Five Things: Illinois

By Chris Lauderback on October 16, 2011 at 2:00p
Getty Images / J. DanielBoom found the endzone for the 13th straight game. #REALTALK

I'm pretty sure Bollman set back offensive coaching a couple decades but after the collapse at Nebraska, I'll gladly take yesterday's 17-7 victory that was apparently a tribute to this morning's Columbus Marathon. 

I would also like to take this opportunity to personally thank Ron Zook for his colossal derpness. Without his help, the Buckeyes might not beat what I already knew was a severely overrated team. So, while I am definitely excited to see the Fighting Fickell's pick up a much needed October win, I didn't see much yesterday to sway my opinion on what will happen the rest of the way. 

This is a middling football team that definitely benefitted from the return of Boom, some decent run blocking and a more fundamentally sound defensive effort boosted by the play of The Two John's and the budding star Bradley Roby but unfortunately, the real measuring stick for success in 2011 rests in how much development takes place at QB, WR and within the 13 or so frosh/sophs in the defensive two-deep. 

With reality level-setted, let's jump into this week's edition of Five Things...

boom's back

Though their numbers have diminished, I am still baffled by those out there in Buckeyeland that don't give Boom (on-field version) the credit he deserves. 

Sure, he'll never be mentioned in a conversation of greats at Ohio State but the dude is very consistent runner that has greatly improved his vision, thus effectiveness over the years, he always runs with a purpose and it can't be argued he has a knack for doing what's most important in the game of football - scoring touchdowns. 

After missing six games thanks to various idiotic decisions, Boom was back at it yesterday taking a handoff from Braxton and racing to the left pylon putting OSU in front 10-0 early in the 3rd quarter following Roby's INT and swerving runback. 

The sprint to paydirt gave Boom a touchdown in 13 straight games. In fact, Boom has now scored at least one TD in 23 of his last 28 games dating back to the midpoint of the 2008 season. So, say what you want about Boom the RB but he puts points on the board in about as consistent a fashion as you'll see. 

He also proved he's without question the most dominant back on the 2011 squad - not that many were arguing. Despite the entire northern hemisphere expecting the run, Boom powered and weaved his way to 114 yards on 23 carries (5.0) showing little rust except for a few missed cutback holes at the line of scrimmage. I'm also pretty sure I remember him being a solid pass blocker though it doesn't appear that skill will be a factor as Bollman is far too terrified to call a pass play - especially on a (GASP!) non-passing down. 

Boom's return takes pressure off Braxton and if Bollman ever decides to properly utilize his players, Hall's versatility in the slot can be more effectively exploited. 

Defensively speaking

Again, Illinois was a ridiculously overrated football team but I liked the way the defense responded after taking it up the tailpipe in Lincoln. 

The missed tackles were much fewer and further in between, The Two John's wrecked havoc up front, the safeties brought some wood and the unit forced three big turnovers creating short fields for the one dimensional offense. 

Getty Images / J. DanielBryant served up pain all day

Christian Bryant bounced back from his missed tackle exhibition last week with five hellacious stops and a couple nice pass breakups. He also made a sick individual play on 2nd and 16 of the Illini's lone scoring drive when he blew up a screen as he slipped an attempted block from an o-liner. One thing is for sure, he plays like his hair is on fire and is always looking to make the big hit. The more reps he gets, the more he can perfect playing with a controlled aggression so he can bring wood but in a disciplined fashion. 

Bryant's play on the back line was complemented by CJ Barnett who had his best game of the season with eight stops. Roby was also solid in backing up his talk about Jenkins as he posted a breakup and the aforementioned INT that helped OSU take a 10-0 lead. 

The real stars on the day however were John Simon and Johnathan Hankins. 

Those two straight owned the line of scrimmage to the tune of a combined 17 tackles, six TFL and two sacks. Seventeen tackles from two defensive line spots? That is sick production. 

