Thursday, August 31, 2006

Know thy enemy, Part II

First, I'd like to start off by sharing the bad news that Mike D'Andrea once again underwent season-ending knee surgery which will effectively end his football career. This is a sad end to what started out as such a promising career. The nation's #1 linebacker prospect saw immediate playing time as true freshman backing up All-American Matt Wilhelm. Ever since then, D'Andrea has played sparingly, battling off injuries, and it looks like his knee probably wouldn't even be able to play a game of pickup basketball when it's healthy. Sad, sad, sad...

Also, it appears Roy Hall is out for the NIU game.

I've made a new wallpaper. Check it out here:
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In an announcement of my "week of previews," I've decided to cancel the NIU preview. If you want to read a high quality one, go to Buckeye Planet. That preview is hardcore. I just don't feel like writing anymore past today. Now, on to the Michigan defensive preview (much thanks to Brian from MGoBlog for the constant reference:

This just in: LaMarr Woodley is a freak. He may not have the big name recognition of superstar defensive ends like Quentin Moses or Gaines Adams, but he very well could before too long. He can stop the run or the pass, and he shows that with his 70 tackles recorded last season and his ability to fly into the backfield on obvious passing situations. One big game should launch Woodley into an All-American level. By far the best player on the Michigan defense. The rest of the line? The other starter at end will probably end up being sophomore Tim Jamison. Jamison didn't play all that much last season, but when he did, he was making plays as often as anyone on that defense. Another name to look out for is Rondell Biggs, and yes, he is pretty big (275 lbs) is an effective run stopper but pretty useless against the pass. At the tackle position Alan Branch will be a big factor on the defense, even if he doesn't pile up the stats. Much like Pitcock, Branch should help ease the strain on a run-defense that could struggle at times this season. He's no Gabe Watson, but Michigan fans should pray that he gives more effort than Watson did last year.

Senior Dave Harris was a breakthrough performer on the defense last year, leading the team with 88 tackles, and being disruptive in both pass defense and run stopping. However, according to mgoblog, the men on the outside, "went beyond ineffective straight into the realm of liability." Teams had no problem bouncing out runs to the outside and getting into the open field before being brought down by a defensive back (See: Troy Smith V1.0 and 2.0). The OLBs were often left out of position, but that may have been due to a lack of inexperience rather than just lack of talent. Then again, one of the starters last season was junior Prescott Burgess, a safety converted linebacker that was expected to explode onto the scene, but managed to fade off into oblivion at times, even though making a few highlight plays. Although I don't know much about him, Shawn Crable apparently was one of the stars of Spring Ball, and has probably put himself above Burgess in the depth chart. This group is very capable of growing into one of the better ones in the conference, but it seems like this team was too young to be on the field last year, and you have to wonder if one offseason was enough experience for them.

This secondary is very much comparable to the Buckeye's situation. One sure thing at one corner with Leon Hall, and three question marks. Now before I go on, let me just say that Leon Hall is a much better player than Jenkins is, and will probably prove that this season. Hall is a NFL-star waiting to happen, and the senior should put up quite a 2006 campaign -- that is -- if anyone throws his way. Opposite of Hall is a three way battle between two highly touted redshirt sophomores, and a third highly touted redshirt freshman, none of which I know anything about. Brandent Engleman and Willis Barringer make a dangerous safety duo that, may not make the biggest plays all the time, usually are mistake free and good in pass coverage. Jamar Adams may actually beat out Barringer for the starting job at free safety, but Engleman will probably stay put at SS.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Know thy enemy Part I

Apparently in the world of Deadspin/The MZone, one obsessive fan = an entire fanbase. Oh well. I so totally called the cereal thing.

In my next part of this marathon of a week I am bringing you the preview of Michigan's schedule/offense. Here you guys go:

Schedule (Predicted result in parenthesis):

Vanderbilt (W)
Central Michigan (W)
@ Notre Dame (L)
Wisconsin (W)
@ Minnesota (W)
Michigan State
Penn State (W)

Iowa (W)
Northwestern (W)
Ball State (W)
@ Indiana (W)

@ Ohio State (L)

Predicted finish: 10-2 (8-1) 1st Big Ten (Lose tiebreaker to OSU)



After being named the starter amongst much controversy in 2004, Chad Henne essentially told all the doubters who thought he was too young, "Suck on that one, MF." Henne finished that season as one of the most effective quarterbacks in the country, while leading the team to a near Rose Bowl victory. However, after being ranked in the preseason top 5 in most polls, Henne suffered a little bit of a "Sophomore Slump." Although Henne was still one of the better quarterbacks in the Big 10, his progress from freshman to sophomore year was not what most fans expected. However, a lot of that can be contributed to injuries to star HB Michael Hart. Henne has a gun for an arm, but his one relative weakness is his accuracy (only 58% last season, compared to Troy Smith's and Drew Tate's 62%, and Stanton's 66%). However, this can also be partially attributed to Hart's injury troubles as well, considering Michigan was much more reliant on the passing game. With the expected superstar season out of Steve Breaston and the continual blossoming of Mario Manningham, there's no reason why Henne can't be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference.

Running Back:
The second part of that fantastic duo of 2004 freshmen was Michael Hart. Not to sound too cliche-ey here, but Hart was the heart of the Michigan offense. When Hart went down
with a bum hammy early in game two against Notre Dame, the effects showed instantly. Late in the game, Michigan was knocking on the Notre Dame doorstep, but then a key turnover led to the Irish's victory. The game probably would have been in a whole different situation had Hart been in the game, seeing as how he probably would have chewed up that Notre Dame defense and run wild. There's no doubt in my mind that Michigan would have won that game with Hart. In games which Hart played, but got under 20 carries, UM went 1-3. In games with more than 20 carries? 3-1. I'm no mathematician here, but the way I see it: Get Hart the ball, and good things are bound to happen.

Here's something for Michigan fans to put in their pipe and smoke. Last season, regardless of all the hype around Ted Ginn, fans of the bad guys up north still insisted that Breaston would have a better season, and that Ginn would struggle. And when Ginn didn't do as expected last season, boy did we ever hear it from the Michigan fans. Funny though, because he still finished the season with 512 more receiving yards and twice as many touchdowns. As I mentioned earlier, I'm not a math expert, but I'd still take Ginn any day. Regardless, Breaston is due for a breakout year after an excellent freshman year, an injury filled sophomore season, and a disappointing Junior year. He's still too much of a big play threat for Michigan to ignore, and there's no doubt in my mind that regardless of what Manningham did last season, Breaston is still the #1 guy. Speaking of Manningham, he better not have a sophomore slump in case something happens to Breaston because depth at the receiver spot is somewhat lacking. Remember, Jason Avant is off to the NFL now, and although the TEs are talented, they aren't reliable enough if the other guys can't manage.

There have been three constants in the Lllloyd Carr era at Michigan: Losing the first road
game of the season, that danged blue banner, and dominant offensive lines. However, last year was a bit of a different story up front for the ugly helmets. Injuries plagued the line last season, which sure as hell didn't help matters on the Michigan offense. However, assuming that they can stay healthy this season, this line should be back to their old selves. There's tons of experience to go around with three seniors and two juniors, all of whom got playing time last season. Junior Tackle Jake Long is an All-American in waiting. Long is one of the best pass protectors in the nation, who uses his quick feet and long wingspan to his advantage. Reuben Riley can play just about anywhere on the line, but will probably see most time at guard. An interesting prospect here is guard Adam Kraus, who last year converted from tight end to guard before getting into injury troubles. He's a mobile lineman, so it will be interesting to see what he's capable of when he's healthy.

