I'm currently waiting in the Columbus airport to head back to Athens today, so it's a good time to both revel in victory amidst numerous U fans (who've all switched to Miami Dolphins jerseys - good to have a back up) and analyze our strengths and weaknesses so that we might be able to better prognosticate the weeks ahead.
1) Much has already been said about special teams, and as I see it, there are several possible problems: a. the problem lies in the personnel, b. the problem lies in the special teams strategy, c. the problem lies in the psychology of the starters - they feel as though special teams are beneath them. I think that perhaps yesterday's two special teams touchdowns are enough of wake up call that the coaches can rectify all three possible problems. I think a possible solution would be to put in a mix of younger of guys eager to prove themselves and older guys (previous ST standouts like B. Rolle) might be the best solution. To draw an esoteric analogy - just as mixed income housing has proven to be a far better strategy for preventing economic depression than income-segregated housing, a mix of first teamers and 2nd and 3rd stringers might be the best strategy. The idea being that 2nd and 3rd string younger guys are both motivated to earn playtime and can benefit from lining up next to current starters; additionally, first stringers remain motivated by leadership ideals.
2) One thing that I did love about the offense was the variety of formations, especially seeing Saine line up wide with Boom behind Pryor. Perhaps The Senator's earlier comments about Saine being more than just a running back were intended to be taken literally - that Zoom can play receiver (and a good one at that - the wheel route TD after the 60 yard completion to Posey was a thing of beauty). This makes defenses account for the option for Saine to come in motion and take a hand off, catch the ball on a pass, or Pryor can simply hand the ball off to Boom. I also really liked seeing the Pro set with Boom and Zoom in the backfield together. Though I don't think it got the best results (I'm awaiting the Ozone's By the Number's feature), I think it has plenty of potential.
3) One particular bright spot for me was the return game - both Hall and Berry are adept return men, and I can't wait for one of them to break one sooner or later. Hall showed tremendous determination on his 50 yard return - just when it looked like he'd be tackled on the 25, he kept his legs running for a huge gain. I love seeing these younger guys really busting it for PT. However, it's clear that both of these guys really NEED to be involved in the regular offense too. Berry in particular just looks like he is ready to do some damage.
4) My biggest concern is still the red zone offense. Field goals will simply not cut it in the future, especially if we're fortunate enough to meet a team like Alabama in the MNC. However, I trust Tressel to be more creative in the future. We've seen that playing to not lose (as opposed to playing to win) can cost us - see Texas and USC 09 - and I fully expect more inventive play calling. I do not think letting Pryor run it in every time is the solution. Instead, the short passing game and a short yardage back can work wonders. The defense must fear our short passes in the red zone for the run game to work. I expect this issue to be sorted out in the next few games.
Ok, flight is boarding. I'll miss Ohio. Go Buckeyes!