Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A preliminary look at the Cleveland LeBrons

Here at Pfef's Sports Blog, that basketball team from Cleveland will be known as the "LeBrons" until I become convinced that there are four other people on the court in Wine and Gold jerseys. I'm going to copy off of the 614 a bit here with the imaginary interview style of preview.

The three big additions to the Cavaliers last season -- Larry Hughes, Donyell Marshall, and Damon Jones -- have already been labled as busts. How do you expect these guys to perform this season?
Ah, if only it could be that easy. The jury is still out on Hughes as to just how much of a contributer he can be. In his limited action in the regular season, Hughes was definitely a boost from past Cleveland shooting guards in the LeBron era, averaging 15.5 ppg and being a solid contributer when defenses would focus solely on LeBron. However, one of the major things I noticed about Hughes, and questioned about the signing of him coming into the season was his role within the offense. Hughes is the kind of player that slashes to the hoop, has a jumpshot that needs some work, and has a knack for stealing the ball. At 6-5, 184 lbs., he was nothing more than a smaller, less freakish King. With two starters that are expected to be the top two offensive contributers, and both have similar styles of play, it left much to be desired along the perimeter. Danny Ferry led many Cavaliers fans last season, including myself, to believe that we were getting a huge discount with two players known primarily for their perimeter games in Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall. Well, we all know how that one played out. As a result, all three players will find thesmselves on the trading block at the first sign of trouble. A year after trying to prove their contracts, I expect all three players to have improved play, but at least one of them will be gone before the season ends.

What are your views on LeBron's effect on the team? Not his play on the court, but rather in the way that he handles the situations surrounding the team.
One of the great effects of the abbreviated history of the media on the sporting world is the debate between Star vs. Coach. Usually, I like to side with the coach, but as far as I'm concerned, not only is LeBron James our all-pro forward, he's also head coach LeBron James, and general manager LeBron James. As is the case so often in the NBA, the star player comes first in all decisions regarding the team. Every move the franchise makes revolves around the young King. As much as people try to say that the teams that avoid letting the stars take control are better off, it is inevitable to happen on any team. The Bulls conceded to MJ's every command throughout his career, and although it took a while for it to pay off, it eventually ended up paying off six times. Obviously, there are situations where the star player is only looking out for himself and the results are near-disasterous (see: Bryant, Kobe; Clarett, Maurice). At this point in his career, James seems to be matured well beyond his years. Every indication is that he is one of the most intelligent young men to come through the league in recent history, and he seems to be using every bit of it to his advantage. He knows what this team needs to win a championship, it just so happens that it revolves around him. Is it selfish? Yes, somewhat If LeBron gets fed up with Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall chucking up threes, you can bet they'll be gone. LeBron will get what LeBron wants, but the difference between LeBron and Kobe is that LeBron seems much more willing to make the very limited sacrifies that Bryant is not.

The Cavaliers offseason was a relative snoozer, with very few moves being made. What were the best and worst moves of the offseason, in your opinion?
I feel that the best move the Cavs could have possibly made this past summer was exactly what they did do, and that was not much at all. Perhaps more important than getting a great three point shooter in there or a dominating presence in the low post was developing a strong sense of team chemistry between LeBron and the players that will be the most important in future championship runs. All that bringing in another veteran guy past his prime accomplishes is stunting the growth of the guys that will be keys to LeBron's seemingly destined glory. Anderson Varejao is a perfect example of this. He's entering his third season in the league, and although he's still a season away from being a productive, full-time starter, he's not going to improve anymore by moving him down on the depth chart. He's past the point in his career where watching veterans will increase his knowledge of the game, and it's time we utilize his skills to the best of their abilities. He won't begin the season as a starter, and that's rightfully so. But when Big Z finds a way to get hurt midseason, he will be called on the shoulder much of the load down low. A lot of what goes down two seasons from now (when I expect this team to become a serious contender) will be a direct result of how the young guys are handled this season.

Now on a similar note, the worst move of the offseason unquestionably was the signing of David Wesley. It's as if the front office learned absolutely nothing from Damon Jones and DaJuan Wagner. He's not big enough to be a shooting guard, and he's too old and ineffective to bring anything to the game as a point guard. I think Shannon Brown has what it takes to be a real good player in this league, but I think having him behind just Snow and Jones was a perfect spot for him. Now as an 11th or 12th man essentially, he'll struggle to play in garbage time. Luckily, he's only a rookie, and will have plenty of years ahead of him.

Alrighty. Give me a prediction here. Division rank, playoff seeding, playoff finish, and a bold prediction of something to keep an eye out for.
Second in the division (Behind the Pistions, above the Bulls), 4th in the East, and another second round playoff exit. Rumors start flying in week 3 of a possible trade for Rashard Lewis, but nothing happens until the offseason.

Will the 18th ever get here?

In case you haven't noticed, it's been a slow couple of weeks around Buckeye nation. Unless the Shoe getting re-re-sodded is exciting to you -- and believe me, it is to some people -- there just isn't just much to talk about regarding Buckeye football. Two consecutive blowouts, and two upcoming dates with Illinois and Northwestern respectively just flat out lack the general excitement among the population of Buckeye fans that the month of September had. Granted, the second the Northwestern game ends, it will be near nonstop posting around the Ohio State blogosphere for, you know, that one game. It's hard to fathom this idea, but is it possible that Ohio State Football is actually becoming boring? It's hard to imagine considering we have the frontrunner for the Heisman, possibly the nation's most exciting group of receivers, and a duo at running back that keeps linebackers up at night. With the current imbalance of the schedule, it's as if you're playing a game of Madden NFL Football on the easiest difficulty level with the Patriots: Where's the fun in it? Now, I'm not trying to say something like Ohio State needs to play down to the level of their opponents just for the sake of discussion, but rather just trying to explain the lack of posting around here lately. So from now until the clock reads 0:00 against Northwestern, don't expect nearly as much Ohio State content, unless something really interesting spikes up between now and then. However, basketball season is getting underway, and although my attempts at previewing the Buckeye starting five were futile, the majority of the content in the next 11 days will deviate from Troy Smith and Co. and focus more on Thad, Greg, and Jamar, along with the Godliness of LeBron James.

