11W RoundTable: Purdue

By David Sokol on October 19, 2012 at 10:00a
40 Comments

We are back for another edition of the Eleven Warriors RoundTable featuring your favorite Dubster Analysts.

We gots to play better DUrban is ready to go 8-0, anyway possible

It's been a sweet ride so far, so let's keep it rolling. I'm talking about our series of RoundTables, by the way. But yeah, the Buckeyes season is rolling in the same way. We'd like to extend a thanks to this week's analysts: Jeff, Elika and Johnny for participating. Enjoy!

The Buckeyes got the win against Indiana, but it wasn't pretty as OSU gave up 49 points on defense. What are your current thoughts on this Buckeye team a bit more than halfway through the season?

Jeff: I think they are a good team in a terrible conference. The offense is much further ahead of schedule than I ever thought they would be at this point, but I still think they've got things to work out. As far as the defense goes, I don't think it will get much better until Urban gets his guys in place. Injuries and a lack of talent on that side of the ball will only heal over time.

Johnny: Obviously there's a ton of disappointment with the defense. The masochistic side of me wants to go back and read all the different ways we came up with to pretty much anoint the defensive line as the best in decades before the season was even started. On the other hand, the offense has evolved into a force that I personally didn't expect it to be this early. Overall it's a push, but since I personally enjoy crowing about a dominant defense over a great offense, I guess I'll just have to be a huge wiener and say that I'm not totally happy overall despite the 7-0 start.

Elika: Seasons where "a win is a win" become the theme week in, week out, aren't new to Ohio State. What is new, however, is witnessing the Buckeyes struggle so much defensively, and that's taking a bit of an adjustment for spectators.

Given Urban Meyer's background, we should've expected the identity of Ohio State football to shift a bit, and some of these changes are fun to watch, namely on the offensive side of the ball. It's been fun to watch certain players be utilized to their full potential, and Braxton force his name into Heisman contention. Now, I'm just looking to see how the defense responds to Urban paying more attention.

Although there are many things to improve on, what is the most important thing the defense must do moving forward to become better as a unit?

Jeff: Learn how to stop a quick passing game. This is a problem that has plagued Buckeye Ds even in the Tressel years. It seems if a QB can get the ball out quickly on short and intermediate passing routes, the Silver Bullets have had trouble stopping it.

Elika: Finishing. They're giving up big plays by not giving the six seconds of relentless effort Urban asks for, and they've just been sloppy all around.

Johnny: I think they need leadership, particularly in the secondary. Ross talked about scheme yesterday and how a lot of curious coaching decisions are hurting them, but as he also mentioned, I think a lot of it falls on the players to step up and make plays. I know that Zach Boren is a great football player in general, but if you had told me during any other season that our defensive leader among linebackers and the secondary was a converted fullback, I would've made a very frowny face indeed.

The Buckeyes are 7-0 and ranked #7 in the AP Poll. If you had an AP vote, where would you rank them?

Jeff: I think 7 is fair. They've won all their games but some of them haven't been pretty (but neither were some of the wins in 2002). If they win out I don't think a top three finish is out of the question.

Elika: The ranking is somewhat deserved, given their record, but it's misleading. Given what we've seen on the field so far, there are teams below them that would beat them. And easily, if they don't fix their issues on the defensive side of the ball. Pardon the Herbstreit-like response, but I'd have them in the 10-12 range, until I see some improvements.

Johnny: Like 13th or so. There are a lot of "just good" teams out there, and Ohio State is one of them. I know you can go by resume or quality wins or blah blah blah whatever. My personal criteria has always been which team is playing the best as of the week that I'm ranking them, and right now OSU is playing like the 13th-15th ranked team in the country.

Enough with the negatives. Let's talk Braxton Miller. He is now a Heisman favorite on the shortlist. How does he keep doing it and how much fun do you have watching him?