Deadspin will be all over this one

Okay, you know you're cool when you're on the cover of cereal boxes. For Bobby Carpenter, AJ Hawk, and Anthony Schlegel are the three coverboys for the newest Ohio State Buckeyes cereal, "Buckeye HerOes." I'm sure this is just another thing to draw up more criticism from Deadspin and the MZone, but I'll just continue to ignore it. I'm sure I'd be doing the same thing if we were the ones who were 1-4. Anyways, this stuff looks like cheerios, and since I'm already such a honey-nut enthusiast myself, I'm sure I'll be trying it out.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Big Ten Preview

Minus Michigan (coming tomorrow) and Ohio State.

I'm going to sort this out by who I project to win the conference.

1. Ohio State Buckeyes

2. Michigan Wolverines

3. Iowa Hawkeyes
The schedule: To be fair to all you Hawkeye fans out there, I have Michigan and Iowa finishing with the same conference records, but ultimately I think that Michigan will defeat Iowa in their Oct. 21st matchup. I also feel that the inexperience on defense will lead to another loss. Remember, I picked them to upset Ohio State yesterday, and I feel that the rest of the schedule is very winnable.

Offense: Unquestionably, the offense is the team's most experienced aspect. Although most of the preseason focus has been on Drew Stanton and Troy Smith, Drew Tate cannot be forgotten. He is a smart player who won't make many dumb mistakes with his arm. Albert Young ran for over 1,300 yards last season and is expected to be one of the top running backs in the Big Ten this season. The receivers are inexperienced, but thay can burn defenders easily. Led by three seniors (4 if you count TE Scott Chandler), the offensive line is experienced and should be able to make some big holes for Albert Young to run through.

Defense: No, Ohio State wasn't the only team to lose their top linebackers this season. Abdul Hodge and Chad Greenway were thought of by some as the top duo in America regardless of position last season, and now both are off in the NFL. Edmond Miles was the third leg of that group of linebackers last season, and he is back for one last go around with the team. The other two guys? A combined 35 tackles between them. Ouch. The team returns both safeties, but loses their two best corners in a secondary that was already considered the weakness of the team. On the defensive line there is Ken Iwebema who last year established himself as one of the conferences best pass rushers. There will be a heavy load on the line to pressure the quarterback to make things easier on the secondary.

Projected finish: 10-2 (7-2), T-2nd in Big 10

4. Wisconsin Badgers
Schedule: I feel I may be a year premature on picking Illinois as my "sleeper team." If that is the case, then Wisconsin fits the mold this season. Barry Alvarez is gone as coach, and for the first time in a while, there is no real proven tailback, but this team is still capable of doing damage in the conference. I predict them to upset Penn State and then cap off their season shocking Iowa in Kinnick stadium. The nonconference schedule is about as soft as it gets, with their most difficult opponent being San Diego State. Some losses I do expect, however, are at Michigan, at Purdue, and home against Illinois. The team may not be as talented as the past, but their schedule plays out pretty well in their favor, which is why I have them ranked so high.

Offense: Is it just me, or has John Stocco been around forever? I swear I remember hearing his name back before Tressel was coach, but I can't be positive. He had a surprisingly strong season, and he should only grow on it in his final camaign. There isn't a Brian Calhoun in this group, or even a Booker Stanley for that matter, but there is a lot of talent ready to show what they're capable of. Redshirt froshie PJ Hill is a big, bruising back at 235 pounds, and was the star of spring ball. He's not a dual threat like Brian Calhoun, but let's face it: would you want to be in the way of 235 pounds beast being led by a fullback and All-American tackle Joe Thomas? Didn't think so.

Defense: If the starters stay healthy and the young guys live up to the hype, this could be one of the better defenses in the Big 10. The defensive line had some problems last season, but there is plenty of depth there this season and that problem shouldn't present itself this season. Mark Zalewski will be manning the middle, and is one of the surest tacklers in all the land. The cornerbacks feature a pair of sophomores who both got significant playing time last season, and there is plenty of experience to go around at the safety spots. Defense shouldn't be a problem for the Badgers this season.

Projected Finish: 9-3 (5-3) 4th Big Ten

5. Penn State Nittany Lions
Schedule: The Lions were fortunate to avoid Iowa in their conference schedule, but they get Ohio State in Columbus and at Wisconsin. I don't know if this team will be able to win either of those games, and I also think that Michigan will be too much for them to handle. Oh yeah, a non conference game at South Bend could hurt, too.

Offense: One thing you will get to know about me as I continue to post here is that I am a big believer in the spread offense. Spreading out the defenses and creating mismatches while also utilizing a mobile quarterback is turning into an almost unstoppable offensive strategy. Penn State used it last year with athletes Michael Robinson and Derrick Williams. Now, Robinson has moved on, and the Nittany Lions will have to rely on leadfooted Anthony Morelli to command the offense. Chances are, the team will be relying on Williams just a tad this season to do whatever he can. The offensive line only has one experienced player on it in tackle Levi Brown, which will make things even tougher for the young QB.

Defense: If there is one thing that will keep this ship floating it is linebacker Paul Posluszny. Poz was the nation's second best linebacker all season long last year, and after he undeservedly robbed AJ Hawk of the Butkus award last season, he should be all over the place this season. Whether he's out in coverage or stopping the run, Poz can do it all. The one question surrounding him is if he can return from knee surgery and be back at 100%. Also on the defense are fellow linebackers Dan Connor and Tim Shaw. The trio poses one of, if not the best, linebacker trios in the country. The rest of the defense is experienced enough to take this team places, even if the offense stumbles along the way.

Projected Finish: 8-4 (6-3), T-5th in Big 10.

6. Michigan State Spartans
Start fast, end early. That has been a common theme for Michigan State the past few years. Last season, MSU beat the likes of Notre Dame in South Bend, and hold their own against Michigan and Ohio State, yet only to lose four of their last five games (the lone win coming against Indiana). In those final four losses, the Spartans were outscored 149-75. Given the Spartan's history of doing this under John L Smith, there's no reason why I shouldn't go against it. I project them losing to Notre Dame, @ Michigan, Ohio State, and @ Penn State.

Offense: Once again, Michigan State is loaded on offense with Drew Stanton leading the way. Stanton has an NFL-caliber arm, but he also has the ability to scramble and make plays for himself as well. Since he's stuck in East Lansing, he isn't getting much Heisman Hype, but if he were to switch places with, say, Brady Quinn, he'd be even more of a lock for the award than Quinn is right now. Hard to believe, but true. The one knock on Stanton is that he often gets bit by the injury bug, but if he can stay healthy and consistent, he alone should be able to lead this team to respectability. Javon Ringer is an under appreciated running back that should easily surpass 1,000 yards and get some mention in the All-Big Ten chase. The receivers are experienced, which never hurts, either.

Defense: The only real big name on the defense is end moved tackle Clifton Ryan. Seeing as how I just had to look back to see if I had his name right, you can tell he isn't that big of a name. Ryan will be expected to create a much lacking pass rush on the front four. Justin Kershaw, Brandon Long, and Ervin Baldwin are all great athletes, but all three are raw and unproven, so only time will tell if the Spartans will ever be able to get to the quarterback. The linebackers are all experienced (all three players have 60+ tackles to their credit), but none are especially talented. Greg Cooper has been moved from FS to the team's number one corner, and if he can step up, then the secondary could become pretty good for the Spartans. There is a lot of upside with Otis Wiley and Nehemiah Warrick at safety, but neither has seen any significant time.

