Remember the stat you heard flying around after the drubbing in Los Angeles? The one about how it was the first time the Buckeyes had failed to score a touchdown since the Michigan game 12 years earlier? 141 consecutive games that saw Ohio State cross the goal line in some capacity was snapped at the hands of Cushing, Ellison, Mays and company.
It was a stat that was used to convey just how much of a beating the Trojans put on the Buckeyes and it was effective. But not so much after Saturday night when Penn State became the 2nd team this season to prevent Ohio State from scoring a touchdown in a game. In the two biggest games of the season, the Buckeye offense has managed to score a combined nine points. Toss in Purdue, and the offense has failed to score a touchdown in one out of every three games this season.
You have a Heisman-contender type back, a quarterback that was first-team all-conference last season, a veteran wide receiver corps that has produced in the past, veteran tight-ends and a line that was returning four out of five starters. Oh, and you're adding the nation's top recruit to a 10-2 team. How is this possible?
The first omen and what may have set the offensive mood for the season was Beanie's toe injury in the opener against Youngstown State. The offense performed well that weekend, but the injury hit the team like a ton of bricks. In their next outing -- their first against FBS competition -- they laid a relative egg in that close win over Ohio. Then came USC, followed by sputterings against Troy, Wisconsin and Purdue.
The line, without question has been the weakest link on the offense all season long. I'm still not sure how that unit actually regressed, but through nine, they've been yelled at by Tressel, Beanie and Nicol, seen a freshman forced into their ranks and have seen themselves getting worked over by the majority of opposing lines they've gone against. That is on Bollman.
Another complaint has been about the playcalling and while I maintain that a playbook doesn't matter if your line cannot provide the protection to use half of it (or the players simply cannot execute), this is a legitimate beef.
Where was the pistol against Penn State? Why do you run a play-action bomb to Robo with 90 seconds remaining in the first half and the ball at your own 39 when it's obvious that you are in a passing down? Why move away from bunch receiver formations that were giving the Lions a little trouble? Why are you so hesitant to throw on first downs and break the mold of your tendencies? Does it not bother you when Pete Carroll states that he wasn't surprised by anything the offense did on the field?
There clearly is a problem within the Tressel/Bollman playcalling braintrust.
And we won't even touch talent evaluation issues or how a guy like Thaddeus Gibson could have started the season as backup. New house rule please: If a guy is taken first in the spring game draft, he's a guaranteed starter for the opener.
The Buckeye staff is clearly in a funk and may be slipping a little. It's natural -- it happens in other programs and within government administrations, management teams at corporations and elsewhere. Tressel Ball may need some tweaks to stay with this most innovative game. New blood may be needed.
We humbly request a new offensive coordinator and the separation of playcalling duties from the Vest. We love him. He is an asset to the University, a role model for many and makes sweater vests look awesome. But the time has come to turn the playcalling over to a new offensive coordinator. One that is only thinking about how to put his offense into position to score as many points as possible and not worried about that killer punt you're trying to setup on the next series.
And if this doesn't happen before the 2009 season, there's a very good chance that Pryor's talent covers up these deficiencies and we'll rediscover the stink once he leaves after two years. Fierce urgency of now, please.