Friday Skull Session

By poguemahone on October 29, 2010 at 6:00a

 Crickets. Nobody seems to be talking much about tomorrow night's game in either the local or national media, as Ohio State is expected to roll into TCF Bank stadium and roll right back out without much difficulty. One of the many reasons for the subdued build-up to game is Minnesota's defense, which has managed to be worse than Michigan's despite having actual coaching continuity and something resembling depth. The Gophers are bad, bad, bad on the defensive side of the ball, and if Ohio State doesn't drop at least 40, its defense should pitch the shutout to prevent at least a minor sense of disappointment. Minnesota's offense is 8th in the Big Ten, and that's having faced one top-25 defense (the Badgers) on the season. Games aren't won on paper, but it's difficult to envision a scenario in which this game is competitive for more than a quarter.

 "I say stupid things around press people." Chances are you've heard, or at least heard of, Terrelle Pryor's comments following the Purdue game. Tressel was asked about them during yesterday's presser, and had this to say:

Tressel said he probably would not have said that, but he wasn't going to publicly admonish Pryor for the comments.

And then, in classic Tressel-speak, he said he always believed that your evaluations of others should stay within.

In other words, it was your standard Tressel boilerplate. I must admit, though, that I thought Pryor had comments like these behind him. Contrary to what Penn State and Michigan fans might say, Pryor hasn't been a PR disaster for the Buckeyes. Nevertheless, he hasn't been particularly helpful either. He's matured as a passer and as a leader, but comments like these speak to a continuing case of Charles Barkley Disease, wherein the dude has no wall in his mind between what's appropriate to say and what he's presently thinking. Do you think Tressel puts the media clamps back down on him, as best he can, after this?

 Times have "changed". Remember when the meme among people who don't watch much football was that Ohio State struggles against teams with spread offenses while "shutting down" more conventional/"pro style" offenses? Well, after getting gashed by the most conventional offense of conventional offenses in Wisconsin, Ohio State resumed dominating spread teams by shutting down Purdue's new read-option attack, as Ross Fulton from ATO explains. Now, Purdue isn't Michigan - I'm not even sure if they're Toledo - but the game showed that the Ohio State defensive staff remains at the forefront in knowing how to stop this exact sort of offense:


 Purdue was bottled up the entire game.  Below is one such example.  OSU began running scrape exchanges to both sides of the offensive formation against Purdue.  For example, here, Purdue is running the inverted veer.  OSU responds by running a scrape exchange to the play side.

Ohio State ran numerous [plays] like this.  OSU slants to the field to play the zone read.  Then, OSU had the scrape exchange to the boundary to play the inverted veer.  The Purdue QBs were continually flummoxed by the variety of scrape exchange and stunts OSU showed, sewing confusion, which is a key to slowing down the option.

Heacock may not be the most popular figure around these parts, but the fact of the matter is that he and Fickell are actually pretty innovative guys, especially in comparison to their counterparts on the offensive side of the ball. A game like that against a shorthanded Purdue probably doesn't mean much in the long run, but if this team can be as disciplined and smart as it was on Saturday, it should slow down a team like, say, Michigan, even with a once-in-a-generation player like Denard Robinson at the wheel, especially in light of the excellent performance against a more talented Oregon offense in the Rose Bowl.

 Wait, wut? In an article by the CPD's Doug Lesmerises, Teeps opined on the Ohio State offense of his dreams:

"Obviously, I'm going to have different views," Pryor said with a smile. "I'd probably put some small guys in the backfield, like [Dan Herron] and Jordan [Hall] and Jaamal [Berry] and get in the shotgun and spread the field and make the defense make some plays, because there's only a couple guys in the box and there's not a lot of people who can tackle Boom or Jordan or Jaamal Berry within a space, and run some zone reads and stuff like that.

It should be noted that Pryor wasn't really complaining here (he went on in the next paragraph to state that he has no serious problems with the current offense), and that he actually seems to be voicing something fans have been clamoring for since TP came to campus. I must say though, that the timing is odd: the Ohio State offense currently sits at 2nd in the Big Ten, behind only Michigan. Meanwhile, Pryor finally seems to have grown into the offense the Buckeyes are running for him. Ugly throws are a nagging annoyance, to be sure, but this is the best he's looked over a multi-game stretch at Ohio State, even with the off night at Wisconsin. Pryor's description of his dream offense seems to run contrary to the general opinion of why Pryor came to Ohio State in the first place: to become an NFL quarterback. Now, it's debatable whether he'll ever be one, but let's leave that (never-ending) discussion for another day. What do you think? Do you still want to see Ohio State spread it out more?

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