Remember, though, this is all just assuming the next two weeks are like the previous two. I'm sure now that I've said all of this something catostrophic will happen and this post will be rendered totally irrelevant.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Preseason Basketball Poll Released

The ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll was released today, and to much surprise, the coaches voted Ohio State as the #4 team in the nation. I, like most of the Buckeye faithful, find this rating to be high. Somehow, this team even managed to steal a #1 vote from Florida. Whoever did that obviously didn't know that Greg Oden is out until January, and that there's a very small chance that the rest of the freshmen are going to be able to gel quick enough to have great success in the non-conference schedule. One has to wonder how these Buckeyes start 5 spots above the preseason favorites to win the Big Ten, Wisconsin. The Badgers could turn this conference into a battle for #2, as Alando Tucker and Co. could run away with things quickly. Unsurprisingly, Florida is the near-unanimous Number 1 team, and North Carolina is a distant #2. My knowledge of college basketball doesn't go much past the Big Ten and the traditional powers, so don't expect much national analysis as the season wears on. If I had to predict how things will play out in the Big Ten this season, it would be as follows:

Pfef's 30 second conference preview:

1. Wisconsin - Preseason POY Alando Tucker and virtually everyone else comes back from a team that is poised to dominate
2. Ohio State - Greg Oden will be back in time for conference play, and this is a down year for big men in the Big Ten. You do the math.
3. Indiana - DJ White probably has conference comeback player of the year locked up, and is the favorite for the National award. Kelvin Sampson will give this team the shot of life that the Hoosier's have lacked of late.
4. Michigan - Courtney Sims is the best returning big man in the Big Ten, and that alone should win them quite a few games.
5. Illinois - Dee Brown and James Augustine are both gone. If Brian Randle can't make the fans forget about them, then it is going to be a long season in Champaign.
6. Michigan State - Shannon Brown? Gone. Paul Davis? See ya later. Maurice Ager? Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. These guys were referred to as a "Big 3" last season because there weren't many other options on the Spartans team. Now, Tom Izzo will have his hardest test as a coach to date.
7. Iowa - Their most highly touted recruit, Tyler Smith, who was expected to fill the space left by three top seniors, was arrested last month. Consider that an omen.
8. Penn State - Here's a team that many, including Dick Vitale, are expecting to do big things this season. However, it's hard to do big things when your tallest starter is 6'5"
9. Purdue - It's always interesting to see how players return from huge knee injuries. Carl Landry was an 18 point/7 rebound kind of guy two seasons ago, and he'll need to return to that form to give Purdue any hope.
10. Minnesota - All 5 starters are gone from a team that didn't even make the NIT last season.
11. Northwestern - The little talent they had last year has since moved on, and there isn't any talent coming into replace it.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Looking to next year real quick

In what has been hidden underneath the shadow of the bogus reports of Jim Tressel looking into the NFL, an important step was taken in determining the success of the future of Ohio State football. Antonio Pittman announced in an article published in the Columbus Dispatch on Wednesday that he has every intention of returning to the Buckeyes next season. Although it may have seemed somewhat obvious to most that he would return, there was some legitimate speculation of him making the jump after this season for two reasons: 1) He is finally becoming recognized for what he does on the field, and has established himself as one of the three best backs in the Big Ten, and 2) Chris Wells. Wells was, obviously, the most highly touted recruit for Ohio State since a man by the name of Ginn announced his intentions to play for the Scarlet and Gray. There was actually much discussion heading into the season as to how many carries Wells would take away from Pittman as a freshman, and whether or not he would take the starter's spot. Well, eight games and 778 yards later, Pittman has established himself as an every down back, with Wells being used primarily as a tank on short yardage situations. Due to all the hype surrounding Wells, one can only imagine that the pressure to start the "next Eddie George" would build so much that there would actually be a running back controversy next year. Anyways, the point I'm trying to get at here is that had Pittman gone pro, it would have been more because of the fact that he would fear losing his starting spot next season, thus hurting his draft status, and not so much because he felt he was NFL ready.

One situation that reminds me of this is the one that occured at Miami the year after the national championship game. When Willis McGahee announced that he would go pro after blowing out his knee, many questioned how someone that may not have been ready to play in time for the next season would feel ready to play at the next level. Well, something that was overlooked was that the guy who was supposed to be Miami's star running back that season, Frank Gore, blew out his knee in the preseason, and McGahee would have most likely lost his starting job, and millions of dollars. Although there were much different circumstances in that situation (McGahee coming off injury, Pittman will be coming off his best season), it is the only situation that is most similar to the one that could have occured.

But instead of talking about things that didn't happen, I'll focus a little bit on what will happen. I'm not shying away from my opinion that I feel that 2007 will be an off year for the Buckeyes (with the term "off year" being taken very loosely, they should still make a New Years day bowl). Troy Smith, two offensive linemen, three defensive linemen, and probably Ted Ginn will all be distant memories this time next year. I haven't been overly impressed with what I've seen out of Boeckman and Schoenhoft in "garbage time" this season, so it is only natural to assume that there will be a lot of handing the ball off next season. The spread offense will leave with Troy Smith, so get ready for offenses that will compare to the 2003 season. However, one thing the 2007 team will have that the early Tresselball teams did not have is a fantastic running game. Sure, we had Maurice in 2002, but he missed four games, and when he was gone, the offense revolved around the punt. Not only will there be plenty of talent in the backfield next season, but even more importantly, there will be plenty of depth as well. Everyone knows about Pittman and Wells, but Maurice Wells will probably be the best third string tailback in the nation, and if Tressel can lure in 5-Star Wisconsin tailback John Clay, we may mistake the man in the sweatervest for Woody Hayes. Although next year's Buckeye team won't be nearly as talented as this year's, a soft schedule and depth in the backfield could still allow us to challenge for a BCS bowl berth.

Notes of interest regarding "the now":
  • David Patterson is back at practice and is reportedly at 100% and will start on Saturday. Can't wait to see the defensive line back at full strength, although I'm sure Brian Cupito would rather have him wait an extra week.
  • As I mentioned at the beginning, those reports about Tressel going to the NFL couldn't be more false. He has two things right now that he may never get in the NFL: Job security and a fan base that actually appreciates what it's coach does. And that big fat contract he signed in the offseason doesn't hurt either.
  • The best thing about October? Seeing 900 lb pumpkins dropped from 80 feet in the air on top of a maize and blue van, of course!
  • Jack Nicklaus is joining exclusive company: The 18 time major champion is dotting the I at the game Saturday. More info at BuckeyeCommentary
  • Minny game depth chart. Believe it or not, Chris Wells was just now officially moved above Maurice Wells on the depth chart. When was the last time Mo Wells even played a meaningful down in the first half of a game, anyways?
  • 22 days until the 18th.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Lloyd Carr: Clueless, or Gutless?

In case you haven't seen it yet, Men of the Scarlet and Gray just made a fine post regarding the Adrian Arrington situation at Michigan. In case you haven't heard yet, the UM wideout is facing a charge of domestic violence after getting in an argument with his wife and allegedly assaulting her. For a nice synopsis, check out the timeline on MotSaG that summarizes up the suspicious order of events. I applaud sportsMonkey for not jumping to conclusions. As Ohio State fans, we all got defensive when people did it regarding the Maurice Clarett situation, and it's only fair that every situation is handled like so before the details come out.

