Buckeyes Dominate Pre-Season teams
The great Phil Steele releases his All American team today and five Buckeyes should be on his first team. It should come as no surprise that Beanie Wells, Malcolm Jenkins and Lil' Animal are on the team, but Alex Boone and Marcus Freeman also made the cut.
In his All-Big Ten teams, 18 of the Buckeyes starters are on his list, including 10 on defense. While I agree with most of his picks, I have a hard time believing that Jim Cordle will be a 4th team selection, while Cameron Heyward and Lawrence Wilson will be 3rd teamers. Is there any selection that jumps out at you as a potential mistake?
O-Faced Hunter makes first team at Orlando Pre-Draft Camp
In his blog, Bob Baptist of the Dispatch alerts us of the outstanding week Othello Hunter had in Orlando. Draftexpress selected him to their first team and are predicting him as a late second round selection in the upcoming NBA draft.
Hunter was able to display his mid-range jumper and vertical leap a bit more at this camp. With only six years of playing experience under his belt, his upside is unlimited and should be worth that late pick, we all know the NBA loves potential and I will not be surprised to see his named called June 27th.
After being named MVP of the Portsmouth Tournament last month, Jamar Butler was unable to participate in Orlando due to a hamstring injury.
Thad scoring another transfer?
Babtist also gives us the scoop on Wesley Johnson, a 6'7" forward from Texas, who was released from his scholarship at Iowa State this week and has OSU on his list of potential schools. While the ISU coach suspected a bit of tampering from some other coaches before he released Johnson, he failed to realize what a dump Ames, Iowa is and the lack of hot co-eds that reside there.
Johnson could really help out Thad's front court in 2009, bringing some experience and scoring punch. He averaged 12.3 points and 6.1 boards over his first two seasons in Ames and with no incoming recruits thus far for the 2009 season, Wesley could add that much needed depth.
Say it ain't so Pete
It has been a while since any current Buckeye footballers have been in any type of legal trouble, so Pete Johnson thought he would step up to the plate.
Apparently, Pete wrote a bad check for a $13,000 pickup truck back in December at an auto auction and was found guilty of that crime on Monday. According to court reports, Big Pete has since paid off the debt, but he could face up to a year in prison and a $2,500 fine when sentenced in July.
I'm hoping Pete comes through without having to face any jail time, because when I read this quote from him earlier this week, he quickly became one of my all time favorites.
Ever since Kevin White left his post as the AD at Notre Dame for greener pastures in Durham last week, talk of OSU's Gene Smith possibly leaving Columbus to take over at his alma mater had been on an uptick.
All that can be put to bed as Smith announced earlier today he has no plans to leave Ohio State.
Last night, I got the impression both Herbie and Spielman thought it was a foregone conclusion as they discussed Smith's resume and strong ties to Notre Dame.
No doubt, Smith has the ND pedigree considering he won a national championship in South Bend both as a player ('73) and a coach ('77) in addition to being the only candidate with AD experience at four different schools (EMich, ISU, ASU).
Of course, the list of candidates includes a slew of others with strong ties to the school, most notably the man who brought Thad Matta to Xavier and current X AD Mike Bobinski and current interim AD, Missy Conboy but none are on Smith's level from a resume standpoint.
Just for discussion's sake, would you have been upset if Smith left? More importantly, do you feel it would have been a blow to the athletic department?
While I think Smith has done a fine job, I also think he's really just had to do the gardening around the House that Andy Geiger Built. I know there are some Geiger haters out there especially as it pertains to the handling of #13 but when you consider the coaching hires and the facility upgrades he presided over, I must give the man his due.
Can I say the same for Smith? I give him credit for being a strong fund-raiser and he has an awesome presence representing the university in a way Archie can appreciate, and I'm glad he's staying, but I'm not convinced it would've been a knee-buckling loss.
Would you leave in the same situation? When I look at how White was pissed on when the new regime at ND fired Willingham without White's backing I'm not sure that's the best spot for me if I'm Smith. Additionally, while ND has the history, their recent history smells like Alex Boone's taint after a humid August two-a-day (or so I assume).
As the WWL notes, the Irish have employed four head football coaches since '97 and and four AD's since '87 though they needed just six AD's to get through the previous 73 years.
