11W Roundtable: Indiana Week

By Chris Lauderback on November 4, 2011 at 10:00a
Unrelated caption: Tom Crean kicks puppies

Riding a modest two game winning streak, both the Buckeyes and the fanbase are entertaining visions of grandeur. The rest of the B1G slate all of a sudden appears winnable, Penn State is likely getting ready for their reality check, Boom is on fire, Braxton is coming along and Posey will return just in time for the final two games of the regular season against Penn State and Michigan. 

It's truly amazing what a few wins can do. This week, there's little doubt the Buckeyes will make it three in a row as they welcome the eternally awful Indiana Loosiers to the 'Shoe. 

With IU's program failing to provide worthy chatter, we'll discuss Braxton's progress, the dramatic W against W and the effect of the upset win on the potential coaching search, among other topics, so pop a squat and get your read on. 

Braxton seemed to kinda “put it all together” in the triumph over Wisky. Do you think this game (and the preceding bye week) truly marks a legit step in his on field performance or could we still be in for some up/down performances? Why or why not?

Luke: If the silver screen's taught me anything, it's that sometimes the protagonist must complete multiple stages of personal growth before they can turn into the devil may care, vigilante justice dispensing paragon who saves his/her hometown and gets the girl/guy. Miller is still in the rather earlier portions of his personal arc. I don't think it's out of the realm of possibilities to think there will be step back moments, though probably we're mostly (emphasis on margin for error) going to be on the upward slope going forward.

Corey: Even though he doesn't get a chance to throw that often each game, you can still see the development he has made as the season has progressed. I think it's a legit step in his performance, but we should also expect those "freshman moments" in the next 4 games, which hopefully won't cost OSU a win. He just seems more comfortable under center and winning will do wonders for his confidence. Plus Boom is back and they should be able to get by IU and Purwho before Posey returns.

Johnny: Braxton is a true freshman, and it's probably more likely that his progression will more or less resemble a space program. He's going to crash and burn at some point, but the main goal is for him to keep getting those dogs up into space and eventually we'll get to the moon. Or something.

I wrote in Five Things about OSU’s deadly 11/20 on 3rd downs thanks largely to Braxton and compared it to how lethal Pryor was on 3rd down. Both running and throwing, how do you compare Braxton’s development to what we saw from Pryor in his freshman campaign?

Sarah: Braxton possesses a higher football IQ, but Pryor was the better playmaker as a freshman and more of a high risk/high reward situation, which probably was a result of Pryor being Pryor. According to a source of mine, “dude's arrogant”. I also worried less about him getting injured because he was such a load. I liken Braxton more to late-2004 Troy Smith, though hopefully without a Purdue loss (or any loss) and with the domination over Michigan. The light has come on, and while the road ahead won't always be smooth, he's at least on the right path and any other cliché you want to add.

Joe: He seems further along in almost every way, but it's still early in his career. Pryor I think regressed at times, and it took time for the coaches to correctly tailor the game-plan for his skills. It hasn't taken as long with Miller, and I think that's due to him grasping the passing game sooner.

Danny: Personally, I think they are developing so similarly. It’s almost scary seeing just how similar their numbers are and how comparable the game plans they played under are. The difference is that Braxton looks more comfortable as a passer than Pryor did. While Miller’s numbers aren’t necessarily better than Pryor, the zip on the ball once it leaves Miller’s arm is better than Pryor’s was. I expect to see Miller develop into a quarterback who will be a pass-first guy somewhere down the road of his career, something Pryor never truly accomplished.

I nearly forgot Devin Smith was on the team after a three game stretch of one catch for four yards as he (erroneously) moved down the depth chart. Working on the assumption that Miller will actually attempt double digit passes per game from here on out, who are your top two receivers against IU and PU before Posey returns and why? When Posey does return, who should start with him?

Corey: Philly Brown looks to be 100% and is developing that chemistry with Miller, which lead to a couple of nice timing routes between the 2 last week. It's still hard for me to believe Stoneburner's number hasn't been called more this year, but the catch last week has to give Devin Smith a leg up opposite of Philly. Smith is averaging 22.7 YPC and has 4 TD's on 10 catches, so we can only hope Bollman realizes the talent in Smith. When Posey gets back, Philly will be opposite of him.

