it the the tight ends for once.

Defense, Defense, and more Defense. Suffice it to say, defense will dominate this game with both offenses seeming to struggle against teams that can play a little defense. Not being biased here, okay maybe a little, I do believe that Ohio State has the more explosive offensive potential between the two teams. Key will be turnovers, which has been a problem for Pryor. However, if he can limit them and the Buckeyes win the turnover battle, I believe the they can win this game. How confident will Tressel be with Barclay (or Buchanan) remains to be seen, he may have to go for it on fourth down and got forbid run a QB sneak! This could also be time for Ray Small to step up big in the return game as special teams will play a big role. To say that Jon Thoma has to be better than what he's shown thus far is an understatement. The team that controls field position will have a definite advantage as the game wears on.

In the past several Big Games, it always seemed that the Buckeyes coaching staff got outcoached or were to slow to make any in-game adjustments or any at all. They must adapt quickly to whatever Penn State throws at time and counter it quickly. They can't get outcoached, period. Getting out executed one can deal with to some degree, but getting outcoached when your supposed to be one the conference's best is not.

In a big time defensive, bruising battle I do believe that the Buckeyes will come out victorious and keep their goal of winning another Big Ten title within reach. Final Score: 20-10, Ohio State.

My Heisman Winner~ This Week

Case Keenum, QB, Houston

Runner-up: Colt McCoy, QB, Texas

My Top Five ~ This Week

1) Texas - Destroyed Oklahoma St. to cement the top spot
2) Florida - Do You Really think Meyer wanted to Suspend Spikes? Me Neither
3) Alabama - Have to play better against LSU than what they did with Tennessee
4) Iowa - Will remain here until Ohio State game, come on Buckeyes have their number
5) Cincinnati - Undefeated and this Collaros Kid can play

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Midweek Musings!

Minnesota Redux - Buckeyes Romp 38~7

After the blistering week suffered following the Purdue loss, the Golden Gophers definitely came at the right time. Save for the 18 play drive that resulted in Pettrey's missing a chippy and the big bomb from Pryor to Posey the offense was still somewhat sluggish. The 31 point explosion in the 2nd half was eased the fragile psyche of Buckeye nation, well at least for a week. The 38 points, over 500 yards of offense, and a dominating defense have people thinking that Tressel can still actually coach this game. Following the Purdue loss, one would've thought that the Vest had lost all coaching knowledge and was way in over his head. Not only did the offense look good, Pryor seemed to be focused the whole game, the line got their act together and we got to see that there is actually some depth at running back.

Pryor's decisiveness in running the ball was the most aggresive I've seen him since last year. For the most part his footwork was much better and he made better decisions. Probably the best pass he threw during the game was the one he threw out-of-bounds. Instead of running around trying to make something of nothing, which he has been prone to do, under duress, he took the mature route, Finally!! Except for the bad throw at the end of the 1st Half, and still some messy footwork on a couple of his throws, this was by far his best game. Over 200 yards passing and another 100 rushing, really should be the norm for him. Hopefully, he'll realize that running when necessary to keep drives alive, will ultimately help his passing in the long run.

The Buckeyes actually have receivers!! Yeah, Posey had some drops but as Pryor improves this kid will be a star. No their not Ginn/Gonzalez or even the under utilized Robiskie/Hartline for that matter but the Posey/Sanzenbacher combo is a good one. Add in a rejuvenated Small and Duron Carter, this just might be the deepest group of receivers they had here since the Jenkins/Holmes/Gamble era of 2002.

Boom and Zoom better get healthy and real quick. Jordan Hall looked really good and where has Jermil Martin been all season. Martin appears to be the closest thing to Beanie on the roster. Boom and Zoom have been good, but Hall and Martin just seem to have a bit more of that natural instinct needed by running backs. Unless, there is another injury of some sort, we won't get a look at Jamal Berry until next year. Hopefully, Carlos Hyde will make it on campus next year and Roderick Smith will also be on board and he'll most likely redshirt next year.

My Comments on Some Comments

Move Pryor to receiver.. He's a bust.. blah, blah, blah. That has got to be the most absurd thing that resulted from the Purdue loss. Move Pryor to receiver, are you serious. Not to disrespect him, but anyone thinking that Joe Bauserman gives the Buckeyes a better chance to win is straight up stupid! In Football, especially in CFB, the adage is to put the ball in the hands of your 'Best Player' Well folks, Pryor is the Buckeyes best offensive player - period. Can't you hear the criticism now, if you were to get moved to WR, and the Buckeyes lost! They all would be saying that Pryor didn't get the ball enough. Just ask Georgia and Alabama fans if A.J. Green and Julio Jones get the ball enough, and you'll get a resounding NO! and there established wideouts, Pryor would have to learn that position. Here, Tressel is definitely right in his firm decision not to even consider the prospect of moving Pryor. People want Pryor to be a Troy Smith, during Smith's Heisman year. Troy Smith, for how good he was, really didn't become Troy Smith! until the later stages of his junior year, which included, some off the field issues that seemed to humble him and enabled him to mature into the player he was later on. One can only hope that Pryor has some of Smith's fortitude and mental makeup to overcome some of his issues both on the field and off, and become Troy Smith like in his remaining years at Ohio State.

