Thursday, September 28, 2006

Iowa Preview

Well, here it is. The game I've been fearing more than any all season. If you remember back part of my season preview, this was the lone game I expected the Buckeyes to lose this season. I think back in the preseason the more realistic Buckeye fans expected the season to come down to either this game or the game at Texas. I chose this game with the deciding factor being Iowa's experience at quarterback.

However, the way the season has played out to date, I am beginning to like our chances more and more. The secondary has been especially good considering most people viewed that as the weakest spot on the defense in August. By now, everyone knows that the last time Ohio State played in Kinnick, the results weren't pretty. But that was in 2004, and outside of the final 2 games, none of that season was pretty. The environment will be hostile, but with the way the young team handled themselves in Austin, I think they are capable of just about anything at this point. In a game like this, predicting how it will play out is incredibly different considering all the factors at play here. You've got to consider the environment, the coaching, the experience levels of both teams, the weather, the revenge factor, and the fact that you just KNOW Iowa will play to the best of their abilities in that game. Anyways, I'll do my best to look at all of the key things to watch in this key game:

Drew Tate vs. The Buckeye Secondary
Throughout the 2006 campaign, the defensive backs have played extraordinary against the pass, allowing just 167 passing yards a game (3rd in the Big 10), and only allowing the defense to get in the endzone via the air three times all season. If Jay Richardson doesn't get flagged for being too tall against Texas, and Brandon Mitchell and Marcus Freeman don't completely whiff on Garrett Wolfe, you're looking at a defense that has allowed six points all season by the passing game. However, one could argue that despite the secondary's great performance, that they have been the beneficiaries of some poor quarterback play. And, although that is true, one thing that must be taken into account is that there has been just one game all season where the outcome hasn't been decided by the end of the 3rd quarter, so teams have had to abandon the running game completely against us. If there is any argument to be made here as to how much help the secondary has gotten this season, the finger should be pointed at our defensive line, which has been stellar in getting pressure on the quarterback all season long (More on that later).

One shouldn't doubt Drew Tate's abilities, however. There's a reason that he is considered by many to be one of the three best quarterbacks in the Big 10. He's one of the most experienced quarterbacks you'll find out there, he's got a rocket arm, and is mobile enough to escape the pocket when needed. He is remarkably smart with the ball, making him one of the least mistake-prone quarterbacks in the nation. Ohio State will have to make Tate scramble around a bit and hope he tries to force something, because he's not going to make bad throws on his own.

Advantage: Iowa, if the O-Line steps up

Albert Young vs. Buckeye front 7
Regardless of what the mainstream media will try to say, this Buckeye defense is far from one of the best out there, especially when it comes to stopping the run game. We all saw what Garrett Wolfe, Selvin Young, Jamaal Charles, and Tony Hunt were capable of against us, and Albert Young could very well add his name to that list. However, if he is to do so, he will need some help from his offensive line, something he has not gotten much this season. Young is more than talented, but his inexperienced offensive line has made the running game somewhat of a liability so far this season. Young's 280 rushing yards ranks 11 in the Big 10, a number which leaves many wondering "Who exactly is Jehuu Caulcrick, anyways?" Young has become a threat catching passes out of the backfield, catching 18 passes to date. Buckeye fans know that the Back Seven have struggled in defending the running back out of the backfield all season long, so here's hoping someone on the team has actually learned how to read a screen pass since week 1.

Advantage: The good guys

Win in the trenches:
Yes, this is an exact key to the game from the Texas week, but it is just as important here as it is there. Effective line play creates opportunities for the rest of the guys to shine, and this has been evident so far this season. In weeks 1 and 2, Troy Smith had time to read the morning paper, drink his coffee, and then make his check-downs in the pocket, and the results were staggering. Troy Smith quickly jumped over the likes of Peterson and Quinn to reach the top of most heisman polls, and the Ohio State offense ran like a well oiled machine. In the past two games, the pass protection has been pretty poor, especially on the blind side. Alex Boone has had two of his worst games in his short career, most notably against Cincinnati when he got benched in the third quarter not because of the lead, but because he was struggling so much. Tim Schafer got moved from starting left guard to backup tackle to make room for the up and coming Steve Rehring, and that is a move I have to agree with. Schafer is a bit lighter than Boone, thus making him a bit more mobile. It makes it more difficult for defensive ends to burn whoever is at left tackle, because Schafer is quicker and Boone will be getting more rest. Iowa's defensive line is relatively inexperienced outside of Ken Iwebema at end, so as long as we can shut him down, we should be fine.

As far as the other side of the line is concerned, I don't think it will be too much of an issue. Iowa's offensive line has underachieved all season long, and Ohio State's line has more than lived up to the expectations. The talent difference is obvious, and this is the matchup that I am most comfortable with. Will we get 8 sacks like we did against Cincy? Doubtful. Will we do enough to fluster Drew Tate? Most likely.

Advantage: Ohio State easily on both counts, but only if Alex Boone shows up.

Final prediction:

Ohio State: 28
Iowa: 14

Our receivers will be too much for the Iowa secondary, and the defense should be able to do enough to contain the Hawkeye backfield. Troy Smith will have 2 touchdowns through the air, and another on the ground. Antonio Pittman won't break 100 yards, but will find the endzone. Never underestimate Kirk Ferentz in big games, and I hope I'm not doing that here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

New Wallpaper

I've created a new desktop wallpaper. It's relatively self-explanatory. The pictures didn't come out as nice as I'd hoped, but I still think it's a decent wallpaper.

Free Image Hosting at

Monday, September 25, 2006

For a change, something other than the Buckeyes

I never quite got around to writing up my Penn State review, but it just never got done. I'm sure Buckeye Commentary will get around to it eventually. For other roundups, check out Around the Oval's or Death Cab for Woody's coverage, as usual, he covers all the bases and gives some Grade A analysis. To keep my analysis short: Troy Smith wasn't good, the line and receivers were worse, Antonio Pittman should be a known commodity by know, Malcolm Jenkins is now the new "overlooked" Buckeye, but he's still a dumbass, the refs helped us out there, but they didn't do it many other times during the game.

Now, I haven't posted much other than the Buckeyes since I started this blog, and I'm sure that will change later on when the Cavs get rolling and there's that 6 week period between Michigan and the Bowl game. However, I will venture outside of the 614 tonight, because there is a serious sports topic worth discussing: The Superdome's comeback.
The Saints #1 pick is taking a seat to
the real #1 in New Orleans: The Fans.

