Before the season started, many in Buckeye land thought this team could be 6-0 at this point. With the Buckeyes losing many talented players from a year ago, there were questions that needed to be answered to calm some nerves. Halfway through this season, the answers have come to the surface and OSU has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the polls. If this trend continues, Buckeye fans will be trading beads for "peeks" on Bourbon Street in early January.
Todd Boeckman has stepped up and become the legit #1 quarterback. He leads the league in QB rating and has thrown at least 2 touchdowns in every game. Boeckman seems comfortable in the pocket and has managed each game pretty well. He does have a few things to work on, if the Buckeyes are to continue winning. Boeckman loves to stare down his primary receiver, especially on deep balls and therefore has thrown 6 interceptions. I truly believe Boeckman knows what kind of defense he has and once he is up 14, game over. This allows for a few "stare downs" to try and pad the offensive stats. Little Bellisari and Antonio Henton have both seen action and Henton was pushing his way towards the #2 spot, before he tried to short change a hooker-cop. If Boeckman can limit the turnovers, the offense is in good shape.
Beanie Wells is on pace for 1250 yards and 10 touchdowns, while showing the speed and power we expected. After starting slow in the opener, he has reeled off an average of 125 yards per game in the last five. Beanie ranks 5th in the conference, but a recent string of ankle tweaks has fans a bit nervous. Luckily Mo Wells and Brandon Saine have helped ease the concerns. Wells has improved recently, accounting for over 50 total yards in each of the last three games. Tressel has been calling better plays for him and he has responded by running harder. Brandon Saine has been nothing short of spectacular since his first carry. Saine has been limited of late, but is averaging 5.1 yards a carry and has scored in three of his four games. This rotation has the Buckeyes ranked 3rd in the conference and is going to be hard to stop as the temperature gets colder.
The offensive line was a major concern coming into ths season. This group had left a bitter taste in the mouths of Buckeyes fans all spring and summer. Efforts against Youngstown State and Akron also did little to impress. However, I believe they were just waiting until they got on national TV to breakout. Bollman's boys have allowed the offense to average over 400 yards of total offense since the Washington game and have only given up 5 sacks all season. Defensively, Lawrence Wilson's injury has opened up the door for the emergence of Cameron Heyward and Robert Rose. Heyward has been impressive, registering 4.5 TFL's and numerous bone rattling hits on opposing quarterbacks. 11W favorite, the Gun Show is tied for the team lead in sacks with 3 and recently tested out of preliminary rounds for the World's Strongest Man competition. Depth at defensive tackle has been settled. Doug Worthington, Todd Denlinger, Dexter Larimore, and Nader Abdallah have controlled the middle and have helped the Silver Bullets to a #2 defensive ranking in Buckeye Country.
A few more players have risen to the challenge and deserve mention mid-way through this season. I think Chimdi Chekwa is the most improved player on the team. After Youngstown St. and Akron, I questioned why he was playing corner and Malcolm Jenkins was at safety, in the nickel package. Chekwa has steadily earned some 11W respect and his 10 solo tackles against Purdue, earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the week. Ohio State's recent line of great centers seems to be in good hands with Jim Cordle. He has won O-Lineman and offensive POW, while anchoring the hog mollies. Brian Rolle, Thaddeus Gibson and Trevor Robinson have been a treat to watch on kick coverage.
My giddiness for this team is tough to contain and I could go on and on about Robo, Small, Hartline, Coleman, Russel, etc., but my knowledge of adjectives is limited and I don't want to use all I have for kick ass half way through the season. As fans we have 6 more regular season games to enjoy and this season has proved anything can happen. However, with the preseason questions answered and Tresselball in full effect, there seems to be something special about this group and you might want to start pricing some nice beads.