Of course, one can't help be at least a little suspicious at what happened, especially after looking at the timeline. If all of these allegations are 100% accurate, then it really brings up some serious questions as to the whereabouts of Lloyd Carr's integrity as not just a coach, but also a person. I agree with MotSaG wholeheartedly in their contrasts from Carr's handling of the Arrington issue to how Mack Brown handled the Tarell Brown situation. As just about everyone remembers, Brown was arrested for posession of marijuana and a handgun. Although as the week wore on it became more and more apparent that the charges would be dropped, and Brown very well may have been in the wrong place at the wrong time; regardless, Brown suspended Brown anyways, because it was the right thing to do. It was a stupid choice on Brown's part to be in the situation that he was in, and he deserved to be punished for it. It also goes without saying that Brown's decision was much tougher, because it happened to his top cornerback on the week of the biggest game of the season. And although Arrington isn't exactly a bench warmer, and his role would be increased due to the Manningham injury, he still wasn't even the go-to guy for Chad Henne in the Iowa game, and it wasn't in a #1 vs #2 game. The action that Carr should have taken should have been a no-brainer at the very least, and he still didn't do it. He may have been doing what would give the team the greatest immediate impact, but it is unfair to Arrington, and it's unfair to himself to allow him to get into these situations and
not have any sort of repercussion.

The ironic thing is, when guys like Tressel suspend players for their off the field issues, the the school instantly gets unfairly labled as a university filled with renegades constantly breaking the law. However, when there is a punishment or little to no suspension, the public turns their eye to it. Where's the justice in that? I guess it just goes to show nowadays that nice guys finish last, and that you should win, regardless of the cost.

Looks like the Buckeye Battle Cry had his input on it as well, which gives three Ohio State blogs talking about the same exact off the field issue with a player that isn't even at OSU. Man, the 18th can't get here soon enough.

Programming Note: "The Issues of the Nation" has changed it's site and URL to "Tough Vote", and I've updated that on the sidebar. He's also made a fantastic first post regarding the situation in Iraq. Plus, he has a fantastic banner, and whoever made that deserves a pat on the back.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Pfef's Sports Blog Team Shop launched

Looking for a new T-Shirt to support your hometown Buckeyes? Well look no further than Pfef's Sports Blog T-Shirt Shop. For the lowest prices, you can get any T-Shirt imaginable. Want to support Troy Smith in his quest for the Heisman? We've got it. Looking to trash talk the guys up north? You know we have it. What is on the site now is just the beginning, and it should blossom into one of the best and most creative Buckeye shops out there.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

And then there were two

Hey guys, sorry for the lack of posting in recent days. I'll try to pick it up a bit more throughout the week in order to make up for it all. I would post a wrap-up of the Indiana game, but if there's one thing I've learned in my time as an Ohio State fan, it's that what happens against Indiana means next to nothing when looking ahead to future games. After all, you just know you're playing Indiana when Lydell Ross runs for 130 yards.

Sean over at The 614 has an excellent post on what it's like to be the fan of the nation's top team. I definitely have to say that I fall into the "Suspicion" category most of the time. However, I do like to think of myself as a realist most of the time. That may be just my ego speaking, but I feel that I'm not the kind of fan that thinks the media is out to get Ohio State (usually), and I'm not blinded enough to notice that there are weaknesses on every team.

On the Heisman frontier, if you thought that Troy Smith's lead in the race to be forever immortalized as one of college football's greatest players was large before this week, it may have gotten even bigger after yesterday. Garrett Wolfe probably ended any chances he had with his 25 yard rushing performance two weeks ago, but his 45 yard performance against Temple (yes, that Temple), put the nail in the coffin. Also, Calvin Johnson probably didn't have much of a chance to win it to begin with as a WR that doesn't return kicks, so like Wolfe, Johnson needed a huge game in the prime time performance against Clemson to solidify himself in the Heisman race, but he was a total non-factor and didn't make a single catch all game long. Steve Slaton had a nice game (19 carries, 128 yards) against Connecticut, but just like with his team, a cupcake schedule won't get him the necessary attention to win.

In fact, there is only one person left in this entire chase that has a remote chance of catching Troy Smith at this point. That guy is none other than the preseason favorite to win it: Brady Quinn. Will Quinn actually end up catching Smith and beating him out? Not likely. Will he make the race at least somewhat interesting by the end of the season? He sure should. Quinn's and Smith's latter portion of the season are both quite similar: A few tune ups, and then a huge "final exam" if you will, to cap off the season. Until the showdown on the 18th, Smith has dates with Minnesota, Illinois, and Northwestern. Quinn has games against Navy, North Carolina, Air Force, and Army until the prime time rematch against BCS #2 USC.

Really, what even gives Quinn a chance at the trophy has less to do with how he plays, and much more to do with when he plays. Quinn's showdown against USC comes on November 22, one week after Troy Smith goes up against Michigan. If Smith does marginal against Michigan, or if he loses, and Quinn sets the world on fire against an undefeated USC team, voters may be inclined to punch their ballots for Quinn because of that impression he left in the short memories of the voters. Remember that last season Matt Leinart was considered the leader for the Heisman trophy until two late regular season matchups against Fresno State and UCLA, in which Reggie Bush made the Heisman voters completely forget about the previous 10 games on the schedule.

Now, I doubt any of this is too likely to happen. It would mean that Troy Smith is average at best the rest of the season, and nothing I've seen to date makes me believe that will happen, and it also means that USC would have to defeat both Cal and Oregon to maintain their top-3 ranking, something else that may not happen. Remember, Smith's lead over Quinn is much larger than Leinart's was over Bush at this time last season, and both guys get their own seperate chances to shine, whereas Leinart and Bush had to share the same football.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Pfef's Sports Blog Message Board launched!

As part of my goal here at Pfef's Sports Blog to get you, the reader, more involved in discussion, I have created a message board for you to post whatever is on your mind regarding everything from Buckeye football to your views on politics. Obviously, I can't post everyday, and since I'm sure all of you out there are absolutely dying to talk sports, head over there now. The forum is conveniently located on the right sidebar and is easily accessible.

Since this is the first message board I've created, I'm sure that I have overlooked some glaring problems. If you notice any, please post them on the message board, in the comments, or e-mail me and I'll fix them ASAP.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Paul Posluszny: Once a thief, always a thief

Okay, so maybe that's a bit harsh of a title, especially considering it really isn't up to Posluszny, but I honestly have no idea who is in charge of deciding who gains consideration for the major postseason awards.

As most Buckeye fans remember, Posluszny beat out AJ Hawk for the Dick Butkus award, which names the best collegiate linebacker in America. The stats were all obviously in Hawk's favor, Hawk was the captain of one of the nation's best defenses, and he also dominated every aspect of the game, whether it be stopping the run or in pass coverage. The only thing Posluszny had going for him that season was that he played on a better team, and in their head-to-head matchup, he came out the victor (Both in final score and in the stat column). After Posluszny won the award, he even admitted that he didn't deserve it and that Hawk was the far superior linebacker.