Some moments transcend sports. These moments go far beyond the guys on the field, the men on the sidelines, and reach the community. Tonight in New Orleans, we are witnessing one of these moments. The New Orleans Saints are playing an actual home game for the first time since December 26, 2004. We all know the reasoning behind that, so I won't go into details, everyone knows it. At first, I was somewhat skeptical, assuming this was yet another feel-good story that ESPN was blowing out of proportion, but when the game began, I could tell that for once ESPN was giving a major issue all the attention it deserved. All it took was one view of a fan to know that this was more than a football game. Tony Kornheiser's pregame introduction was a thing of beauty, something that you can't often say about Tony Kornheiser. He described the game as a symbol of the city of New Orleans, which is a perfect description. Granted, these players haven't had it nearly as hard as any of the thousands of New Orleans natives in the stands, they've still gone through a lot, and if it's possible for a team to hardly lose anybody, gain a great quarterback, a future star at running back, and still be considered rebuilding, this team is it. But perhaps this game symbolizes the beginning of a new era for the Saints. Remember, these Saints are playing for a divisional lead, and to remain unbeaten. In case you've missed the game so far, the Saints are currently winning by a score of 14-0, and those two touchdowns have come in the most thrilling of ways that Hollywood couldn't script any better: A blocked punt on the very first drive, and a double reverse for a touchdown. These fans are one Reggie Bush big play from blowing the roof off the top of the stadium (Okay, that was inaproppriate). I know it seemed impossible when last season ended, but this Saints team is stronger and better and better because of what happened.

New Orleans as a city is still in the early stages of rebuilding, but it appears that this football team is ready to shine. And maybe for just a night, these fans can shine on also.

Rock on New Orleans.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


I woke up this morning to find out that my pops got suite tickets for the game today. Being a high school Junior, I don't get all that many opprotunities to go to games, so I'll probably only get to go to one more game this season (which will be most likely either Bowling Green or's not my choice). Also, anyone else going to the game, remember to ditch gray and white and contribute to the "Sea of Scarlet." Although this is nothing more than a gimmick shot at revenge after last season's "White Out," never doubt Ohio State fans' ability to rally together in a short notice. I expect everyone out there to be in Scarlet, and to keep the urine in the toilets.

OSU Blog Roundup:
  • Death Cab for Woody showed to the blogosphere that he is indeed still alive, making an excellent post regarding fan behavior in the Big 10. It takes a few warrented, yet still cheap shots at our opponents today, as well as the rest of the conference. He also addresses the issues at Ohio State as well.
  • Buckeye Commentary takes a good look at Antonio Pittman. It's an interesting read on the third member of the Killer T's, who is often undervalued. If he can have a big game in sloppy conditions today against Posluszny and the rest of the PSU front seven, he won't be an unknown for long. One thing that Keith may have missed was Pittman's ability to become a stronger player as the game wears on.
  • The 614 offers up a game preview. I agree that it will be interesting to see if we can get to Morelli early and often, but it will be difficult considering he's only been sacked once all season.
  • MotSaG has their weekly round table going on, which is always a good read. My favorite part is always the over/under section. If I had to take part in that I'd say that Ohio State goes over 400 total yards, Troy is under 280 total yards (throws his first interception of the season, too), we get less than 5 sacks, and Ted Ginn remains held in check in the return game.
  • Around The Oval. Well, he hasn't posted in a couple of days, but this guy is always linking to my blog, so I figured I'd return the favor for once. I'm sure he'll have something up between now and midnight that's worth reading.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Chris, Lee, and Kirk heading to the 614

That's right, everyone. The pressure is now on us to come up with a sign to wave in the background when Lee begins talking about who knows what. So far this season we've seen everything from, "Brady's Sister loves the D." to "Lee Corso has a baby arm." to last Saturday's trio of "Charlie Weis: The Devil Lovechild of Jabba the Hut And Rosie O'Donnell," "Did you know... That Bo Jackson ate more than 36 crabcakes before his first game in the NFL?" and of course, "Lee Corso is a giant tool."

So, it could be anything. But if I had to throw in my two cents, it would have to be something about either Pam Ward's sexuality or anything JoePa. Lee Corso signs are becoming too cliche and no one in Columbus would think twice about touching the Golden Boy Kirk Herbstreit.

On a much more serious note, Keith over at BC reports that there will be a feature on Tyson Gentry and Adam Taliaferro. As most know by now, Gentry, a walk on punter trying out as a wide receiver for the Buckeyes, was paralyzed in spring practice when taking a hit from freshman Kurt Coleman. The support for Gentry has been outstanding, receiving words of encouragment from Buckeye fans all over. The guy who called him just days after the injury was Taliaferro. Taliaferro was a member of the Nittany Lions who suffered a very similar injury in a contest against Ohio State a few years back. Although the two have never met personally, Taliaferro's father has contacted Gentry personally several times. The two are set to meet this weekend when Penn State comes to town, and I don't know how Gameday will handle it, but I'm sure it will be one of those tear-jerker kind of features. Taliaferro's comeback story has been a truely inspiring one. His football career is over, but he no longer suffers any of the effects from the injury which he suffered. Gentry has made it public that his goal is to walk again and to lead the team onto the field just like Taliaferro did when he recovered. I give props to the Nittany Line for being a valuable resource, and I would also like to thank them for their kind words towards the Buckeye community, a rarity nowadays.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another one bites the dust

Sorry I've been so delayed in posting, there's been quite a bit going on and this site has been a bit down on my priorities list. Also, I totally spaced out on finishing up my "Seperation Saturday" preview, so I hope no one was anticipating it too much.

Let me start off by saying, I don't understand why so many people are tied up in the fact that Ohio State got off to a slow start and was actually trailing at one point. Remember how shocked everyone was when Ohio State went for NIU's throats on the first drive? Suddenly it has become an expectation that this team will have to put up with all season long, and it is really unfair to this group. Regardless of how many yards we rack up, and how many passing attempts there are a game, the bottom line is that this is still a Jim Tressel-managed team, and as long as he is in charge, ball control, defense, and special teams will ALWAYS be of higher priority than yards and points.

In saying that, however, I'm still on the fence as to whether or not this team was overlooking UC (I know I was), or if this was simply just a huge hangover from the Texas game. Looking back at the game, it was probably a mix of both. The overall intensity level on both offense and defense was about as low as I've seen all season, and some of these guys didn't even seem to have a pulse out there. And this just wasn't out of inexperience, either. Troy Smith's first half throws were piss poor, Jay Richardson was relatively inactive, and Doug Datish had that completely obvious holding call on the Troy Smith TD, but was fortunate enough to get bailed out a couple plays later. In fact, that whole first half, the only players that seemed to realize that Texas wasn't our only opponent this season were Anthony Gonzalez (who is quickly becoming my favorite player), and Quinn Pitcock, who was a dominating force all game long.

