A match-up that concerns me is Urban Meyer versus Dabo Swinney. Meyer has won far more than he has lost, and won three national championships. That run in 2014 was magical. And yet, for all that he seems to get outcoached in games he worries about going in. He has not matched up well with Dantonio in recent years, I'd say James Franklin has been better prepared for him than vice versa, and we can all point to situations in which when the going got tight Meyer shut down. (All those who think that Samuel got enough touches against TTUN raise your hands) Swinney, on the other hand, nearly pulled out an NC against a heavily-favored Tide last year, and now has the Tigers running smoothly (the VT game was closer than expected but never really in doubt). I expect Swinney to coach to win; I fear Meyer will coach to not lose..
I love the Buckeyes and anyone who makes them go. But . . . Though JT has won games anyone who has watched him struggle through most of games to do something a QB is supposed to be able to do - pass - before giving up and just running has reason to question whether he belongs on this list. His passing numbers have been far from consistent, they came in the easy games and the second halves of some. If he were a top-flight QB we would not have had to sweat out NW and MSU and TTUN; the blocked kicks v PSU would not have mattered. It could be argued that we win despite JT, not because of him. And yes, a porous o-line and mediocre receivers don't help, but he's missing guys when they are wide open. Glad to see you on the list, JT, but if I had a vote you'd be first off the island.
I get all this, very helpful. The only reason it worked was because our defense was able to contain their offense. In a playoff against a better offense if we don't start moving the ball till the second half we may be in a hole we can't get out of. The OCs need to install a short passing game and drill JT till he gets it, that seems the only answer to an o-line that can't hold blocks and a defense determined to stop the run. We got away with a limited o against some weaker teams, and rose to WIS and TTUN, but this is not a formula for long-term success.
We did not win big v IN, we did not win big v. WI, we did not win at all v. PSU, we barely squeaked by NW, and now against a team that might not be as good as WI or PSU but is definitely better than IN and NW we are going to put it all together? If I had some proven record of Meyer making changes, rather than just trying harder to teach his preferred schemes, I could buy it. But I can't see why if NW had us figured out the better Cornhuskers won't also. Our o-line still is shaky, our receivers still can't gain separation often enough, Barrett misses on the longer passes that might soften a defense when our receiver is open, and last week our defense had problems with runs up the middle to add to problems at the perimeter. Riley is an experienced enough coach, and Nebraska's players are athletic enough that NE is likely to control both lines. I see nothing but ugliness for Buckeye fans on Saturday. And really can't figure out the optimism.
Not sure how the NC odds are calculated. Obviously if we beat OK we're in good shape - we have a marquee win so can afford a loss. But that win is quite unlikely. And if we lose it is OK that has the marquee win, and we would have to run the table to make the playoff, since getting in with 2 Ls is not likely. And if OK beats us, as expected, their odds of making the playoffs are better than ours, because their schedule with Houston and TCU is better than ours. It seems the odds are computed in a complete vacuum, without regard to schedule
If Meyer drilled in to his players DO NOT GET YOURSELF ARRESTED OR SUSPENDED and Washington chose to ignore him because paying to play was more important than playing then no, it does not fall on Meyer. Washington is just thick as a brick and it's better it comes out now, before some pro team hands him a bunch of money to do difficult things. I suspect that Meyer figured that Barrett had been enough of a lesson and didn't want to embarress his boys. In which case, failing to drill in even the obvious, if it seems that players need to be told that particular obvious, falls squarely on Meyer. When you get paid several mil per anum you are expected to get the details right. Yup.
Meyer had this team unprepared all year. While the season ended nicely I don't think that four quarters against the arch-rival proves much of anything. I have my doubts that Meyer will use the next three weeks to install a passing game, since he did not do it in the last three months. Our punt protection was swiss cheese v MSU and it wasn't much better v TTUN; and I have yet to see proof that Marshall knows when to catch a punt and when not to; and the loss of Washington could easily be as bad as the loss of Bosa, and if you think that was not a loss rewatch VT until their QB left the game. And that Washington did not understand that he could not could not could not do that now falls on the coaches. For whatever reason, I don't think Meyer was in it to win it this year, and I don't see him starting now. I expect a flat performance against a good team that wants it more.
Surely you jest. The Buckeyes were the first preseason unanimous #1 in history. That was not necessarily my expectation, that was the expectation of writers who cover the sport for a living. You think the team did not hear and agree that this was one of the best offenses ever assembled, with defense and coaching to match? On paper, that expectation was not unrealistic. Unfortunately, the coaching staff tried to stick a proQB into a zone read offense, never developed any passing game that defenses had to worry about, and under stress from a talented opponent with a game plan devolved into playing as if being tOSU Buckeyes was enough. And even when we won we were underwhelming, which should never have been expected. This team plain and simply failed to maximize its potential. That is why we are out of the playoffs, not because we never were a playoff team to start with.