Jeff: Simply put, Braxton is the most exciting Buckeye player I've ever watched. I remember the feeling I got watching Troy Smith take the snap every down in 2006 and the feeling I have now is exactly the same. If anything, the excitement is intensified by the thought that the Buckeyes could have him around for two more years.

He stays in the Heisman conversation by continuing to produce at least one #DIDHEJUSTDOTHAT play every Saturday. By my count he's got at least one for each of the Buckeyes' seven wins this season. If he keeps adding to that highlight reel we will see him in a suit in December.

Elika: So much fun! Could not be more pleased that this kid is in scarlet and gray. What does he need to do to keep it up? Two things:

1. Keep winning. Big Ten opponents will get zero respect from Heisman voters, so a loss will not go over well. Barkley probably should've been in NYC last year, but fell victim to USC's postseason ban, not getting the attention he deserved (and he played in Andrew Luck's conference, but still...). As BCS talk gets going, Ohio State will have to remain undefeated to keep themselves, and Braxton, in the conversation.
2. Keep doing what he's doing. An exciting highlight reel and time on Sportscenter never hurt.

Johnny: I used to substitute teach in some high schools that played against Wayne when Braxton Miller was in high school, and every kid who played against him that I talked to was kind of in awe of the dude. He was playing on a team with almost no real talent around him, yet was able to drag them to a state championship game. My point is, he's used to putting the team on his back. It's his comfort zone, and it's kind of amazing to watch (especially since he's so blasé about pretty much everything).

Purdue has gotten blown out in back-to-back weeks against Michigan and Wisconsin, losing 44-13 and 38-14, respectively. The Boilermakers are surely a better team than the Hoosiers, at least that's what common thought is. What do the Buckeyes need to do differently on both sides of the ball to come out 8-0?

Jeff: Put a helmet on the ball carrier and wrap with authority. Since 2006, Ohio State hasn't truly had an offense that can seemingly score at will. Now they have that cushion, but they shouldn't rest on it. I think that's been happening over the past few games. The defense lets up on certain drives because they know the offense can bail them out. That's a recipe for disaster that needs to be corrected immediately.

Elika: Minimize errors and sloppy play. This is mostly for the defense, but Braxton's pick last week was also really... not smart. But the number one thing that will make this team look like the top ten team it is, is the defense playing harder, longer, and as if they know how to tackle.

Johnny: Offensively, they just need to make sure that Carlos Hyde is involved early and often so that Purdue doesn't key on Braxton from the outset. If Hyde gets going in the first half, the second will pretty much just be Braxton's to do whatever. Defensively, they need to create enough pressure on the ends so that Danny Hope gets super nervous and starts rolling a 20-sided die to see who plays QB on any given series. Having Nathan Williams back should help.

Who is one player that needs to step up on defense that really has underperformed in the last few weeks? Who is one player that has exceeded your expectations NOT named Braxton Miller?

Jeff: Any defensive player not named Simon, Hankins, Boren (weird), Roby or Shazier. The defensive woes are a symptom of an entire unit underperforming. Hopefully with Meyer stepping in this week, they'll wake up.

Without a doubt the player that has exceeded my expectations is Carlos Hyde. My goodness he looks like a premier back. He's the perfect complement to Braxton's shiftiness. Everyone was talking Jordan Hall during camp, and I think that pissed Carlos off. He used that anger for good, channeling it into getting better on and off the field. If he keeps this up he might be in the Heisman discussion next year.

Elika: Boren. When you switch to a new position at this point in the season, lead the team in tackles in your first game, and Urban calls you the soul of the team... I'd say you've exceeded even the high expectations set for you.

Johnny: On defense, Ryan Shazier needs to start playing like the guy we saw last year. Which is not to say he was incredible last year, but at least he was making plays. On the bright side, I think we need to give all the props in the world to Reid Fragel and also get even more angry at Jim Bollman than we usually are for not figuring out how good of an offensive lineman this guy could be.

Bonus: Do the Buckeyes hold the Boilermakers under 28 points this weekend at the 'Shoe?