If I had to give the offensive line a grade for their play, it couldn't be any higher than a D+. What happened to those brick walls in pass protection and gaping holes from games 1 and 2? Troy Smith was being hurried consistently for the first time all season, and the running backs were running into giant globs of people at the line of scrimmage in the first half. Alex Boone easily had the worst day of his collegiate career. When he wasn't getting beat by an undermatched defensive lineman, he was holding, jumping, or personally fouling. I believe he finally got benched sometime around his second holding call. To put it very inappropriately considering his personal situation, his game suffered a big relapse yesterday. A lot needs to be said about Datish, who is by far the leader of this group. Most of these kids aren't going to listen to their coaches when they preach focus, simply because they are primadonnas. That's where Datish, the team captain, has to step up and straighten these kids out, and he didn't do all that great a job at it this week. Case in point: after a 2nd & 10 swing pass to Chris Wells in the 2nd quarter, it was 3rd and 1. Logic says let the next Eddie George take the ball up the middle and do his thing, right? Well, not when you run into a bunch of your own jerseys that are getting beat off the ball by Conference USA (yes, I know that UC is in the Big East, but those guys were recruited to play in CUSA) linemen. It's third down and short, these are some of the best linemen in the nation, and they can't move the line of scrimmage a measley yard? Give me a break.

If I give the offensive line a D+, then I have to give an A+++ to the coaching staff for their ability to make necessary halftime adjustments. I'm sure these guys got treatment that would make Chad Henne's high school coach proud. Whatever the caoches did, it worked fantastically, and the second half version of the Buckeyes looked like the team we were all waiting to see get unleashed. Antonio Pittman was nothing short of absolutely stellar, and his 9.5 YPC should finally put his name out to the world. That's what I love about Pittman, he seems to always get better as the game wears on. And when you're on a team that will probably look to run out the clock a lot in the second half this season, only good things can come from it. Troy Smith definitely didn't do anything to hurt his heisman chances, and with the two guys closest to him in the race losing their games, his stock probably went up. Hell, with the way Justin Zwick played, he almost (almost) made me want to take back all the cheap shots I've thrown his way since 2004. All four of the quarterbacks saw time, which is another good thing, because seeing Boeckman and Schoenhoft in game situations shows a lot more to a coach than holding a clipboard and running the scout team ever will. All of the other young guys looked quite impressive in garbage time, which makes me feel much more confident about next year (a year which I still believe OSU fans will be in need for a serious reality check), especially Robert Rose, Ray Small, Austin Spitler, and Rory Nicol.

John Kerr tripled his seasonal tackle total with 3 assists. Now, if we could get an actual OLB in there...

Friday, September 15, 2006

Some links, plus my preview of "Seperation Saturday"

  • I was saddened to hear of the death of Ohio State quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels' mother today. She passed away on Wednesday morning. This is being kept pretty low key, which I think will definitely help the team more than a media bombardment. However, that is a total afterthought in my book. My condolences go out to Joe, his family, and close friends. Daniels had a real tough offseason with some very serious health issues, but is physically fine. This is a real damaging emotional loss, however.
  • Anthony Gonzalez sure is one humble fella. Not much more than your classic, "sucking up to the guy who just had the game of his life." article, but it's still a good read. Actually, it turns out that Gonzalez's father played for Michigan. You learn something new everyday I suppose.
  • Co-Defensive Coordinator Luke Fickell discusses the team's sketchy run defense to date. Despite all the hooplah about the maturation of the defense, I still think there is quite a way's to go and we were just the benefeciaries of an inexperienced Colt McCoy. Ohio State missed 13 tackles against Texas, which Fickell calls an "improvement" from the first game against NIU. I don't think we missed 13 tackles all of last year. The article also mentions Larry Grant as having a great week and is improving dramatically.
  • Keith has his Texas analysis up. Check it out. Good stuff, as always.
  • Lots has been made of the return of Mark Dantonio this weekend. As all of you know, Dantonio was the DC of that absolutely incredible championship defense in 2002. BuckNuts has a nice little write-up about it all.
  • BuckeyePlanet UC Preview. Nothing more needs to be said. Incredible would be an understatement.

If you've even glanced at Sportscenter or this past week, you probably saw something about what is now known as "Seperation Saturday." This week features 7 top-25 matchups, including Notre Dame-Michigan, Florida-Tennessee, and Auburn-LSU. Here are my quick picks for the weekend's big action.

(2)Notre Dame vs (11)Michigan
Michigan hasn't won in South Bend since 1994. They haven't won a road opener in ages. Notre Dame has Brady, Charlie, Shark, and the hype. Michigan is coming off a 7-5 season. All signs point to a Notre Dame blowout, but I'm not so sure. There's no doubt that Michigan will come out with a chip on their shoulder. Mike Hart is averaging 5.2 yards a carry this season, and has been able to run effectively between the tackles. Notre Dame's defense has been surprising so far this season, but I feel pretty strongly that Hart will expose them for what they really are. However, Chad Henne seems to be digressing somewhat in his game so far this season, and even though a good reason for that is the high number of receiver drops, a lot of his throws just haven't looked like they've been coming from a guy starting for his third straight season. On the other side of the ball, the key matchup will be CB Leon Hall vs WR Jeff Samardzija. The rest of the Michigan secondary is a total question mark at this point, and with the recent emergence of one time starter Rhema McKnight, the Notre Dame offense will have a big game.
Notre Dame-31 Michigan-21

(7)Florida vs (13) Tennessee
I'm not going to lie, I feel that these are two of the more overrated teams in the nation. I'm not about to buy into the fact that Chris Leak will thrive in his second season under Urban Meyer's spread offense, I just don't see it. He's not the scrambler that everyone thought, and although his passing game has been pretty remarkable so far, the secondaries of Central Florida and Southern Miss leave much to be desired. As for Tennessee, it is too early to tell if the Cal game was a sign of things to come, or Phil Fulmer giving a sense of false hope to the Rocky Top faithful. The 31-30 squeaker over Air Force of all teams was saved by a stopped two point conversion at the very end. Tennessee showed no ability to stop the option, and as we all know, Urban Meyer thrives on it, which will not leave good results for Tennessee. If Air Force can hang 30 on them, then Florida, albeit with an average offense, should look fantastic against these guys.
Florida-34 Tennessee-17

Part 2 coming later tonight or tomorrow

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I don't know why more people don't try this

In the, "Now you don't see that everyday" category, backup Northern Colorado punter Mitch Cozad apparently stabbed a teammate in back of the leg. But no, this isn't just any teammate, this was the guy listed one spot above him on the depth chart -- the starting punter, Rafael Mendoza. Now, in all of these weird stories, you have to wonder just what the thought process of Cozad was. He obviously was the less talented of the two punters, but Cozad's ego must have been so inflated that he would stop at nothing to win the starting job. Apparently, the obvious consequences of getting arrested, kicked off the team, and expelled from the university escaped his mind. At least he was smart enough to know which thigh to hit. ESPN compares this to the Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan incident, but it should be noted that Harding and Kerrigan were not battling for the glorious job of starting punter at a D-1AA school.