Luke: Given the ability to have any meaningful input, my preference would be to go with Smith and Philly Bro(wn). As mentioned previously, I was somewhat of a Philly cynic coming into this season, particularly after he was banged up, but since coming back he's shown me flashes of what drew everyone else towards him in the first place. That sort of athleticism is an absolutely boon to moving the ball down the field. I think particularly with Posey back, whoever gets the bump down to the #3 just makes this offense that much more potent.

Johnny: Corey "Don't Call Me Philly" "Philly" Brown seems to be the guy that Braxton has the most rapport with on the field right now, and number two will probably be whoever can get open. Since Brown seems to be only guy who is able to do that on a consistent basis, I'd give him the nod.

Sarah: I'm gonna keep on banging the Smith and Philly drum. (I will never stop referring to him as Philly, either.) Of Miller's 6 TD passes this season, Smith has 4 of them and also leads the team in receiving yards. Although Philly hasn't seen the end zone yet, he does have more experience and though he does not enjoy the same psychic 6-point connection with Braxton as Smith does, they do sit next to each other in first period chemistry.

I had time to bite my nails then run the sweeper in the amount of time it took Braxton’s cross-body heave to land in the cradled arms of Devin Smith. What was going through your mind as the ball was in the air?

Johnny: "Bwwwaaaaaaahhh!" TM Hank Hill

Joe: I was thinking "he must have a receiver wide open or else he never would have thrown the ball like that when he had lots of green in front of him", so I was just waiting to see who the wide-open receiver was. And I was also thinking about how much it reminded me of Troy against Penn State in '06.  

Luke: Something along the lines of "Pleasegodnonotannterception."-> The birth of the universe scene from "Tree of Life". ->Sheer panic.

Sarah: That catch actually happened right in front of me, so I had an excellent view of how long the ball hung in the air. At first, everyone yelled, “oh my god, oh my god, oh my god”, then I watched all 20 seasons of Gunsmoke, voted in the next presidential election, got pregnant, gave birth, sent the kid off to college, then there was an omelet bar, and finally, the ball completed its trajectory and landed into the waiting arms of, by that point, a 75-year-old Devin Smith. 

Corey: Damn, that City BBQ was good at Eat Too, Brutus.

Obviously, the D Line did a great job stopping the Badger running game last week with an assist from Sweat and Barnett. Bryant also had six tackles but whiffed on at least three others and gambled and lost in coverage leading to Montee Ball’s TD catch and run. What do you make of Bryant’s overall skill set? Do you still like him ahead of Johnson? Should we just expect that he’s going to try so hard to make the big play that there will be duds along the way? 

Danny: Bryant is still young and I expect him to struggle at times. I still like him ahead of Orhian Johnson who has been much more effective in a backup role anyway. Bryant was going up against a pretty impressive Badger offense, so you can’t blame him for learning some lessons the hard way. He’ll grow from this game, as should the rest of this team.

Joe: It's tough to say. On the one hand, he's made some great plays. But on the other hand, he still makes freshman mistakes. I guess if push comes to shove I'd still prefer to let the youngster play and take his lumps knowing that he has better ball skills than Johnson. At some point, the light will go on for Bryant and he will stop making those mistakes. At that point, he will seize the job for good. But that's more gut instinct than real insight. The bottom line is I trust the coaches because they see these guys every day.

Luke: Bryant's always been a guy that works really hard and seems to 'get it' from an effort and going all in perspective, but the results haven't always translated the way we'd like. I hate fixating on measurables (sup Peter Brand?), but his size kind of worries me at times. Risk/reward is a hell of a way to live, but if he's doing everything 'the right way', it may have to be something we learn to live with until consistency becomes a cornerstone of what he does.

There’s been plenty of talk about Luke’s future following his first ‘signature’ win. No doubt it helps the cause, as would four more victories to cap the regular season. Should that happen, how does that impact your thoughts on the OSU coaching search? Would he be your top candidate at that point? Why or why not? Who remains at the top of your personal wish list?