Jeff: I need them to do so, if only to halt the constant flow of #NewMichigan tweets from my misguided Michigan friends. While I could argue all day over why OSU's D is not a Rich Rod led disaster, I will refrain.

In short, I think Fickell needs them to in order to get off of the hot seat. It's not a popular discussion to have in Columbus, but the glue that held the team together last season might need to go at the end of this one.

Elika: Yes. Please, yes.

Johnny: Yes, the combination of a home crowd, Purdue constantly shooting themselves in the foot, and a really pissed off defense should keep Purdue in the 20ish point range. Hopefully.


That's all for this week. Tune in next weekend as we prepare for the Buckeyes trip to Happy Valley to take on Penn State.

40 Comments

Comments

jthiel09's picture

Home crowd + ticked off defense + fired up Urban + Stumbling Purdue + John Simon = Recipe for Successful Defensive Output.

JT

timdogdad's picture

and stay ticked off every game.  don't even take a series off.  looking forward i like how penn state and wisky's offense is the kind we can do well against.  illinois is just bad, so it's left to limit robinson in the game.    hoping for 11-0  and then give up 28 to mich and put up 52 on our side of the scoreboard.      

One Bad Buckeye's picture

always liked that word...."ticked"

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

Chad Peltier's picture

This - 

Seasons where "a win is a win" become the theme week in, week out, aren't new to Ohio State.

- is a great point by Elika. It's not like we haven't felt that way before. Remember Navy in '09 or Ohio in '08? Bad, bad wins, but by teams that turned out to be pretty decent by season's end. 

btalbert25's picture

I agree, and honestly this year those kind of games shouldn't be a disappointment.  We are fresh off a 7 loss year.  We have players adjusting to a new staff, and don't have the talent the coach wants on the field at this point.  This team found ways to lose last year, this year they are finding ways to win.  We have nothing to play for in terms of titles.  These guys are playing for pride and the name on the front of the jersey.  This bunch of seniors is awesome.  3 of them changed position this year to help the team.  I don't care if they win the rest of the games giving up 40+ points as long as they keep winning.  If they go 12-0, I'm going to celebrate like they won the title, and I don't care how ugly they wins are.

avail31678's picture

Couldn't have said it better.

chitown buckeye's picture

 I think it is important to get Braxton going early first. Braxton is the heart and sole of the offense. It seems as if the offense doesnt wake up until Braxton makes his first big play then everybody else begins to feed off that play. It is almost like it relaxes the offense to a point they think to themselves "OK BM is going, we got these guys"
My take would be to get Braxton going early and making plays running or passing. This calms the rest of the boys and builds confidence in them knowing Miller is doing his thing. Then you hit them with Hyde all day second half. So I would say it is more important to get Braxton going early. This will open things up for Hyde and others. my opinion.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

AC1972's picture

"...BM is going..."

Am I the only immature dude that snickered at that statement?

BucksfanXC's picture

I think bad wins are good sometimes, if not all the time. You learn from bad wins. If you blow a team out, you start to get cocky and get complacent. Bad wins are still wins. It takes a lot of luck to win them all in a year, and that's what you have to do to win an NC, go undefeated. Never looking ahead and always improving is the best way to do that.

“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

btalbert25's picture

I agree, granted a never played a sport at the level of Ohio State, but I played basketball in highschool on a team we had one year where we weren't awesome, we didn't win every game but we gutted out a lot of really tough victories.  Those kind of wins make you come together as a team and test how strong you really are.  The following year with essentially the same group of guys we went undefeated and the closest anyone came to beating us was losing by 15.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