In news not involving knife-in-the-thigh, the Buckeyes released the two-deep for the UC game. After the Texas game, I don't know how much to really hold this to anymore, seeing how Nick Patterson was the listed starter, but Anderson Russell ended up starting the game. Other notes for the depth chart:
  • Roy Hall is back on the depth chart, but it looks like the injury cost him his starting spot. Good job to Robo, he deserved it with the way he played in the Texas game (even with that one drop on third down).
  • Donald Washington is now the Nickleback. Russell was the NB during the Texas game when Patterson was in, but it looks like the coaches want him manning the Free Safety position.
  • What a month for Tyler Waley. The Walk-On player started September out by earning himself a scholarship, and now it looks like he's replaced the "heir apparent" to Nick Mangold as the backup center.

There is one other change on the depth chart that I feel is more important than just a bullet point. That is the coaches' continuing faith in the obviously incapable John Kerr. Last week, the starting WLB spot was listed as "John Kerr or Ross Homan." Now, Kerr is the starter and Homan is the backup. I assume this is a decision of Tressel's everlasting tradition of picking the undeserving Senior over the more than qualified underclassman. The only good having Kerr on the field has ever done for the Buckeyes is that he consistently takes up a blocker, making it a 10 on 10 game. But, heck, even when he isn't getting blocked, he's never in the play. Kerr would suffice in short yardage/obvious rushing downs when we can put in four linebackers, but other than that, he has no use on the field. Homan actually brings a presence to the field, and he has that sense about him that makes you think, "this guy is going to be something special." In the Texas game, you can look up and down the stat sheet and not see Kerr's name once, and you wouldn't have missed anything. No tackles, no assists, no pass breakups, no nothing. Homan had the fifth most tackles of anyone on the team, and the second most among linebackers. This goes without mentioning the NIU stats on top of those. In season totals, John Kerr has One-Half of a Tackle. Even Jamario O'Neal, the whiff-king himself, has managed to rack up 5 times as many tackles as Kerr.

Ross Homan doing something John Kerr cannot: Getting to the Football

If Homan isn't the starter by Big 10 play, I will be not only angry, but shocked at the coaching staff's arrogance. Ross Homan for WLB 2006.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Post Game thoughts/analysis

I knew that I needed a grace period to calm myself down before I got into any sort of in-depth analysis, and what better way to do that than to watch my Brownies begin their quest for an 0-16 season and a shot at drafting Adrian Peterson.

By now we've all read the wide array of post game analysis from the mainstream media sources, but here are some of the more underappreciated follow ups from around the blogosphere:

  • Buckeye Commentary - Don't worry, Keith will post his full analysis in the coming days, plus his play of the week. My guess is the fumble recovery, but I'm sure Ted Ginn will find his way on to there too.
  • MotSaG - Round table style. Again, I'm sure that they'll come out with something more in-depth in the coming days. Because, you know, there's not as much to talk about when it comes to Cincy.
  • The 614 - Breaks down all the key parts of the offense and defense. He also brings up something that crossed my mind while I was watching - John Kerr. It looks like Ross Homan will most likely make his debut as the starter next week, and Kerr is just not cut out to play weakside.
  • Around The Oval - Addresses issues such as the early defensive breakdown and how the media will play out the win. Is Ohio State that good or is Texas that bad? I guess only time will tell. Oh yeah, he also brings up that Troy character...
Texas views:
  • Burnt Orange Nation - A very well written breakdown of the game. Considering this is written just hours after the game ended, I'm surprised he handled the situation so well. If I were in his shoes there would be curse words flying left and right, and I would probably end up saying things I'd regret.
  • Still looking for some other breakdowns outside of the message boards. I'm sure Bevo will have one up in the coming days, but if you have any, please let me know.
Now, onto my analysis. I'll begin with revisiting my "keys to the game" post from a couple days ago.

  • Slow Down the running game - Well, we all saw that our defense was far from successful in this aspect. However, Greg Davis and the Texas coaching staff did us a huge favor by escaping the run game even though the game was still in reach. Anything outside was guaranteed to be at least four yards, which is something that has to change soon. However, we did a much better job on reading the swing passes/swings, as we saw a prime example with Antonio Smith. He flew in on a blitz, stopped, and changed direction to get the tailback in the backfield. He sure didn't look like a brand new starter that game.
  • Be better on special teams - This one could be judged with an emphatic "Yes!" The stats don't lie on this the least bit. AJ Trapasso's 50.8 punt average outdid Texas by an average of 8 yards a boot. The missed 25 yard field goal is still far from desired, but Pettrey made up for it with another field goal in the second half. Texas' only field goal attempt was missed. Field position was another crucial stat in our favor, as our average start was on our own 32, whereas Texas only started past the 30 yard line once.
  • Early lead - After blowing the first opprotunity, Ohio State got onto the scoreboard first (barely) when Anthony Gonzalez caught a 14 yard touchdown from Troy Smith. Of course, we nearly started out with a one touchdown deficit, but thanks to the Animal, that didn't happen. The whole flow of the game would have changed had Texas punched it in there.
  • Get McCoy on his back - McCoy really surprised me in this game, because everytime he got hit down, he was up before anyone knew it. He always bounced back, something redshirt freshmen don't normally do. The Bucks only registered one sack on the day, but McCoy got hit often when he threw. So often, in fact, that the refs decided that a clean hit on a quarterback who still has the ball in his hands is roughing the passer. Whatever, this turned out to be less important than what most people thought, but we still succeeded.
  • Play ball control offense - Although the Buckeyes lost the time of posession battle (30:26 to 29:34, almost dead even), most of this can be put to the fact that Ohio State relied much more on the pass early on than most people expected. In the second half, when the game was at hand and Ohio State began running the ball more, the results on the clock showed. Also, Ohio State shut out Texas in the turnover battle 2-0, something that needs to be brought up, because that is, "ball control."
  • Win in the trenches - After seeing Troy Smith get plenty of time to throw against a line with two potential all-americans and a third all-conference player, Lee Corso described the front five as "better than advertised." That may be true to fans outside of Columbus, but I think us Buckeye fans knew just how good these guys were. Sure, Alex Boone got burned a couple of times, but he is a true sophomore starting his first ever night game, mistakes were expected. Other than that, the line was pretty much flawless. The run blocking was decent, but when you have to go up against a D-Line that good, decent is pretty damn good. In my book, the defensive line could have done a little better, but did just enough to get to McCoy and slow down the interior running game.
Now, onto some other analysis.

Offensively, this game was a total masterpiece. Ted Ginn's late touchdown, Anthony Gonzalez's domination, all the big plays were a result of what the spread offense is designed to do: Create mismatches. I'd like to refer to my game preview for a quote I put in for just a moment here,
Honestly, what defensive coordinator in his right mind would just go tell their cornerback, "Okay, you go out there and go 1-on-1 on Ginn." It's completely ludicrous to even think that would be the case.
Okay, maybe Gene Chizik would do that. I saw that from the moment we got up to the line and thought, "You have got to be kidding me. This can't be real." I don't know how that happened, but Jim Tressel made it happen. To be critical of the team, I think we went with the pass far too soon, and we should've dictated the tempo of the game by establishing some solid runs to the outside, something there wasn't many attempts at throughout the course of the game. Also, despite Troy Smith's heroics, I think it's time we stop comparing him to Vince Young. Both are exceptional leaders, both wear #10, both have exceptional speed for quarterbacks, and that's it for the comparisons. Young is 4 inches taller than Smith, making him harder to bring down, and Smith is more of a pure passer. Smith proved this by being more of an actual quarterback as opposed to a dual threat quarterback. He managed the game from within the pocket (too a fault, if you ask me), and picked apart the Texas secondary. Young did things that Smith could never do, and Smith will do some things that Young couldn't do. It's that simple.

