Go Big Or Go Home

By Johnny Ginter on July 7, 2011 at 12:55p
You're right... I do have an attitude!If you can't run with the Big Dogs, stay on the porch

"I dunno..." said a pensive and whiny Johnny back in April, "...if Bauserman can hold it together for five games while Pryor is out, then I really don't see any reason to burn Miller's redshirt. It just seems like a waste."

Well screw that. Second place, first loser. No fear. Unleash the beast. That's "MISTER" Big Dog to you. USA number one.

What I'm saying is, expectations are funny things. Four months ago I was pretty sure that after an embarrassing five games to open the 2011 season, we'd still be right in the thick of the Big Ten race. Moving a true freshman to QB and crossing our fingers seemed like a pretty bad idea at the time; sort of like Neil Armstrong ditching the "steady as she goes" flight plan for "the hell with it, we're going to Mars."

Now things have changed a bit. Pryor isn't coming back after five games, Tressel isn't going to be here to help nurture a young QB on the sidelines for a year to prepare him for a leading role, and frankly, there is a decent chance that OSU wouldn't be allowed in the Big Ten Championship game even if they had the record to qualify for it. In a weird sense that's almost cathartic, because it means that this season Ohio State doesn't have to be constrained by the successful formula of the past ten seasons, and doesn't have a precedent to live up to.

Because of that, there are a number of things that I feel Ohio State needs to take the initiative with, beginning with the biggest dog on the field: the quarterback position.

Braxton Miller needs to be the starter, and he needs to have the freedom to do his own thing. One of the biggest mantras during the Tressel era for QBs was to emphasize mistake-free football above all else. It's one of the primary reasons why Terrelle Pryor and Troy Smith traded brilliant, mind-boggling plays for consistency. Not that this wasn't a valid approach; Smith eventually became so automatic that plays like this one (thanks, Keith) were rarely needed.

Still, this year is the perfect opportunity to let Braxton be Braxton. If he really can become a Michael Vick or Pat White-esque player, now is the time to find out. Let him create for himself, and try to establish some kind of rapport with at least one receiver that's not a speedy running back or a guy named Stoneburner or Posey.

Those players will, of course, play a big part of Miller's development, but this season has to be about planning for the future. The sooner Braxton can get on the same page with a young player like T.Y Williams, Chris Fields, Philly Brown, or yes, even James Louis himself, the better. A multiyear QB/WR tandem the likes of a Smith/Ginn or even a Pryor/Sanzenbacher would do wonders for this offense.

Defensively, there aren't as many calculated risks to take; I believe that part of the reason that OSU's defense has been so successful in recent years is the willingness to be incredibly versatile and take chances with different lineups. During recruiting, Heacock and Fickell have gone after guys who can fill multiple roles in the the defense while still finding players who can anchor certain positions. I'm going to be pretty sad when Tyler Moeller finally graduates, but I'm not going to be too worried in that there are guys like CJ Barnett and Christian Bryant ready to step in to fill his shoes.

As far as the coaching staff goes, it's impossible to know what the future holds. The inclination among the Ohio State administration may be to stick with what works if Fickell salvages a successful season. I don't think that's a wise decision, but if Fickell does stay on for multiple years as head coach, there are a few things he needs to start doing now, including:

  • Outlining a clear and coherent policy concerning NCAA regluations. Broadcast it to everyone who will listen, and detail specific consequences if it is ignored.
  • Draw a distinction between himself and Jim Tressel. If the "interim" tag really has been taken away from his title, prove it on the field and coach like someone not cribbing from someone else's notes.
  • A different stance toward the media is a good way to start, and on that front, so far so good.

There's a certain amount of bravado that comes with throwing caution to the wind, and honestly that's something that I've missed in OSU football in the past few years. It feels like we spent an incredible amount of time worrying about living up to our billing or making sure that we didn't have a letdown against inferior opponents or whatever nitpicky thing you can apply to the phrase "uneasy lies the head that wears the crown."

Truth be told, I don't expect this to be a banner year for Ohio State football on the field. Four losses is more than possible, in my opinion. But I would much rather have those losses come by way of the Buckeyes trying something new and taking risks rather than desperately clinging to an old formula.


Comments Show All Comments

Maestro's picture

Good points.  Stoney and Hall are both juniors.  I think those are going to be the top 2 receivers......yes Jordan Hall.  Let Miller really become comfortable with them and build upon that for the future.

vacuuming sucks

dr green's picture

". . . fund out." Don't tell me we're paying the QBs now.

Johnny Ginter's picture

wow that is a terrific typo on my part.  i almost don't want to correct it

GoBucks713's picture

SBB may start another story from that typo, then say it's an exclusive. I say leave it.

-The Aristocrats!

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

please don't call Sport by Brooks SBB....

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

GoBucks713's picture

Sorry, it will never happen again. How about i call him HBB for Hack by Butthead.

-The Aristocrats!

SouthBayBuckeye's picture

he certainly is Hack-ey. The guy always is at Barkey's Beanery in Hollywood from what I hear on saturdays. I kind of want to go their for a game, but then I don't want to get drunk and do something that will land me in LA central detention center.

Banned from ATO since June 3rd 2PMish PST

GoBucks713's picture

You could probably pay a server to pee in his cafe ole!

-The Aristocrats!

Johnny Ginter's picture

too late! to compensate, next week i'll just make my post about the secret counterfeit purse manufacturing operation underneath ohio stadium funded by profits made from selling baby pengiun blood to sri lankan rebels

Maestro's picture

Darn those sri lankan rebels and their pengiun blood fetish.

vacuuming sucks

JBuckeye's picture

I dunno. I go back and forth on the topic of starting Miller all the time. 

