Monday Skull Session

By Alex on April 11, 2011 at 6:00a
32 Comments
Braxton is making strides early onMiller is trying to ease his way into college football

Good morning Buckeye fans and welcome to this start-your-week-off-right version of Monday Skull Session. Spring practice has been the buzz across the nation and thing's are no different in Columbus, Ohio where the weather is heating up and the position battles are as well.

There may not be a more attention-grabbing spring in the history of Ohio State football than the one we are currently going through. The story lines, emerging stars, coaching questions, and talented group of youngsters that have joined the fold for the spring session are headlining what is turning into an exciting April. Being that we are less than two weeks away from the annual spring game, we only have so much time to keep the excitement level up, unless of course you think the Indians can somehow play this quality of baseball for longer than the first 10 games of this baseball season.

News has certainly been calm this weekend, so while we normally use Skull Session to keep you abreast of the latest going on around Buckeyeland and the rest of the country, we figure we'll keep the buzz humming this Monday morning and add some more spring nuggets for your pleasure in addition to these gems Johnny provided you with over the weekend. It's time to sit back, relax, and let the sweet serenity of Skull Session take you over as we hop into your Monday morning madness now.

The Defense. Everyone is so worried about how OSU will replace Terrelle Pryor, DeVier Posey, Boom Herron, and Mike Adams that they totally forget about the reloading the team is trying to undergo on the defensive side of the ball. Luke Fickell and Jim Heacock need to replace Cameron Heyward, Dexter Larimore, Ross Homan, Brian Rolle, Chimdi Chekwa, Devon Torrence, Jermal Hines, and Aaron Gant from last year's edition of the Silver Bullets and it won't be easy.

Starting from the back and working up, CJ Barnett appears to be healthy and will take back over the strong safety position, while it appears Orhian Johnson grew some cajones this off-season and has brought a new attitude to the free safety spot. Christian Bryant and Nate Oliver are getting all the reps at the STAR position for now, but Tyler Moeller will surely at least be splitting time with Bryant there upon his return this fall from a torn pectoral muscle. At corner Travis Howard is continuing hsi journey to be the next big thing at the position, while Dominic Clarke has seen the majority of the reps alongside him on the first team. Dionte Allen and Bradley Roby are the second teamers as of now, but the battle for the spot opposite Howard will go down until the first game of the year between those three and freshman Doran Grant who enrolls at school in June.

Replacing Homan and Rolle are Etienne Sabino and Andrew Sweat. Sweat moves from the SAM position to the WILL position, and it appears he hasn't missed a beat in filling Homan's shoes both as a player on the field and a leader in the locker room. Sabino has seen the game slow down for him since taking a "voluntary" redshirt last season and will have two more years to dominate at the MIKE position for the Bucks. Taking Sweat's position at SAM is a battle between Jon Newsome, Storm Klein, and Dorian Bell, but if I had to call it right now, I'd say Bell has the early lead.

Finally, replacing Heyward and Larimore won't be easy, but this group of defensive linemen appears to be hungry for greatness. Nathan Williams returns at the LEO position and will be backed up by Solomon Thomas (after 5 games) and redshirt freshman JT Moore. The rest of the line will be made up of a rotation of Jonathan Hankins, John Simon, Adam Bellamy, Garrett Goebel, Melvin "Safari Planet" Fellows, Darryl Baldwin, David Durham, and surprising early enrolling freshman, Joel Hale. I'm not sure right now who will get the starting nod but one thing I do know is that this is one very talented group.

The Offense. The offense can basically be broken down into two seasons-one for the first five games (sans Tat Five) and one for when Pryor and company return from suspension. For the sake of spring ball and fall camp, we'll mostly be focusing on season one, as it will be imperative to find the right pieces to keep the ship sailing smooth through those first five games. Obviously everything starts with the quarterback battle, where Joe Bauserman currently has the lead. As Johnny mentioned, Bauserman looks the most poised and under control of the offense, something Jim Tressel will be looking for with an inexperienced receiving corps and moving pieces on the offensive line. It will be interesting to see where things go as Braxton Miller continues to pick things up from a mental stand point and I can definitely see a Bauserman-Miller combination being the formula used down at Sun Life Stadium during the third week of the season.