What's that quote vrable brought with him from the Patriots......if you don't learn from a win you'll learn from a loss?  something like that?   I hope they learned last week and just freakin execute the basics on D.  wrap up.  good angles.  patience.  leverage.  and catch a GD interception!   Do those things and we will be fine.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

beserkr29's picture

I think the most daunting thing about the defense this season has been the complete lack of improvement from week to week.  As Chad mentioned, sometimes bad wins just happen.  Teams shake them off, work on what went wrong, and keep getting better.  At least, that is what is supposed to happen.  The Ohio State defense has not really shown any signs of continued improvement on a week to week basis.  Even with revewed emphasis on tackling, leverage and the like, the Silver Bullets still keep shooting blanks.  That is what is most distressing to me.  Indiana IS a good offensive team.  You don't get to be 26th in the country in total offense by being a slouch.  But Ohio State has yet to successfully improve upon its defensive performance from week to week.  Injuries have certainly hurt the cause, I'm not discounting that.  But I have yet to see a game this season where the defensive side of the ball, individually and collectively, makes me say "hey, that's a much better job defending [insert short pass play here]."  When even the coaches admit that players took plays off, something has to change.  I respect the job Luke Fickell has done.  He's been a great represntative for the university and the team.  But at some point enough is enough.  Pitching shutouts is unrealistic this season is, and always has been, unrealistic.  But improvement from week to week should always happen.  The Buckeyes have yet to show improvement from season to season, let alone week to week.  I hope that the defense comes out angry, relentless and aggressive as all get out.  I would love a good smackdown of Purdue.  I just hope that the defense can at least show some signs of life this season.

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Back 7 on defense need to get off blocks, move into tackling positions and execute fundamentals like they care, not just say it in pressers.  That said, I am expecting a breakout, dominant performance for the defense, if for no other reason, the law of averages....surely our defense can't be as bad as it has been.

johnny11's picture

I just want the defense to go out and hold purdue to under 21 points. Thats my benchmark to start. That can be done by playing team defense, which I have only seen once this year. That was at MSU. Other than that just watch Brax, Hyde, and R. Smith run all over them.

btalbert25's picture

I don't disagree that 7 is too high, but who cares.  If they lose, they'll drop and if they don't they may have an inflated ranking. You know what? I'm fine with that.  After everything we went through last year, and all the changes the team had to go through the last year or 2 why not be happy with 7-0 and a number 7 ranking.  This comment isn't directed necessarily at the comments made in the round table, I think many of us are aware the team would probably lose to teams ranked below it even, BUT I've noticed a lot lately, that people have to constantly say yeah we're undefeated but we'd get killed by Oregon or we aren't number 7.  Most of us are very aware of that.  It doesn't mean we shouldn't be excited about the winning and a possible undefeated season.
I'm just enjoying this season.  This team has won games it probably should of lost, or that last years team would of lost.  If they end up undefeated, regardless of schedule that's going to be extremely impressive and something to get excited about. 12-0 is not easy, not matter who you are playing.   I really thought this team would have 2 or 3 losses by now, and they are 7-0 and I'm excited as hell.  I know there are problems and they really aren't neccessarily ELITE, but I have yet to figure out why people always want to piss on the parade.  I'd rather enjoy the ride this season.  This team has quickly become one of my favorite Buckeye teams ever, and I'm well aware, even at 12-0 they aren't as good as many Buckeye teams.  That doesn't change the way I feel about this group though. 

NC_Buckeye's picture

The way you feel about this year's team, I feel about the 95 & 96 squads. Which is why I've got Fickell's back.

btalbert25's picture

That makes sense.  I love watching Braxton and seeing all he's done, but Boren is really quickly becoming one of my all time favorite Buckeyes. 

hodge's picture

You can't spell Boren without BRO.
That fact alone makes him infinitely more awesome.

bassplayer7770's picture

You can't spell Braxton without BRO either.  I'm just sayin'...  ;-)

NC_Buckeye's picture

That 96 squad allows us to reply "72-0" whenever Mayday engages in his usual douchebaggery. Plus two ND W's.
Nuff said. 

bhsiba99's picture

If you look at the offense and how it has dramatically improved over the 2011 version with pretty much the same players, with the coaching staff and schemes being the main difference; and then look at the defense which seemingly has regressed with main variable being, once again, the coaching staff and schemes, it seems pretty obvious that the bulk of the blame for the defensive woes should go to the defensive coaches (Fickel and Withers).   If the players on the offensive side can be coached to play at such a high standard in such a short time, why can't the players on the defensive side, especially when they apparently had the better talent?