On defense, can someone please fill the gaps on the outside? Yes, that even means the leader of our back seven, James Larinaitis. Although JL's performance was heroic, it still wasn't to the level of last year's trio. Then again, he shouldn't be expected to do the things they did, so I shouldn't be too critical. It just annoys me to see so many off tackle runs be so successful on a consistent basis. John Kerr is all but done as a starter now, and Marcus Freeman seems to be understanding his job more and more, but these guys still have a ways to go if they have any hopes of going to Glendale. I can't say enough about the front four. Although I mentioned earlier that they were outmatched on the line, they were excellent when it came to not getting sucked in, as well as putting pressure on McCoy. We won't face another offensive line this talented the rest of the season, which means sacks should be plentiful. The back four was also excellent when they were being challenged, which wasn't often. The jury is still out on those guys, and honestly I feel that Malcolm Jenkins didn't have that good of a game, but we'll see just how good these guys are when we get to Iowa.

Other things to say:
  • I can't leave here without giving at least one Tressel-esque comment. I can't say enough about Texas and how good of a program that is. Colt McCoy will be the man sometime soon, just not now. I wish the best of luck to this program in the future, seeing as how it will be a long, long time until we see them again. But then again, we could end up seeing them come January, you never know.
  • Did Robert Rose play? Jim Tressel said he would, but I don't recall seeing him in the game at all.
  • One of these kickers is bound to step up sooner of later. Remember, back in 2001 when Mike Nugent and Josh Huston were in a similar battle? Neither one was very impressive then, and just look how they turned out.

Too excited to think, I'll post tomorrow.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

So close...

When Texas has the ball:
Considered by just about everyone to be the most pressing question regarding this evening's game is, "Who will get the better of the battle between an inexperienced quarterback and a young defense?" It's been a water cooler discussion point ever since Vince Young declared his intentions to go pro. There isn't a lot of information to work with here, so there isn't much to talk about. Both sides have seen so little time that information is few and far between. McCoy looked stellar last week against a JV defense in North Texas, but most of those receiving yards came via Limas Sweed's athleticism. The coaches went relatively conservative on the pass calling plays, which is why McCoy only ended up with 178 yards through the air. I did see some throws that were a bit off target and would've left the Texas receivers out to dry against, say, Brandon Mitchell. Regardless though, McCoy was nothing short of impressive for his first career collegiate snaps, but there's a huge difference between playing a team that went 2-9 a season ago, and playing the top ranked team in the nation under the lights on national television. I don't think anybody should be too surprised if McCoy goes Justin Zwick on everyone. But then again, no one really knows anything about this guy, so you never know what to expect.

Defending McCoy will be an interesting array of defenses tonight. Tressel has come out and said that he wants to rotate as many as eight defensive linemen (The four starters, plus Alex Barrow, Lawrence Wilson, Joel Penton, and Robert Rose/Tod Denlinger I presume) in the first quarter. All eight of which are remarkably talented players, who showed flashes of brilliance, especially in pass rush, last week against Northern Illinois. Gholston was a force to be reckoned with all day, racking up three sacks (yet only being credited with 1.5). Pitcock did have some trouble handling the double teams, but as long as he continues to get the double teams, things will be easier on the rest of the line. Jay Richardson was the only linemen who showed any attempt at stopping the run, especially on the draws and sweeps. I guess that just comes with experience, but lets hope Texas didn't see any film of those short dumpoffs, because this line looked quite penetrable when caught off guard.

The linebackers, like McCoy, remain the biggest mystery on the Ohio State side of things. When the game actually mattered last week (I really can't use the final 2.5 quarters to judge the defense, considering the intensity level was down so much and everyone was relaxing more. Not to mention, Heacock was going relatively conservative against NIU), the defense forced three consecutive punts, all of which resulted in three Buckeye TD passes. Then, when NIU actually seemed to be going somewhere, the slower-than-expected Larry Grant made an interception which led to a fourth Buckeye TD. Freeman and Laurinaitis will start again this week, but at the #1 spot in the depth chart, the WLB is listed as "John Kerr OR Ross Homan." As you remember, Homan actually got off his blocks and got to where he needed to be last week, so if Kerr gets off to another slow start, I doubt there is any hesitation to keep Homan in. Kerr just isn't cut out to play outside linebacker. When Selvin Young is in the game, expect a lot more between the tackles running, which should result in increased activity out of JL. JL's biggest concern last week was that he wasn't getting very involved, but he's the middle linebacker for a reason, and that's not to defend Garrett Wolfe on sweeps.

The secondary is a pretty big unknown as well, but that's not because of inconsistent play last week, it's that Phil Horvath had more room to throw inside of a phone booth. Defensive pressure always makes things easier on everyone else, but it probably won't be as likely to happen against Texas' outstanding offensive line, and with blitzes more likely today, there will be a lot of pressure on the secondary to prevent guys like Limas Sweed and Billy Pittman busting one loose. Run support was a big problem last saturday, with guys like Jamario O'Neal and Brandon Mitchell missing multiple tackles. I wan't too concerned over the loss of Ashton Youboty in pass coverage, but his tackling sure was missed last week, and it's something that they better sure up because Limas Sweed won't be any easier to tackle. In coverage, however, the team looked good. Not great, but better than just okay. Malcolm Jenkins was making reads that true sophomores don't usually make, and he was involved all day. NIU tested Antonio Smith, the walkon redshirt senior who had only played special teams in the past, and Smith also seemed to be up to the challenge. Anderson Russell was an effective nickleback/free safety, but I didn't pay enough attention to him or Nick Patterson to really give a real judgement on them.

When Ohio State has the Ball:
Power vs Power. There's no other way to describe what will happen when the lightning fast, yet equally overpowering Ohio State offense takes the field against the hard-nosed, high flying Longhorn defense. As a starter, Troy Smith is 13-2 with his two losses coming by a combined 14 points. In his last three games dating back to last season, Smith is 54-90 for 939 yards for 6 TDs and no INTs. Add on another 102 yards rushing with a touchdown, and you've got a pretty good player. Add on top of that a 1,300 yard rusher, the nation's top ranked freshman, and some guy named Ginn and the offense should be alright. Well, in the words of Lee Corso, "Not so fast, my friend!" The Buckeye offense will have their hands full attacking one of the top defenses in the nation, led by the nation's best defensive coordinator in Gene Chizik. Chizik hasn't lost a game since before I was conceived, and that's because no one is better at preparing his players for the upcoming game than Chiz.