Having watched him here in my backyard at Wayne, constantly battle injuries and other such makes me want to give him a year to get some weight on, hopefully not have to be a part of any sort of trouble we may get from the NCAA decision, and come back in 2012 fresh for four years of impending Buckeye whoopass. 

On the other hand I really want to see Miller and Fickell come out of the gate swinging, and decimate every team on our schedule, and put up huge points, so people can get off their high horses, and we can say Pryor who?  Tressel who? 

That will really be the only way to prove to ESPN and their ilk that Ohio State is bigger than one coach or one player or one situation and shut their mouths for a little while anyway.

Then again if tOSU comes out without missing a beat, and getting off relatively easy from the NCAA, then that will just add a whole big pile of thermite to the already raging conflageration that is tOSU football. It will obviously be a sign of our deep and entrenched cheating if we don't stumble and fall like USC and others that get the ban hammer from the NCAA>

Scott K's picture

I'm puzzled by your last paragraph.  Why does coming out and not missing a beat mean thre is deep entrenched cheating?  What deep entrenched cheating are you actually referring to? There are no pay for play or agent issues on the table.  There isn't going to be any ban hammer.  To be honest, I think that unless there are other things that come to light that we're not currently aware of, there won't be any scholarship losses, and the worst case is proabably a 1 year post season ban. I think the Bucks will come out without missing a beat.

"There's a fine line between stupid, and....clever.  David St. Hubbins/Nigel Tufnel

tampa buckeye's picture

Im not sure why people think more weight equals better durability?  Did that work for Greg Oden?  

dr green's picture

So, there's a point of diminishing returns. However, if you're brittle/fragile, you're brittle/fragile. More weight probably isn't going to help in such a case.

BacknBlack's picture

You have to red shirt Miller, get him bigger and stronger to reduce injuries. He is way to fragile to play three or four years at the NCAA level. He could not even do this in high school. His So. and Jr. years he was so hurt from football he missed part or all of the basketball season. 

Braxton is a great talent and worth the price of admission. Enjoy it while it lasts....because it wont last an entire 13 game season.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Who knows? You could very well be right about whether or not Miller will be able to stay healthy but I don't see a scenario where he takes a redshirt this year other than if he gets hurt and were to miss a significant portion of fall camp.

At the least, I expect Miller to have his own package of plays that will enable him to see the field in the first 3-4 games then maybe the coaching staff goes from there as to whether or not he gets more minutes. Time will tell. I'm anxious to see him start gaining experience.

Nappy's picture

He also didnt have a competent line blocking for him in HS.  Im not saying he wont be hit harder than he ever has before, but to just say "this guy was hurt a lot in high school means he'll be hurt a lot in college" doesnt mean anything to me.  Everyone who plays risks injuries. I think we need to play the players who give us the best chance to win every game, regardless if theres a bowl game to play for at the end of the season or not.  And Im sure every player in the locker room would tell you the same thing.

I never saw a football player make a tackle with a smile on his face

buckeyedude's picture

I like the idea of starting Braxton also.

I just hope he's been taking his anabolic steroids protein shakes after workouts this spring/summer! Would love to see Braxton with a set of guns like Irricoir!





btalbert25's picture

I say start him, and I'm saying it based on the fact that I believe there will be a post season ban this year.  That means the season is basically a loss anyway.  Play they young guy, get him some experience, let him take his lumps early so he's ready to go when this team is allowed to play for something.  Also, he enrolled early right?  It's feasible that he's added an extra 20lbs already, which may be enough for him to be able to last. 

If there is a post season ban, let's give the seniors on the team a chance to go out winners.  An undefeated regular season would be awesome.  If they could pull that off, it would be quite a sendoff for the guys who are still here playing their last season in Columbus, who don't have a chance to win a title.

Buckeye in Athens's picture

As to your point about developing a rapport with some younger wide receivers, I'm hoping one of those guys is either Devin Smith or Evan Spencer. They both seem very talented and could have 4 years as a tandem. Camp should be very fun to watch this year. 

JeffMBeck's picture

Completely agree on the Braxton Miller points.  He should start from day one.  I wrote this last week arguing exactly that.  Why Braxton Miller Should Start for OSU.

Nice piece and I hope we see No. 5 in the backfield on Sept. 3.

biggy84's picture

If 12-1 is cribbing, i'll take it! Multiple losses but flashy? I'll take boring.

Bucknut-in-the-South's picture

Geez, Johnny, you really make it hard on a guy.  I find myself wanting to disagree with you, more as an intellectual/for-the-sake-of-argument thing, but you make good points and make them in sensible fashion.  Let me say that I, too, wish for a more surprising offensive attack this year, with the caveat that it would be silly to ignore our obvious strength, which is in our running backs.  I think that Luke Fickell falls somewhere between the Jim "Close to the Vest" Tressel, and Mike "Betting the Jolly Roger" Leach.  I agree that Braxton Miller is far and away the most exciting and intriguing of the current quarterback corps, but I find it a stretch to extrapolate handing him the starting job and letting him "do his thing" from that.  It is incumbent upon Fickell and his staff to find the combination of knowledge, savvy, risk, and game management which gives us the best chance to win.  If that happens to be Miller, I am more than fine with that.  Ditto Taylor Graham.  My one fervent prayer is that Joe Bauserman is not that answer.