What a bizarrely written article. The tone is set from the beginning when you suggest that facing back-up QBs was more of a test than facing a healthy Cook would have been. In fact, the defense whiffed on QB runs in the same way it did against IN and MD. And the four offsides penalties did not help. On the whole the defense played well, but the summary is not that they passed the test but that they allowed a team with back-up QBs with no great experience, no discernible skill, and no proven RBs to rely on to go on three long drives when stops were needed. But the worst writing comes later, when you state that the OCs could not "keep" calling on Elliott when he had been unsuccessful. He had been unsuccessful in the first half against IL - just 55 yards - and ended with over 180. Make adjustments and Zeke does the rest. But the OSU OCs never even tested that - Elliott had but four carries after the first quarter TD. And though you are correct that he was pretty effective as a blocker, the OCs often had us working with an empty backfield, with decoy receivers (who fooled no one) and Zeke on the sideline. Barrett did get pressured on his deep pass to Miller, but that was not a reason to NEVER TRY IT AGAIN! And if slow developing plays took too long why were there almost no quick hitters, like the slant to Marshall in the first half? Our line and receivers (including TE) certainly failed us, but it is the job of OCs to make changes at halftime that will give us the best shot. Making every play a QB zone read is not it. But even more than that, it was the job of the OCs and line coaches to have the team better prepared from the opening gun to face a stacked box than we were versus VT 2014, making sure everyone knew their blocking assignments, and the appearance was that the braintrust just assumed that no extra preparation was needed, all was good. That is not coaching. Players underwhelmed, but had Meyer not done such a brilliant job last year and in several years in the past his job as the head man was so, so inadequate that his competence might well be questioned. When a team that seemed to have found its offense gets only 132 total yards against a defense that had never been that stout all year and did nothing unexpected, without the excuse of turnovers or numerous penalties, the coaching staff should be held accountable. And even homers should be saying so, unless you don't care if there are repeats.
The offensive game plan for MSU, assuming there was one, seemed to have been to ride the zone read QB. Presumably this had been approved by Meyer, first because there presumably had been a coach's meeting at which UM would have had a final say, and second because at crunch time in MSU2013 that was the decision that Meyer himself had made. OK, doesn't seem an optimal strategy with Elliot, Samuel, Miller, Marshall, Thomas etc, but I've never won a national title. So if that was what Meyer thought would be the best option for an OSU offense a) why did he name a QB who could not zone-read as his starter at the beginning of the season; b) why did he wait so long into the season after it was clear that it was not working to make a change to give his zone-read QB some reps; and, most importantly, c) why did he not demand something else on Saturday when it was clear that it was playing right into MSU's hands? I'm trying to make sense of the season and the game and not coming up with explanations. It was if Meyer had been having an out of body experience and was totally unaware that his team had only 66 yards of total offense at half time, and was picking up after intermission where it had left off.
I think the game started going wrong even before the opening kickoff. No way should MSU have been able to get both wind at its back in the 4th quarter AND the ball to start the second half. Captains were sent out to the coin toss with inept instructions.
I was on a house painting crew with Clark one summer in the 70s in the Cleveland area. He was very tall and very nice. I don't think he was particularly dedicated to house painting, he never did master the fine art of painting a window with a roller.
Thompson starts, he'd BETTER be involved in the offense! Scott is the point when he comes in, he'd BETTER be involved in the offense! Psyche is important, no doubt about it, but it is given more importance than it deserves. The team had no right to gain confidence from yesterday's game - beating Chi St by 40 in no way makes up for losing to the only good teams we faced, one of them at home, and the team knows it. More important than "confidence" is knowing what to do when the going is tough, and yesterday helped very little with that. As I have already said I would have liked yesterday to have been an opportunity to see how the team pulls together without Thomas - that could have been a confidence builder!
By playing Thomas 33 minutes in a game we won by 40 Matta was saying that he has no substitute for Tank and isn't intersted in finding one. On the one hand Thomas is not just the only proven scorer but a really good scorer. On the other hand as teams that can institute Thomas Rules defenses the chances of frustration fouls by Deshaun or injury go up, and while player unavaiability can derail even the best teams the very best teams try to have a contingency that they hope they will never need. The Buckeyes will sink or swim with Thomas.
Yesterday's game otherwise showed very very little. Holding anyone to 26% is good defense. Taking 17 threes, even if you hit 8, is not great offensive discipline. I don't mind so much the 7 attempts by Ross and Della Valle, that's what they'll be in for, but 5 by Thomas is too much in the last chance to try to develop an inside game. Ravenel responded to not starting by boarding with intent. I think Williams is the more focused rebounder on the whole, neither has much of an offensive game.
And now the grind starts. NE was thought to be the conference doormat, may be better than that. Still should be a win. We will get a better idea about who we are on Jan 5 at IL.
Some of the things the Cougars do poorly could help an Ohio State squad still reeling from a loss to Kansas last weekend.