Sarah: Are you suggesting that Urban Meyer will not be announced as the next coach at halftime of the Duke game? Blasphemy! Anyway, it's not that I don't care who the next coach will be, but I don't particularly care right now. Of course I have my own opinions. I'm not feeling a Bo Pelini and I've never bought into the idea that Meyer will bless us with his tutelage. Especially if the team wins out, I'm not opposed to Fickell because like Braxton or the team itself, it seems like he's starting to figure it out, and while there might be some bumps along the way, bro's got potential. I don't really have a top candidate. I just want a thorough, well-executed search. When it comes down to it, I have exactly -32% say in the matter, and let's face it, I'll still support the team whoever's wearing the headset. Unless that happens to be Tony LaRussa. 

Corey: Honestly, I'm still in the middle of the 2 camps that are forming. One has Fickell staying and firing his offensive staff. The other, has Columbus rolling out the red carpet, shutting down 270 and give Urban Meyer a ticker tape parade as he rides in on White Stallions to save us from a dreadful 9-4 or 8-5 season. I've rooted for Fickell since day 1(we went to different schools, but graduated the same year in Cbus), but he has shown some flaws this year, which you know he'll learn from. Are we willing to be patient with that? Also, while people cry out for Meyer, Gruden, Leach, Madden, Lombardi or Ditka, there's something to be said for someone who is familiar with the town, university, facilities, high school coaches and traditions of Ohio State. Overall, things have been very good for us Buckeye fans over the last 10 years and Fickell has been here the whole time, if the first 6 games of the season can be just a bump in the road, I'm all for Fickell staying and getting some new offensive coaches.

Johnny: If you can get Urban Meyer, you go get Urban Meyer. Same deal with guys like Patterson or Petersen. But failing that, if Fickell is somehow able to coax this team into winning all of its' remaining games, he absolutely deserves a legit interview (provided he fires Jim Bollman). Personally I think OSU needs to clean house, for a number of reasons, but you want to bring in a guy who isn't walking into this blind. So Stevie Wonder is out.

Danny: I’m personally not ready to give up on Luke Fickell. I just think he’s a great football mind who was unexpectedly thrown into the fire that is this season. Each week he’s continued to get better and grow as a coach. If he wins the Leader’s division this year, you bet he’ll be back. If he doesn’t, things become a little less clear, but in the end I believe he’ll be here for the long haul. You can just see it in the way that this team has played and stuck together that he’s going to be a great coach. All he needs is OSU to give him that opportunity to gain experience.

Indiana blows. That’s no secret as the Bucks are favored by 27 points. That said, what’s one particular thing you hope to see (besides a letdown effort) from either the team, a player or the staff?

Joe: I want to see a solid win with no suspenseful moments. I would also like to see more of the passing game with Miller spreading the ball around to various receivers. This game is a great opportunity to practice some more complicated schemes before they have to play PSU and Michigan. Since the passing game is the weakness of the offense, I'd like to see a bit more practice there. 

Johnny: After the 20th inside handoff on first down, I want to see Mike Vrabel storm up into the coordinators booth, hit Jim Bollman over the head with a chair, and then call nothing but five wide sets for the rest of the game.

Corey: I want to see Carlos Hyde get 100 yards, regain his mojo and put any potential thoughts about transferring to rest.

Sarah: I'm in charge of the game recap this week. Last time, I was saddled with the Michigan State game, so I would prefer the exact opposite of that. Indiana has a defense statistically worse than Ohio State's offense, meaning it's the perfect time to test out a more balanced offensive attack. I want to see the 116th passing offense do some damage against the 118th pass efficiency defense. The Buckeyes are on a bit of a roll right now, and the improvements need to continue leading up to increasingly tougher games this month. Basically, I'm requesting a typical Ohio State-Indiana game.



Comments Show All Comments

German Buckeye's picture

Braxton runs soooo much better than Pryor - he sees the field better and is clearly "quicker".  He may be as fast in straight line.   As he showed, he's learning to slide and avoid hits as much as possible.  His throwing mechanics are light years ahead of Pryor.  He has only upside in my view.   

yrro's picture

He runs better, but I don't think he's faster in a straight line. And he doesn't stiff arm defensive ends.


That said, I'm 100% more a fan of his attitude and ability to speak.


As for that final throw... I was sitting right behind it, and saw just how incredibly open Smith was. All I was thinking was "Please don't drop it. Please don't drop it. Please don't drop it."