Projected Finish: 8-4 (4-4), T-5th Big Ten.

7. Illinois Fighting Illini
The days of mediocrity in Champaign are slowly reaching their end. Sounds a bit funny considering that the Illini finished only 2-9 last season, with their two wins coming in the first two weeks of the season against Rutgers and San Jose State. However, Ron Zook has the program headed in the right direction, and should be able to bring the program back on their feet once again. However, it may not be this season (although there will be noticable improvements). Illinois could very well go through their non conference schedule undefeated, and as far as conference wins go, I like them beating Wisconsin, Indiana, and Purdue. That's right. llinois will be bowl eligible this season.

Offense: The Illini will be loaded at tailback this season with power running Pierre Thomas and the nimble footed/multi purpose threat EB Hasley in the same backfield. The issue though is how much they will be able to run with a less than stellar offensive line that allowed 32 sacks last season. However, a year of experience should change things and the offense should be much better. The receivers are young and promising, but will quarterback Tim Brasic (11/11 TD/INT) be able to get them the ball? Let's just sit back and wait for the Isiah Williams era to start.

Defense: The line last year was just about as bad as it gets. They consistently gave the quarterback tons of time to make big throws, and they would get tossed around like a rag doll in the running game. The ends are young and promising, but haven't played much and could see trouble early on. Outside of JUCO transfer Antonio Steele, the linebackers lack the speed that Ron Zook so heavily desires. The defense finished second to last in the nation last year in pass efficiency defense. There isn't much depth, and there isn't much talent in the back four, which could make things difficult for Illinois.

Projected Finish: 6-6 (3-5), 7th Big Ten

8. Purdue Boilermakers
Schedule: Last season, a lot of people expected the Boilermakers to make some noise, seeing how they managed to avoid both Michigan and Ohio State. Well, after managing to go 5-6, beating only one decent team (MSU) along the way, the expectations have dipped a bit for Joe Tiller's squad. The non conference schedule features perrenial powerhouses Ball State and Indiana State, their only two guaranteed wins all season. However, the team is talented to pull a few more wins out of their collective rears.

Offense: Receiver Dorien Bryant is one of the top pass catchers in the conference, and he proved that last year by hauling in 80 catches despite the team going back and forth on quarterbacks. Curtis Painter could be the next big star QB in Purdue's offense, but if it is to happen, it probably won't be this year. He does have some decent protection on a line that is headed by preseason All-Big Ten performer Jordan Grimes. However, the offense lacks depth all-around, so if they get bit by the injury bug this year, things will turn sour quickly.

Defense: The Boilermaker defense was a total disaster last season. Most of that blame could be put on the secondary, which, although has some nice prospects, never did produce. The front seven will be solid. Not great, just solid. Ther aren't any all-stars on this defense, but if someone can step up and provide a decent pass rush, then they shouldn't be in too much trouble. Speaking of stepping up, someone is going to need to do it in the secondary, and quickly, or else Ryne Robinson and Miami will have a total field day in week 2.

Projected finish: 5-8 (3-5), 8th Big Ten

9. Minnesotta Golden Gophers
Schedule: 2006 will be a downer for the Gophers after going to three state bowls and Glenn Mason getting his much-needed contract extension. The non conference schedule features a tough game against Cal, which will almost definitely result in a loss, but there are three locked up wins against Kent State, Temple, and North Dakota State (!?). The only possible in-conference wins at this point are with Indiana and Purdue.

Offense: Running the ball effectively has turned into tradition at Minnesotta. However, Laurence Maroney is gone to the NFL, and the guy who was expected to be the next great Minny tailback, Gary Russell, failed to make the grade. Had Russell stayed on the team, I would have MINN much higher up on these rankings. He's that good. Will Amir Pinnix step in? Unlike the all the other backs, he's the smaller-quicker type. It will be interesting to see if he can fill the void. The team does have the best blocking tight end in the nation in Matt Spaeth.

Defense: Hybrid sophomore Steve Davis quickly became the top pass rusher on the defense last year, and the Golden Gophers better hope that he isn't in for a sophomore slump. The rest of the front four moved on, so it will be up to Davis to get to the quarterback consistently. The linebackers return all of their starters, but speed will remain a problem for these guys unless they whip themselves into shape. This defense will have to be much more opprotunistic (only 8 picks all season), if the team is to win more games this season.

Projected finish: 5-7 (2-6), 9th in Big 10

10. Northwestern Wildcats
Schedule: When Randy Walker took over Northwestern, this team was worse than the laughingstock of the Big Ten. They were total scum. In only a few short years, the Wildcats suddenly became a team to reckon with. Then, Walker passed away with what was an apparent heart attack. He was 52. Personally, I feel that this loss will be too much for the team to overcome this season, and on top of the fact that the talent dropoff is pretty big from last year, things aren't looking to good in Chicago. I see them winning one conference game, the season finale at home against Illinois. As far as the nonconference schedule goes, they should be able to beat Eastern Michigan and New Hampshire.

Offense: Brett Basanez moved on, and although he wasn't the most talented player out there, he was good enough to give the defense a scare through the air, an dhis mobility added another demention to the game. However, the team returns conference freshman of the year Tyrell Sutton, which the team will rely on heavily all season long. Sutton is also a pretty good multi purpose back, catching 44 passes last season. The new quarterback, CJ Bacher is a similar player to Basanez, but is young which could lead to some more interceptions than one would like. The strength of the offense, however, is the offensive line. Four starters return from a group that allowed only eleven sacks and had 193 rushing yards per game.

Defense: The team was unable to stop the run at all last season, and as far as things are looking right now, they won't be exceptionally better, either. The total D finished rock bottom in the entire nation allowing 480 ypg. But the linebackers should be a bit better even with the loss of tackle maching Tim McGarigle. Adam Kadela (Dublin native, by the way), is an effective player, who ranked third on the team in tackles despite suffering some injury problems. One thing the Wildcat defense is good at, though, is creating turnovers. They forced 30 last year, one of the better amounts in the nation.

Projected Schedule: 3-9 (1-7)

11. Indiana Hoosiers
Last and least, I present you with my mini-preview of the Indiana Hoosiers. Although Terry Hoeppner has the team going in the right direction, there is still a long, long way to go until this team is respectable. The team should win 2 or 3 of their 4 nonconference games, but the conference will be killer. All of the games that are remotely winnable are on the road, which makes it hard for me to pick them in any game. So you heard it here: the Hoosiers will go winless in conference play this season.

Offense: James Hardy, and then everyone else. That's the way the offense will look this season in Indiana. Receiver James Hardy is the lone weapon on this lowly team. Blake Powers should be able to do just enough to get him the ball consistently, but when teams start ganging up on Hardy, these guys won't have anywhere else to go. Powers was actually a hell of a player during the first half of the season last year, but he only threw two touchdowns over the last 5 games. Not very good. The running back situation looks glim after the top two rushers moved on, and their current starter got a grand total of 35 yards last season. If Indiana had any fans, I'd tell them to find another team to root for.

Defense: The IU defense has a long history of futility, and that tradition will probably carry on into this year. Last season, the Hoosiers allowed 211 points over the last 5 games of the season (42.2 ppg). Tackling has always been an issue with these guys, and with a complete cleanout of the front seven, that will probably carry on as well. If anything can be considered a strong suit of the defense, it is the experienced secondary that returns all four starters.

