Thursday Skull Session

By Jeremy Birmingham on November 17, 2011 at 6:00a
64 Comments

Welcome to the Thursday edition of the Skull Session, sports fans.

Wanted to take a little trip down misery-memory lane for a second, if y'all don't mind. Come along, won't you?

The year was 2004. Ohio State was in turmoil. After losing three straight games to Northwestern, Wisconsin and Iowa, the Buckeyes were struggling to find an offensive identity, and after the embarrassment in Iowa City, they turned their offense over to an athletic sophomore QB. Three straight wins ensued, including big wins against Penn State and Michigan State, and momentum, it appeared, had moved back in the direction of Tressel's troops.

For all that seemed to be trending in the right direction for the Buckeyes, the week leading up to the Buckeyes game at Purdue on November 13th could not have started any worse.

An ESPN the Magazine article detailed some unsavory claims made by an angst-ridden ex-player. Ohio State was in the national spotlight for the wrong reason, and claims of a rogue program overshadowed an on-the-field resurrection. Gameday arrived in West Lafayette, and the Buckeyes, who felt they had turned their season around, fell flat on their face and were upset by Purdue 24-17.

The following Saturday, the Buckeyes hosted the 7th ranked Michigan Wolverines and won the first of what has become 7 straight victores over their maize and blue clad rivals. They then went on to beat up Oklahoma State and Les Miles in the Alamo Bowl, with a gimpy Justin Zwick and Ted Ginn, Jr. handling the QB duties as Troy Smith, the engineer of the revitalized offense, sat what would be the first of two games for impermissible benefits he received from an Ohio State booster.

That Michigan Saturday was the last time Ohio State entered into a game with four losses, and what followed it was a six year run of Buckeye domination that most of us have never seen in our lifetime.

The point?

We've been here before, Buckeye fans. Sure, we don't have quite the same captain steering the ship, but the waters will calm.

The Buckeyes, although brusied and battered, will sail smoothly again.

RING AROUND THE POSEY. What does the return of Devier Posey mean to Ohio State's offense in general, and to the wide receivers specifically? Well, it's impossible to say, really. The ol' Boll Weevil likely has numerous tricks up his sleeve to make sure that Posey doesn't get too involved in the gameplan, but if someone can maybe, oh, I don't know, hit him over the head with a frying pan, Posey could certainly open things up a bit for Ohio State's 118th ranked passing offense (117 yard per game...blech).

Ohio State's wide receivers (not including TE or RB) have a combined 46 catches and 745 yards on year, to go along with five touchdowns. In each of the last two seasons, Posey bested all of those statistics by himself with 53 catches, 848 yards and 7 scores in 2010; and 60 catches, 828 yards and 8 touchdown grabs as a sophomore in 2009.

There is no Dane Sanzenbacher opposite of Devier this year, but his presence alone should at least give the defensive coordinators at Penn State and Michigan a little bit of pause before they decide to load the box with nine defenders. Hopefully the Buckeyes offensive line, who has struggled in pass protection all year (the Buckeyes have surrendered 33 sacks on the year), gives Braxton some time to set his feet and make good throws.

The Buckeyes defense has struggled without Nate Williams

GOOD NEWS FOR 2012? This year's version of the Silver Bullets may have been doomed from the start. It's never easy to replace seven starters on defense, even for a team that has so regulary reloaded after key NFL losses. Then came the disciplinary issues that limited Corey Brown, Travis Howard, Jordan Whiting, and Solomon Thomas. The linebackers, always a position of strength for Ohio State were thinned considerably by transfers, losing Jonathan Newsome and Dorian Bell, but also highly-touted incoming freshman E'Juan Price, who renegged on his letter-of-intent with Ohio State and decided to attend Pittsburgh.

Then Nathan Williams suffered what was a seemingly insignifcant knee injury againt Akron in the defense's lone shining moment of the 2011 season, a 42-0 win. Williams, who had 45 tackles last year, was the second-leading returning tackler on a defense that could ill-afford to lose any more pieces.