ArTbkward's picture

I agree that is attitude does seem to be much better than his predecessors' but he is only a frosh, hopefully that stays with him for the next 4 years.

Although he does have tattoos, which generally I cringe at these days, I was impressed to see a (paid for) Block O show up on his shoulder.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

slicksickle's picture

He got that tattoo in high school. Was very impressed and figured with all the turmoil that he'd be considering leaving, but what school would want him with a Block "O"?

BrewstersMillions's picture

I don't know about better. They really are different runners. Pryor always seemed effortless when he ran the ball, Miller looks more 'active' for lack of a better term. Realistically, I think their differences are out of neccessity. At 6'5, 235 TP didn't need to be as agile because he had the ability to blast a DB or LB who underestimated him while Miller is more shifty because he doesn't have the ability to lower his shoulder\throw a stiff arm at a guy.

It's funny. Every time I remember seeing TP juke someone, I thought "Oh God, the Knees are going to cave, just run the effing dude over". Every time I see Brax try to run through something I think "Oh God, they are going to kill him, just make a cut dude!".

I do like what appears to be Miller's Stoicism but would like to issue a warning. I have seen first hand as a Bears fan when stoicism turns into Boring. When Lovie Smith came to town, everyone loved how calm he was win lose or draw. No matter how good or bad things got, Lovie has the same look on his face. We love it now out of Braxton but when OSU is in a tight game and he throws a pick and doesn't react passionatley-make sure we like it.


In Chicago, people want Lovie out for a slew of reasons. One of the more foolish ones is his perceived lack of passion. I hope Miller doesn't suffer the same slings....

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I definitely agree that Braxton is a much better passer, and would venture to say that he has a better football IQ.  No way would Pryor have been able to make the play Braxton did with under a minute to go, down by 3.  Even as a junior last year, on that play, Pryor's probably running.  If he did throw, he probably would've been picked off.

I don't agree that Braxton runs a lot better than Pryor.  It's harder to compare because Pryor is bigger and relies on speed and power to get yards, while Miller relies on speed and shiftiness to make people miss.  But I can't make that judgment for sure because I remember Pryor's running over the last 3 seasons, and while Miller may be capable of being that good, I'm not sure I've seen enough of it yet.

Class of 2010.

slippy's picture


Matt's picture

I want Holyfield

robert goulet's picture

Wait a minute - the hurricane's name is Ditka.

Ethan's picture

Johnny, care to elaborate on your reasons why the staff should clean house? 

Good stuff, as always

L-TownNut11's picture

everybody needs to stay healthy in a game like this.......double knee braces and double ankle tapes for everyone!!!!

Matt Finkes's picture

I have had alot of people argue with me about the idea of Luke keeping the job and here is my (only slightly slanted) opinion.  If Luke wins out and plays in the B1G Champ game (where he would have a better than average chance of beating whoever it is), how do you let him go?  After all that has transpired out of his control and dealing with it the way he has of not making excuses (ala Obama, "What a terrible hand I've been dealt! How can you expect me to fix this, lets go golf!"), I think he deserves a major nod just for that.  Also, they have improved every week.  This is a young team, young teams struggle historically in major college football.  The upside for next year is growing every day and I think will be huge.

Secondly, no matter what happens with Luke, I don't believe you go out and hire the flavor of the week.  I have a real issue with the arguement of "if Urban Meyer is available you go get him."  Urban's head coaching stints have consisted of 2yrs, 2 yrs, 5 yrs.  At a program like OSU, you need to find someone who is in it for the long haul, that means for the next 12-15 yrs.  Turmoil and turnover is a program killer, just ask Michigan, Notre Dame or Tennessee.  Everyone's coaches dream job is OSU...or Notre Dame...or Michigan...or the NFL....or commentating for ESPN.  There are guys who want to retire after 20 yrs of coaching at the same school and guys looking for the next best thing or paycheck, we want the former.