Final Projection: 2-10 (0-8)

Whew....that was brutal.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Depth chart released

The Buckeyes released their depth chart for the NIU game, with what I feel are plenty of surprises, especially on the defensive side. Vernon Gholston beat out Lawrence Wilson at defensive end. Wilson got moved over to back up Richardson, while Alex Barrow is now behind Gholston. Gholston must have done one hell of a lot this fall to earn that spot, because the one guy the coaches kept on raving about was Wilson. Also, Brandon Mitchell took the starting SS spot from Super Jamario. I can't think of any reason as to why this happened other than that Tressel continued with his tradition of starting seniors over much more deserving underclassmen. Nick Patterson starts at the other safety spot, and Anderson Russell is the nickleback.

As far as backups go, Ray Small managed to crack the two-deep behind Ted Ginn, and Chris Wells and Mo Wells are now listed as co-backups. Essentially, what the coaches mean by co-backups is, "Ya know, Maurice, we respect you a whole lot. But you aren't Chris Wells. If it's any consolation, at least your name is there." I really can't see MWells getting the ball in a situation where CWells could get the ball. Finally, Larry Grant is now the 2nd string middle linebacker behind Laurainitis, as it is becoming more and more evident that D'Andrea probably won't play this season.

Oh yeah, and as I successfully predicted in my Special Teams preview, Aaron Pettrey has won the starting kicking job over Ryan Pretorious. Hopefully it pays off for us (I think it will).

Granted, nothing about this depth chart should be considered final. As I eluded to earlier, when push comes to shove, I'm sure the coaches will feel much more comfortable with Chris Wells at running back, and probably Brian Robiske at receiver also.

Projecting the schedule

As other blogs are going into heavy detailed game-by-game previews, I'm keeping things a bit more concise. No offense to any of the other bloggers, but doing full previews for games in October just doesn't make much sense to me. Too many things could happen between now and then.

Game 1: Northern Illinois
Final pick: OSU 31, NIU 21
Garrett Wolfe is the real deal, but expect the Buckeyes to jump out to an early lead and force NIU to have to throw.

Game 2: @ Texas

Final Pick: OSU 28, Texas 24
Last time I checked, home teams without a surefire starter at QB have never won in this series. Expect more of the same as Tressel forces Texas to run and run often and shutdown the Texas offense.

Game 3: Cincinnati
Final Pick: OSU 35, UC 17
UC is still at least one year (probably two) away from being a team to really reckon with in the Big East. The offense is inexperienced, and Troy and Teddy will totally overwhelm the Cincy defense.

Game 4: Penn State
Final Pick: OSU 27, PSU 10
We saw last season how the spread offense is revolutionizing the game of college football. The loss of Michael Robinson makes one less thing for the Buckeye defense to worry about, and if Derrick Williams doesn't get his touches, the Nittany defense will have trouble doing much of anything.

Game 5: @ Iowa
Final Pick: Iowa 21, OSU 17
This game is the game that worries me the most as a fan. The last time we were at Kinnick, the results weren't pretty, and our team's recent history of playing under the lights doesn't help things much either. This game will probably be decided by a late turnover, and as much as I'd like to see OSU go undefeated, I think the schedule is just too much to handle.

Game 6: Bowling Green
Final Pick: OSU 38, BG 7
Bowling Green is an average MAC team that will find themselves playing an OSU team hungry to get back on track. Those two things don't necessarily mix, and it this will all blow up in BGs face.

Game 7: @ Michigan State
Final Pick: OSU 28, MSU 14
Here is a game that most people are viewing as a potential landmine for the Buckeyes. I don't think so. John L Smith is a mediocre coach, and even though Drew Stanton is an NFL stud in waiting, this team is primed for another late season blowup.

Game 8: Indiana
Final Pick: OSU 38, IU 13
Name one Indiana player other than James Hardy. Go ahead. I dare you. Can't? Well ain't that a shame. That's because IU is an average team at best, and won't have any business being on the same field as Ohio State come this time during the season.

Game 9: Minnesota
Final Pick: OSU 27, Minn 17
Had Gary Russell made the grade, this game would have scared me. However, he's no longer a member of the team, which makes them much less of a threat. Glenn Mason is a good coach, however, and these guys will come to play, but it won't be enough to stop the Bucks.

Game 10: @ Illinois
Final Pick: OSU 28, ILL 21
The days of Illinois being the laughingstock of the Big 10 are over. I can't believe it myself, but Ron Zook may actually bring a team to respectability. This game will be Illinois showing to the world that they are for real, and this team will probably find themselves in a bowl game come December.

Game 11: @ Northwestern
Final Pick: OSU 31, NU 10
Unfortunately, this will be a long season for Northwestern. It was obvious that the loss of Basanaez would hurt these guys offensively, but the loss of Randy Walker will turn out to be too much of a loss for these guys to overcome. Tyrell Sutton is the one positive that this team has, but he can't do it himself.

Game 12: The Game
Final Pick: OSU 21, UM 17
Michigan lost a lot of respect from pollsters and fans alike after a relatively mediocre 2005 campaign. However, I have a good feeling that this team will be much better than last year's, and will give the Bucks a run for their money. However, like most of these games in the Tressel era, a late score will put the Buckeyes over the top, and fans will start calling for Carr's head.

Final season results: 11-1 (7-1), Big Ten Champs.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

One week

With the Buckeye season kicking off on Saturday and school starting for me on Thursday I expect this to be one of the longer weeks of my teenage life. However, I plan to spend much of my time on the blog making Ohio State-related posts. In fact, I am doing what I hope becomes an annual "week of previews." The following is the schedule that (hopefully) I will follow this week:

  • Monday - Projecting the OSU schedule. This won't be an in-depth game-by-game preview, but rather a brief summary of how I feel the Buckeyes will do in each game. And I'll spoil some of the fun for you right now: No, we don't go undefeated (But to keep things optimistic, we still win the Big 10!).
  • Tuesday - Looking over the rest of the Big 10. This will probably be the most in-depth of the previews.
  • Wednesday - Michigan Preview: Offense. I'm good friends with plenty of Michigan fans, and they have been bugging me to write stuff about Michigan, so here it is.
  • Thursday - Michigan Preview: Defense/Special Teams.
  • Friday - Northern Illinois Preview. This may be postponed to Saturday morning, but we'll have to see.
All of these previews will be available for future reference on the sidebar under the section "Ohio State Season Preview." Right now, I have all of the unit breakdowns on there.

Special Teams preview

Last but not least, I wrap up my Ohio State preseason unit breakdown with the most important factor of Tresselball: Special Teams. The main factor of Ohio State's special teams throughout the Tressel era has been using an excellent kicking game to create poor field position for the opposition. Then, our defense would force them to go three and out, and we would end up with the ball around our own 30 or 40 yard line. It was a recipe for success that led the Buckeyes to three Big 10 championships and a national championship. Now, our 2006 special teams unit could very well be stronger than we've ever had before. We may not have a Nugent or even a Huston on this team, but we do have two guys who are reliable enough to make field goals on a consistent basis, and with an offense that should be able to drive deeper into opponent territory, that's all we need. Not to mention our stellar return game which will shorten fields down drastically for our offense. I know there's a saying out there that goes the best offense is a good defense, but with the way things are shaping out this year, the best offense may be a good return game.