Don't be fooled by the suspension of Tarell Brown, Chizik runs primarily zone defenses, meaning that it wouldn't have been this one on one matchup that everyone thought. Honestly, what defensive coordinator in his right mind would just go tell their cornerback, "Okay, you go out there and go 1-on-1 on Ginn." It's completely ludicrous to even think that would be the case. Ginn has even come out and said that he would probably be covered by Aaron Ross if he were to matched up. But in saying that, this Texas team has now lost their top 3 cornerbacks from last season's national championship squad. You don't just replace that, just like how we don't replace our linebackers. I expect a big day through the air from -- if not Ginn -- almost definitely Gonzalez (which reminds me, Roy Hall is out again). Cedric Griffin will be all over the place, but one guy doesn't make a whole secondary, so someone else is going to have to step it up big time to keep this game within reach for the Texas running game.

As I mentioned earlier this week, this game will be won and lost in the trenches. Can our Big 5 stop Okam and the super quick ends Brian Robison and Tim Crowder? Kirk Barton is one of the best pass blockers in the Big 10, and Alex Boone is one of the most talented linemen in the country, albeit inexperienced. Doug Datish is a captain for a reason, and he will be leading the offensive line, and will probaby be assigned on Okam quite a bit. If Ohio State can jump out to an early lead, the rest of the game will be on the shoulders of the offensive line as Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells will get the bulk of the work. But then again, an early lead is unlikely, so I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

The Prediction:
This game is almost too close to call. Check that, it IS too close to call. The matchups are incredible even, the talent level is through the roof, and despite all the preseason talk of no proven top teams, I'm sure no one else could pick a better matchup. Don't be surprised if we see overtime, or even if the game is over by halftime. I'm picking Ohio State for now, but that's all due to my allegiances. I'm sure if I were a fan of any other team I'd give Texas a slight edge, but that's not the way it is, is it?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Interview with Bevo Sports

In my attempt to give you, the reader, all the necessary information, I continue my wall to wall coverage of the Ohio State/Texas game with an interview with one of the more respected bloggers in the land, Mark from Bevo Sports.

Pfef: First off, thanks for doing this interview. My blog is still pretty young and unknown in the world of sports blogging, and getting to have the time to chat with one of the more respected blogs out there is a heck of an honor. So let's get this thing started, anyways. Is Colt McCoy really as good as he looked against North Texas, or was it just a product of great production against poor defense?

Bevo Sports: No problem. I always have time to talk about Texas football. I truly believe Colt McCoy is as good as advertised. Obviously it is hard to replace someone like Vince Young, but from all accounts Colt has had a great summer camp and has really been working hard. His accuracy has been excellent and he still gives the Longhorns some mobility at the quarterback position. I have even heard people say that he has the ability to put up some records numbers down at Texas. We will have to wait and see, but I feel pretty good about his chances to be successful.

Pfef: The Longhorn world was rocked earlier this week when starting cornerback Tarell Brown was arrested. As most know by now, he was expected to guard Ted Ginn. What kind of impact did Brown bring to a game that will be missing on Saturday? Also, tell me a bit about his replacements in the lineup.

Bevo Sports: It definitely hurts to not have Tarell Brown in the line-up. You can't replace someone with his talent level. Tarell is a player you could consider a lock-down corner and has widely been talked about in the top 5 at his position. On the positive side is that fact that Gene Chizik plays a zone style defense and we probably weren't going to cover Ginn one-on-one anyway. Tarell was going to get some help, now we will just have to help more. As far as replacements go, Ryan Palmer has moved up into the first slot in the depth charts at right corner. Brandon Foster should also see some playing time and both have had previous game-time experience. Another option would be to move Michael Griffin over to the cornerback spot and let Erick Jackson play safety. I personally would feel better about that situation because I would think playing safety would be an easier spot to fill in for.

Pfef: I keep on hearing all about this hardcore Texas offensive line, as it is supposed to be one of the best in the nation. We all know about Blalock, but tell us some stuff about the other four guys on the line. Can they really replace the All-Americans from last year?

Bevo Sports: No doubt they can be as good as last year. This years offensive line still has plenty of experience. Kasey Studdard (LG) is one of the Big 12's top returning offensive lineman. He is a two-year starter who has started 25 straight games and earned second-team All-Big 12 honors in 2005. Cedric Dockery (RG) played in 9 games last year on the offensive line as a red-shirt freshman, so he has some experience as well. Tony Hills (LT) backed-up first-team All-American Jonathan Scott last year and is a 2006 Sporting News preseason second-team All-Big 12 selection. Lyle Sendlein (C) is a senior with plenty of experience and received numerous All-Big 12 honors last year.

Pfef: So things here in Columbus are absolutely out of control for the game on Saturday, and the game's in Austin this year! How are the fans anticipating the game this season?

Bevo Sports: I have had season tickets for several years now, and from what I am hearing this is the craziest Austin has ever been before a game. I was just in a discussion about the usual tail-gates and people had started camping out Wednesday morning to reserve spots near campus, and normally just Friday morning would do. You don't often get the chance to host a #1 versus #2 matchup, and I think the fans down in Austin realize this.

Pfef: Selvin Young will be creating matchup problems all day long for the young Buckeye secondary, and Billy Pittman was making a bunch of plays in last season's game, tell us about another receiver on the team who could come out of nowhere to give the Buckeye D fits.

Bevo Sports: Honestly, I would be most worried about Limas Sweed. He is about 6'5" 220 and can run with anyone. It looks like this year he has increased his work ethic and he has that Vince Young-esque swagger out on the field. He already put up 2 touchdowns and 111 yards in the game against North Texas.

Pfef: I don't know if you saw the Ohio State/NIU game last Saturday, but I'm sure you've seen highlights. Most of the Buckeye fans' reviews of the defense range from anything from "Bend, don't break." to, "Downright awful." What are your views of the defense and how do you feel the Longhorns matchup to them?

Bevo Sports: I wasn't too surprised about the poor play on defense by the Buckeyes. I mean I wouldn't expect a defense that lost 9 starters to come out and play perfect in their first game. Because it is Ohio State, I would assume they have a lot of talent and it is probably only a matter of time before they picks things up. But after watching Wolfe put up some ridiculous numbers, I do feel the Longhorns can exploit this defense a little. Our running game has to be up there with the best in the nation. I think it will be hard for OSU to stop our running game with Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles in the backfield. And if Ohio State stacks up too much against the run, McCoy can through the ball up to Sweed and Pittman.

Pfef: In my personal opinion, I feel that the Buckeye offensive line will play extremely well on Saturday against the Texas defensive line. Yet I'm watching Sportscenter and they just get done talking about the Texas defensive line, and I'm beginning to second guess myself. Try to convince me that this Texas front four will outduel the Buckeye line.