Well, as much of an embarassment that that was last season, the guys in charge of the Lombardi Award (whether these are the same people is beyond me) managed to put it to shame. The 12 semi-finalists for the Rotari Lombardi award were recently named, and of those 12, James Laurinaitis is nowhere to be found as Posluszny is sitting pretty. As angered as I was last after last season, now I am absolutely outraged. I have no idea how the "college football experts" that make these decisions can even look themselves in the mirrors in the morning. I can only conclude that this is a direct result of two things: Preseason hype and an inability to judge just how good a defender is. "Poz" came into the season as the nation's top returning linebacker, thus creating sky-high expectations. What many people seemed to have forgotten, though, is that Posluszny tore a knee ligament in last season's Orange Bowl, which was a huge step back in his progression as a player (as is the case with most athletes). So far this season, Posluszny has brought next to nothing to the Penn State defense. His injury has made him relatively stale-footed and immobile. And although he has made some significant progress to returning to All-American form, he is still far removed from the player that he was last season.

Does James Laurinaitis deserve to be a semi-finalist? Well, that is all based on your opinion. Compared to Posluszny, Laurinaitis is superior in every statistical category. Another player that many would consider to be more deserving than Posluszny is his teammate, Dan Connor. Connor has been an absolute beast all season long, and has established himself as one of the best linebackers in the nation this season. I am glad to see that Quinn Pitcock made the list. He's been one of the best defensive tackles in the nation this season.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A little PSB Housekeeping

I just got done making some additions to the sidebar, and here is a little overview of what's been added:
  • In what must have been a huge oversight on my part, somehow Around The Oval got left off of the OSU Blogs list. I could have sworn it was in there, so it must have accidentally gotten deleted somewhere along the line. My apologies to JD, I don't know how that one got past me.
  • Other OSU Blogs added: The Buckeye Battle Cry, Eleven Warriors, The Penalty Kill, The Pojo Dojo, and Second Rate News (which has actually been up there for a couple of days now). If these blogs keep it up, Ohio State very well may have the highest (and most educated, if I say so myself) population of college football fans in the blogosphere.
  • Andy has been the most active of all you slackers out there when it comes to comments, and I've finally gotten around to adding his site, My Casual Thoughts, to the sidebar. He's a Buckeye fan stuck in Ann Arbor, so drop by and give your deepest sympathies. Now, if he just weren't a stinkin' Tigers fan... (side note: I did predict the winner of the Yankees/Tigers series to win the World Series, but I don't have it in writing anywhere, you will have to take my word for it).
  • MGoBlog and the 50 Yard Lion were both added, as was Heisman Pundit. Three of the best blogs out there, undoubtedly. By the way, take a look at who is on the top of HP's Heisman list, I'm sure all you Buckeye fans out there will be more than happy with what you see.
  • My good friend has followed in my footsteps as a blogger. His, however, is about politics. So take a look if you jocks out there want to broaden your horizons.

Basketball Preview - Shooting Guards

I haven't quite decided as to whether or not I'll actually do a postgame thoughts/analysis on the OSU/MSU game. It was probably the most complete game played all season long, and Troy Smith's name and number should soon sit up there on the stadium with Eddie, Archie, Chic, and the rest of the Buckeye legends. I pretty much forgot to continue my Buckeye Basketball preview this past week, so I'm going to do it now before I forget again. So without further adieu, here is the Buckeye 2's.

The Sniper:
Daequan Cook, Freshman
6'5" 190 lbs
Dayton, OH

Imagine this: You're the #2 ranked High School Basketball Player at your position nationally, and #13 nationally regardless of position, and you're one of the more overlooked members of your college's recruiting class. This is the exact scenario for incoming Buckeye freshman Daequan Cook. As mentioned before, Cook was one of the top basketball players in the nation, a consenses 5-Star player from all of the recruiting services nationwide, and most people are forgetting about him in the midst of the "Thad Five." While all of the talk in the offseason focused on Greg Oden, whether it be his expectations or his injury, there has been almost as much talk about his High School teammate Mike Conley, and perhaps the most athletically gifted member of the recruiting class, David Lighty. Perhaps the only member of the Thad 5 that has been talked about less than Cook is JUCO transfer Othello Hunter (who, honestly, I don't know much about myself). But while Oden is resting his wrist, and Conley and Lighty are backing up their respective positions, Cook very well could have the biggest impact on the team early on in the season. Remember last season how Ohio State thrived off the 3-Point ball last season thanks to the likes of Je'Kel Foster? Well, Cook could soon make people forget about Foster. His jumpshot is that good. Scout.com calls Cook, "The top mid-range schooter to come around in recent seasons." He's the most complete offensive weapon that Ohio State basketball has seen since, dare I say, Michael Redd? From all I understand, he's just as deadly from outside, and he can finish at the rim, too. The only real question around Cook's game at this point appears to be his defensive presence, something that his predecessor Je'Kel Foster had no problem with. It may all have to deal with just a lack of effort, because he's more than athletic enough to do it. Remember, last season, Foster was always the guy relied on to shut down the oppositions top offensive threat, which left him fatigued in the later stages of the game, which led to his struggles later on in the season. I'm not saying that Cook should play lazy on defense, but since he won't be expected to guard the top opposing threat, he may be left in better condition to impact the game offensively. I'm not going to lie, outside of Oden, Cook is the player that I'm most eager to watch, just because there's that chance that he could end up being the next Mike Redd, and remember this: The last time we had a guy at the point like Jamar Butler, a #2 like Cook, and a defensive presence down low like Oden, we were in the Final Four.

Other guys to look out for:
  • Mike Conley, Freshman - I know I mentioned this guy in with the point guard position as well, but Thad Matta has said that there will be times this season when Butler and Conley will be on the floor at the same time. With the current lack of depth behind Cook, Butler and Conley may find themselves in the same backcourt quite often early on this season (especially considering we will be trying to compensate for Oden's absence by using guys like David Lighty and Ron Lewis in the front court while he is gone).
  • Ron Lewis, Senior - This will really all depend on how quickly David Lighty adapts to his role as a forward. Let's say Lighty lives up to the hype early on and Cook struggles a bit. Then there will be lots of pressure on Matta to push Lighty into the starting 5, but also keep the experience of Ron Lewis on the court as well. There is no doubt that Lewis can play either position, but his athleticism may better suit him to play the 3. Then again, it may not be totally up to him.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Troy Smith: Striking the pose a little early

Troy Smith very well may have won the Heisman trophy today. Sure, he had another great day, including that incredible touchdown to Robiske that makes you think the guy is Donovan McNabb out there. His 15/22 passing for 234 yards and 2 TDs, no INTs, only lifted up his already all-time Big 10 QB Rating record, and the fact that he makes everything he does look easy as he picks apart defenses just lengthen his highlight-reel resume.