That injury was more serious than anyone knew when Nate missed the Miami game in week three. The microfracture in his knee would require season-ending surgery, and just like that, Williams joined the list of Buckeyes who were MIA.

Ohio State has struggled since his loss. His absence in the pass rush is evident, as Ohio State has only notched 22 sacks in 10 games, and the Silver Bullets have been for the most part, been firing blanks all season. The defense is giving up 18.9 points a game on the season, after giving up 13.2 over the last five years. Heacock's defense has been a pillar of defensive consistency, regularly ranking in the top 5 nationally in scoring defense and rushing defense, but this year's team couldn't helped but be impacted by the turmoil surrounding the program.

"So what's the good news, Jeremy?"

Expect Nathan to be back next year. Along with Ro-Ro, Dominic Clarke, Travis Howard, Christian Bryant, Orhian Johnson, CJ Barnett, Etienne Sabino, Storm Klein, Ryan Shazier, Jonathan Hankins, etc, etc...you get the point.

Oh, and throw John Simon into the "expect him to be back camp", as well.

2012 might be the end of the world - for Big Ten offenses.

GEE, THANKS, COACH. I don't normally write about NFL stuff, but I couldn't help but give a mention to the verbal assault on Broncos QB Tim Tebow yesterday from his own coach. John Fox, when asked about the style with which his team has won their last two games, began his comment innocently enough, stating that his team will do whatever it takes to win. Of course, everyone knows that the Broncos completed two passes in their win at Kansas City last week, so that point was true enough.

    Fox could have left well enough alone, but instead decided to take it a step further, directing the next comment at his quarterback directly.

    "I mean, what the hell? You don't get points for style in this league. Let me tell you something: My man is really good in this offense. You know what I mean?"

Even that was not so bad, but Fox continued to clarify his position.

    "If we were trying to run a regular offense, he'd be screwed."

I get what Fox is trying to say, I really do. Tebow is not currently suited for a regular, NFL style offense, but for all the attacks lobbed in his direction from the national media and fans posing as experts, it's shocking to hear an NFL coach pigeonhole his own guy in that manner. Then again, it's not the first time someone in blue and orange has called Tebow out publicly. To his credit, Fox did back him up - that time.

MORE TALENT COMING TO BUCKEYE BALLERS? A team that is as talent-rich as any in Buckeye hoops history may be on the verge of getting some more good news. LaQuinton Ross, a 6'8" 220 pound freshman wing player, who was ruled academically ineligible in late September, plans to be at Ohio State as early as December 9th, according to Bob Baptist of the Columbus Dispatch. He was enrolled at the school in September when he received news that the NCAA had determined he was ineligible after his high school grades were changed following a transfer from Mississippi to New Jersey. The change lowered his core GPA, and that combined with his SAT score, was enough to drop him out of the safe zone in the NCAA's "sliding scale".

Ross was the 43rd ranking player in the country according to Rivals.com, and 44th nationally on Scout.com. According to Baptist, Ross was the best Buckeye freshman on the floor in the summer "without question", a strong statement when you consider the talent of fellow newcomers Shannon Scott, Amir Williams, Sam Thompson and Trey McDonald.

QUICK SLANTS. A look at the "Buckeye NutHouse" from the inside out - All that's wrong with America today - Being a Buckeye still means a lot to a lot of people - The Penn State police say McQueary never filed a police report, contrary to his now public email, and was obviously very distraught by Sandusky's actions - Zombies are everywhere, and they will eat your memes...

64 Comments

Comments

Is it Saturday Yet's picture

I'm not sure Posey does anything for this offense unless there is a major awakening happening in practices we haven't seen before. Maybe I'm blocking it out but I don't remember an offense this bad before.

What are the chances we actually have Ross this season? What does he have to do? Did 'Spoon not see the floor against Florida because of talent or because of his ankle?

I hope the entire Schott wil be like that when we play Duke.

Chris Lauderback's picture

I'm not sure anyone asked Matta about Spoon in the postgame presser. My guess is even if he was fine, he wasn't going to play. He's not ahead of Sibert or Ravenel on the depth chart in my eyes. Sibert's reserve role is basically cemented by the fact he's deemed a specialist that can shoot the three a little bit. Ravenel obviously has to play a role each game. He's basically the only post depth we have until Amir develops some more.