Bevo Sports: Man, Texas has 3 All-American candidates on the front line in Frank Okam (T), Brian Robison (DE), and Tim Crowder (DE). Okam is a member of the 2006 Bednarik Award (top defensive player) preseason watch-list. Robison is a super-freak athlete who was a four-sport prep star in high-school and has a 40" vertical (he blocked a field goal against North Texas). And Crowder is also a member of the 2006 Bednarik Award watch-list as well as for the Lott Trophy (defensive impact player). These guys are going to be tough for anyone to block.

Pfef: And finally, I can't let you leave without giving your prediction for the game. Who wins? By how much? What are some of the key factors in the game (turnovers, special teams, etc.)?

Bevo Sports: This is one of the tougher games to predict. Having home field advantage is going to be key, especially because Colt will be on familiar territory for his first big game. I think Texas will be able to run the ball effectively and control the clock. Hopefully Colt won't have to win the game for us and he can just make the smart throws. Ohio State definitely has some weapons on offense, but Texas has the speed on defense to keep up with them. I am going to go with Texas 31 – Ohio State 30.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Keys to the game

I'll keep the introduction short. Here are my keys to the game, counting down from 6 to 1. No, not the Cincinnati game, this weeks game! Jeez, quit looking ahead already.

6. Slow down the running game
If this were last year, I probably would have titled that "Shut Down the running game," but with the way things went with the defense in week 1, and considering that Marcus Freeman, James Laurinaitis, and John Kerr/Ross Homan are no Bobby Carpenter, Anthony Schlegel, and AJ Hawk, I doubt this defense is capable of completely shutting down the run game. However, if the defensive line can prevent themselves from getting sucked in every other play, it will work wonders for the linebackers. If the line can increase their tackle totals on run plays, or at least slow down Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young, the linebackers should find that their tackle totals will be much higher. The biggest problem for Kerr, JL, and Freeman last week was that they were often taking false steps and finding themselves out of position. When they did finally get into position, they ran right into pulling NIU linemen. Texas doesn't pull nearly as often as NIU, which will also help. All season long, this defense will follow that, "bend, but don't break" pattern. The defense will give up yards and big plays on Saturday, don't be mistaken, but if we can do as well on third down as we did against Northern Illinois (something like 2-12), then the defense did their job.

5. Be the better (special) team.
Last season, Josh Huston went 5-6 on field goal attempts, and accounted for roughly 2/3 of the teams points. However, the difference on the scoreboard was three points, which left many thinking "what if he had made that final kick?" Texas has one of the best all-around special teams units in the entire nation, and if Ohio State hopes to win this game, they will have to be nearly perfect. That means no missed field goals, no muffed returns, no shanked punts, and most importantly, win the field position battle. As all Ohio State fans know by now, field position is critical to winning any big game. This came could come down to a play on special teams, whether it be something big like a returned kick for a touchdown, or a blocked kick, but it may also be something that doesn't quite show up right away. A kickoff out of bounds would kill (Just ask the Carolina Panthers), as would consistently poor return coverage.

4. Get out to an early lead
Now, I'm not saying that we need to do what we did against NIU last week, because that's just unrealistic to expect when we play a defense of Texas' caliber. But if this team can put up points on their first couple of posessions, and force one or two Texas punts, then things will be much easier on us the rest of the way. Antonio Pittman isn't capable of running out the clock on his own, but Antonio Pittman and Chris Wells will absolutely kill defenses. If we can get up 10-0 or 14-0 by the end of the first three offensive posessions of the game, then all the pressure will be on Texas to make plays and throw the ball. Last week, Colt McCoy wasn't expected expected to do all that much of anything, but if he gets behind, he will probably be pressing and will force balls into areas that he can't fit them, and will more than likely be turnover prone. There's a reason that a freshman quarterback will almost always play second-bidding to a senior or an experienced junior, and that's because the likelihood of dumb mistakes is much less with the older player.

3. Get to McCoy often and early
Just like with falling into an early lead, pressure from the defense will also force a young quarterback to make throws that he will end up regretting. Another reason that Colt McCoy was so successful on Saturday was because he had enough time to cook a thanksgiving dinner back in the pocket. He was fortunate to be on the right end of having a great offensive line going up against a junior varsity defensive line. This Saturday will be a bit different, however. He will still have a fantastic offensive line, but he will be going up against a much more talented defensive line, and will be facing a defensive coordinator that loves to blitz, so McCoy could be in for some unwanted grass stains unless he steps up to the challenge. Nothing damages a quarterback's confidence more than the constant feeling of being run down by this guy.

2. Ball Control is Key
Don't be fooled by the playmakers all over the offensive side of the ball for the Buckeyes, this is still a team that will value holding onto the ball. For this year's version of the Buckeyes, the best defense will be a defense that's resting on the sidelines. If the offense is on the field for the majority of the game, that means that we are being opprotunistic to Texas' mistakes and that Troy Smith is making smart decisions when he is passing and when he is running. The more drives the team gets, the more chances they get to score. One team will get more drives than the other one, which will leave one team with less chances to tie the score. It's as simple as that. I'd be much happier with a low scoring tight game that we won because we won the time of posession, rather than a "whoever has the ball last wins," kind of shootout. Then again, I;d be happy with a win any way we can get it, because it looks like it will be an uphill climb all game long to get the W.

1. Win in the trenches
If the Buckeye offensive line can get a consistent push on the Longhorn defensive line, and keep Troy Smith from having to run for his life, then they more than did their job. If the defensive line can force McCoy to make plays with his feet and force unwanted throws, but can also be a consistent factor in the running game at the same time, then you can notch up a Buckeye victory. A good push on offense means an effective running game. An effective running game means controlling the clock. Controlling the clock means more opprotunities to score. Do the math. A D-Line that can force McCoy to make throws means things are easier on the Back 7. Things being easier on the Back Seven a higher likelihood of turnovers. More turnovers mean more points. More points mean less involvement with Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young. Granted, neither of these are simple tasks. The Texas offensive line is the best in college football, but if we can catch them off guard with some stunts/blitzes, then you never know what will happen.

When I picked us to defeat Texas in my season preview, it was really a choice I made out of being a fan of the team. The more I analyze it, the more worried I get. I'm starting to think that Texas really deserves the number 1 ranking rather than us. But then again, no one will know for sure until about midnight on Saturday.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Brown to sit

In what most felt was the right decision by Mack Brown (even fans on the Texas side), starting Cornerback Tarell Brown will not play on Saturday against Ohio State. Neither will backup safety Tyrell Greenwood, for that matter. A great move by Mack, but I think Tony Kornheiser put it perfectly on PTI this afternoon when he said something along the lines of, "His national championship will make the decision easier on Mack Brown." Which is understandable, but even had Texas not won the championship last season, Brown still should have sat him out. You just can't let kids get arrested and let them go on with their lives as if everything is fine. When professionals get arrested, in whatever job it may be, they usually get fired right away. Brown needs to accept the consequences, and unfortunately for Texas fans, this couldn't have come at a worse time for them.