However, Troy Smith may not have earned the Heisman trophy with his play today, as much as Adrian Peterson and Garrett Wolfe pretty much gave it to him. Peterson was just finishing up yet another dominating day on the ground as he broke a late 53 yard run towards paydirt, when his Oklahoma career came to a screeching halt. Diving into the endzone, Peterson broke his collarbone, and is now out for the season. Although the injury really hurts his draft chances, I can't see him coming back, because even if he is hurt, he's still probably the best player in the draft. More importantly for the Ohio State fans here, Peterson's injury drops him from the consesus #2 vote on the ballot to completely off of it altogether. The man who was going to take Peterson's place on that list, also killed his chances today, as Garrett Wolfe ran for a grand total of 25 yards on 18 carries (1.4 YPC), against Western Michigan of all teams. Everyone knows the saying, "Big players make big plays in big games." Well, Wolfe made absolutely no plays against a mediocre defense, and he won't get anymore chances to have any big games. Every Heisman winner has a defining moment in his season. You know, coming up big in the most important games. Reggie Bush had that one flip against UCLA that was on every highlight reel, Eddie George had this, heck, even Eric Crouch had that touchdown catch, and he was arguably the worst Heisman winner ever. There's a reason why guys on 4-3 MAC teams don't win the Heisman: They don't play in big enough games that become remembered over time.

How did the rest of the Heisman competition fare this week? Of the only two other real contenders that played this week, one played spectacular (Steve Slaton, 20 carries, 163 yards), although I still insist that he's a fast player in a system pays high dividends for speed, and one played downright awful (Chris Leak, 2 4th Quarter turnovers in one of the biggest games of the season).

Gameday Thread - Ohio State at Michigan State

Not too much to say today, I've just got some notes to leave to all the doubters that this game may blow up in our faces.

We all know what happened in 1998, especially me. It was about two weeks before my 9th birthday, and my dad took me to my very first Ohio State football game. We were ranked #1 in the nation, led by Joe Germaine, Andy Katzenmoyer, and the rest of that whole crew, going against a struggling, unranked Michigan State team. No sweat, right? Yeah, even I thought that and I was 8 years old. Well, everyone remembers what happened in that short time period, and people are beginning to wonder if it will happen again. The situations are strikingly similar to 1998. Ohio State undefeated and atop the nation, Michigan State struggling to make the season worthwhile, yada yada yada. Well, I don't think this will be any trouble whatsoever for the Buckeyes. Will it be a 50-0 victory? Not likely, just because Tressel doesn't allow that and the defense is bound to give up a long drive at one point or another.

Why the game won't be a loss:
  • Jim Tressel. I've never seen an Ohio State team in my lifetime respond to their coaches like this season's. Everyone seems to really have bought into Tressel, something that past teams may not have been able to say so much. Knowing Tressel, this was one of the more difficult weeks of practice that the team had to go through all season long, and it should pay dividends today.
  • John L Smith. The man has admitted to the press that his job is on thin ice, his team is yet to show up and play a down of football since about halftime of the Notre Dame fiasco. The guy lost to Illinois, and yes, we're still talking about football. John L Smith has given up on this season, his job, his team, and as a result, the team has given up on him. The MSU coach in 1998? Nick Saban. Yep, the Michigan State Athletic Department really knows which ones to keep and which ones to let go.
  • Ohio State is better on the road. Troy Smith and the young defense were both supposed to be flustered in the night games against the hostile crowds in Austin and Iowa City. If Troy can make it look easy against those two, then is there any doubt he will light it up in a day game against a team that's been eliminated from everything except the Sun Bowl? The crowd won't be nearly as rowdy as the previous two road games.
  • Michigan State lost to Illinois. Description and analysis would go here, but do I really need to say any more?
Blog/other sites of interest previews:

Thursday, October 12, 2006

29 Days 'till tipoff.

Ohio State media and picture day was today, and from the general feeling from reading the article, this is going to be one of the most highly anticipated seasons in Buckeye History. BuckNuts has some pictures up, and I'm sure the O-Zone won't be far behind.

The Thad 5 sportin' the new unis.

Some quotes from media day:

Matta on the new guys:

“You want them to get the feel for college basketball. We’ve got four guys on this team who have never played with a shot clock before. I think one of the challenges we have is molding them and getting them to think along the lines we want them to think. That is learning the system and trusting the system. I think that’s where the crash course comes with our practices.

“We are very competitive in practice and try to force the guys’ hands to learn as we compete. That’s going to be even a heightened level this year with the short time we have before we play.

“There is no question guys are going to get thrown into the fire early and they will have to develop quickly. Every second of every practice will be vitally important to this club."

Is a slow start inevitbale? I think so, and it almost sounds like Matta does, too.

Matta on the schedule:

“I think it’s going to be a great learning experience for us,” Matta said of the slate. “You look at some of the teams we are playing, even in the BCA Classic. VMI has all five starters returning. Loyola, in the second round, has all five starters from a team that won 19 games. Then you look at Carolina, Florida, Cincinnati and Tennessee. Those are going to be great challenges for us. With this team, we wanted to have as many challenges as we could.

“When we begin Big Ten play, we will be able to say we played in two of the toughest environments in college basketball with Carolina and Florida. We’re not going to see anything different when we go on the road in the Big Ten.”

I think one thing that needs to be addressed is the rough nonconference schedule. I do not expect Ohio State to go undefeated in nonconference play for the second straight season, and I think it may be a struggle to go above .500 in the marquee games (Cincy, @ UNC, @ Florida, Iowa State, Tennessee). Obviously, the two most notable games on there are the ones at North Carolina and in Gainesville. Will Ohio State win either of those games? Probably not. However, a loss early on could be the best thing to happen to this group of guys. As Matta mentioned, they will get an understanding early on of what it's like to play in a hostile environment, which will only help come March, and it will prevent a sense of complacency among the young guns. The last thing we need is these freshmen to enjoy instant success, assume that everything will come easy, and then get a harsh reality check in conference play.

Matta on the expectations:

“I don’t think people can comprehend how much pressure you put on yourself as a coach,” he said. “Quite honestly, I don’t know how this team is going to be. It would be quite foolish to speculate on what they’re going to be able to do. There are so many unknowns and college basketball has changed drastically.

“The opening thing is Greg Oden is not healthy. Is that Greg’s fault? Is that my fault? That’s nobody’s fault. That’s life. I think a coach once told me, ‘We’re all a sprained ankle away from mediocrity.’

“But we’re going to work as hard as we can and we’re going to try and mold this thing into the right direction. We’ve got guys who love the game of basketball. We know we’re going to go through some ups and downs, but I think that will help you in the end.”

Matta is mostly concerned with where this team ends up and the daily lessons it will take them to get to that spot.

“As I’ve told the guys, the only microscope we’re going to be under is our own,” he said. “That’s how we have to operate. There are so many unknowns. It is a youthful team and, quite honestly, this is a day-by-day process with these guys. We want to play our best basketball in March, knowing we have a ways to go and a feeling out period. We have some tremendous challenges ahead of us early on. Those things should only strengthen us for February and March.”