After that, I have to think Thompson, Scott and maybe, maybe Spoon get the leftover tiny minutes available depending on game situations. Scott clearly is the only other PG on the team so I think he's the 8th guy.

I knew this would happen with the bench - it always does - and frankly I'm okay with it. Thad simply intends to play the best five 90% of the time. There's enough timeouts in a game to keep guys like Sully, WB and Craft fresh for 35+ minutes in big games.

awwwwwwop's picture

I think we will probably see more of the bench in the coming games, but I think Thad shortened it since he is not sure what he would get from the babies.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

RBuck's picture

Yep, we'll see more of the frosh until the Duke game.

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

Chris Lauderback's picture

I agree we'll see more reserves log more minutes in the coming cupcake games but I think how many minutes/players the bench played against Florida will be pretty much what we see from the bench against Duke, Kansas and any other decent team in league play. Time will tell.

Abe Froman's picture

Posey may just allow a better receiver set to be in the game.  Not that he will stretch the field anymore than usual, but he can run a hot route when he is supposed too.  Wait, Miller won't recognize it yet....

Basking in the wake of mediocrity.....

Bucksfan's picture

...or he'll just straight overthrow him.

3 Yards And A Cloud of Dust's picture

Posey's presence (catchy phrase!) will give the PSU defense cause to pause (I'm rolling now). 

However, Braxton still has to get the ball in his hands.  BM is our best QB, but his passing skills have been seldom used (thanks Bollman) and questionable.

Thanks to rust and the wind last week, his passing game looked like he was channeling for Bauserman.

I'm going to have to go with my handle for this game and hope they stick with three yards and...well, you know.  An occasional pass in the direction of Posey and Stoneburner would certainly help open up the run game.

If Stoneburner has to help the line block again, and BM can't get the ball to Posey - the run game on both sides of the ball will keep the clock running and make this one of quickest games on TV.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

For all the injuries you mention on defense, and were correct in doing so, the same could be said for the offense.  I'm not being an apologist, but more of a "stepback-ist."  We should explore our coaching options, but I think this strengthens my opinion, which is that if we can't land a big name guy with proven success on the top level, then Fickell is not a bad option.  Analyze the offense.

Replace most important position on offense - QB.

Brown is out with injuries for a few games.  Posiey is suspended 10 games.

Boom is out for 6 games.

OL - Adams out for 5 games and Hall with suspensions, Shugarts with injury.

Essentially, we've played this season with a musical roster.  Throw in an incompetent OC and I can understand our struggles.  While most teams have had 10 games to mesh together and groove, I'm goign to guess that OSU hasn't had 2 games in a row with the same roster.  That's difficult, especially when you consider the youth and inexperience at nearly every position.  

Doc's picture

Then riddle me this.  Why has the team come out flat against Toledo, Miami, Indy, and Purdont?  Fickell is the answer you are looking for.  OSU is not a place to get on the job training.  Look how well that worked with the VHS repairman turned QB coach.  Fick needs to get his feet wet somewhere else, and then come back in 5-10 years maybe.

 

He was dealt a crappy hand, but he picked up that hand and decided to play with it.  Excuses are over.  He doesn't need a 5 year contract and his own staff.  He needs to coach someplace else first and get some experience.  We need a proven winner.

"Say my name."

mr.green's picture

Why not wait until after the season to see what you have? A quarter of te season still to be played.

onetwentyeight's picture

because it's about showing improvement and if you've gone 75% of the season without ANY discernable improvement then wtf are you hoping for? EVEN IF we win the next 2 games (and the bowl) by a combined margin of 125- 9 we would still have to look at the "entire season" and that still wouldnt excuse the eggs we laid in the PurDONT, indy, miami, Toledo games. We can even give him a free pass on MSU/Nebraska b/c those are "Good" teams. And yes he beat indy and toledo. But if you think the team played anywhere near an acceptable level in those games, youre just deluding yourself. A win is a win, but this season IMO was never about the final win total. It was about seeing what we had in Fickell. We know all the limitations he has due to the empty cupboard, etc. But that cant save him if we play down to the level of competition, show no improvement, and play undisciplined, self-inflicted football. 