The duo was large early in the 2nd half. After Illy took possession following Boom's TD run, Hank blew up two different 1st down plays for no gain and Simon showed crazy pursuit on a 2nd and 10 play for -4 yards setting up a 3rd and 14 incompletion to force a punt.

After the OSU offense stalled, Simon and Hank were back it at. Simon sacked Schelhaase on 1st down for a loss of eight and Hank busted through the line for a two yard loss on 2nd and 18 before Jenkins eventually fumbled on a 2nd and 4 play setting up the mythical Braxton to Stoney TD pass giving the Buckeyes a 17-0 lead. 

Overall, nice work from the defense to get the Buckeyes back over the .500 mark. 


How in the world was this team ranked #16 or whatever it was? 

Scheelhaase is a decent runner/athlete and Jenkins is a solid player but if they are #16 then that is a pretty solid commentary on the state of college football. 

I give them some props for beating ASU in Champaign but their other wins came against Arkansas State, South Dakota State, Western Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana. Not much of a gauntlet. And not much of a surprise that the Buckeyes were able to beat them, at home, in a game so big the fans were dressed up to stripe the stadium. Man do I love it when programs do that hokey dress up stuff and fall on their face. 

Leading the charge of overratedness was Zook. I'm trying to figure out how he could possibly think it made any sense to go for it on 4th and 3 at the Buckeye 17 yard line, down by 10 with about 1:20 to play. Conventional wisdom says you don't go for it until you absolutely have to and while I get that it was windy, we're talking about a chance to cut the lead to one possession. Instead, he bought into what his OC Paul Petrino was selling, that he saw an easy play for a 1st down. Uh, not so much.

The decision proved even more curious as the Illini kicker, Derek Dimke has yet to miss a kick this season. He's 24/24 on XP's and 7/7 on FG's including 4/4 from 30+ yards. 

So, while we're shackled with the one and done Fickell experiment, just remember it could always be worse. Illini fans are on their 7th year of the Zook Experiment. I can't even imagine the horror. 

arrested development

It was great to see Braxton show no ill effects from the high ankle sprain that doomed the Nebraska upset but man is it tough watching his development stunted by walrusball. 

I get that it was windy but that didn't stop Illy from throwing 34 times and I don't think either of the INT's were greatly impacted by the breeze. Now, I'm not saying the Buckeyes should've aired it out - I get trying to win the surest way - but at this point in the season it makes no sense to not also attempt to develop your QB of the future along the way. 

Even in a 33 mph wind, safe, short passes could've been dialed up to not only keep Braxton's right arm from rusting out but also to keep the Illini defense from putting 8+ in the box every play. 

It's a double edged sword in that Miller definitely has some spiral consistency issues but I don't know how that gets fixed unless he gets to throw passes - in games. No doubt he launched a couple ducks but after 21 straight plays of handing it off or running, what should we expect? 

His 2nd attempt of the day was a laser that needed touch more than it needed heat. His 3rd attempt was his worst of the day, a drunken wobbler in the direction of Stoney. Then, his lone attempt of the 2nd half was a perfectly thrown strike as Stoney used a double move to burn the safety on a post route for a 17 yard score. 

Braxton has it in him. He just needs the game reps. You don't perfect your mechanics and ability to read defenses just by throwing in practice and watching film. He needs to throw in games. Not only that, I have to believe his psyche is at least minimally impacted by the staff being seemingly scared sh!tless of letting him throw the ball in games. 

I know the staff can't take this route completely but I personally could care less if letting Braxton throw more means he blows a game with a couple ill timed picks. This year is about preparing for next year as much as it is reaching some wack ass bowl, assuming the NCAA doesn't remove that opportunity anyway. 

special teams continue to do work

In a game of dueling offensive suck, the special units figured to loom large in the outcome. Once again, the OSU special units showed they are much better than we've seen in years past. 