Key Losses: Josh Huston (UFA - CHI)
Santonio Holmes (Drafted 25th overall - PIT)

Projected Starting Kicker:
Aaron Pettrey (6-1, 195 pounds) RS-Fr.
Although most of the attention on the Buckeye squad focuses on who will replace the nine defensive starters that left, the most interesting position battle very well may be at Kicker. Gone is Josh Huston, who was one of the most reliable kickers in the nation last year, and left in the wings are two young guns in redshirt freshman Aaron Pettrey and redshirt sophomore Ryan Pretorious. The competition for the job has been pretty neck and neck ever since the spring, but I have to give the edge to Pettrey right now. In the spring kicking scrimmage, Pettrey edged out Pretorious, and just a week ago in the fall kick scrimmage, Pettrey was a perfect 9/9 on field goal attempts, whereas Pretorious had a few misses. Pettrey is also a far superior kicker when it comes to kickoffs, and has developed a regular routine of kicking balls out of the back of the endzone. We may see a trial and error throughout the season until we settle on a kicker (much like in 2001 between then freshmen Mike Nugent and Josh Huston), but right now I have to give the edge to Pettrey.

Projected starting Punter:
AJ Trapasso (6-1, 220 pounds) RS-So.
For the first time in what seems like decades, Ohio State will have a starting punter for more than just one season. In 2002 there was Andy Groom, BJ Sander in '03, Kyle Turano in '04, and now finally, we will know what we are getting on fourth down. Trapasso averaged 40.42 yards per punt last season, a number that, while not bad, certaintly leaves room for improvement. After reading that last sentence, I kind of feel spoiled as an OSU fan. 40.42 ypp is a great number, but the way I see it, the sky should be the limit for Trapasso. Expect that number to steadily climb up until he is a senior, and Trapasso should fit into that BJ Sander/Andy Groom category as great OSU punters. Seeing how I don't know how else to critique a punter other than his average yards per punt, I guess I'll move on now.

Projected starting returners:
Ted Ginn Jr (6-0, 180 pounds) Jr.
I don't know how much there is to say about Ginn returning that hasn't already been said, so I'll try and keep this brief: This kid can flat out run. By now we've all seen the highlights, and Ginn should only add on to those this year. His ability to make defenders can only be compared to one other collegiate player in the past decade, and that guy has a heisman trophy and a video game cover to his credit. If there is one knock on Ginn, it's that he has trouble holding onto the ball at times, especially on punt returns. However, all the reports on Ginn from practice are positive, and I don't really see this being the least bit of a problem all season long.

Other returners to watch:

Anthony Gonzalez, Jr. -
Gonzalez may have one of the best 40 times of anyone on the team, but as I look around at the potpourri of Ohio State websites, I can't find any information on him returning kicks this season. He may be used solely as a receiver due to his expected increased role in the offense this season.

Malcolm Jenkins, So. - Reportedly had some excellent returns in the kick scrimmage. He's a fantastic athlete with great speed, and very well could be the number 2 returner on opening day.

Brian Hartline/Brian Robiske, So. - There isn't much to say about these guys that I didn't just say about Malcolm Jenkins. Both played big roles in the kick scrimmage, but they may see bigger roles on the return team because they won't be seeing nearly as much time on the field as Jenkins will.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

OSU captains announced

The OSU football team elected their captains today, and I doubt the results were real surprising to anyone. The 2006-07 captains are C Doug Datish, DT Quinn Pitcock, DT David Patterson, and of course, QB Troy Smith.

This shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone out there. These are the four most experienced guys on the team and all four of them are excellent leaders. Datish will be commanding the talented Offensive line next season, while Pitcock and Patterson have the responsibility of clogging up the line and making things a whole heck of a lot easier on our young back seven. And yeah, that Smith guy may play a role in how our season holds out, too.

In recruiting news, four star defensive end Solomon Thomas led his team to a season opening victory, then after the game announced that he will officially commit to Ohio State sometime soon. Thomas is the first member of what could be a very impressive defensive line class coming up this season. If things go as expected, the Buckeyes could also land highly touted DTs Joseph Barksdale, Antonio Jeremiah, and/or Josh Brent. Also, one of the state's top overall prospects, DE Ben Martin, could end up a Buckeye as well.

Also, I was able to attend my first and only Indians game of the season tonight, a 4-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. There wasn't anything real exciting about the game, but I definitely feel that Jeremy Sowers is the real deal and will be a true stud pitcher for years to come. Also, I know that the team has been dismal all season, but there is no doubt in my mind that we won't return to contention next season. All the team needs is a renovated bullpen and a LF that can put up 25+ homers a season and there's no reason that we can't win the AL Central next season.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Buckeyes let one slip away

The Buckeyes let a WR prospect from South Carolina slip away to Michigan today, as JR Hemingway announced his intentions to play for the bad guys up north. Hemingway is a 4 star player, and is ranked as the 14th best receiver in the nation and the 7th best player in SC overall by Rivals. Hemingway could best be described as a "possesion receiver" being 6-2, 202 pounds with what isn't exactly breakaway speed. The last WR that chose the boys in blue over the Bucks was Mario Manningham. I have a pretty solid feeling, however, that we won't be kicking ourselves much over this loss. Manningham was a gamebreaker and everyone knew it. This guy looks to be another Roy Hall/Jason Avant kind of guy that, while he is a threat (especially in the red zone), doesn't require an entire defensive scheme to stop.

But a bigger issue that goes along with this, is the state (or lack thereof) of Michigan's 2007 recruiting class. While Jim Tressel seems to have a chain-linked fence around the state of Ohio, players from Michigan are going seemingwhere everywhere but to Ann Arbor. What makes this even worse is that this is one of the most talented classes that the state of Michigan has had in quite some time, and Lllloyd Carr can't seem to get any of them. Here's a look at how the maize & blue are doing with the state's top 10 prospects (Rivals):

Jospeph Barksdale, DT - Probably one of the best defensive line prospects in the entire nation, and far and away the best blue chipper out of that state up north, Barksdale eliminated Michigan from contention long ago, and has narrowed his list to two teams: Texas and Ohio State.

Ronald Johnson, CB - Ranked by rivals as the second best cornerback prospect in the entire nation. At this point, he's the only player in this list who has a chance to go to Michigan, but even that isn't certain. Michigan will be pushing real hard to get this guy after missing out on Dionte Allen. Right now he is leaning towards Michigan, but OSU is right in the rear view mirror.

Dionte Allen, CB - Already commited to play at FSU. From the same high school as Ohio State safety Aaron Gant and to-be wide receiver Taurian Washington.

Keith Nichol, QB - A highly touted dual-threat quarterback. Already commited to Michigan State. Didn't even have Michigan on his list of colleges to begin with.

Chris Colastani, LB - Commited to Penn State. His profile lists him as a very "dedicated young man." But it appears he's also quite the athletic specimen. A speedy prospect who needs to put on just a few more pounds, he could become pretty good.

Darris Sawtelle, OL - He's gone to Tennessee. He's already big enough to play line in college, but he should be able to put on a few more pounds with ease. 12th ranked lineman overall.

Cedric Everson, ATH - All it says about him is, "fastest man in the state." In this day and age of the spread offense, speed rules. He could probably end up playing corner at the next level, a position of great need for the Wolverines. He's not commited anywhere yet, but Georgia Tech appears to be the team to beat.

Taurian Washington, WR - I've already posted a lot about this guy. He could be the next Santonio Holmes. Since Michigan stole Manningham away from us, maybe this is just returning the favor.

Mark Dell, WR - Michigan is already eliminated from his list of colleges, and appears to be headed to East Lansing.

Quincy Landingham, ATH - Will either play running back or defensive back in college. Commited to Michigan State.