 

 

Rooster Buckburn's picture

hmmm...wining the next three 125-9....that might make me rethink hiring Urban

onetwentyeight's picture

Serious Question: Have we scored 125 TOTAL so far this season? lol

 

Actually this is kinda depressing ...

ArTbkward's picture

Yes, 253 pts if you're curious.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...
(Also, I'm not a dude)

Doc's picture

Eggzactly my point.  Call it flat or youth.  The team comes out looking asleep or uninterested, a few players bring it consistantly.  This year their excuse is not liking noon kicks.  WTF?  Last year they didn't want to sit around all day.  Personally I prefer 3:30 or later, but that just gives me more time for glug, glug, glug.  As a player I would want to get up and get it going.

"Say my name."

Bucks's picture

After the Penn State game, Bollman will be asked "Why wasn't Posey utilized more?" Bollman will say "Those plays require precision."

 

Yep.

faux_maestro's picture

Bollman will say "Those plays require precision"....this is only if you can understand walrus language.

Inní mér syngur vitleysingur

Buckeyejason's picture

As for next seasons defense. Yes we will return a lot of starters and players in general, but does that automatically mean they'll be dominate? I don't think so. Unless Williams comes back next season..which he should, there's no guy that can pressure the QB consistently from the D-line besides Simon.. Hankins is a great player, possible All-American next season..but its silly that we're putting him at end a lot instead of the Nose.

And the linebackers, Sabino, Klein, and Shazier. Shazier looks promising and should be a big time player. But how much better will Sabino and Klein get? I can't see that much.

Secondary has a chance to really improve being so young and inexperienced. They could be a tough group to throw on.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Came out flat?  Perhaps we just aren't that good!  It's our offense, our defense, our special teams.  We are making dumb mistakes in key situations, an attribute of youth.  

I said I wasn't making excuses for Fickell.  I presented facts, which clearly show how there has been little stability on the field.  We have had a musical roster and any team would have difficulty establishing continuity with this team.  I don't care who the coach is - they would struggle with this team.  

I am all for us getting a proven winner and explicitely stated that above.  However, if we can't get a guy that fits the bill, then why not Fickell.  Tell me why not - OSU isn't the place for OTJ training?  Are we that pompous?  What's the worst that happens?  We have some 7-5 seasons and we gain a coach who will be a power for 20+ years and have some great years ahead of him?  Every coach we could possibly hire will be with risk.  When actually know more about Fickell than we do any other coach and that lessens the risk with him.

I think we were a little too spoiled with Tressel.  I'm not in the "only Fickell" camp but I'm also not in the "anyone but Fickell" camp.  There's only a handful of coaches out there who I would want as our coach, and that number lessens with reality.    

Buckeyejason's picture

What makes you think Fickell will become a coaching power after a few 7-5 seasons?

BUCKEYES BABY!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

So I made a bit of leap there in figuring that he will have some "bad" seasons (7-5) as he learns on the job and gets his system and his staff in place.  But after that, we gain coaching stability as he is young and this would be his final destination.  That's something that I like in Fickell, he has promise and could bring stability to the program for years to come.  If he doesn't pan out, then he doesn't pan out.  

Rooster Buckburn's picture

yeah I don't know that it's 'coming out flat', but we are a young team and young teams tend to play down to their competition (or up to their competition, see Nebraska, MSU, Wisconsin).  

Having said that, I think this is where coaching can come in and teach kids how to stay up for the PU's and IU's of the world.  Additionally, when our offense has been as terrible as it's been - it leaves room for 'lesser' teams to hang around in a game and gives them confidence - and suddenly we find ourselves either in a dogfight (IU, Toledo) or with a loss that talent-wise - should have never happened (Miami, Purdue).