When did Jim Tressel start coaching basketball? This is great, I'm loving it. If these basketball players can buy into Matta like the football team has bought into Tressel, only good will come from it.

By the way, the new unis look alright. I was a bigger fan of last season's silver shoulders (Home jerseys only), but these are servicable. Definitely not a fan of the shorts, though.

From burning defenses to burning food, Gonzalez does it all

Ohio State's own Anthony Gonzalez has been featured as part of ESPN's continuing coverage of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Gonzalez, who is half Cuban, is featured with an incredibly nice write up and a nice video to go along with it. Why is Gonzalez featured? Not just because he makes incredible catches at the right times in just about every single game, or even because he sleeps in a tent that turns Columbus into the Rockies, it's because Gonzalez is also an incredible chef when it comes to preparing fine Cuban cuisines.

It's funny considering that before last season's Michigan game, not many people outside the state of Ohio knew much about Gonzalez, and it has taken up until recent weeks for the nation to recognize him as one of the premier receivers in the nation. As if Troy and Teddy weren't enough to keep defensive coordinators this side of Ann Arbor up all night, Gonzalez's recent emergence has made it that much more painful to come up with defensive schemes to contain the offense. And, to date this season, not one defense has proved capable. The thing that you just have to love (or hate, depending on your allegiances) about Gonzalez is his incredible timeliness. Almost all of his catches this season have either come on third down, or given the Buckeye a new set of downs. If they haven't done that, that's because they've been touchdowns. Very few of his touches this season have been for short yardage and put the offense in tough situations. The one player in any sport I can begin to think to compare Gonzalez to is the New York Yankee's Derek Jeter. For a while, I wasn't a fan of Jeter, calling him overrated. In recent seasons, I've come to realize more and more that the reason behind my accusation was just because of my hatred for the Yankees, and that Jeter is indeed an incredible player who makes all the right plays at the right time. Both of these guys put up great stats, come through in the clutch, and perhaps most importantly, are great leaders on their respective team. Every Championship team, regardless of sport, needs a Derek Jeter. They may not be the number one performer for the whole game, but they will always be there to rely on. Ohio State has its Jeter in Gonzalez, but only time will tell if it results in a championship.

Also, is it just me, or does Gonzo seem kind of like a nerd to anybody else? I mean, the kid sleeps in an Air Pressure-Controlled tent and likes to cook in his free time. How does he not get constantly harassed in practice? Then again, if it keeps him out of trouble and in the end zone, then I won't complain.

Other OSU-related links:
  • Ivan Maisel names Garrett Wolfe as his midseason heisman. It's a nice story and all, but Maisel completely forgets the fact that A) He's in the MAC, B) He's in a run-oriented offense that will give him stats, C)NIU is only 4-2 D) They play in the MAC. The main argument for Wolfe, outside of his stats, is that he did good against an Ohio State defense that had no idea how to defend a screen pass and he has one other game against a major conference college. Last time I checked, a season is 12 games long. Garrett Wolfe is the leader on a team that couldn't even manage to beat Ohio University. Troy Smith is the leader on the consensus #1 team in the nation. Unless Smith loses two more games, there shouldn't even be a discussion. Maisel has never had much knowledge regarding Ohio State, though, so maybe he's just missing the obvious points (The guy thought Script Ohio was a halftime performance, after all).
  • SI has their midseason report up. The consensus among them there is that Ohio State will be National Champions. If everything goes as expected, the winner of the OSU/Michigan game will be the true National Champion, but the Crystal Ball is a nice touch.
  • Looks like I won't be watching the OSU-Indiana game. I'll reserve my official rant on this until next week, but I'll just say this now: Time Warner better find a way to air this game, or they are going to have some angry customers.
  • Buckeyes Swear they've learned from Spartan upsets. Kind of an odd title considering that none of the Buckeyes were on the team in 1998, but whatever they say. There are two reasons the Spartans won't win on Saturday: 1) We don't have John Cooper, 2) They have John L Smith
  • Around The Oval has also begun talking Buckeye hoops. I think that many voters are too high on us, just because regardless of all the hype, we don't know what we're getting out of the Thad 5. We could have 5 superstars, or we could have 5 busts. That's 5 awfully big question marks to rely on.

Monday, October 09, 2006

BGSU Postgame thoughts/analysis

Let's get down to it, BGSU postgame thoughts and analysis. Not too much here, but like the guys in the shoulderpads, a letdown after a big win is inevitable.

  • Vernon Gholston is the next Will Smith. We've been waiting on a dominant pass rusher ever since #93 moved on to bigger and better things after the '03 season. Simon Fraser was a leader, but he wasn't the same disruptive force. Kudla was a freak, but had troubles with health. J-Rich has been good, but isn't nearly the athlete. Not only is Gholston becoming nearly unblockable off the edge, he's also becoming an incredible run stopper as well. Also, we haven't had a defensive end since Smith that is capable of dropping back into coverage like Gholston. He hadn't had to do it too many times this season up until this week when we faced our first true spread offense opponent of the season. It'd be nice to see a couple moves out of him after that interception (what was he playing there, safety?), but hey, the man isn't superman.
  • If defenses want to play soft on Ted Ginn, so be it. I have no problem with Ginn taking a screen pass every other play and getting over five yards out of it before he even has to think about making a move on a defender. It's just a matter of knowing when and when not to fall in love with the bubble screen. A cushion from the secondary might as well be a green light to do it, but if there's a guy right on him, it's just going to leave Teddy out to dry.
  • However, if we want to see #10 strike the pose, we may need to go vertical more. Call me selfish, because I know we should do what's best for the team, but I'm yet to witness a heisman winner in my lifetime (I was 5 years old when Eddie was around), and this season would be a pretty good one. Eventually, the heisman voters are going to notice that Troy is only getting 180-200 yards passing a game, and that will cost him some votes. He's already at enough of a disadvantage by having his season ending so early (No conference championship game means Peterson gets to leave the final impression on the voters).
  • What's the deal with the injuries? Patterson and Barton should be back for next week, but it seems like everyone was limping around at one point or another. Hopefully this is just a result of not being used to the new turf, and not a case of the injury bug setting in.
  • Speaking of the turf, all you naysayers should just give it a little bit of time. The stuff seems to resemble the turf at my highschool's football field, so it may just need a little time for all that stuff flying around to settle into the ground.
  • The offensive line is becoming very difficult to figure out. Incredible against two good defensive lines in Texas and Iowa, yet they struggled against the obviously overmatched lines of Cincy and BGSU. Troy actually had to use his feet yesterday, but then again, if he can pull off runs like he did on 3rd and 25, then who needs a line? I'm joking, of course. The line needs to step it up consistently if we have any hopes of getting the crystal ball back.
  • Hey, refs, thanks for showing up! Ohio State won the penalty battle for the first time this season, with a yardage advantage of 43-36. Not the biggest difference ever, but at least it's a step in the right direction. 5 penalties for a team playing Ohio State may be a season high, also, but I'd have to look into that one.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Basketball Preview part I - Point Guards

With just about one month until basketball season tips off for the Thad 5, I now have the difficult task of balancing out Buckeye Football, Buckeye Basketball, and Cavaliers Basketball. I would mention the Browns somewhere in there, but there's just nothing interesting to say about them, unless someone gets hurt. Just like with my preview of the football season, I am going to do this in a position-by-position format, but I will also throw in some other tidbit posts on the team. So without further adieu, I present to you part I of a many parted series on the basketball team starting with the Point Guard position.

