You'd think that a 14 of 19, 187-yard day that included two touchdowns and no interceptions (good enough for a 191.1 quarterback rating) would be cause for much chest-thumping, but there remains a palpable sense of nervousness among Buckeye fans whenever Todd Boeckman becomes the topic of conversation.
I'm just as guilty as the next guy that might doubt whether Boeckman has the moxie and skill necessary to win the big game, but is it a sad indictment of just how things have become in Columbus when a first-year starter leads a rebuilding squad to the national championship only to find himself booed after his first bad toss in the following season's opener?
In his first year under center, Boeckman finished with the 3rd-most touchdowns and 5th-most passing yards for a single season in school history. Numbers good enough to rank 13th in the NCAA in passing efficiency. And I repeat, he helped guide a rebuilding team to a national championship.
Yes, the last three games weren't his best work, but the weather in the Michigan game earns him somewhat of a pass there. He actually had a middle-of-the-road day against LSU, however. Not great, but not really piss-poor, either. He completed 15 of 26 for 208 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions and could have had a third touchdown (and possible game-altering play) had Robo's fingers been about a half an inch longer.
The Illinois game is the one he can't run from. At home and he turns in his worst effort of the season: no touchdowns and four interceptions, including the back-breaker in the Illini endzone at the start of the 3rd quarter.
I'm trying to chalk the Illinois and LSU games up to the mistakes of a first-year starter, especially considering how stacked that Tiger defense was. In other big (or thought to be at the time) games, he responded. His bomb to Robiskie was a thing of beauty and snatched the momentum at Washington, while his two 1st quarter touchdown strikes started the beatdown of Purdue.
At night, in front of a Nittany Lion whiteout, he threw a touchdown pass in each of the first three quarters as the Buckeyes raced out to a 23-7 lead and his numbers against the Badgers are nothing to complain about: 17/28 with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
It wasn't that long ago that we had to endure Stan Jackson stealing Joe Germaine's snaps and the bountiful brilliance of the Steve Bellisari project. St. Krenzel himself often appeared shaky when passing, but he more than made up for it with his clutch performances.
So what is it? Have we become so spoiled at the success of Tressel and guys like Troy Smith that we accept nothing less than perfection? Or are you firmly convinced that even with another year of seasoning he won't be able to get the job done when it matters most (like say 8 days)?
Here's hoping the wunderkind set to inherit the position has it a little easier. His incredible talent should do enough to placate fans, but based on the smattering of boos the offense took after his first sack on Saturday, I'm not so sure about that.