Ben Buchanan continued his stellar season with seven more highly effective punts. Early on, he booted a couple bombs to flip the field as the offense posted three straight 3-and-outs following the opening FG drive. On successive punts, Buchanan ripped a 54 yarder moving the ball from the OSU 27 to the Illini 19, a 46 yarder to the Illini 26 and a 48 yarder booted from the OSU nine yard line. 

He continues to get excellent hang time as evidenced by four of seven balls being fair caught and two being returned for a net of -2 yards. He also put two more inside the 20 after three straight games of three inside the 20. Somewhere, Tress was chubbing out. 

Drew Basil also had a solid showing. He played the wind perfectly as he curved in a 43 yard FG to open the game playing a nice little hook from right to left. On kickoffs, he found the endzone just once in four tries but he did a nice job of executing squibs when the wind was in his grill. 

The coverage teams did their jobs led by another strong showing from Domicone. In general, the guys seem to be keeping their lane discipline and after charging down the field, breaking down so they are ready to react to a ball carrier juke instead of flying down the field acting as if the ball carrier has no intention of trying to make them miss. 

Good stuff across the board from the special teams. 



Comments Show All Comments

Sofa Kingdom's picture

check out Bauserman in the urban dictionary.  second one is pretty funny.



doodah_man's picture

That was one of the funniest things I have seen in years....hilarious!

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

Doc's picture

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Ohio Guy in Jersey's picture

The Fickell Experiment? Everyone knows he won't be the coach by January, but exactly who did you expect to get in May? Heacock would have been the only other option and I don't think he would have done that at this stage of his career. Fickell stepped forward in the midst of a $h!t storm and frankly doesn't deserve the crap an OSU coach would typically get for a season like this.

awwwwwwop's picture

I don't understand how the wind was not a factor in Ill's 2 picks.  Pick one was overthrown while throwing with the wind and pick two was underthrown while throwing against the wind.  Seems fairly obvious that the wind had something to do with it.  And why are we looking to Illinois to see how to successfully run an offense?  They had one sustained drive and 7 points. I'm not saying we threw enough but I dont think they were an example of how to run an offense at all.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

Chris Lauderback's picture

All I know is Scheelhaase didn't blame the wind at all when asked about the INT's after the game. He mentioned the first INT sailed on him but he called it a missed throw. 

"That was all me, a missed throw," Scheelhaase said. "No doubt about it. He ran a good route and he was wide open. And it just sailed over his head. You can't have those plays. When you have a play like that you have to connect."

As for looking to Illinois on how to run a successful offense, I didn't mean to imply that at all. Only that it wasn't a gale force wind and some passing was certainly feasible. 



awwwwwwop's picture

Good response. Points taken. Even though I question Ill's qb (won't even attempt to spell it) statement about his pass.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

JakeBuckeye's picture

Well I think just because Scheelhaase gave an anti-TP answer to a question doesn't mean the throws didn't have anything to do with the wind. I think it perhaps had a lot to do with the wind.

Bucks's picture

Amazing to me that some people are taking such issue with a blatantly obvious need to work on passing, even if only short routes.

Ill went 20-34 for almost 170. The two INT's came one two longer throws. There is NO excuse or ability to blame wind on us not passing.

Chris Lauderback's picture

Yeah. It's as if we can only execute a screen or short pass to WR/TE in a dome because of the  dastardly wind. 

awwwwwwop's picture

That is not what I said.  I was merely pointing out that Illinois wasn't exactly the model for passing efficiency.  I was not happy with the game plan, but i just do not think it matters what Illinois did because they had 3 turnovers and barely any offense.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

SaintTressel's picture

Someone correct me if I am wrong here -- It seemed like were only lining up in even fronts defensively last night, which I'm guessing means the staff doesn't think they have anyone to play Nathan Williams position at a high level. Also, I don't remember Bennet's name being called, which makes me think that Goebel, Bellamy, Hankins and Simon took almost all the snaps at D-line. If that's the case, the defense starting to give up more yardage in the fourth quarter is not surprising, as those guys were most likely pretty gassed. I've blanked the nebraska game out of my mind, is that possibly one of the issues in the 4th quarter of that debacle as well?