Brown will be replaced on the depth chart by Brandon Foster. Foster is a great athlete who would be a starter on plenty of other major collegiate programs, but the one thing he doesn't have that Brown brought to the table was experience. You can have all the athleticism and talent in the world, but it won't make a difference if you can't recognize situations and you find yourself out of position. I'm sure the Buckeyes will be seeing plenty of that this season, but lucky for us, the only time we have to cover Ted Ginn is during practice, and not in games.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Texas #1 corner arrested

UT corner Tarell Brown was arrested on marijuana and weapon charges early this morning. He was with former teammate Aaron Harris.

Good news for the Buckeyes. The result of this most likely will be a suspension, but then again, in Texas, they'll do anything to keep their players on the field. If Mack Brown keeps Brown for this game, I will lose any respect I had for Brown, and the program for that matter. Anyways, Ted Ginn's day probably just got that much easier.

Update: Backup safety Tyrell Gatewood was also charged with possesion along with Harris and Brown. Both are currently being held out of all team functions until Mack Brown makes his decision (which leads me to believe that both will be suspended for the game, and Brown for sure will be out longer).

Early look at Texas

As far as in-depth game analysis goes, look no further than BuckeyeCommentary where Kieth does an incredible job breaking down every aspect of the game, most notably the defense.

Week 1 of the college football season culminates what could be the best game of the week in #11 Florida State vs #12 Miami in the Orange Bowl. Last year's game was some of the worst football I've ever seen two top 25 teams play, and if that happens again this year, I may just shoot someone. I have to go with Da U on this one, their defense will be too much.

Now, on to the Texas game. I'll go in-depth later, but as an initial thought, I feel that this game is going to be won and lost on the lines. Now Texas has one of the best offensive lines in the entire country (if not the best), which will make getting into the backfield a much more difficult task than it was last Saturday. Granted, the ends did a heck of a job with Doug Free, who will probably hear his name called in the first round of the draft next year, the rest of the NIU line was relatively undersized. However, the coaches should be able to rotate people in constantly, giving the starters rest when needed, which definitely gives us a bit of an advantage there. Alex Barrow played like he should be starting, Gholston should have been credited with 3 sacks, not just 1.5, and Pitcock was being forced to be double teamed all game long. We may have to take some risks as far as blitzes are concerned (which totally backfired on Saturday), but that's just something we'll have to see the young quarterback adjust to. If we can get to McCoy early and often, it could really shoot his confidence down, which means that the Longhorns will become much more one-dementional.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

First thoughts on the first game

Consider this a "cliff notes" version. I'll get into more detail tomorrow.

The good:
  • Brady Quinn will get a run for his money. Troy Smith's fast start (3 first quarter touchdowns, 2 of which to Ginn), plus no turnovers is a heck of a beginning of what could be a great season.
  • Ted Ginn is da bomb. Believe it or not, Teddy's five yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was the first one under 45 yards he's had as a collegiate player. There is no doubt that he has become a more complete receiver and will score plenty of touchdowns this season.
  • Antonio Pittman is the most underrated running back in college football. Not only that, but he seems to get better as the game wears on. That's a good thing, because we're gonna need someone to run down the clock and hold leads for us. It was also good to see him make the tough runs that he probably wouldn't have been able to make last year.
  • The offensive line is incredible. Troy Smith had all day to throw, and not once (as far as I can remember) was he forced to scramble. The only running play that I can think of right now is that speed option on the first drive.
  • The secondary wasn't half bad. Malcolm Jenkins played much better than I expected him to, but only time will tell if he can do what he did to the NIU guys to the Texas guys. The talent jump is huge.
  • The pass rush was awesome. I can't remember a Buckeye defensive line that got to the quarterback so easily. NIU's line isn't that bad either. Then again, we were awful against the run. Speaking of which...
The Bad:
  • The whole team was terrible against the run. I know Garrett Wolfe is great, but we have a long way to go to live up to our past run defenses. Now, to expand.
  • The D-Line. The line just got sucked in way too often, and it looked like they were just expecting pass on every play, and not really reacting to what happened. As a result, the NIU line got a great push all day.
  • The linebackers. The linebackers were incredibly disappointing all day. On the big Garrett Wolfe screen pass that took NIU into the red zone, the linebackers blitzed and got sucked into Phil Horvath. That left a whole lot of green for Wolfe. Also, John Kerr played absolutely horribly. He was absolutely no good to us, seeing how he was getting pancake blocked on every other play. Laurinaitis did a pretty good impression of the "invisible man," completely disappearing at times. I think Marcus Freeman was the only starter who came ready to play. Ross Homan did play well.
  • The secondary. None of them are very good tacklers, and they seemed to be getting blocked by the wide receivers an awful lot. These shouldn't have been the guys tackling Garrett Wolfe all day long, but for some reason it was.
  • And, of course, who could forget the field goal kicking? Two missed field goals, none made. I guess the days of Huston and Nugent are officially in the past. Pettrey was real good at kickoffs, though. Why did we randomly bring in Pretorious to do a kickoff in the second quarter? He's terrible at it compared to Pettrey.
Looking to next week at Texas, Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young are now Garrett Wolfe (thank goodness), but we still need to do much better in run defense, regardless. Most teams make their biggest improvements between weeks 1 and 2, and lets hope that that is the case here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

I want to see

I want to see The Best Damn Band in the Land make their entrance. I want to hear the roar of the crowd. I want to see the sweatervest. I want to see the Silver Bullets carry on the tradition of great defense, even if it takes some time. I want to see 11 pairs of arms diving, reaching for just the smallest piece of Ted Ginn. I want to see Beanie Wells take a ball off tackle, make a cut, and steamroll a linebacker. I want to see Antonio Pittman do that same thing, but do it every play. I want to see our line run over the other guys' line on the way to three yards and a cloud of dust. I want to see the I get dotted. I want to see Ted Ginn 20 yards ahead of the nearest defender. I want to see Troy Smith run the speed option. I want to see the NIU tackle shiver in fear when he takes his first look at Vernon Gholston. I want to see Aaron Pettrey hit the opening kickoff out of the endzone. I want to see Homan, Wells, Coleman, and the rest of the freshmen come in and become stars. I want to see Malcolm Jenkins make the opposing receiver use every ounce of his energy to get open. I want to see AJ Trapasso pin a punt down inside the 10. I want to see Brutus harassing the opposition when we score, and I want to see him pretend to fall over and die when the bad guys do. I want to see the guys at Block O do everything they can possibly do with their drunken selves to pump up the crowd. I want to hear the O. I want to hear the H. I want to hear the I. I want to hear the O. I want to see the lips snap shut on the doubter's mouths when we go out and dominate. I wouldn't even mind seeing them tell us, "told you so." if our team struggles and fades away.

But most of all

I want to see some Buckeye Football!