On the field, Calorie Weis and company have continued to disappoint though they somehow manage to bring in a top five recruiting class every year. Stepping in to that situation as a new AD doesn't sound like fun if Weis' excuses continue to 'outweigh' his results.
Maybe they'll bring back George O'Leary. I hear his resume lists 40 years of Athletic Director experience.
Last week we took an introductory look at the 1998 Buckeye football team. Today, we'll take a closer look at the offense on that team and examine how Boeckman, Beanie and Robo stack up to that explosive unit.
The only word that comes to mind when describing Mike Jacobs' 1998 offense is freaktacular. During their 11-1 march to a #2 ranking, the offense averaged 497.6 yards of total offense, cracking the 500-yard mark eight times on the season, topped by a 627 yard effort against Iowa. To put that into perspective, the 2006 offense, the 2nd-most prolific offense during the past decade, was only good for 384.5 yards-per-game. In fact, Troy, Ted & Co. managed to break 500 yards just twice: against Indiana, and most satisfyingly, Michigan. Both of those marks from 1998 are still school records.
Six different running backs and six different receivers scored touchdowns in an offense that struck fast and often. 26 touchdown drives took two minutes or less and the unit produced 14 touchdowns of 30 yards or longer. On the year, they averaged 35.83 points-per-game and they loved jumping out to early leads -- averaging 22.58 first half points for the season.
They blew past a pretty talented Mountaineer team (Bulger, Jerry Porter, Zereoue, etc.) in the season opener, hung 35 on a ranked Missouri squad, dropped #7 Penn State 28-9 and capped the season by handing the defending national champions a 31-16 defeat. That game is fondly remembered as the time Joe Germaine outplayed Tom Brady.
The star of the 1998 backfield was undoubtedly Germaine. He capped his final season in Columbus by earning team and conference MVP honors after throwing for a (still) school record 3,330 yards to go along with 25 touchdowns against only seven interceptions. The quiet Rose Bowl hero bounced back from the hammering he took at the hands of Florida State in the 1998 Sugar Bowl to put up 7 games of 300 yards or more, including a mid-season stretch of four in a row. He spread the ball to everyone on the field and he's the last known Buckeye signal-caller to utilize the tight-end. To this day, he's the best pure thrower in Buckeye history.
Joe Germaine, SR5
Michael Wiley, JR
Joe Montgomery, SR
Matt Keller, JR
While it may be easy to think of Michael Wiley as a pedestrian back, especially considering the super-human being the Buckeyes currently have in the backfield, the truth is he was more than pedestrian, especially during his junior season of 1998. His 1,235 yards that season is still good enough for 15th place in the books and he delivered when the team most needed him: 140 against West Virginia, 209 against Missouri, 120 and a 53 yard touchdown against the Wolverines. Hell, he even cracked the century mark in the loss to Michigan State, so you can't accuse him of disappearing there. The 1998 offense, with its pass-first tendencies, was the perfect setup for a back like Wiley. He's no Beanie, and he's not quite Pittman-caliber, but he's definitely worth about three of Lydell Ross:
Wiley was backed up by Joe Montgomery, a guy many fans thought should have been starting as the season progressed. Injuries kept the fire-hydrant of a back out of the mix until his senior season where he was relegated to spot duty. Still, his 766 yards on a 6.5 average speak to his talent. His 80 yard touchdown run on the Buckeyes' first play of the Iowa game set the tone for the beat-down.
Junior Matt Keller was the starting fullback and after making the transition from star running back at Moeller to blocking for others at Ohio State, he emerged as a receiving threat out of the backfield. After starting the season with only one reception in the first four games, Keller stepped it up and finished with at least one reception in each of his last eight games, including a 49 yard reception against the Wolverines. A bit undersized, his services were often not needed during the 1998 campaign.
While the 2008 Buckeye backfield compares favorably to their 1998 counterparts, the slight edge goes to the 1998 crew. Boeckman, like Germaine, is a 5th-year senior, but he hasn't displayed the level of consistent clutch that Germaine possessed. He'll have a good final season, but not 3,300 yard good. Beanie wins easily over Wiley, though Wiley's numbers are not insignificant. Slight edge to Montgomery at 2nd running back and Keller at fullback. Montgomery has experience on Saine and he's just plain better than Mo Wells. Whoever emerges as the fullback this season will more than likely be a better body-mover than Keller, but the uncertainty and Keller's receiving ability win out in the end.