Buckeyejason's picture

Bennett played a lot from what I remember..he seems to be the only other guy rotating in on the D-line.

I take it J.T. Moore isn't ready to be a key player, same with Steve Miller. Don't know why they wasted Steve's 1st year for shit.

Soloman Thomas played but got burned on most occasions.

Would be nice to have some edge speed rushers to go with the big bodies: Bellamy, Hankins, Goebel, Simon.


Maestro's picture

Thomas was clearly not in game shape. It would be nice to see him get into the mix from a depth standpoint.

vacuuming sucks

sfgoody's picture

I don't think we have to start panicking about Brax's development just yet.  Look at the progression: he looked alright against an atrocious CU team.  He got annihilated as he ran for his life vs MSU.  Showed streaks of brilliance against NEB before getting knocked out and then directed a gutty 'must have' win on the road yesterday.  Now he gets Wisky....and for the record, since no one believes we can win that game, and everyone thinks Fick is gone anyway, expect us to throw the kitchen sink at the Badgers.  Why not?

So he takes the reigns in a gauntlet, suffers an injury, loses another WR to injury, etc.  Pur, Indy, Psu, Um....that's a schedule where I think (i hope) we will see him start to make the strides we've all been hoping for. 


AeroBuckeye2001's picture


Stripe this

The Ohio State University Class of 2001

BS Aero & Astronautical Engineering

GoBucks713's picture

Waiting on a Bauserman pass?

-The Aristocrats!

NoVA Buckeye's picture

Being in the stands in a game in which Joe Bauserman is the quarterback is like being in right field at a baseball game. You have an opportunity to catch the ball, only difference is you aren't allowed to keep it. I would go to any game Bauserman plays for in the AFL. Any day.

The offseason begins when your season ends. Even then there are no days off.

builderofcoalitions's picture

Is there an chance that Miller's ankle caused him to be ineffective throwing the ball? It's hard to push off A bum ankle when throwing.

Because we couldn't go for three.

slippy's picture

They said during the week at practice he couldn't push off to throw.  A week is a short time to come back from a sprained ankle.  I wouldn't be surprised if he was more hurt than he thought.  Might not hurt to run straight but could w/ the torque from pushing off.

Buckeyejason's picture

Looks like the Houndie is all Kurt Colemans..3 interceptions. Damn! Congrats Kurt!

We're lookin like safety U with Coleman, Whitner, and. Jenkins lol jk


osukdawg76's picture


I, for one, welcome our new coaching overlords.



Buckeye_Mafia's picture

Another #fail IMHO w/the offensive coaching staff and its "play-calling" was not having Carlos Hyde gettings more reps. He has been our most productive running back this season (excluding the Miami game) and then doesn't see the field until our last (meaningless series)? Really? I don't think our offensive staff has handled ANY of our young players well thus far. Not just Braxton, but all of them. QB, RB, and WR positions have been handled terribly personnel-wise.

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

Brutus's picture

Did anyone ever stop to think that maybe we didnt throw the ball more yesterday because Miller just isn't that good of a passer at this point and the 30 mile per hour winds weren't going to help his cause? Everyone seems to have bought into this idea that Miller came into this year as a more refined passer than Pyror at this stage just because Rivals or Scout or whoever told us so. That is obviously not the case. His footwork is not good, his mechanics so-so, his reads not good, and he throws a spiral once every five or six attempts. I don't fault him for any of that. He's a freshman and he will get better, just as Pryor did. But the endless whining about the play calling and lack of pass plays is ridiculous. I agree that he's only going to get better by throwing more. But which would your rather have, Miller with 15-20 attempts, maybe 9 completions, less than 100 yds, and a loss, or a win? The same people bitching about the lack of pass plays would be bitching even harder if we lost that game.