The Floor General:
Jamar Butler, Junior
6'2" 200 lbs
Lima, OH

Arguably the best leader in the entire Big 10, which are strong words considering this kid has only been a full-time starter for only one season. Although most of the Big 10 POTY debate was around Dee Brown and Terrence Dials, it very easily could have been Butler who took that crown, had anybody took the time to notice just how effective of a player he is. Last season, on a perimeter-oriented team in Ohio State that was often quite streaky in three pointers, Butler was a model of consistency, hitting 44% of all shots from beyond the arc. But his game goes far beyond his ability to score points. Last season, Butler averaged 8 assists per 100 posessions, playing for a team that made a living spreading assists around (think 2005 Iowa). The number one goal of all point guards is to create opportunities for the offense to flourish, while not making dumb mistakes or causing turnovers. To say that there's a corellation between OSU's #1 conference ranking in points per game and Jamar Butler's near 3:1 Assits:Turnover ratio would be an understatement. Butler had the highest offensive rating of any starter in the Big 10 (a team's points per posession, but for players instead. Essentially, the same thing as Passing Efficiency in football). He has that sense about him that he makes players around him better, something which will be needed greatly early on in the season considering the Buckeyes very well may have four new starters, with at least two of them being true freshmen.

Other guys to look out for:
  • Mike Conley, Freshman - The high school teammate of Greg Oden is often overlooked as that "other" five star recruit from Lawrence North High School. Conley has exceptional speed and agility. More importantly, however, is that Conley is a student of the game, so he should have no problem (or at least a lot less of one) adapting the college game, and he should see minutes instantly. The transfer of Sylvester Mayes opens up a slot for a backup guard to step in and instantly contribute, and Conley very well may be that man.

Coming up next week: Super freshman Daequan Cook and the rest of the Buckeye shooting guards!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Ted Ginn Saga

In what has become a pressing point of discussion over the past few weeks, I have become compelled to discuss the growing issue of Ted Ginn's season not being as "exciting" this season as before. There are multiple factors that are the reasons for this: His changed role on the team, a dazzling freshman season, which led to unreasonable expectations in his second season, and what seems to be that he is just trying too hard out there to impress everyone.

Year 1 Ted Ginn burst onto the scene as a highly touted freshman, and was used offensively as a "gimmick back" (Being used out of the backfield, trick plays, etc). He even became a notoriety as such a player that he had a formation named after him, the "Shotginn." His dazzling speed and agility left fans and announcers alike speechless. If you need evidence (and you shouldn't), look no further than his first ever touchdown as a Buckeye. He caught a tipped 5 yard pass, broke three tackles, and just outran another three would-be tacklers on his way to a 60 yard touchdown. Coming into this season, Teddy had only two touchdowns scored under 20 yards, a trick play against Michigan State in 2004, and a play in which he lined up at quarterback and snuck the ball in against Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl that same year.

Year 2 After a stellar final two games of the 2004 season, Ginn entered his sophomore season, a season in which his expectations were through the roof. Everyone was expecting the unexpectable out of Ginn all season long, and those plays were few and far between. He had a couple of returns called back on phantom flags, but even those don't make up for his season long disappointment. Statistically, he was pretty good (803 receiving yards), but the hard to impress Buckeye fans were expecting quadruple digits. The beginning of the season was incredibly disappointing for Ginn and the fans. Despite getting featured on a Sports Illustrated cover after week 1, Ginn totally disappeared in the biggest game of the season against Texas, and he followed that performance with poor games against SDSU, Iowa, and PSU. Watching him struggle out there and his general body language gave me the impression that this kid was a prima donna. His blocking was lackadaisical at best, he seemed almost offended at the fact that the ball wasn't getting thrown his way enough, and it showed in his performance. His route running was downright awful, and he just didn't seem focused.

But maybe a sophomore slump was the best thing that could have happened to Ginn.

Year 3 The months, weeks, and days leading up to the 2006 season was arguably filled with more anticipation and hype than any other season for any team I've been a fan of. The expectations were once again being set an unrealistic bar for Jim, Troy, the new defense, and of course, Ted. After an all-around electric Fiesta Bowl performance against Notre Dame, fans were once again looking for Ted to set the world on fire. Heisman watch-lists had him just behind the big 3 of Smith, Quinn, and Peterson. The reasoning behind expecting a heisman winner out of an 803-yard receiver over guys having more spectacular seasons (Manningham), or players with more talent as a receiver (Jarret) still beats me. Maybe it was just a Michael Jordan effect on college football. You know how everyone is looking for the next MJ? Well maybe college fans were looking for the next Reggie Bush, and Ted Ginn was just the easiest target for fans to point out.

The difference between '05 and '06, however, was that '05 must have been a serious reality check for Ginn. Santonio Holmes was gone, and it was now up to Ginn (in the eyes of most fans), to fill the void. He seemed to learn a serious lesson from last season, and has since become a much harder worker. He put on weight, became a finely-tuned route runner, and his newfound hands are making people think "Santonio Who?" His progress even led teammate Anthony Gonzalez and WR Coach Darrell Hazell to sing his praises highly back in the spring.

"He's like a totally different player," said Hazell. "He's always been fast, but now he runs good routes, reads defenses, does all the little things that make a good receiver. Those things, combined with his speed, could turn him into a great receiver next fall if he continues to work at it and improve," said Hazell.

"Teddy is playing extremely well. He really is. It's the best I've seen him play," added fellow wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez

The '06 season began right where the '05 one left off. Ginn scored two first quarter touchdowns against Northern Illinois, and then did something he couldn't do last year: Be a factor against Texas. The second play from scrimmage, Ginn took a pass over the middle, and broke it out for a 46 yard gain. He then brought the back-breaker in the closing seconds of the second quarter when he caught a 29 yard pass over his shoulder past an outstretched Aaron Ross to put the Buckeyes up 14-7 just as the first half ended. His threat of breaking one big at any given time has forced defenses to focus too much on Ginn and not enough on Gonzalez, who has flourished in his role as the "overlooked one."

