First, best hopes for Braxton. Nothing else matters more than avoiding serious injury for anyone.
Second, I know there is wide support for 8-0. I like that more than any other alternative record at this point, but if you just ENJOY THE RIDE as another 11W blogger put it you should stop reading now, because I stop celebrating now. Today's game brings out the cynic in me, no doubt. But I was asking the questions that follow before the Purdue game. And what I saw today does not make me stop thinking them.
From the time that Urban Meyer was hired as the Buckeye coach he has enjoyed a complaint-free welcoming. Everything he has done has been praised but while 8-0 is better than the alternatives to my eyes there is good reason to question just how well this team is coached. Play a schedule of Miami of Ohio, Cal, UCF and UAB and Ohio State had better be 4-0. The win over MSU is not looking quite as good - if Iowa can do it how good can it be? Indiana was a nightmare, today even worse. Which leaves exactly one game on the season that looked like Buckeye football. Last year's team also had one good win (WIS), so what exactly have we accomplished in 2012 other than not getting the PAT blocked in a desperate comeback against a mediocre Purdue? I think the honeymoon is over and it is appropriate to look critically at the Urban Meyer Ohio State Buckeyes.
The defense is every bit as bad as last year's. We certainly played better in the second half today but on the whole this is a team that can not tackle (I stopped counting at 15 missed tackles anbd when tackles were not missed the pile still moved forward, not back) and that from Purdue's very first play from scrimmage did not know where it was supposed to be (anyone have a clue what Klein was thinking?). This is a team that eight weeks in does not know how to play defense. And it's not a learning curve problem.
Special teams are excelling in kick blocks but struggling in almost every other phase. We gave up a 101 yard KO return today and a 60 yarder last week. We allowed a fake punt conversion from inside the Purdue 20. We have had our own punts blocked, and a PAT and short FG missed. And our own kick returning is below average.
Which leaves offense. We are a one-trick pony - zone-read running. Miller's passing has rarely worked on its own, it has generally been as a result of running softening the D. It is a very good trick, but whenever an offense is not overpowering or really sublime a disciplined defense has a chance of shutting it down. Let's be clear - we did not struggle today because Miller got hurt, we struggled today because Purdue played disciplined defense and Miller looked ordinary. Looked less than TerBush. We had the 100th rated passing attack going into the Purdue game and did not help that today. And did not run either. Against a very average defense thqat was prepared for what we would do. Other than NE and IN this offense has not lived up to what I think was expected.
So what exactly has Meyer implemented? I am not saying that he was a bad hire, I am not saying he is doing a bad job, I am not saying he should be fired. I am saying that our record notwithstanding we do not appear to be significantly better than we were last year when we scored over 30 five times, when we held five opponents to 20 points or less. We feel better about ourselves this year than we did last. Perhaps what is happening is seeds being planted that will blossom next year. But for those who rank teams on more than raw record Ohio State with advantages that only a very few other schools can match is not a Top 15 team, possibly not even in the Top 20 if those are measured by who would win on a neutral field. Urban Meyer as the head coach is responsible for all that happens on the field. How well coached is this team really? Has Meyer maximized our potential? If not are you satisfied anyway?