QBYBuckeye's picture

The defense is great for 85% of the game.  It's the 15% that is killing us.  We need to pay attention to detail and eliminate the breakdowns. 
 
If it were that easy, even I could coach.

New York Buckeye

One Bad Buckeye's picture

easy tiger. "great" is a pretty strong word. I would use words like "good" or "solid" to talk about our defense at times....definitly not "Great".  
Que Tony the Tiger.  

"I'm One Bad Buckeye, and I approve this message."

Mi.Buckeye's picture

"If he keeps this up he might be in the Heisman discussion next year."
Has there ever been a school that has two players from one school going to NYC for the Heisman Trophey? How fun would that be?

btalbert25's picture

I think USC did back to back years with Leinart and Bush

avail31678's picture

I think he means the possibility of Hyde AND Braxton getting invited.  I'm not saying that's likely, but I think that's what was meant.
EDIT:  To clarify, Hyde and BM getting invited in the SAME year...I could be wrong, though, about what was meant.

btalbert25's picture

Yeah, I know what he meant.  In 2004 Leinart and Bush were finalists, along with Jason White and Adrian Peterson.  So that year, had 2 different pairs of players from the same team as Heisman finalists.   I'm pretty sure in 2005, Bush and Leinart also were finalists.

avail31678's picture

OH!  Holy cow, really?  A big touche from me then.

btalbert25's picture

I still think it would be really awesome for 2 Buckeyes to be finalists in the same year though!

LouGroza's picture

Anyone know how the relationship is between Fickell and Withers? Not saying there are any problems, just wondering. Do they seem to work well with each other, appear to like each other, or stay away from one another? As co D-coordinators it would be very important. Just know you hardly see or hear from Withers. In my mind from the start this was an issue for the D to be strong. If they have different ideas and standards it could cause a lack of cohesion. Especially if players would see it and pick sides. Hope all is good, just a thought.

bassplayer7770's picture

If I recall correctly, there was video of some players and staff after the MSU game, and I believe you could see Coach Fick and Coach Withers give each other a man hug in celebration.  I have no reason to think they aren't working well together.

Enzo's picture

Elika's comments taken out of context :)
 
"...harder, longer..."
"Yes. Please, yes."
"I'd say you've exceeded even the high expectations set for you."
 
Anyone else need a cigarette?

Earle's picture

Don't be that guy (and no, I didn't downvote you--I think you'll get enough of those).

Italics are for emphasis; an ellipsis represents an unfinished thought.

Johnny Ginter's picture

this is obviously stupid and a pretty good example of what not to do when posting on 11W

BUCKfutter's picture

facepalm

the kids are playing their tail off, and the coaches are screwing it up! - JLS

oregonianbuckeye's picture

Couldn't agree more about Shazier, Johnny. I thought he'd make a bigger jump this year than he has. While he hasn't struggled, he hasn't exactly been making plays all over the place either. Hopefully he can turn it on in the next month, because we'll really need him for wisky and mich.

JLP36's picture

I think it always feels like losing when the opponet is rolling up and down the field and putting points on the board, even when it is far fewer than you have on the board.  I like an opponet to go home BEATEN.
I think these Bucks could outscore most of the teams out there, so their ranking is probably about right.  We are not used to judging that way, though, because we are accustomed to gunning for number one and judging what they are against what they can and should be.  Ultimately, I think its more important for the D to get back to where it was if you want to be a the National Power than it is to score 50 every week.  You won't get 50 when there is a trophy handed out after the game. 
Besides, I really enjoy watching All American Buckeye linebackers smash the hell out of people all afternoon.  To me, that is what Buckeye Football is and I really, really miss it.

JLP36

bigbill992001's picture

Now that the Urb-meister has gotten involved with the D, what can we expect?