So that leaves Michigan with a realistic shot at exactly one player in their state's top 10. In case you were wondering, Ohio State has two players in their top 10 locked up, with Antonio Jeremiah and Devon Torrence not far behind. We also have outstanding shots of landing Eugene Clifford and Ben Martin, the top two prospects in the state.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Defensive Back Preview

Although most of the focus this offseason has been placed on the team replacing the trio of star linebackers, the secondary is probably even an issue of much greater intigue -- and concern -- for the Buckeyes. Compared the secondary, our linebackers look like seasoned veterans. But, too keep this section as optimistic as possible (even though it may not always be that way at times this season), there is still tons of potential back there. Let's take a look, shall we?

Key Losses: Donte Whitner (Drafted 8th overall, BUF), Ashton Youboty (Drafted 70th overall, BUF), Nate Salley (Drafted 121st overall, CAR)

Projected starting cornerbacks:

Malcolm Jenkins (6-1, 202 pounds) So.
It seems like with every recruiting class that Ohio State gets, there is always at least one guy who was overlooked by most other big name colleges, but somehow managed to get an offer from OSU and come in and make an impact right away as a true freshman. In 2002 there was AJ Hawk, in 2003 we had Steve Rehring, and finally in '04 the Buckeyes were blessed with the hidden talent of Malcolm Jenkins. When Jenkins reported to fall camp, he was nowhere to be found on the depth chart, but as the season wore on, Jenkins impressed the coaching staff so much that he was able to work his way up to being the team's nickleback, and when Tyler Everett went down, he was thrust into a starting role. All Jenkins did was shutdown receivers from the get go, and earn the label as the "next" great OSU D-Back. He may not be the fastest corner out there, but his size makes him one of the best in bump-and-run and aggressive coverages. Don't be fooled though: he is deceptively fast and can stick with receivers as well as the next guy.

Antonio Smith (5-9, 195 pounds) RS-Sr.
When I mentioned that Malcolm Jenkins came out of nowhere to become a starter for the Buckeyes, I wasn't being fair to Antonio Smith at all. Smith never garnered any attention from the Buckeye coaches when he was coming out of high school, and he really didn't get much anywhere else, either. He is this team's "feel good story." Antonio Smith was a walk on player, who didn't do much of anything his first four seasons here outside of special teams work until this past spring, when he burst on to the scene to show the coaches just what he is capable of. He did so well, in fact, that he earned a scholarship from the coaches, one that could have been used elsewhere to help build for the future. Now, Smith is listed as the team's #2 corner, but really his role on the team will be much more important. Due to the overall lack of playing experience in the secondary, we could be seeing much more zone coverages than we're used to, which means Smith will see time guarding the opposition's top receiver.

Projected starting safeties:

Nick Patterson (6-2, 210 pounds) RS-So.
The free safety position will be one to watch closely this season. Although Patterson is listed as the team's starter on the depth chart, that doesn't mean he'll be in the game all the time. One of the most notable position battles of the offseason was at FS, where Patterson has been dueling it out with redshirt Senior Brandon Mitchell for quite some time now. In my honest opinion, I do feel that Mitchell should have won the starting job, because this team need's all the playing experience it can get back here, and Mitchell saw a ton of time backing up Nate Salley last season. Actually, two seasons ago, Mitchell was listed above Salley in the team's depth chart before the season started, but then injuries caused him to lose his job. But then again, I'm not a coach, and I don't see the two play every single day, so I'm hoping that Tressel sees something special in Patterson to put him above a senior on the depth chart (A rarity in Tresselball).

Jamario O'Neal (6-1, 200 pounds) So.
In the MLB, teams usually build winners with their farm systems. They call one guy up, and when his run with the team comes to an end, the team just calls up another guy from the same team to replace him. Well, it's funny how things work out that way in college football. Donte Whitner was a star in high school for Ohio State's "Farm Team," the Cleveland Glenville Tarblooders, and now that he has moved on, he is being replaced by another former star Tarblooder in O'Neal. O'Neal came out of high school as the #3 cornerback prospect in the nation, and the #2 overall prospect in Ohio (in case you were wondering, our starting tackle, Alex Boone was the #1 prospect). He was said to have game speed that challenged former high school teammate Ted Ginn's, but his hard hitting ability and the team's depth at CB at the time caused the coaches to move him to safety, where he will still be a heavy factor in covering speedy wideouts in the slot, but will also be able to step up and support the run. As a football player, O'Neal has all the tools to become the total-package, but only time will tell if he will be able to put it all together like his high school teammates Ted Ginn and Troy Smith, or if he will just fade into the crowd and be demoted to a special-teamer.

Players to watch out for:

Kurt Coleman, FR. - Coleman was the third member of the '06 recruiting class to report to the team in the Spring, and like the other two, he is almost guaranteed to see some playing time this year. He has great hands for a cornerback, as was seen in the Spring game and Jersey scrimmage in which he got an interception in both games.

Brandon Mitchell , RS-Sr. - I talked about Mitchell earlier, but I'm putting him down here just so you know a little more about him. He is an excellent student of the game with the experience that our secondary currently lacks. I honestly see no reason why he shouldn't be starting, unless Patterson is on the verge of a breakout year, which very well may be the case.

Anderson Russell, RS-Fr. - Barring injury, Russell probably won't see too much time outside of special teams. If he is forced to come in, his role will probably be diminished from that of Super Jamario's, just due to the fact that he's probably not as good and athlete as O'Neal.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Defense prevails in jersey scrimmage

Conditions were soggy in Columbus today (to say the least) for the annual fall jersey scrimmage. The defense went out with a mission to retain their scarlet jersies as the offense went to try and fight off the newcomers. The biggest storyline today obviously was around the new defense and how they would man-up to the high powered offense. Well, man-up they did, as they fought their way to a 66-65 victory. The defense won on the last play of the game as Brandon Mitchell broke up a pass from Troy Smith to Ted Ginn that would have won it for the offense. Although the rain really ruined a lot of the day's playcalling, a lot was learned about the young guns on defense. Here's some of the major storylines from the scrimmage (much thanks to BuckNuts and their nice little summary):

Troy Smith 9-17, 102 yards, INT - Smith was crippled by the black no-contact jersey all game, which made him purely a pocket passer. The one interception was a pass that hit off of Gonzalez's hands and got picked by Brandon Mitchell.

Justin Zwick leaves with shoulder injury - Unlike Smith, Zwick was allowed to get hit, and apparently he got completely trucked by Kerr. No word yet on the seriousness of the injury. If it is serious, that could mean that Boeckman and Schoenhoft could see some mop-up time in games this year.

Wilson, Homan, D'Andrea, Hartline sit out - Wilson and Homan will probably be back on Monday. On an unrelated note, Homan will need to get his behind back on the field, because apparently Tyler Moeller has taken his spot in the two-deep. Pretty surprising considering Moeller seems undersized and Thaddeus Gibson appears to be much more ready to play than he. Also, Tressel said about D'Andrea, "He won't be back soon." Doesn't sound good. Larry Grant better be ready.

Chris Wells: 20 carries, 95 yards - Unfortunately, it was against the twos, so who knows what it means. Pittman was 8 for 35 against the ones and Maurice Wells was 13 for 32 (ouch!). Well, if our defense can shut down MoWells, then that's a good sign for when we face up against Garrett Wolfe in week one. Both players are pretty similar.

Linebackers step up: Marcus Freeman (6 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack), Larry Grant (6 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup), James Laurinitis (6 tackles, 1 TFL), Thaddeus Gibson (7 tackles, 1 pass breakup, 1 fumble recovery), John Kerr (7 tackles, 1 sack) all had strong performances. Hopefully this is a sign.

James Laurinitis seems to be the hot-commodity
in Columbus these days. Let's hope it stays that way.