Starting receivers David Boston and Dee Miller were either a huge reason for Germaine's numbers or the beneficiaries of his superb passing skills, depending on how you look at it. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Germaine had a rapport with each of the talented receivers and the 1998 season saw the two become the most prolific pairing in Buckeye history.
David Boston, JR
Dee Miller, SR5
Reggie Germany, SO
Ken-Yon Rambo, SO
John Lumpkin, SR
Boston, of course, had a monster junior year. The All-American was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award and likely would have won the award if not for the Nintendo numbers Troy Edwards put up at Louisiana Tech that season. His 85 receptions and 1,435 receiving yards still stand as single-season Buckeye records and he was absolutely unstoppable down the stretch, earning 1,000 of those yards and 10 touchdowns during the last seven games of the season. His 10 reception, 217 yard performance against Michigan is still the standard in The Game. Despite whatever trouble he encountered later during his NFL career, he remains the benchmark against all other Buckeye receivers are measured.
Miller was no second fiddle. He followed up a 982 yard performance in 1997 by finishing with 915 yards in 1998, his last season as a Buckeye. When Penn State was busy holding Boston to two receptions for 37 yards, Miller was going off on the other side of the field to the tune of six catches for 108 yards. Cagey, experienced, and more, Miller was one of those guys that stuck in the system long enough to produce some quality numbers. Although not as electric as later stars such as Ginn, you'll see Miller's career numbers on top of Ginn's in the record books.
The backup receivers were a pair of sophomores that, at the time, appeared to have limitless potential. Reggie Germany saw more playing time and responded by finishing fourth on the team in receiving yards with 229, while his classmate Ken-Yon Rambo was just two years removed from being named the nation's top prep wide receiver. In 1998, they looked great and were more than adequate as 3rd or 4th receiving options, but just two years later, both would be cursed as part of the decline of the program. It's a good thing we're only interested in the context of 1998 or I'd otherwise have a hard time finding nice things to say about the pair.
Tight end John Lumpkin emerged as a junior in 1997 and provided one of the lone bright moments of the Sugar Bowl beat down by Florida State with a 50 yard touchdown reception. His numbers fell off a bit his senior year, but he was still good for third on the team in receiving with 278 yards to go with four touchdowns. He finished a productive career by notching 10 touchdown receptions -- a record for a Buckeye tight end that still stands.
When you're comparing the 1998 receiving corps with this year's group, the first thing that jumps out is the fact that David Boston is heads-and-shoulders above anyone on the current squad. Ohio State's top target heading into 2008 is Brian Robiskie and at this point in time, he's more comparable to Miller, the 2nd option in 1998. 2008 scores points in the backup category as Small, Washington and gang are better options than Germany and Rambo were in 1998. Lumpkin trumps Ballard and Nicol, though the 2008 squad gets the edge for overall receiving depth. In the end, however, the 1998 grouping is better.
The 1998 offensive line returned all five starters with a combined 64 starts under their belts. Walter, Kurt Murphy, Gilbert and Burris all saw their first significant playing time the previous year in 1997 and with the exception of the Wadsworth wrecking ball in the Sugar Bowl, improved as the year went on and entered a groove that would carryover into the 1998 season.
Tyson Walter, SO
Rob Murphy, JR
Kurt Murphy, JR
Ben Gilbert, JR
Brooks Burris, SR5
All-American left guard Rob Murphy was the heart and soul of the unit and famously answered the challenge of West Virginia's John Thornton in the season opener by pancaking him (Thornton had said Murphy wasn't even the best guard on his team, let alone an All-American prior to the game). Murphy would finish his career with 35 starts and joined Boston Antoine Winfield and Damon Moore as an All-American for the 1998 season.
Walter, a promising sophomore at the time, had assumed Orlando Pace's position as a redshirt freshman the previous season and went on to start all thirteen games. This was before he thought it was fashionable to fight with teammates, but I digress.