JLP36's picture

Fickell is 100% pure Buckeye hardass.  He has a chance to reach the Rose Bowl with a skeleton offensive staff (at best) and no winter or spring to prepare AND AN EXTREMELY YOUNG TEAM.  Key guys have been missing, that often being a last minute surprise to him (the head coach!).    The team is fighting hard and improving AND HAS A CHANCE TO GO TO THE FREAKIN ROSE BOWL.  This has a chance to be a great season in the face of the longest odds Buckeye fans have seen in decades.  Enjoy the ride and drop the coach search until the season is over.  There will be time to examine the staff when the clock hits 0:00.

This program does not need to be rebuilt.  It does not need a new start.  It needs a new offensive staff and some certainty for recruiting.

Most coaches lose 3 or 4 games their first season, even at powerhouses.  These have been bad circumstances.  No one knows, but this seems to be a scenario that would have the almighty Urban heading for the exits.  I don't want a coach who is going to leave in 5 years to coach ND or whatever.  I want a coach who knows in his bones that The Ohio State University and Buckeye Football are greater than anyone one person and are in fact ageless institutions.

I also want Gene Smith fired immediately so that he does not make the decision, whoever it is, because he has proven his incompetence again and again.


onetwentyeight's picture

I feel you like hit on the crux of the problem thats been sort of percolating below the surface the past few weeks, here in the comments and elsewhere in Buckeyenation ... which is what do we want THE MOST? 

Is it Option 1: "Find" the homegrown, "100% PURE TRUE BUCKEYE" coach, groom him, have him grow into the job and become another woody/JT type product we can all be proud of, because he represents some vague personification of the "buckeye" way and how we do things "Right" (no oversigning, telling kids God wants you to play here, cash in backpacks, etc various other shady SEC things) .

THe people rooting for this (aka Team Fickell, to OVERsimplify it) will accept Not competiting for a Nat'l Champ every year; they'll be happy if we make it to the B1G CC, or the Rose Bowl, and if we win a Nat'l Champ once ever 15 yrs, it's all gravy. Keep the coach for life, consistently trounce shitty B1G teams, all is good.


So basically, best case Fickell's career roughly parrallels JT's (minus the ending of course). 


Option 2: Find the coach who will get us the most championships. Period. 

Here, you run the risk of , like you said, him quitting after 5 years because of "health issues" or bailing at the first sign of adversity. Plus we have to deal with possible NCAA issues discussed earlier (quesitonable recruiting practices, etc).

Plus, I feel like there's this sort of unstated pride thing in a lot of us where if we hire a coach who is mainly associated w/the SEC & it's "style" (of play, recruiting, etc) we are sort of conceding defeat, and admitting that the old school, OSU-JT style of coaching can't compete today with guys like UM (or saban, etc). Seems to me a lot of us reflexively refuse to consider Meyer because of this. 

But if you ask me, EVEN IF meyer's tenure here mirrors his tenure in UF exactly, I would take it IN A HEARTBEAT over the Option 1, Fickell's career mimics JT. Give me 2 rings in 5 years over 1 ring in 15.

College football is about WINNING in the end, and all that nice stuff that guys like JT had that souless robots like Saban or meyer dont have matter too, but ultimately not as much as the bottom line. And call my cynical, but the bottom line is Winning, because winning = $, and because that's the reason the games are played each week. CFB long ago ceased to be some sort of hybrid endeveour that mixed winning football with "building up young men" and all that high-faultin character stuff. Don't get me wrong, obviosuly that stuf is important, but the way the world has moved is that the job title of CFB coach no longer includes the "Teaching Young Men how to Grow" aspect anymore. Hopefully other people in the community, church, school, etc still see that as a noble goal. But if you're a CFB coach, you're the guy with the reins to a multi-million dollar BUSINESS corporation that manufactures a PRODUCT and your sole job is to MAXIMIZE the quality of that product and the revenue. 


So, sorry for being long-winded, but in conclusion, throw me in among those that don't give a f*ck what Meyer does in 5 years, or how awesome of a Buckeye Fick is. If meyer is the best football coach for this team, then I feel we get him. Period. 




JLP36's picture

I am open to a search as long as it is "let the best man win" and the current coach gets to finish his work (not bowl, obviously) and gets judged on the total situation.

If Fickell fails, hire someone else.  That has yet to happen.  Far from it.  No coach would be much better right now with the hand Fickell was dealt.

I have a degree from UF (my real one is 100% Buckeye).  I live in Florida.  Urban Meyer is not the instant utopia people are projecting him to be.

