Catching New Mexico State this late in the season has turned into a blessing in disguise with so many Buckeyes banged up. Of course, it's dangerous to take any FBS team lightly, but the Aggies will be limping in to town with the worst offense in the NCAA (paired with the 75th-best defense) and if things go as planned (as in the offense scoring liberally and the defense getting theirs), Tressel may have a chance to get some of his horses a little rest ahead of a brutal November.
The only catch is Tressel doesn't seem to have the same plans some of us imagined he'd have. Yesterday, at his presser, he created a mild buzz around Columbus when he was asked whether his team would treat the game "more like the season opener", playing backups and such and he replied with this gem:
No, this is game nine. We've got to progress. Now, that doesn't mean Joe won't play, I don't mean that. But I'm not sitting here today saying, you know what, I think we'll put this guy in or that guy in. No, we're going out all barrels blazing and do what the situation calls for.
No doubt, there are still many expecting a heavy dose of "Daves" on the afternoon, perhaps with the new flavor of the '09 backfield, Jermil Martin, but Tressel didn't go 13-2 over the last five Novembers by playing a fool. He knows the offense still needs plenty of work and he should look to make sure they get that work this weekend. That could mean Pryor still heaving the ball after halftime with the game out of reach and sportsmanship or injury fears aside, we're fine with that. This offense isn't good enough to hang 70+ like some of Coop's teams used to do, but 50+ would be just what the doctor ordered.
Two things worth studying Saturday will be Pryor's demeanor and the play of the offensive line. Teammates are saying they're noticing a different quarterback since the Purdue loss and it showed last week at least. Will he come out fired up or half asleep given the opponent? Will he respond favorably to any type of early adversity he runs into? He did last week and he'll need to keep doing that to keep growing. As for the line, they had a pretty good outing against the Gophers after getting abused by Purdue the previous week (say that again, "abused by Purdue") and despite being fairly banged up, need to establish things early Saturday. With Mike Adams out for a few more weeks, it's time to get past the scary thought of Cordle at left tackle and progress to the point where we have confidence in his ability to play there in Happy Valley. He's fresh off a Parker award for his play against Minnesota, so on film, at least, he appears to be holding it down.
Speaking of Purdue and the play of the line in that game, an interesting series of threads took place on the Ozone forums (would love to link, but they expire the IDs/URLs of the messages so that's impossible) yesterday highlighting the fact that the Purdue front was waiting to shift until after Brewster had made his calls and raised his head. From there, they were able to time their jumps because Brewster would snap the ball about one second after raising his head on nearly every snap. Other linemen said they were having trouble hearing the count and were getting bad jumps because of this. Evidently, they've done some work on obfuscating the snap count with Brewster now doing things like raising his head multiple times and varying what had been a somewhat static count.
Setting aside the fact that the line had trouble hearing the snap at a 30% empty Ross-Ade Stadium (seriously, have fun at Beaver Stadium, boys), the fact that this is even telegraphed and there didn't appear to be any halftime adjustments to account for this strategy should be more fuel for those seeking change at the OL coach spot.
So... Michigan got served. Sayeth the AP:
The NCAA's enforcement staff often looks into allegations, according to Osburn, but only sends school presidents a letter of inquiry when an initial review determines a violation may have occurred based on credible information.
This all stems from the Free Press' allegations of practices extending beyond the NCAA limits and while we agree with Tressel and other coaches that have spoken out in favor of Michigan that this really isn't that big of a deal and in fact all top tier programs probably have similar setups, we couldn't help but chuckle when MGoBlog determined that a school with an impeccably clean record on the verge of catching something minor at the very least is "...newsy. Sort of." As our favorite bag of snacks pointed out, the site's proprietor had no problem hitching up to the Ted Sarniak Express during Pryor's recruitment. They report, you decide.
Etc: The Bachelor had the nerve to criticize Iowa's schedule and Hawkeye fans are making him pay for it... Thaddeus Gibson will be appearing on the Big Ten Network's Sites and Sounds tonight at 10pm.