Other battles to note come on the offensive line, at running back, and at wide receiver. The line has done some shifting with Marcus Hall, Andrew Norwell, and Jack Mewhort all seeing time at left tackle with the hole Mike Adams is leaving. Hall is the likely man to win that job as of today, so expect to see him there on opening day. At left guard, Mewhort seems likely to fill the big shoes of Justin Boren, with Norwell providing some flexibility there as well. While Mike Brewster holds steady at center and JB Shugarts appears healthy at right tackle, the right guard position is being manned by Corey Linsley with super emerging walk-on, Ivan Blackman (as well as Mewhort/Norwell/Hall) backing him up. As you can see, the Bucks are running kind of thin on the o-line and the staff has taken some flack recently on the way they recruited that position the past few years.

At running back, Jaamal Berry and Rod Smith have been the talk of the town thus far and would make a really good one-two change of pace combo. Jordan Hall continues to make big plays, and it appears there may be a place for him as a do-it-all running back/wide receiver. Carlos Hyde is coming along nicely to and would start at pretty much every other Big Ten school, but right now it's looking like the other three are stealing the spotlight. At receiver DeVier Posey is head and shoulders above everyone else, but the pecking order after him is Corey "Philly" Brown, Chris Fields, Verlon Reed, T.Y. Williams, and James Louis. The two surprises here are that Verlon Reed is running with the second team and that James Louis is at the bottom of the barrel. If you asked us last year about these two, you would have heard that Reed would be a safety and that Louis was the next Santonio Holmes. Funny how things work out some times and it will be interesting to pay close attention to how things unfold the rest of the spring.

A guy walks into his car from a bar in South Bend. And his name is likely Michael Floyd. The stand-out, sure-fire first round NFL pick who decided to remain at Notre Dame only to get arrested for suspicision of drunked driving shortly after, was cleared to stay at the school. The incident was Floyd's third involving alcohol since arriving at the school, and somehow it's worse to sell something that appears to be yours rather than break a law for the third time. While coach Brian Kelly claims Floyd will have to earn his way back onto the roster, I'll be anything but shocked if the star isn't lining up at receiver to start the Irish's 2011 campaign.

Ever wanted your own life-size Time Tebow statue? Well now you can have one, kind of. All you have to do is take a little trip down to Gainesville, Florida where the Gators' athletic department has built three life-sized statues of the schools' Heisman winners, Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, and Tim Tebow. The sad part is that young Gators fans think the second guy is some type of breakfast dish and that while Spurrier and Wuerffel are pictured throwing the ball, Tebow's statue shows him tucking and running. When asked about the pose his statue was built to, the all holy one said "That's fine. You have to change it up. We can't all be throwing." Good luck trying to tell that to your new coaches in the NFL Timmy.

Just for fun. Not that they really have that much merit to them, but I often like to look at future mock drafts and see where the "experts" have OSU players being takenn. That's just what I did as I was squandering for any other bits to put into today's edition of Skull Session and I found some interesting stuff. NBADraft.net has taken Jared Sullinger and William Buford off their draft boards and has them going 5th and 29th respectively in the 2012 draft. Interesting not to see DeShaun Thomas's name anywhere on their list, but they did have David Lighty going 39th to Milwaukee in this year's draft.

Flipping to the gridiron, Walter Football has only one Buckeye being selected in the 2012 first round, and that is Michael Brewster. I think Mike Adams will be a definite first rounder as well when things are all said and done and Terrelle Pryor and DeVier Posey can also play themselves into round one with solid senior seasons when they return from suspension. As for 2011, the site has Cam Heyward going 26th to the Ravens this year, a move that would put a pain in most of our readers' hearts. It has been the consensus Heyward fits best in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New York (Jets), New England, or Green Bay as a 3-4 end, so look for one of those teams to grab him in the first round.

 

32 Comments

Comments

slippy's picture

Heyward to the Ravens is good for me living in Baltimore.  Not that I'm a Ravens fan, but at least I'd get to watch him every week.

 

Also, have I been watching a different Mike Adams than everyone else?  Not a chance he's a first rounder unless we see a ridiculous amount of growth this year.  

Colin's picture

Ridiculous amount of growth? He was first team All Big Ten last year and one of our better offensive linemen.

The_Lurker's picture

When the tat scandal came out, I think Adams was being projected anywhere from the first half of the second round to mid-third round, so it's not much of a stretch to think he can get into the first round with a decent senior year. That said, he would probably move to right tackle at the NFL level.

slippy's picture

I just don't see it.  He regulary gets beat by guys in a 3 point stance without even laying a hand on them.  How is that first round worthy?