He is a great coach.  The question is whether he would be the best coach for the program.  You cannot assume he will win 2 NCs in 5 or 6 years as everyone seems to assume he will.  A spread offense at Ohio State?

The most important thing is that the decision is made by Gene Smith's REPLACEMENT as he has proven he will base his decision on what will most fully cover his ass, not what is best for the University.


onetwentyeight's picture

Totally agree with you about Gene Smith's replacement. That's not mentioned nearly enough as being crucial to the future. 


However, if you read my post, I made it very clear that I recognize and acknowledge UM's shortcomings, and the (Significant) risk that comes with hiring him (or guys like him). But if you want to be fair, you also have to give him credit for his achievements and the potential ceiling of him as a coach.

My main point was, even knowing these risks, to ME (personal opinion), the potential payoff is too great for us to ignore. It's a balancing test, but I think that anytime there's a decent chance you can achieve greatness (aka multiple titles), you must weigh that very heavily against the potential risks. Would it be LESS risky to hire someone else (ie Fick if he does Alright)? Sure. But to me being consistently good with a few pockets of greatness is never better than being f*cking DOMINANT for a few shorter years (followed by ... who knows what). 

Ask yourself, which program would you rather have had over the past 20 years or so? (And im not trying to prove a point one way or another, this is purely a subjective question) - The U or Penn State? 

Some people will take Joepa's consistency, lack of trouble w/NCAA, and (2) NCs. 

For myself, I'd rather be the U : extremely low depths of NCAA sanctions, violations, etc coupled with periods of unstoppable SWAGGERING dominance, and FIVE titles. 


JLP36's picture

You have more faith in UM providing dominance here than I do, especially if we scrap our defensive staff.  I simply don't believe in the spread.  I don't think UF wins any NC(s) with any QB other than the freak FB/QB that they had.

I am in no way seeking goodness.  I want championships.  I see the way to do that as building from the excellence that we have and adding an AGGRESSIVE offense.

I would rather lie on the interstate at rush hour than be associated with anything like the U and the dirtbags that surround it.  U grads are afraid to take their sons to games and openly express embarrassment. 


btalbert25's picture

Tim Tebow did not with the Title game against Ohio State, Chris Leake did.  It was Chris Leake who picked apart the D that night.  Sure Tebow was part of that win, but he was not the reason why the won that game.

BucksfanXC's picture

All good points, and from a man who could crush me like I've seen him do Big Ten QBs.

“Any time you give a man something he doesn't earn, you cheapen him. Our kids earn what they get, and that includes respect.”  - Woody

yoderdame's picture

You make some good points but I don't agree that Meyer is a "flavor of the week". When/if he decides he's ready to return to the coaching world, he will be in high demand. And that would be the case in 2012 or 2014 I would have to think.

Northbrook's picture

I have been on and remain on the Luke Bandwagon. I want him to remain our coach.

Matt Finkes's picture

Oh and how do I get in on the nex round table!?

NC_Buckeye's picture

Jason, this would be awesome. Please?

Matt, everything you said in the post above --
+ a gazillion

Just like the team, I think Luke is improving week to week on how to manage the team and make adjustments during games.

JLP36's picture

Other than some other great moments, TP was not clutch in the big games - the Rose and Sugar being big exceptions.  He piled a lot of stats on the weak, though you can not argue with the stat totals.  He was certainly situated in better circumstances in his frosh campaign than is Miller, notably a lot of talent and JT as a QB coach.

Miller's arm and mechanics will allow him to be a much better passer, particularly with a legit top notch QB coach (this is TOSU).  His running ability is obviously natural, but I will breathe easier when he has packed on another 20lbs of muscle.

And hey, how about a 1st down play action to help him out!



Matt Finkes's picture

Agreed. Gene must go

NC_Buckeye's picture

Yep. If his only transgression was throwing Posey under the bus, that alone would make me want to cut ties with him. Jesus, take some responsibility for this crap.

Denny's picture

Seriously - that ball was in the air at least for the 20 minutes it took for the world to form [via Tree of Life], and it was nowhere near as pretty.


bucknut24's picture

There is no comparison between Pryor and Miller.  Pryor was an athlete and Miller is a Quarterback period!