One area of concern around Ginn's game this season, though, is in his return game (who would've thunk it, right?). This could be due to one of many factors, such as his increased role in the offense or his weight gain from his freshman season, but the obvious reason seems to be that he is simply trying too hard to break the big one. He's playing like that big hitter who is going through a slump, and is trying to break out of that slump by swinging for the fences on every pitch. What Ginn really needs to do, is just relax, and take things in small chunks. Then, things will begin to slow down for Ginn, and he will break that big one. The guy is overdue. Going back to last season, he's 0-23 on returns, with the only big one that comes to mind being against Illinois last season. If he doesn't come through soon, it may be time to groom "Ted Ginn III," Ray Small, to start returning kicks. The kid is every bit as fast (if not faster) than Ginn was as a freshman, and just as talented.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Monday Wrapup

Nothing exciting here, just a bunch of links that you should all take a look at:
  • Iowa postgame analysis: The 614, Death Cab for Woody, Men of the Scarlet and Gray, The O-Zone
  • ESPN's "College Football Final" wonders if Troy Smith is heisman material, or just another weapon in the offense. Can't the same thing be said about Brady Quinn, Vince Young, Matt Leinart, or any QB of a high powered offense? The guy under center is what makes everything else go, and I think last year's Texas game, which featured Ginn, Gonzalez, and Pittman proves that point. Also, they bring up the Ginn vs Gonzalez argument which I alluded to in my postgame analysis (more on that in the coming weeks).
  • BuckeyeCommentary takes a look at Vernon Gholston's unblockabilty (yet obvious holdability). The man is becoming unfair fast.
  • Looks like Herringbone was right, and Anderson Russell is done for the year. A medical redshirt seems unlikely here, so lets hope Super Jamario can step up. Russell was always around the ball and, as i said earlier, was quickly becoming one of my favorite players.
  • Ohio Stadium had a new grass field put in. Actually, this happened last week, but I decided to wait until a home week to put this out there.
  • Updated depth chart for the Bowling Green game. The only changes are due to Russell's injury. One must remember, though, that this is Bowling Green, so a lot of people not on this depth chart will see time (if everything goes as expected).
  • Tony Gerdeman's The Buckeye Watch. An always comical perspective on the game, done in Bill Simmons-esque format.
  • Apparently, Anthony Gonzalez has started a new fad.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Iowa thoughts/analysis

Probably the most complete game we've played thus far in the season. Outside of Gonzo's second TD, nothing was absolutely spectacular, but everything was very, very good.

  • How much longer until Brent Musberger is out of a job? I know I sound like another annoying fan here, but the guy refused to give Ohio State any credit whatsoever. When he wasn't talking in pure monotone during a Buckeye touchdown, he was referring to the game as an "Iowa Hawkeye Self-Destruction." News flash Brent: These guys have been ranked #1 since August, and Iowa is rebuilding on defense just as much as we are.
  • Brent Musberger may have been bad, but at he wasn't in a zebra suit. Keith eluded to earlier in the week that Ohio State's opponents are the least flagged of any team's opponents in the entire conference. Last night was another example of a refereeing debacle. Donald Washington's first quarter pass interference was a total joke, and how could the refs NOT see Ted Ginn's catch for a first down? It was quite obvious that his hand was under the ball, and he was hit down before the ball came out. Not to mention Iowa got away with about 3 trillion holding calls. It's easy to stop Vernon Gholston when he's getting tackled.
  • Drew Tate tries really hard not to spike the ball. This may have been the most frustrating game for Drew Tate as a quarterback. Tate only got sacked twice on the game, but he was running for his life all game, and the varying looks by the Buckeye defense caused some real bad throws by Tate. He went an absolutely horrid 19-41 from the field, with a 1-3 TD:INT ratio. He got yards, which was expected, but I'm sure fans were expecting a total closer to 300 with 41 attempts.
  • Albert Young, where art thou? A common occurance this season is the opposing coaching staff completely abandoning the run game by the half. Outside of that one drive where Albert Young broke tackles on his way to a 15 yard touchdown, the Iowa running game was completely non-existant all evening. Iowa totaled 87 rushing yards on the evening, by far the most impressive outing from the Buckeye front 7 all season.
  • Antonio Pittman is one of the top 2 running backs in the Big 10. I'm not ready to hand him the crown over Mike Hart quite yet, but boy is it getting close. In my opinion, Pittman had the best game of his career to date considering the circumstances (Road game at night, team on upset alert). His ability to bounce runs to the outside when there was nothing up the middle was something we've only seen a few times out of Pittman before last night. He displayed vision that we haven't seen since the Maurice Clarett days.
  • Gonzo could be one of the best receivers in the country. Maybe its a result of too much focus on Ginn, but watching Gonzalez out there, there's no reason to believe that he's not one of the 10 best out there. He's a better receiver than Ginn is, and until Ginn shows some big play potential, I may consider him a better all-around player. It's amazing how on third down everyone knows who will be getting the ball, and no one can stop him.
  • Speaking of Ted Ginn...The kid is just trying too hard. His route running is fine tuned, but he's making a lot of bad choices once he gets the ball. Instead of cutting upfield, he was trying to make the moves he did as a freshman. He lucked out big time on that fumble on the first offensive play. Now that Santonio is gone, we need this guy to be a receiver, not a gimmick back, although I have no problem with the screen passes when the Iowa secondary is giving him a 10 yard cushion. I may get destroyed for this, but I'm starting to think we need another returner sometime soon.
  • Oh yeah, we've got another guy on offense, too. Despite only racking up 186 yards through the air and 209 yards overall, Troy Smith had a heisman like performance. Jim Tressel obviously had no plans of using a vertical passing game, and once the lead got comfortable, Tressel pretty much went away from the passing game entirely. 4 touchdowns and 0 interceptions was a statement that last week was a fluke, and this guy became the leader in the heisman race with an idle Adrian Peterson.
  • Road to the national championship? After Michigan State lost to Illinois, the schedule is pretty easy leading up to the showdown with the boys in blue. I have no problem doing it as a fan, but the players better not look ahead at all. We need to take this at a "one game at a time" pace, and the last thing we need is another let down like 1998 Michigan State.
  • Jim Tressel is a happy man. Time of Posession: OSU - 40:30, Iowa - 19:30. Nothing else needs to be said.
  • Last but not least, the defense was downright nasty. They gave up yards through the air, but I think a lot of that had to be expected against a guy like Drew Tate. However, when it counted, these guys stepped up seriously. Outside of that little hiccup in the second quarter, this looked like a defense from seasons past. 11 guys flying to the ball every snap. Brandon Mitchell could have had 3 picks on his own. There was a lot more blitzing than we're accustomed to seeing this season, but that must mean the coaching staff is becoming comfortable with the defense that they can sacrifice defenders to get to the quarterback.
  • Any updates on Anderson Russell? The guy is quickly becoming one of my favorite players, and he really has a nose for the ball. I hope the injury wasn't too serious.