Buckeye Black's picture

How about the Tribe!?  Who are those guys?  I seflishly want Heyward to drop to the second round so the Browns can nab him.  The Browns always pass on the Buckeyes for some reason.

thorvath22's picture

I would rather Miller redshirt this year so he can learn the offense and become more comfortable in the system, Bauserman and Guiton should be able to hold down Pryors seat well enough in a system that looks like it will feature the running backs, so in an ideal world I would want Guiton to be the starter for the first 5 then let Pryor return just in time for the Big Ten season and we will be fresh again, then allow a Guton/Miller QB battle next year and let the best man win.

btalbert25's picture

Just from reading comments last night and letting it all digest here is my take on QB.  Guiton or Bauserman must start.  3 of the first 5 games are going to be W's no matter who the QB is.  Miami on the road will be tough, but I'd rather have a guy who has been in the system for a couple of years, than Miller. 

I know Pryor started as a freshman, but that was only after this team got blasted in LA and there was pretty much no chance of seeing a national championship.  It was a better idea to have Pryor in there taking his lumps, than Bauserman at that point.  This season is much different though, we only need someone to hold down the fort until game 6.  I hate to use the term, but we need a game manager.  Someone who can get in there and not make mistakes.  A true Freshman, probably doesn't present that best option.

As of right now, I'd give the nod to Guiton, though I'm not sure it's fair to judge Bauserman on his garbage time minutes when there's really nothing on the line.  That being said, he's never really looked good in those minutes, but it's hard to say how good/bad he'd be if the team was his, and he was the man for 5 games.  He may just be the correct man for the job.  Hard to say, but at this point, I would have Braxton in there only as a last resort.  These are just my thoughts, certainly we won't know what's right until they try something and it works.

gwalther's picture

Everyone is saying Bauserman looks good. In every game I've ever seen him play in, he's looked bad. Give me Guiton any day.

Class of 2008

thorvath22's picture

If its worth anything he had a beastie 2007 spring game, out performed Boeckman for sure...if that means anything....

Bauserman is a gun slinger with probably the strongest arm on the team but unfortunately not the decision making or accuracy to go along with it, if Bauserman can at least improve his decision making and know when to throw/run/throw away then he will fill in fine and would probably be fine with 150 yards and a TD per game as long as he keeps the INT's below .500 and doesn't try to be superman, if he can go 5-0 as a starter then Bauserman will always be A-OK in my book.

My issue is if we put in Guiton or even Miller they will try to do 'too much' to try and prove themselves and maybe get the start on game 6, in a fantasy world that would be sweet for Guiton to throw for 250 yards and 3td's but the chances of that are slim to none, Bauserman knows the system and should be able to run Tressels train for 5 games without crashing it and still be ok with being a replacement because this is the end of the line for him at tOSU.

btalbert25's picture

For what it's worth, I would go with Guiton, but I don't think it's fair to judge Bauserman or Guiton for that matter on the limited time they've seen in garbage time when it really didn't matter what they did or how they played, and it's also worth mentioning that they were playing with the 2nd or 3 string offense for the most part.  If one of these 2 has the knowledge that this is their team for the first 5 games or so, we could see a totally different QB, than the Bauserman we have seen when the score is 42-3 and there is about 8 minutes left in the game, and all Tressel is calling for him to do is turn and hand the ball off 95% of the time.  

The_Lurker's picture

Team AnyoneButBauserman really can't back up any argument aside from the fact that Joe doesn't pass the "look test." His numbers are actually quite good, considering what he was asked to do:

13 GP, 160.07 Efficiency Rating, 16-of-22 with 1 INT, Completion Pct of 72.7%, 174 yards and 2 TD.

These are not numbers that support the theory that he made poor decisions or was inaccurate. For a QB to hit 73% of his passes is sick, even though this was in an admittedly small sample. If those were a college QB's single-game numbers, you'd take 'em. Bauserman never had first team reps, nor was he the focal point in any game planning and most of his appearances were behind a second team line. Does he "look" like the guy? Not really. But it's not like he was out there throwing at defensive backs and linebackers or making horrible throws. He made one bad decision that stands out in everyone's minds, at Illinois.