We won. It wasn't pretty. None of our wins or losses the rest of the way will be pretty. Miller will at times look good, but mostly he will look like a freshman. As the other dickhead Whisky coach likes to say, deal with it.

Bucks's picture

I'm sorry Brutus but no. Miller has gotten worse with his passing mechanics since he got here. That isn't a scouting service or talking heads saying so. Look at his videos yourself, listen to the people who watched him over the years.

Not quite sure where you could possibly be at deciding it is ok to absolutely minimize him even working on passing but AGAIN, like so many keep seeming to forget ... I don't see anyone here saying throw the BOMB. It is inexcusible as a coaching staff to not involve some short slants, a few screens here though.

If they are going to continue to call a game in the fashion they have the majority of the year, might as well eliminate passing drills or any serious devotion to it. There is absolutely no excuse for it & that aspect of the team is suffering, from Miller to receivers.



madhatterhater's picture

I say we run the wing T.

go bucks

RBuck's picture

No. The robust T.

Long live the southend.

rampageripster's picture

we won... so you whiners and bitchers can kindly shove it... I am gonna enjoy the victory and take my wooden turtle and go home

Cause I couldn't go for three

William's picture

I don't consider criticism of the gameplan whining. We won that's great, but there's always something this team can work on. The defense is improving from week to week, and the run game is starting to solidify, that still doesn't provide an excuse for the atrocious passing game. As Bucks stated in the post above Miller had good mechanics all throughout high school. Watch his tape and you'll see it. He has regressed since he came here, and that is an indictment against Siciliano, who is a glorified video coordinator. 20-30 mph winds don't affect a 7 yard slant, or a screen pass, they weren't playing during a hurricane. I understand why the team would limit any long throws, but the lack of routes and throws under 15 yards was inexecusable.

timdogdad's picture

maybe not against wisky, because we'll probably run a lot to keep the wisky offense off of the field, but i'm sure against ind and pur, we'll get miller enough pass reps. i seem to remember when pryor was a frosh or soph and we had a decent lead, pryor would just pass on every down for  about three series in a row. lets do the same with miller so he gets the work in.   

741's picture

An extra week of practice reps with the #1's and I think Miller will get the opportunity to throw the ball a little more vs. Wisconsin. We will need to be able to do so in order to keep from getting steamrolled!

Think Nebraska first half - we looked good! There was variety in the playcalling, and some short routes that were relatively easy to make completions on. I anticipate we will be something like +17.5 point underdogs (which is sacrilegious) and we cover the spread.

Buckeyejason's picture

If we have a creative game plan that involves screen passes, quick slants, quick outs, misdirection handoffs, and successful designed runs for Braxton..than yes we have a chance at keeping it within the spread.

If we play Walrusball we will get brutally crushed at home.


joel121270's picture

We may just shock the world against Wisky...Maybe!

Tommy's picture

Everyone bashing on Zook's decision to go for it on 4th and 3 is confusing prolonging the game as long as possible with giving your team the best chance to win.  The fact that they have a pretty good fg kicker (at least as the stats show) would lend towards going for it on 4th down there even more since the probablility of being able to make a fg from the 35-50 range would be even higher after an assumed onside kick recovery.

Td from 10-15 yd + Fg from 25-40 yd > Fg from 10-15 yd + Td from 25-40 yd

Also, you say that the desire to reach a weak sauce bowl game should not stand in the way of Braxton's development.  But I'm thinking that missing out on that extra month of practice that comes with that weak sauce bowl game would hurt his development more than missing a few extra passes each game.

Of course the ineptitude of his coaches could render that point completely moot.

Actually... if the dynamic duo of Bollman/Siciliano are still his coaches in December, could it actually be better for his development if he isn't subjected to that for an extra month??