It's funny to look back on the schedule and see games that I thought would be a loss, have been wins or near wins - and the teams that I thought we would crush have been losses.

We're a little eclectic. 

biggy84's picture

I still haven't heard one single thing that Fickell has shown that deserves an extended look. Can anyone name something he has done to show he deserves a shot?

Nappy's picture

He's undefeated against MAC schools.  DickRod cant say that.

Fan of bacon since 1981

Buckeye in Athens's picture

For all those that want to relive the Alamo Bowl: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRe_F3DyQUQ

 

Buckeyejason's picture

Shot Ginn!!

BUCKEYES BABY!

JLP36's picture

D deserves a lot of credit for performance against Sparty.  They gave up 10.  A fifty yard FG and a long TD throw on which an incredibly obvious block in the back of Simon, who was running free at the QB,  was overlooked.  This in a game with worse than 0 offensive production.

JLP36

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Not at all objecting to your point.  But then the defense has games like against Miami, Indiana and Purdue.  The team as a whole is just too inconsistent and I don't think there's one thing you can blame for it.

RBuck's picture

Somewhat good news from the Dispatch:

 

 

Haynes said after practice yesterday that he expects defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins, who suffered an apparent knee injury last week at Purdue, to play against Penn State.

“He’ll be ready,” Haynes said.

Tight ends coach John Peterson said tackle J.B. Shugarts has practiced all week. Shugarts missed the Purdue game last week because of an apparent lower leg injury suffered the week before.

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

Maestro's picture

That would be great to have both of them, and Philly as well.  Having Brown and Posey at WR is a tremendous upgrade over any previous line up this season.

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyejason's picture

We're probably going to throw the ball 5 times saturday..I don't think it'll matter.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

If we have 10 possessions, I think we'll throw 12 times.  I hope Buchanon is on fire.  He'll be the best player - possibly game MVP.  

Two good defenses on the field against struggling offenses.  This is going to be similar to the Bama vs. LSU game except that the defenses aren't quite as good and, since it's Big Ten football, it will be automatically ruled terrible - even if it is without the missed FGs, penalties, and turnovers.

Buckeyejason's picture

LOL very true.

BUCKEYES BABY!

BuckeyeChris's picture

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/16/sports/ncaafootball/urban-meyer-discus...

 

Hmmmm..... well, this proves, does it not, that he is interested in coaching and soon...but not at Arizona. Sorry if someone else already mentioned this.

BuckeyeChris's picture

LOL...same article = Rich Rod a candidate for the Arizona job. Pursued top-notch coach, got dissed, settled for Rich Rod. Sucked. Hmmm...now...where I have I heard that before? 

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

I say kudos for the Arizona AD for aiming high. I also think it's respectable of Urban to meet, even though both knew he probably wouldn't take the job. If nothing else, I'm sure Urban provided him with a list of guys who might be interested and probably gave him some advice o how to lure these guys. Wouldn't be the first time Urban has given advice on athletic matters to a university this year. He helped Cincinnati in it's search for a new AD (of course, he did go there).

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

 

Not sure who made this, but it's pretty funny. Walrus memes never get old.

BuckeyeChris's picture

+1  All that's missing is "Delay of Game, first play of game" You know, when you've had ALL WEEK to plan/call the first play from scrimmage. That was humiliating (first play, Nebraska). 

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Bollman: "What sort of penalty is that? When I can't decide what play to run in Tecmo Bowl, I just hit pause!"

TheHumbleBuckeye's picture

Wouldn't be surprised if it was just two or three beers. The standards for a DWI these days are outright draconian in some states. Still though, why risk it? Seriously, you're paid seven figures. Take a friggin cab, or have a friggin grad assistant be your driver. Good lord.

Maestro's picture

Out for 2 games.  Will miss the "last" Kansas-Missouri game.

vacuuming sucks

Buckeyejason's picture

LOL. Its sad how pathetic he is.

BUCKEYES BABY!

3 Fast 3 Furious's picture

I'm not sure who made this, but it's great stuff.