By comparison, Guiton was 1-of-2 for five yards with a pick and an efficiency rating of -59.00.

yrro's picture

I'm fine with Bauserman, but a fair amount of the negativity his direction is that a) he doesn't seem to have improved much as he's gotten older and b) he looked absolutely *awful* in the one stretch of meaningful game time he had last year, when Pryor went out against Illinois.

btalbert25's picture

Even with that playing time, and I know a backup needs to be prepared, it's still hard to judge him based on the little bit of time he was in and the circumstances which prompted him to be thrust into the game.  I'm not sure if we know how good he is or how much he has improved simply because he's never been handed the offense and said, this is yours to run. 

Again, I'm not neccessarily saying he has to start or he is the best option, just that it's hard to tell how well he'd play if his role would change.  

Nick Buckeye's picture

Great stuff as always, I had Storm pegged as a Mike.  Duane Long recently posted about moving Jordan Hall and/or Berry to WR, sounds like Hall might end up there.  FYI, the 2011 "Spring Prospectus" is up at ohiostatebuckeyes.com.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

Yeah I read the Duane Long report and feel that Hall getting work as a flanker is likely, but Berry to receiver would be misguided. All of the other spring reports talk about how Berry is consistently looking like the best running back (somewhat tied with Smith) - why move him to a different position? It seems like the kid is pushing for the starting position and if I had to guess now, we'll see Berry as 1 and Smith as 2 against Akron. I do, however, see Hall getting some action at WR. 

flipbuckeye's picture

Excited to hear that Berry may finally be getting his shot.  Dude came in with so much potential and has already proven he could be a huge threat in the backfield in limited action.  Can't wait to see him tear it up.

btalbert25's picture

What's promising to me, is that Hyde is probably the 3rd best option, and I was pretty damn impressed with him in his limited time too.  All this has to be tempered as none of them have really seen a lot of meaningful snaps, but Berry and Hyde last season looked like they had a lot more potential than Jordan Hall.  I  Hall has been serviceable, but as an RB, I never though he would be better than Boom really.  The other guys all seem like they could be stars.

yrro's picture

Hall has probably the best vision of any of the backs I've seen run, and he has great lateral moves, but he doesn't have the top end scary speed that Berry does. I hope they can get him some reps in the slot, because the guy is a player, but Berry and Smith need to be playing.

Irricoir's picture

I am excited to see Berry too. I know his 8.3 YPC came in trash time against lesser opponents but we had our 2nd and 3rd string in at the same time. These are still talented and athletic opponents at any D1 level that he was competing against. I wondered how badly he must have performed in practice to not get the start after posting those numbers. From all accounts it sounded as if he was great in practice which lead me to believe his talents were squandered. I hope folks don't get down on Hall too much. That dude is as shifty as anyone on the team, maybe the most crafty. He just appears to lack the home run top end speed to break away from the defense. He definitely will be big at a slot position. Good blocking and the ability to make guys miss on those short passes. That's why I voted him as the leading catch passer on the poll the other day. Berry with Smith excites me.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

btalbert25's picture

It's hard to say if his talents were squandered or not.  If he is dropping the ball in practice, or isn't good at pass blocking, those issues can offset his explosiveness.  Not to mention, Boom had a pretty good year, especially in conference.

 

Irricoir's picture

I agree but I never heard anything about him dropping the ball, I think I do recall a few missed blocks though. There must have been something. Herron isn't hard to stop, his big runs have mostly come off of bouncing to the outside. He lines up to run off guard and then bounces out. I don't recall too many successful runs in between the guard and center. I agree that the work Herron gave us was admirable. He wasn't a sincere threat though. How many running plays of 20 plus did he pull out last year?

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

The_Lurker's picture

Your question about Boom's 20+ runs intrigued me so I spent a few minutes looking it up...Seems that Boom had six runs of 20+ yards on the season. I had forgotten how little they used Herron the first four games (he averaged 10.5 carries in those). Starting with the Big Ten opener, he averaged 19.3 carries per game. Of those six long gainers, two were against Penn State and two against Michigan. Here's a breakdown:

Vs. Marshall:  0 of 20+, longest were 11 and 15 yards
Vs. Miami:  0 of 20+, but had runs of 11, 12 and 17 yards
Vs. Ohio:  0 of 20+, not much work in this game - longest gain was 9
Vs. Eastern Michigan: 0 of 20+, longest was 13
At Illinois:  0 of 20+, just an 11-yarder and a 10-yarder
Vs. Indiana:  1 of 20+, went for a 39-yard TD
At Wisconsin:  0 of 20+, but had 14-, 16- and 13-yarders
Vs. Purdue:  0 of 20+, but a 17-yarder, rested early due to score
At Minnesota:  1 of 20+, and also a 16-yarder
Vs. Penn State:   2 of 20+, and also a 14-yarder and 19-yarder
At Iowa:   0 of 20+, but had 2 of 10+
Vs. Michigan:   2 of 20+ (including 89-yarder that should have been a TD, and an 18-yarder
Vs. Arkansas:   0 of 20+, but had a 17-yard run and a 16-yard run

