The Buckeyes, like the rest of us, are back to the grind today after a long Christmas weekend hijacked by emo Urban Meyer. It wasn't all Meyer, thankfully, as the team spent seven hours at Disneyland Saturday and then practiced in front of the media Sunday before participating in the 54th Lawry's Beef Bowl later that evening.
If you've never had the privilege of eating at Lawry's, do yourself a favor and hit one up the next time you're in LA, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas or even Hong Kong. Servers wheel one of the famous silver carts up to your table and cut your prime rib to perfection. The sides aren't too shabby, either.
There was a minor media crisis as Pryor wasn't on hand at Lawry's, which is sure to do wonders for the perception that he's the least available two year starter on any FBS team, but if you're going to have meat controversies, I'll take this one over the 1980 event when several players put down 110 ounces of prime rib, earning the wrath of Earle Bruce. FWIW, the rumor floating at the Beef Bowl was that Pryor didn't have suitable attire for the event.
Pryor will be available at the team's 9am press conference this morning (er, noon in Ohio) along with Bollman, Ballard, Sanzenbacher, Herron and Saine. Meanwhile, Tressel will conduct his first Left Coast interview after the team's scheduled 12pm practice session at the Home Depot Center, a venue they're sharing with the Ducks. One question we know he won't get (we hope) is one on the status of Ray Small, Rob Rose and Duron Carter. While at Disneyland, Tressel confirmed once again that Small, Rose, Carter and reserve back Bo Delande did not make the trip with the team. His statement on the matter was short and sweet:
"I'm most disappointed, obviously, for the two older kids," Tressel said. "This could have been a great end of their careers, but life goes on."
Life does indeed go on. Let's hope those two end up on their feet.
Dave is smiling. When Oregon dropped Oregon State earlier in the month and the Rose Bowl pairing was sealed, Buckeye fans took thought of how well the team ran the ball down the stretch and then thought of how much trouble rugged rushing teams had given the Ducks this year and naturally concluded the team must pound the ball and control the clock in order to win this game.
In a solid piece on the Ducks defense against the Buckeye offense, Buckeye Football Analysis agrees:
Ohio State is fortunate in that their primary rush plays--Power (Dave,) Iso, Zone read--are precisely the plays that teams have had the most rushing success against Oregon with. Ohio State must establish the run game between the tailbacks and Pryor a la Stanford to open other things up. To do so, they need to mix and match between the pro and spread sets to keep Oregon off balance and not let them freely flip between their 7 and 8 man fronts. The Dave and Zone read plays, in particular, will provide big play opportunities versus Oregon that OSU must take advantage of. I know the 'Dave' play has been much maligned in some OSU-fan circles, but it needs to be the base of everything OSU does here.
This could make for a very nerve-wracking night as the Buckeye offensive gameplan should once again leave very little margin for error. The key here, though, is that the staff is creative when mixing up the two running styles as well as the new wrinkles Tressel and Co. introduce during bowl practices. Make no mistake, the team will need to run efficiently to set up everything else, but predictable and timid playcalling is enough to stifle any rushing attack.
Oh, yeah. Tim May in Sunday's Dispatch essentially saying now was about the time for Pryor to transition from growing to controlling... Chris Dufresne of the LA Times takes a look at Woody Hayes' "complicated and not always beautiful relationship with the Rose Bowl"... Not one, but two new YouTube videos from white gangsta Duck fans. Bless you, internet.