Brooks: A fine name for a lineman
Center Kurt Murphy was an Academic All-Big Ten performer, while right guard Ben Gilbert earned 2nd team All-Big Ten honors and the Jim Parker Award for outstanding Buckeye lineman on the year. Right tackle Brooks Burris made the most of his 5th year as well, but the most importantly, the unit stayed intact and injury-free for the entire season. By the time the Michigan game had rolled around, the line had played 17 straight games together and it showed.
The line did give up five sacks in the Michigan State loss and an unusually high number on the season, but part of that is directly related to the number of passes the team attempted. That and Germaine wasn't the most mobile quarterback in the world.
Despite the sacks, the 1998 unit appears better at this time. That group answered every challenge (save for one) and you can't argue with the near 500 yards-per-game of total offense. The offensive line of the past two seasons have been overmatched in the two MNC games and until that gets fixed, it's hard to move the current group above the line from a decade ago. They'll have a shot to earn the favorable nod with their performance this season, but until then, we like 1998.
Since we've given the nod to the backfield, receivers and offensive line of 1998 over this year's team, the better of the two offenses would appear to be clear-cut. However, despite everything said above, Beanie Wells is the best player on either team and the fact that he'll see the ball so much in 2008 throws a wrinkle into the evaluation. One things is for certain: in order for the current team to even approach the numbers of the 1998 squad, they'll need to remain injury-free. The same offensive starters from the opener against the Mountaineers started and played all 12 games of the 1998 season.
What do Jack Park, Bruce Hooley, the Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises and the crew from 11W all have in common? Not much outside of a favorite college football team. Until now, that is.
A few weeks ago, we were asked to help contribute to Buckeye Battle Cry 2008, a new Buckeye football annual from Maple Street Press. They had lined up the heavy hitters I mentioned above and needed a couple of hacks to come in and expound on topics to fill out the publication.
So we bunkered down and each labored over the largest writing project we'd faced since college -- which could partially explain the slowness around these parts as of late, but hey, it's also summer. At any rate, we're super-excited about this and judging by the cover, and the in-depth look at every aspect of the 2008 Buckeye season, we can't wait to get our hands on the final product.
The publisher is accepting pre-orders for Buckeye Battle Cry 2008 with an expected ship date of July. We don't have Bret Easton Ellis clout, so it's not like we're getting points on sales, but if you are looking for something a little bit deeper than the handful of pages the Buckeyes get in traditional preview magazines, you can't go wrong with the 112-page, ad-free publication featuring the names above, plus features from some of your other favorite Buckeye blogs.
The camp gets started today as both players look to capitalize on the eyes they opened in Portsmouth last month.
While Butler is absent from the 2.3 million mock drafts littering the internets, NBADraft.net has Seattle taking Hunter with the 50th pick.
Meanwhile, Kosta Koufos has been prepping for the draft in Las Vegas at Joe Abunassar's Impact Basketball training camp. The Plain Dealer reported Koufos has workouts scheduled with at least four teams including Miami, New York, New Jersey and Indiana. Miami and the Knicks make no sense because they have the #2 and #6 picks respectively.
The Nets (10th) and Pacers (11th) could be more viable options assuming Koufos puts on a good show. He'll need to in order to be selected that high as most mock drafts have him going in the mid to late first round. The same mock with Hunter going 51st has Koufos to the Sonics at #24 while MyNBADraft.com has him to the Raptors at #17. Draft Express says he'll be the 14th pick headed for Golden State.
In an effort to battle the CFB blogging dead period -- or what most people call "June" and "July", we thought we'd take a look back at the 1998 Buckeye football team, a team that may rival the talent assembled for 2008. This week, we'll take an introductory look at that team.
With nine starters returning on each side of the ball, it's hard to remember a Buckeye team more loaded heading into a season. Two years ago a similar situation existed, but even then the offense still had to replace Santonio Holmes who was good for 900+ receiving. While there are components of the 2006 squad that appear to be better than their 2008 equivalents, this year's team is deeper and ultimately better.
The 2002 team was deep and talented, but to find a comparable team, you probably have to go back a decade to the 1998 squad. That team, for my money, is the most talented Buckeye team ever assembled. A stunning home loss to Michigan State denied that team a chance at the championship, but from a returning talent perspective, there are a lot of similarities between the 1998 and the 2008 teams.