Once the offensive line came together and Tress decided Saine wasn't the feature back he'd thought, Boom was good. He was dependable, fumbled only once all season, nailed his blocking assignments in pass protection and made a few big plays catching the ball. Seemed like he got better with more touches. Looking at the play-by-play at Wisconsin, Boom spent long stretches not being part of the offense, and he still finished with 91 yards (4.8 yd average). Possibly bad play calling or game planning there.
 

Irricoir's picture

Yeah I don't dispute that he was a good running back but I think your stats reinforce what I was saying. I also agree that he became better both this year and last year with more carries and as the year went on. I still stand strong that our opponents didn't fear Herron. They didn't make plans for him and stopping him as much as they did focusing on Pryor's legs. Sure they stacked the box but it wasn't like he had the Reputation of Beanie and still got those yards, you know. Berry has the speed and skills to make a team afraid, purely speaking about running the ball. I haven't heard much else spoken about him. If you feel like doing the math, I wonder what his YPC was if you take away those 20 and up. I hear you on Wisconsin too. I was thinking that we relied on the pass too much in that game instead of setting the tone with the run. Then if we lost because we ran dave every play then I would be complaining about that. So who knows.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

The_Lurker's picture

I kind of view Boom as another Antonio Pittman type...very solid, and capable of big things at times, but not really earth shattering. Then again, it's easy to get spoiled with the history of backs we've had. Boom may not be Chris Wells or Eddie George, but he's not Lydell Ross either. I liked Berry's explosiveness in 2010, but I thought his vision was a bit lacking at times. There were several runs where he'd cut left when the right was more open (or vice versa). Maybe that was one of the things holding him back (along with blocking). At any rate, the year of study and practice reps can't hurt and the competition with Rod Smith will make both of them better. RB will be a fun position to watch all season.

And I actually like Jordan Hall. He's not the speed threat some of the others are, but I like the way he never gets knocked backwards and how he turns no gains into 1 or 2, 2-yard gains into 4, etc. Hall could start for a lot of teams.

RBuck's picture

As far as the RB's go, it all depends who can hold on to the ball come game time.

"It's just another case of there you are". ~ Doc (1918-2012)

The_Lurker's picture

And who can pick up their blocking assignments on passing downs.

Irricoir's picture

I like Guiton. Bauserman has shown that he isn't phenominal in game situations. Illinois game is fresh on my mind. Guiton takes too many sacks though. I have read he has taken many in practice and he took quite a few in the spring game last year.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Maestro's picture

I won't be breathing easy until I see the first 2 games. 

Florida and Texas both saw how difficult the transition is to a new QB.  In my estimation people underestimate the impact that Pryor has on a defense, much like Tebow and McCoy did.  There will be a huge difference in game planning against any of the OSU back ups compared to game planning against Pryor.  Teams are going to stack the box big time and dare the inexperienced QB and receiving corp to beat them.

We really need Philly Brown and anyone else to step up and become someone who can force a defense to stay honest.  Otherwise I don't care how good our running backs are.  Miami, Colorado and Michigan State are going to be able to shut down a 1 dimesional offense.

vacuuming sucks

Irricoir's picture

True, which is why Brewster said the Tressel is focused on improving that aspect the most during practice. He stated that when speaking about the running backs to a local reporter.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

btalbert25's picture

I think that Stoneburner and Fragel are going to be huge.  You have a bunch of inexperienced WR's, but those 2 have proven to be great receivers and were given a lot of looks last year.  Despite all that hype Stoneburner got, I actually think I may like Fragel a bit more.  Anyway, I really think those two are going to take a lot of pressure of the QB and WR's.

 

Irricoir's picture

I agree. I also believe that they are 2 of the best receiving tandems in college football right now. Blocking? I don't know much about that.

I don't always take names when I kick ass but when I do, they most often belong to a Wolverine.

Maestro's picture

Love those guys too, but we need someone to stretch the field.  Plain and simple.  Especially if the defense isn't having to worry about the QB beating them with his legs.

vacuuming sucks