And in speaking of the development of Terrelle Pryor under Jim Tressel, remember the guy who can't coach. Well remember Troy Smith, the afterthought - the last player in that Buckeye recruiting class. Smith was supposed to eventually move to receiver or something because wunderkind Justin Zwick was the ballyhooed QB. Well we know how that eventually turned out. Smith, under the guidance of Tressel, would eventually win the job from Zwick and would go on to win that Heisman in 2006. Not just win it mind you, but won it with a record 86.7% of first place votes. If Terrelle continues to work as hard as the staff claims he is, then by the time he leaves, he just might have some hardware of his own as well.

Flash Forward - New Mexico State

The thought process is, that this should be nothing more than a scrimmage. Well, that was the same thinking heading into to Purdue game. However, this really should be nothing more than a glorified scrimmage for the Buckeyes. New Mexico brings with them the worst offense to Columbus. No, you read right, NM St has the 120th ranked offense out of 120 FBS teams. Also, coming to town will be the 75th ranked defense. This should be a great opportunity for Pryor, the O-line, and the running backs to develop some consistency in their execution and for the coaches to develop some consistency in their play calling. The defense should've had a shutout last week, sorry the 2nd teamers are still part of the team, and Silver Bullets should record one this upcoming weekend. For whatever reason, the execution or the coaching, the defense simply was not as aggresive as I've gotten accustomed to them being against Purdue. Against Minnesota, the coaches let the dogs out again so to speak. Hopefully, moving forward, they'll remain aggresive in the game planning, as they'll have to be down the stretch if they have any hope of successfully retaining their share of the Big Ten Title and another BCS bowl berth.

My Top Five

1) Texas - have consistently played the best thus far

2) Florida - Still undefeated, still the defending champs

3) Alabama - Not hating on how their winning, see Ohio State 2002

4) Iowa - Will remain here until Ohio State game, come on Buckeyes have their number

5) Cincinnati - Undefeated and was more impressive against the Beavers than USC

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Tressel/Carroll Debate

First off, welcome to my very first blog post, with hopefully many more to come.

When thinking of what to address in this initial post, the Ohio State offense, which at this point is offensive to say the least was gonna be the focus. However, following the embarrasing loss to Purdue, which the offense was suppose to get a boost, instead got busted. While gathering my thoughts on the woes of the offense, the loss itself lead to another area which as been the subject of much discussion. The Jim Tressel v Pete Carroll debate.

Over the last several years Tressel has been taken to task for the team's shortcomings in BCS bowl games and non-conference games against the power programs from other conferences. And deservedly so. But why not the same venom for Carroll whose teams have consistently loss to teams with sub-par records? Yes, Carroll wins his bowl games at the end of the year, thus saving him from the ridicule bestowed upon Tressel. Carroll is always the preferred coach when the two are put side-by-side. He's the better coach, the better recruiter, the better game-planner, etc. His two-deep is better than most team's starters? So why is it they lose to teams who are way inferior to them.

Since 2005 both teams are in the top 5 in winning percentage, 88% for USC and 84% for Ohio State, both teams Have been to 4 BCS games. Both teams have sent comparable numbers to the NFL. Yet Tressel gets trounced in public opinion polls, ESPN, etc.. Carroll gets a pass.

Since 2005 Ohio State has 8 losses, USC 6 losses. However, all of Ohio State losses have come to BCS teams. More specifically, those losses have come to BCS Bowl Teams, Two of which were in the national championship game itself. All the others have either come in a BCS bowl game or to teams that eventually played in a BCS bowl game. USC losses have come, save one, to teams in which most cases the Trojans were double digit favorites. How can we forget the loss to UCLA (5-6) I believe 5-6 at the time or that terrible loss to Stanford another team with a losing record.

When having lively debates with my SoCal Brethren and they use the played-out thought process that the Big 10 is weak. Which based on on-field performance by the conference as a whole might be valid point. That being said, its not like USC was losing to the top-tier of their own conference, which by the way, hasn't been all the impressive either.

And in those debates I could always state the fact the atleast the Buckeyes made it to the Title game by winning all the games they were Supposed to win! Many would argue that those games were embarrasing loses for the Buckeyes, and I would argue that it was USC that had the more embarrasing losses over this time period. While the Buckeyes were losing to the Florida's, LSU's, USC was losing to UCLA, Stanford, Oregon St.

Which brings me full circle back to the Purdue loss. This was the type of team Tressel and the Buckeyes always seemed to beat. And this was the one argument that Buckeye nation could always lean on, when it came to Tressel in this debate. You could count on a Carroll coached team to have a bad, bad loss at some point in the year, and for Tressel to win a very ugly, ugly game (well maybe two or three-but he would win) at some point in the year. Granted, it was just one game and hopefully for Buckeye Nation an abberation, but if this continues, I mean is Minnesota a guaranteed win at this point. Following the Purdue loss, my SoCal brothers quickly informed me that one of my key arguments was no longer as strong as it once was. The Tressel/Carroll debate will be even more one-sided and Buckeye Nation grumblings that are already loud, will set decibel levels to new highs.