Although three Buckeyes were selected in the NFL draft last month, Gholston is the only one that will be playing on Sundays. So chalk that up as one difference-maker lost to the NFL. The 1998 team entered the season after seeing no Buckeyes taken in that year's NFL draft -- the first and only time that's ever happened. 1998 featured 17 returning starters and 17 seniors, while the Buckeyes head into 2008 with 18 returning starters and a 27 seniors. Each team also returned this ammo following a 10-win season (which seemed a lot more impressive in 1998 than it does now -- thanks Tress).
The 1998 team looks to be superior at certain positions (Germaine and Boston over Boeckman and Robiskie), but 2008 wins its share of position battles (Beanie over Wiley and Boone over Walter). Other positions are almost too close to call (enter the Katzenmoyer/Laurinaitis debate). You have to give the edge to Tressel in the coaching matchup, but did 1998 have a better strength and conditioning program?
Next week, I'll break down the 1998 and 2008 offenses. If you were too young or have forgotten how awesome the 1998 Buckeyes were, this should catch you up:
As most of you know, Buckeye footballer Dan Potokar went to Indianapolis recently to undergo extreme treatment for cancer. At the time, it was discussed that he might not even survive the actual treatment, let alone the cancer.
Well, according to informed sources on the Grove City high school football site, Dan has emerged from the treatment in amazingly fine fashion. Here's most of the text from "Suzanne" so you can read for yourself. Hopefully this kid has seen the worst and can move forward from here.
Today's update, May 17.
Hi Again...and hopefully for the LAST time. Danny had his CAT scanâ€¦. the doctor stated â€œthis is exactly what we expected to see.â€ They are very optimistic!!
Now, there appears to be a small blood clot in the groin area. Whether this is a result of the original tumor is unknown. The clot will be managed by a blood thinner shot once Danâ€™s platelet counts increase. The abs are clear!!
And the lungs- wellâ€¦.still not pretty, but the doctors think it is scar tissue based on the tumor markers being so low.
Dannyâ€™s tumor markers were over 250,000 in December. Now they are 7.8!!! Can anyone calculate that percent of decrease?? (Can you tell I write math books for a living??)
The following is the Game Plan that Danny will be on for awhile:
- He will return to Indy in one month for additional testing.
- On a monthly basis, for one year, Danny will have his tumor markers checked.
- The Big Celebration Day for the Indy doctors will be in one year given that the markers remain nil.
- For two years after that, Danny will have his tumor markers checked every 3-4 months.
- For two years after that, Danny will have his tumor markers checked every 6 months.
- At the 5 year mark, he is considered to be in remission.
Dannyâ€™s first goal is to gain his strength back so he can play in the Grove City Alumni Softball Tournament at the end of July. What do the Dawgs think about that?? After losing two quarters at OSU, he plans to resume his educational pursuits in the Fall. How ready is OSU for him to return??
Somehow, I ended up being introduced to Cris Carter, formerly from HBO Sports (and the Minnesota Vikings) and now on ESPN. I shook his hand.
â€œHello, Iâ€™m Will.â€
Cris frowned, and even sneaked in a scowl. â€œAre you the blog guy?â€
I smiled. The best way, Iâ€™ve learned, to deal with the hostility is just to smile. Theyâ€™re not expecting that. I suspect they all think we look like the Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons or, more sinister, like a member of the thrash metal group GWAR. â€œYes, sir, I do write a blog.â€
Crisâ€™ scowl was no longer sneaky. â€œYou know, I got a problem with you,â€ the Ohio State grad said, through gritted teeth. â€œSome Michigan blog said I was an a--hole. Better nobody say that to my face.â€
Smiling, trying to look calm, I said, â€œWell, sir, you know, I didnâ€™t write that.â€
Cris took a step closer to me. â€œYou damn well better not of, â€™cause if you had, Iâ€™d take you out right here.â€
I smiled, again, shook his hand, and went on my way.
The million dollar question is which Michigan blogger is on Carter's shit list? There's the obvious choice, but the only thing I can find out of Brian was published after the special and doesn't seem too inflammatory. Any guesses?
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