Here Comes Sparty
Sadly, Ralphie did not make the trip to Columbus last week and an uninspired Colorado team got rolled by a Buckeye team looking to build. While we didn’t know it at the time, the Joe Bauserman era had ended quietly in South Beach with a 2-1 record. Stay ready, Mr. Bauserman you are, again, one snap from prime time. Braxton Miller took the reigns to the offense against Colorado and did OK. Not spectacular, but good. No fumbles or interceptions. He showed a good bit of elusiveness when he ran. Most of his passes went more less where they were supposed to. Not all of them were caught, but that is another story.
It is hard for me to realize the Buckeyes just beat a team, Colorado, from the PAC 12. I still think of the Buffs as part of the Big 8, which has long since become the Big 12, now with only 10 teams. Please don’t confuse that with the Big 10, which of course has 12 teams. Anyway, we beat ‘em and soundly. Don’t look now but Drew Basil has hit 5 field goals in a row and our special teams against Colorado were,…..well….kind of special. Special in the good sense, not in the short bus sense. Kick and punt coverage was good, Ben Buchanon continues to punt opposing teams deep in their own territory. Jordan Hall did a very nice job on returns. The Buckeye defense showed improvement too. More swarming to the ball, fewer (but still too many) missed tackles. My major concern is in our zone defense, which we, understandably, run most of the time, our DBs drop well into their designated zones. Then they seem to sort of stand there and do not react quickly enough to receivers or footballs entering their zones. Compare them to the roving band of assassins in the LSU and Bama secondary and you will see a very large difference. Maybe it is an experience thing, but there seems to be a lack of aggression back there. I am also a bit concerned with the speed or lack thereof, of our linebackers. Andrew Sweat has looked pretty good, but may now be gimpy and Storm Klein and Sabino seem to get lost for long periods of time. This, too may be mostly an experience thing. Freshman Ryan Shazier, whenever he is in there, seems to be moving at a faster speed than the rest of them. We need the silver bullets to grow up and crank it up this week and beyond.
My other complaint is about the receiving corps and the dropped passes. Nobody catches everything, but this is becoming a problem. We have a rookie QB and not all of his passes are going to be perfectly on target, but when he hits you with the football, it needs to be caught. Until, they start catching passes on a more consistent basis I am going to refer to our receivers as wide outs. I thought the coaches did a nice job of managing Braxton’s initial start. I know he only attempted 13 passes, but certainly more passes were called, but a bunch of them ended up with the freshman, after surveying and reading the defense, for maybe a nanosecond, deciding to run. It was enough to allow him to grow, and for our team to win. Mission accomplished. But now the mission grows. However much Braxton grows this week and beyond, this Buckeye team will be a running team. That is where the talent is. I have been listening to fans for over 50 years complain that, Woody, Earle, Coop, and Tress, needed to “open up the offense”. The thinking seemed to be that the coaches, after having spent 100 hours in preparation for this game, with their livelihoods on the line, just slammed running backs into piles of defenders, so as to piss off all the fans. If they just passed more, the Buckeyes would never lose. Well, this team is not geared that way. Patience, people, patience. Some times you just need to punt and try to flip field position. Some times you need your defense to make a big play. Well, we have been winning about 90% of our games over that 50 year period, with pretty much the same offensive philosophy. This is not the year it is going to change.
LSU survived the trip to Morgantown . The Tigers dominating performance prevented the couch inferno that authorities had feared. LSU has moved to the top of the polls and begins a leisurely stroll through Conference Bubba this week. If it weren’t for the language barrier and the grits thing I would consider moving south to enjoy some great football in the next few weeks. Bama at Florida this week. Florida at LSU next week. November 5 LSU at Alabama. An all-you-eat buffet for FB junkies. Yum!
Dabomania lives as Clemson whipped up on a FSU team suffering the after effects of their loss to OU. Can Clemson be this year’s Auburn? Did I just insult Clemson? I have no idea how much Clemson paid for their QB, Tajh Boyd, but he looks like he is worth every penny. How many of us could find both Clemson and Auburn on a map? Is their exact location some secret of the confederacy? Is there a reason they do not have a state in their name? I know some other schools don’t have state names but they are Duke and Stanford and all those Ivy League teams with academics.