Defense does a heavy rotation: Guys were constantly going in and out all day long, and they still managed to hold on for victory. At one point the defense was leading by as much as 19 until the offense came back. As Tressel put it, "I would guess in the first two games at least, we’ll have a whole bunch of people playing a lot of positions on the defensive side. One, because we don’t know for sure, and, two, when you play an early September game in Austin, you’ll have to roll people in." Good to see so many guys stepping up so early.

I think it also goes without mentioning that the defense has a more difficult time racking up points. The score 1 point for forcing 4th down, 1 point for a negative gain, and 5 points per turnover. Whereas, the offense scores 6 points for touchdowns, 3 for field goals, 1 for first downs, and 3 points for plays over 20 yards.

UPDATE: The O-Zone has just released their game report. As it turns out, our first and second team defenses were able to contain the ones and twos on offense, but the lower strings really struggled. That makes me feel much better.

As it turns out, all the stats I've already posted are totally unofficial, and just guesstimates by the boys at Scout.

Cavs sign Scot Pollard

The Cleveland Cavaliers added yet another tall white guy who spends too much money on haircuts to their low post repertoire in Scot Pollard. Pollard will serve no purpose other than to take up space when Big Z needs a screw tightened on his walker. Rumor has it that he may occasionally get a rebound, however. Essentially, ladies and gentlemen, we have another Alan Henderson on our hands.

It's not as if this is bad. He does bring postseason experience with him, which never hurts. I just hope we didn't overpay for him, because we're going to be pretty tight on cash the next couple of seasons.

By the way, this marks the end of the Martynas Andriuskevicius era. In case you were wondering just who exactly that is, he was the pretzel stick in the suit on the sideline all season long.

Buckeye artwork

Hey there, sports nuts. Interested in buying some Buckeye Artwork? Well look no further than right here. PSB now brings you some of the best works out there, which ranges from everything to SI covers to Woody Hayes, and even some Browns/Tribe/Muirfield Villiage GC framed works! Check it all out here, and don't be afraid to browse around and look for anything else that you find interesting.

Note: I sometimes have trouble viewing the site, I don't know about you guys. If you do, just press the refresh button and you should be fine.

By the way, I'll be keeping these links up to the side for future reference so you can always see them and visit the site.

Some examples:

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Just what will our offense look like this year?

Well, Ivan Maisel and ESPN finally made their way around to doing their Ohio State 2006 season preview. Really, the article is just a focus on, get this: It turns out Jim Tressel is a conservative guy. But in all seriousness, I do think that ESPN finally hit a good angle with this article. Regardless of how many heisman contenders may be on the offensive side of the ball, it still can't win championships on it's own. Vince Young may have done all that and more to beat USC, but when push came to shove, had the defense not stopped USC on 4th & 2, we would be talking 4-peat about this time.

Don't expect quite the same Ohio State offense that we saw in the Fiesta Bowl last season or the Outback bowl the season before. The reason our offenses have gone so bezerk towards the tail-end of the past few seasons was because we started expanding our playbook more for the bigger games. You know, just Tressel pulling some new tricks out of his sleeve, right? Expect us to remain a relatively conservative offensive team heading into conference play. With an offensive line that will be as good as any in the nation, and a trio of halfbacks that could start at plenty of other D-I schools, Tressel should be running the clock, keeping the defense off the field, and getting 3 yards and a cloud of dust play in and play out. We don't want to show the rest of the Big 10 (or Texas, for that matter) what this offense is all about. The spread, despite being the most revolutionary offense since the I-Formation, doesn't need to be used all the time. I'm sure Tressel would much rather have us win games 24-14 with a huge advantage in time of posession, rather than winning 45-42, thanks to a last second drive where we didn't even know if we would get the ball back with enough time.

Then again, as long as we win, I won't complain

P.S. Ivan, with Ron English now running the entire defense for TBGUN, expect Troy Story 3 come November. Those corners were clueless against us, and now the entire defense very well may get that mindset. But you do get bonus points for bringing up the oft-forgotten point that our defense is still experienced.

Speaking of nice little ESPN stories about Ohio State players, I have now seen my very first suck-up column devoted to Tony Pittman. There have been umpteen thousand written about Troy, Teddy, and Quinn, but this is the first one I've seen to range out beyond that. Behind our line, and when we do spread out the field, Pittman could very well have an absolute field day against defenses all season long. He has the speed to run by opponents, but has also recently developed the confidence to run right at them with a full head of steam as well. If he gets his carries, which is the only real question at this point, there's no reason he can't be one of the top two rushers in the entire conference. Defenses will stack the box against Tyrell Sutton, and I'm not totally sold on Tony Hunt yet, which leaves only Mike Hart and Albert Young that could potentially outduel him this season.

By the way, as you can see, I have added a poll above wondering what you, the reader, has to say about Pittman. Any more details in the comments section is greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

I told you so

Ever since I've created this site, I've only made a few posts about baseball, something that totally disgusts me. I love the sport and everything about it, but when your team is nothing short of mediocre when they really should be in the playoffs. It's just frustrating.

Anyways, my few baseball posts that have been made are usually all about one man: Pronk. I have been saying that he is one of the best hitters in all of baseball, and probably in the entire American League. Now, finally, another blog has joined my side in this argument. Sportszilla does a lengthy comparison between Pronk and Ortiz, in which all the stats are either in Pronks favor, or are quite comparable.

This also goes without mentioning that Ortiz bats ahead of a future hall of famer in Manny Ramirez, where even though Victor is a good player, he's no Manny.

I won't get into details myself (that's what sportszilla is here for), but you can look at the stats. They don't lie. Papi may have 6 more HR and RBI, but he has a solid 40 ABs over Pronk as well.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's official: Washington commits

First, he was, then he wasn't, then he was again. Now, Taurian Washington has officially committed to play football for Ohio State starting in the fall of 2007. BuckNuts had originally reported that he committed a few weeks ago, but then his family came out and gave the world a Lee Corso with their own, "Not so fast, my friends!" Then, put Washington on the list of Buckeye commits after a member of his family had spilled the beans. Anyways, all the confusion around Washington was cleared today when he verbaled.

Washington is from the same high school as OSU safety Aaron Gant and recent FSU recruit Dionte Allen. What makes this all so much sweeter is that all of these guys are pretty highly touted, and all of them hail from the state up north. That's three legit players that won't be wearing maize and blue, and two of them are in scarlet and gray.

Washington is probably the most well known of all of Ohio State's '07 recruits. He is another 4 star player, and the #23 ranked WR nationally. What is most encouraging about Washington, however, are all of the comparisons to Santonio Holmes. They both have similar size and have pretty equal speed (at least when Santonio first came in). Hopefully he pans out, because we need another Santonio.


In site related news, PSB now has 1,000 hits! Actually, this number was probably reached a good time ago, but I didn't add the hit counter until a couple weeks ago. I have also added a google search, which can be found on the bottom of the page. You can use it to search the internet, or find anything within the site.

Keep it going, viewers. I know I will.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Gooden coming back

Ever since our season ended in most disappointing fashion, I've been saying all along that the most important thing for the front office to do is to keep the team relatively the same and help the team chemistry grow. Well, Danny Ferry did just that, as PF Drew Gooden resigned for a deal worth $23 million over three years.