If you've already seen it, I apologize, but I guess there's not much harm in seeing it again, right?

http://twitter.com/#!/notjimbollman

 

BuckeyeChris's picture

Funny! Chocolate milk outta my nose,  funny. 

Rooster Buckburn's picture

Here's some twitter gold from notjimbollman:

"Thrilled to get DeVeir back this week. He's really going to help shore up our downfield blocking."

awwwwwwop's picture

We have fewer passing yards per game (117) than our rank (118).  That is shocking.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

BuckeyeChris's picture

I say again, we have 4 and 5 star athletes and the worst (or near the bottom...you get my point) passing game in all the land. All with 2 MAC schools, Indiana and Purude behind us.

What, other than coaching, could this be? 

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Recruits are ranked on many things including potential.  4 and 5 star recruits going up against JR./SR.'s at the college level is a different story.  So, my answer is inexperience, both at QB and at WR, along with poor coaching.

BuckeyeChris's picture

Again...see Indiana vs Ohio State. IU, with Frosh WRs and QBs (aka: inexperienced) converted 7 yrd (precise) passes all day against college level DBs. There is absolutely no excuse for Ohio State to be this bad offensively IMHO. 

Maestro's picture

11 for 21 is converting all day?

IU's leading freshman receiver is 7th on the team in catches FWIW.

vacuuming sucks

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Not to have an excuse for everything, BUT our defense is set up to allow the short passes.  Especially the IU game where we had 6 in the box, generating little in the way of pass rush, and 5 DBs an umbrella zone, giving the short and underneath routes time to open up.

Buckeye06's picture

Youth at both the QB and WR position? 

And don't bring up the Indiana QB frosh etc.  They didn't think they had a chance to win that game so they threw the kitchen sink at OSU.  OSU believes if they play field position and run the ball down people's throats they can still win most games.

The gameplans have been different in the Wisky and Neb games than in the other games, because Fickell felt he had to open things up.  There were more called passes and more formations to changes things up.

If OSU can beat PSU throwing the ball 8 times, they will do that if they can run for 200+ and win by 10.  That is the style OSU is going to play to not risk giving up an INT etc this year

 

 

Nappy's picture

These are good points.  It does seem like the offense is willing to do just barely enough to win.  Against Neb and Wisc we came out with an agressive (for us anyways) gameplan designed to score points (imagine that!).  Against Purdue and IU we run ultra conservative plays.  I understand not taking unneccessary risks and trying to aviod turnovers, but when you call plays with the thought process of just trying to score 1 more point than your opponent, it doesn't leave a margin for error.  It's almost guaranteed you will lose a few games. 

This team is young and inconsistent.  I haven't seen much improvement really on either side of the ball and you could argue the D is regressing.  Howard is a human turnstyle and hates tackling as much as I hate ugly girls from Michigan.  Can we beat PSU only throwing 8 times?  Maybe.  But that doesn't mean we should, IMO.

Fan of bacon since 1981

awwwwwwop's picture

by the way, this isnt true.  I had the wrong stat.  its 135.6 passing ypg. Nvm. nothing to see here.

"Who cares? Go Bucks." - Aaron Untch

BuckeyeChris's picture

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXJl1fuFAKU

 

Well, at least we know he's got a "Plan B" if the whole coaching thing doesn't work out. Excellent form on the sit-ups! 

Bucksfan's picture

I don't expect Posey to make much of a difference.  Our receivers have been open at times all year, and either the QB makes a terrible throw or the receiver drops the ball that does find its way on target.

Still going to be an ugly 2 games.

Brutus's picture

We will beat PSU by 10+ and have good offensive production. Think Nebraska and Wisconsin but without the defensive collapses at the end. And after we win, I will be the first to come on here and blame Fickell.

Northbrook's picture

That Fickell, he never wins by enough points.

Buckeyejason's picture

I'd say we'll lose the next 2 games, but this team messes with your head so much I won't predict anything.

BUCKEYES BABY!

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

And to add to those head games, Vegas is playing one too.  OSU @ -7 is begging people to bet on PSU and take the points. 

Buckeyejason's picture

I wouldn't even touch this game.

BUCKEYES BABY!