Games this week:
Nebraska at Wisconsin: Beware my gentle children of the corn; Madison at night is a hot mess. Oh, on the field, I’m sure your Huskers will compete well with the Badgers. UW fans are not exactly known for the ability to hold their liquor. The Badger fans are obnoxious by noon, but by the 8:00 PM kick off in Camp Randall, I think projectile vomiting will be as much of a problems as the Badger O-line. 30,000 Husker fans are expected in Madison for Nebraska’s first game in the Big Ten. What ESPN keeps referring to as the great atmosphere in Camp Randall will, by about 7:30 degenerate into a “prison riot with coeds”. (Thank you Dan Jenkins). The Badgers are favored and I cannot come up with a good reason for them to lose, though I can think of plenty why I want them to lose. I am not sure but I think a Badger loss would help our cause in the Leopold Division of the Big Ten. I think Nebraska is in the Leonard Division, so we don’t have to worry about their record. This whole division thing is not settling well with me.
Alabama at Florida: The Gators are stronger than expected, but I still think the Tide defense will be too much to overcome, even in the Swamp.
Notre Dame at Purdue: The Irish take their turnover machine to Purdue. I don’t see any way Notre Dame can screw up enough to lose this one. Purdue is lousy and this game will show that.
Minnesota at Michigan: Who cares? Is this the battle for Paul Bunion’s ox or something like that? Again, no one cares. The Weasels will likely win this one easily as the Gophers are bad. Minnesota doesn’t even know if they will have their coach. First year mentor, Jerry Kill has been suffering seizures and may not be back for the trip to Ann Arbor. So the bad guys win and Brady Hoax continues his assault on Hometown Buffet. Yes, the Weasels are 4-0, on their way to 5-0.. They were undefeated at this point in the season in both 2009 and 2010. They are better, but still they are not good. Fear not, Buckeye Nation.
Auburn at South Carolina: Isn’t this the kind of game that Spurrier teams always seem to blow. Maybe the Old Ball Coach will give the ball enough to Marcus Lattimore to prevent QB Stephen Garcia from losing the game
Nevada at Boise: The Broncos try to avenge the defeat which prevented them from whining about the BCS in 2010. This year, on the Smurf Turf, the Broncos will roll.
Kentucky at LSU: The Tigers will vacation in sunny Baton Rouge while embarrassing the visiting Wildcats. Kentucky produces great bourbon and excellent pre-probation college basketball. Football just enhances the bourbon as they wait for hoops.
Michigan State at OSU: Although we have not played the Spartans for the last two seasons, Coach Dantonio is 0-2 against the Bucks. Coach “Dino”, of course, was an ultra-successful defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes early in the Tressel era. Coach Dantonio is very close with Luke Fickell, so you know both coaches want this one on a personal basis. The relationship which worries me is Dantonio and Jim Bollman. Since Dantonio was on the OSU staff for years, I am sure he knows the mind of Jim Bollman very well. I think the fact that Toledo Coach Tim Beckman has been on the OSU staff may have contributed more than we know to the closeness of that game. Sending our freshman QB against a Dantonio defense is not a desirable scenario. Our line and running backs need to help out the young QB in a big way. Need I mention that the receivers need to get open and C..A..T..C..H the ball. On defense the Silver Bullets need to swarm to the ball and stuff the run. We do not want to allow Kirk Cousins to play-action us to death. Our DB’s need to step up the aggressiveness and make some big plays. Also the fans, yeah us, need to make some noise. Cousins is a 5th year senior and we cannot let him sit back and analyze. Pressure to hurry him and noise to disrupt their communications. Look, Michigan State is a good team, but not a great team. They were humiliated by Alabama in the Capital One Bowl at the end of last season, and they got drilled by a mediocre Notre Dame team this year. Plus they are Michigan State and despite the Dantonio effect they still have psychosis in their collective DNA. They are never more than a few snaps away from a melt-down. The Buckeyes will steal Sparty’s medication and win 20-13.