There had been rumors flying around that the team should try to work out some sort of sign and trade involving Gooden, or try to ship Z off somewhere else and let Anderson Varejao take the reigns down low. And quite frankly, I'm glad that neither happened. Wild Thing isn't quite ready to shoulder the load of a full-time center, although he is progressing. I am more pleased about keeping Gooden, though. It seemed like during our playoff run, when LeBron was struggling, Gooden was always there to pick up the team's slack, which was highlighted by an 11-12 shooting performance in Game 2 against Washington. I used to be one of Gooden's biggest critics, saying that he was a prima donna who often didn't try his hardest. Well, it looks like Gooden has changed for the better. Hopefully he just wasn't trying his hardest last season because it was his contract year.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Linebackers Preview

Sometimes, change can be a good thing, even when we're talking about this year's group of linebackers.

No, I'm being serious.

Okay, so maybe all we have of last year's group is just a bunch of distant memories, and chances are, this year's team will never be the same, things may not be all that bad. Maybe we won't have the experience, and I'm sure that these guys will make a few dumb mistakes that last year's team would have never even considered, but the bottom line is these are the guys we're going to move on with, but our team should be okay.

Projected starting Sam linebacker:

James Laurinaitis (6-3, 231 pounds) So.
Okay guys, fess up. When Bobby Carpenter went down with a broken ankle on the first play of the Michigan game, you're exact thoughts were "Oh great, now Michigan is going to attack the strong side all game long and it's going to be a very long day." Okay, maybe those weren't you're exact thoughts (and for the record, they weren't mine, either), but you probably had a feeling we were in a little trouble. Well, as the game wore on, Michigan did exactly that, and Mr. Unknown, James Laurinitis filled the job exceptionally. He may not be the biggest, fastest, strongest, or most agile linebacker that we have, but the bottom line here is that Laurinaitis is a gamer, and when Saturdays roll around, you know he is going to bring it. However, when Larry Grant (2005 JUCO POTY) gets himself settled down in the system, expect him to gain some serious playing time, if not take over the starting job completely. Right now, Laurinaitis is the most experienced member of the linebackers as far as who played last season.

Projected Starting Mike Linebacker:

John Kerr (6-1, 246 pounds) Sr.
Although Kerr may be #1 on the team's current depth chart, his backup, Mike D'Andrea, might as well be listed as 1a, that is, assuming he can maintain his health for an entire season. D'Andrea has all the tools to be a total beast in the middle, but so far, his knees don't necessarily agree. Anyways, due to D'Andrea's concerns, Kerr is the main man in the middle. As most of you know by now, Kerr was a total monster at Indiana, recording 114 tackles as a freshman. Wanting to showcase his talents on a larger scale, Kerr transfered to OSU and walked on, where he has spent the past few seasons backing up AJ Hawk. Now, Kerr finally gets a shot to show that he wasn't a fluke at Indiana, and let's all hope that he's right.

Projected Starting Will Linebacker:

Marcus Freeman (6-2, 232 pounds) So.
Freeman, Ohio's #7 overall prospect and an Army All-American out of high school, got his redshirt torn off of him in the 2004 season when a multitude of injuries occured above him. Freeman made an impact immediately on special teams, and he even saw some time on the defensive end. When 2005 rolled around, however, Freeman had to undergo knee surgery, and further complications to the surgery caused him to take a medical redshirt and miss the entire season. He was expected to be the fourth leg of OSUs stellar linebackers, and now, the fourth leg gets the stage to himself, where he should prosper. Freeman is one of the fastest guys playing linebacker in the country, and when he's at his very best, there isn't an offense in America that can get in his way. His speed should be of great value this season, seeing as how the revolutionary spread offense focuses on spreading out defenses and making them rely on speed to slow down the opposition.

Players to keep an eye on:

Mike D'Andrea (MLB) -
Mike was a complete animal in his freshman season, backing up Matt Wilhelm and contributing greatly to our national championship. However, the seasons have passed and the years have rolled, and ever since then Mike has suffered from two shortened seasons, and a third season which he missed entirely. However, recent reports say that his knee is improving. He likely won't start the season at 100%, but we can rest him all we need early on, just as long as he's there in the meat of the Big 10 schedule.

Ross Homan (WLB) - Homan is a true freshman from Division IV Ohio state champion Coldwater HS. He was the leader of the team where he played both RB and LB. After leading his team to a state championship, Homan graduated and enrolled himself at OSU in time for Spring practice. Players who do such a thing usually have an impact off the bat (take AJ Hawk, Maurice Clarett, and Steve Rehring for example). Although he is a tad undersized, he was seen working out with AJ Hawk and Bobby Carpenter during the winter time, which is always a good sign.

That's all for today. Next week: The secondary!

Thursday, August 10, 2006


I was originally just going to pass over this whole Maurice Clarett situation, pretend it never happened, never mention it once, and move on. But then I realized that that would be unfair. Sure, the whole situation has been awful, and the media has only made it worse, but I'm sure it's since been a whole hell of a lot worse for Clarett than it has been for any Ohio State fan. I'm writing this as an Ohio State fan who has come to the realization that without Clarett, our last championship was in 1968 and the entire 2002 season would have just been a third straight Outback Bowl appearance.

I'll skip over all the details. By now, everyone knows about the guns, the vest, the Goose, and the hatchet. I'll also pass on all of the "Oh, if only he had the right advice, then he could have been great..." We've all heard about it a million times, a million different ways. I guess this all just goes to show you that you never know what the future holds for anyone, no matter how certain it may seem.

Speaking of what could have happened I'd like to give some big kudos to the CPD for doing their job and interfereing when they did. The man was driving erratically, no doubt under the influence of some grey goose, with a multitude of loaded guns, a bulletproof vest, and had made some select phone calls (much thanks MotSaG). Oh yeah, when you read this little excerpt from MotSaG, just know that [HWSNBN] is code for "He who shall not be named," otherwise known as "#13"

Earlier this week, Columbus radio station 1460theFan (a Buckeye station) announced that this Friday, July 11, [HWSNBN] was going to come into the station, go on the air, and discuss the dramatic events of his recent life. Joe Montgomery, former OSU and NY Giants running back and confidant to [HWSNBN], said on-air that [HWSNBN] was coming in because he wanted to formally apologize to OSU, its fans, and everyone else for his actions. Montgomery was flying into Columbus to pick [HWSNBN] up and escort him to the radio station.

During the evening of Tuesday, the 9th, [HWSNBN] apparently called Jim Tressel, to thank him “for being real.” He later told Tom Friend, a writer at ESPN, that “Me and Tressel and cool again.” He also apparently phoned his high school buddy LeBron James. He called Friend at ESPN to thank him for being supportive and encouraging. He called his current coach, Jim Terry, to thank him for the shot at playing professional ball again.

It seems that all of these conversations occured while [HWSNBN] was driving around with three loaded semiautomatic handguns, one assault rifle, a hatchet, and wearing body armor. There was liquor in the car, as well, although it is not known if he was drunk. Friend believes that he was.

Apparently within minutes of ending the call with Terry, [HWSNBN] began “driving erratically.” He began swerving between lanes on I-70, making illegal U-turns across the grassy median, etc., where the CPD noticed and forced him to pull over.

This entire incident occurred only a few blocks away from the woman who was set to testify against him in court next week, as a witness to his robbery charge.

Now, all I'm doing is pure speculation here, so don't take my word for it, but it looks like that had the CPD not come when they did, at least one live would have almost certaintly been taken. And considering Maurice was all of the sudden calling Tressel, LeBron, and the media to apologize, one of those lives could have very well been Maurice's.

Was he going to attempt suicide? We don't know. It could have been a face off with the woman who was trying to put him away for good, but some serious shit would have gone done regardless, and had it not been for the CPD, we could be looking at this Maurice Clarett situation in a completely different light today.

And with that, I conclude what I hope is my one and only Maurice Clarett story.