Fickell Ball

By Chris Lauderback on April 9, 2011 at 6:00a
Luke will be ready for his debut

Exactly 21 Saturdays from now, Luke Fickell will be the first head coach not named Jim Tressel to lead the Buckeyes onto the field since January 1, 2001. That's quite a long time to have a known commodity leading your favorite program. 

Of course, it's not quite as dramatic as that considering Tressel's (tramp) stamp will be all over the team "24/6". Still, even if Fickell is more of a symbolic figurehead for a minimum of five Saturday's this fall, you have to believe the team will rally around him and sell out to avoid putting him in position to answer unfair questions.

Where it gets dicey for me is that I'm used to the head coach being the guy that runs the offense. With Tressel forced to watch on TV like the rest of us and Darrell Hazell having moved on to the top job at Kent State, that means Jim Bollman figures to be the man calling the plays as the Buckeyes attempt to score points with some fresh faces on the offensive line, a potential QB by committee and a slew of questions in the receiving corp complimenting a talented stable of running backs. Knowing Fickell's pedigree is ostensibly on the defensive side of the ball, one has to wonder if he'll have any input whatsoever on the offensive side with a few exceptions such as deciding whether to go for it on 4th down, punt, or attempt a field goal.

Regardless of which coach technically runs the offense on gameday, there's a very significant chance that Tresselball as you know it could feel more like an arena league attack compared to what we see early next fall based simply on personnel.

At this point, it's hard to fathom three QB's not seeing action in the first two games. While it could be necessary to truly determine which one sees the bulk of snaps at Miami in week three, it could also hinder the passing attack. Clearly, this team, sans Pryor, Posey and Dane, is largely unproven and inexperienced at both QB and the receiver spots and with rotations occuring at those respective positions, it seems logical to think in-game synergy and trust between QB and receivers might take awhile to develop.

Meanwhile, the offensive line charged with giving unproven QB's time to throw will be breaking in a replacements at left tackle, left guard and right guard. Miscommunication in pass protection and/or general blocking issues could further stunt the growth of the passing game led by QB's susceptible to youthful happy feet and green receivers not adjusting routes at the line of scrimmage.

As a result, it seems likely the offense leans on the strength of its running backs and virtually abandons the downfield passing attack in favor of an game plan that attempts to spread the field by passing laterally via bubble screens, traditional screens to running backs with some quick slants and outs sprinkled in. From what we've seen and heard so far this spring, we could also see the offense exploit the depth at running back by lining up guys like Hall and Berry in the slot, out wide or in the old Shot-Ginn formation in hopes of getting slippery speedsters the ball in space. Those passes, seemingly, will play second fiddle to a strong desire to run the ball with designs on controlling the clock and.

One exciting potential silver lining of having an offensive line attempting to break in three new starters should be the need for a mobile quarterback. Obviously, this creates an opportunity for Guiton and Miller to show their effectiveness when the play breaks down, something Pryor made a living off of during his freshman campaign behind a potentially similarly leaky offensive line in the early going.

With the current cloud hanging over the program and the probable impact the suspensions will have on offense, I'm looking at these first five games not as throw away games by any stretch but definitely with an eye on the future. These days, nothing short of a national title is the true goal and with all the adversity, with the season seemingly split in two, it's hard to imagine running the table and that doesn't even consider what happens when the suspended players/coach return just in time for a trip to Lincoln.

Regardless, the intent of my post is to get your thoughts on how you see the offensive attack unfolding without Pryor, Posey, Boom, Adams and Tressel. What happens at QB? How will the RB's be employed? Will any receivers emerge or will they be virtually hidden by QB play and the gameplan? How will the offensive line help or hinder the passing attack? Do you expect an ultra-conservative gameplan? Am I asking more questions than the end of a Batman episode?








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ih8rolltyde's picture

I must digress,

I may be alone in this opinion... but

What up about the silver bullets? We always have, and always will win with defense first. How is Tyler moeller progressing, how about cb4? Does john Simon bench a Buick yet? Who is the next stud bringing pressure off the end? Does sabino bring what we all thought he would? I, personally, crave some info on the defensive side of the ball.

We all are pins and needles about the offense, deservedly so, but the only way we go in to Lincoln unblemished is defense, the way it used to be, the way it should be. Give me shutouts over 70 a game any day.

Love my Bucks, always have, always will.

****igan smells like old water that hot dogs were boiled in.  FACT

RBuck's picture

Yep. Defense and, uhh, Dave.

Long live the southend.

buckeyedude's picture

Off subject, but I have two questions, maybe someone knows the answer to: 

1.) Was on the Freep website, and a comment was made that sounded as if DE Chris Wormley(Toledo Whitmer) had committed to scUM. Any word on this? I know OSU was aggressively recruiting this kid. Saw him play last fall, and he has a mean streak(that could be good or bad).

2.) I know it's not breaking news in Buckeye circles, but what's up with Urban Meyer buying a house in C-bus? Is this true, and if so, for what purpose would he buy a home there(other than the obvious)?



Matt's picture

Wormley has always been a very strong UM lean and will almost certainly be going to UM. I'm not sure if he has committed yet, but expect to see him in maize and blue.

The Meyer rumor has been going around for a while, and the Dispatch beat reporters dismissed it as bogus.  A few weeks later, however, I heard from a close friend that his buddy's family lives right next door to Herbie's old house in UA.  According to his buddy, the Meyer to Herbie house rumor was true.  Apparently his buddy said that his parents had checked and Meyer was already receiving mail sent to that address, shortly after Herbie moved out.  I still have my doubts about the truth of the rumor, but I trust my friend.


Jason Priestas's picture

Exactly. I'll be shocked if we can snatch Wormley. Oh, how I already miss thee, RichRod (not saying we'd get Wormley with RR still around, but our odds would be better).

iball's picture

BUCKWILD offense.

“There’s one thing I have learned through all my adventures and conquests - it’s that some people are just wired for success. I had no choice when it came to being great - I just am great.” – Kenny Powers

Nick's picture

I think the biggest loss we could have from this season will be Luke Fickell now that is going to ''run'' the program he is going to get a HC job after this season like Treadwell @ MSU. That is going to be tough to replace.

Bucksfan's picture

I wouldn't be surprised if you don't see a pass until we're up 21-0.  This may even turn out to be more conservative than Tresselball, if that's even possible.

Kurt's picture

Running the ball does not necessarily equate conservative football, unless its a 'Dave' oriented run game.

The_Lurker's picture

I would expect our opponents to stack the box to keep the power run sets from being too effective (why wouldn't a team stack the box against us the first 5 games?), so we may need to spread the field to run effectively. Also we'll still need to throw deep periodically...if for no other reason than to keep the safeties honest. I like that the team has been working on a lot of 5-wide sets in spring. I like Stoney and Fragel Rock in the slot. They'll maul a DB on a run block out of that set and can run those "box out" routes against a smaller opponent.