The problem is that though bad foes *can* help an inconsistent team improve too often at OSU they have only helped us pad our stats and leave thiniking that the problems were only mirages. Beating up on overmatched opponents generally helps very little. In a recent column an 11W staff writer pointed out - correctly, in my opinion - that the Chicago State game is an opportunity not to flex muscles but to run sets over and over and over, working not necessarily on scoring but on understanding how to respond when what the team would like to do is not working.
Too often the 11W readership responds to this kind of opinion with a downvote and the observation that Matta knows how to coach better than I do. Yes he does. He also has not done particularly well in March, losing earlier than seed too often (last year excepted). He builds teams to win the B1G but not necessarily to win in March. If we score 90 today how you feel about that depends on whether you live for the moment or look to see how the moment might affect the future. I'm in group B. If we win by only five but Williams and Ross have gotten schooled on playing disciplined basketball then this will have been a good day. If we win by 30 by hitting wide open jumpers out of half-court sets against terrible defense this game will have done almost nothing for us.
If one player is double or triple teamed then at least one other player will be open. Beating Jordan Rules means positioning the other players where they have a better chance of capitalizing on being open, and instructing decoy Thomas how to find the open guys.
OR, if Thomas is outside and draws double or triple coverage then there will be gaps in the oppenent's inside coverage. Beating Jordan Rules means being ready to exploit the gaps.
What beating Thomas Rules does NOT mean is continuing with quick shots by guys who really can not be counted on to make them. While every Buckeye has had an occasional scoring burst no one other than Thomas has been a reliable jump shooter, so as Self said continuing to be a jump-shooting team is exactly what an opposing coach wants to see.
Thad has done a fine job of coming up with a Plan A that has worked most of the time. What we need to see from him now and the rest of the year is a Plan B that will counter the Thomas Rules. Perhaps slowing to a Whiskey pace is not a bad idea for a team that plays better defense than offense. I'm not advising this but it is an option.
If you set aside the shooting factor, Ohio State matches up with any team in the country. The Buckeyes possess one of the best defenses in the country.
Through games of 12/23 the Buckeyes have played 2 really good teams and 9 really bad ones, a schedule Sagarin ranks as 268th, so we should be looking pretty good. Official NCAA statistics have us 5th in the B1G, 96th in Div 1 in FG %; 5th in the B1G, 65th in Div 1 in 3-pt FG%. On defense we are 6th in the B1G, 43rd in Div 1 in FG % defense; 7th in the B1G, 113th in Div 1 in 3-pt FG % defense. There is more to defense than FG% but these numbers do not look like they belong to one of the best defenses in the country, especially considering our schedule. That we are 7th in the BiG in RB margin, 6th in the B1G and 57th in Div 1 in assists per game suggests that we are not doing the other stuff all that well either. For all Aaron's Craftiness we are only 5th in the B1G, 129th in Div 1 in steals per game. Matta teams used to play without fouling but this year we are 9th in the B1G, 145th in Div 1 in fouls committed per game.
Someone please tell me how these statistics belong to an elite team. Improving our shooting will improve our defense, since defense comes partly from offense, but it will not completely fix our defense. And it is not clear that improving our shooting is as simple as getting better bounces off the rim or simply wishing it. This shooting is a fair reflection of the kind of team we are based on the style of play Matta has directed - our shooting is most likely to improve if the style of our offense changes. This should get me a downvote or two because the cheerleaders in 11W HATE bad news but I'm just the messenger and shooting me will not help a team that even 11W says is only the 5th best in the B1G right now.
I think that he has a proven record when it comes to Big Ten Championships and NCAA appearances. TOSU was in a very different place in basketball before he took over.
Those are two very different statements. The Buckeyes are better under Matta than under most previous coaches, but we have a record under Matta of flaming out in the NCAAs before our seed says we should. Last year was a big exception, we did better then I think we should have - but should have beaten KS as well, and I think Matta's game management lead both to our being in position to win and ultimately losing.
The bench didn't keep us in Saturday's game - other than Scott, who is earning his minutes, the bench consisted of but two players who contributed but 29 minutes (out of an available 200), scored but 10 points and committed 3 turnovers and 5 personal fouls.
The question is how Ross is going to get better if, now in his second year of practicing, he still looks cofused in games, if he does not get game experience. You can defend Matta's not playing Ross yesterday, but down the line Ross' continued confusion will surely hurt a team that needs to be able to call on its bench to contribute positively.
As for Amir the very next comment criticizes him. Everyone we put inside is struggling. No opponent will lose sleep over how to attack or defend Williams unless he gets a lot better (Amir had one of the TOs, which is a lot considering how little he handles the ball, and 4 of the fouls in 20 mnutes).
The good news here is that the Buckeyes still have plenty of games remaining to see if they can't work out the kinks offensively.
In theory yes, but based on Matta's decision making over the last few years it's not clear that he will let that happen. He quickly settles on the very few guys he trusts or thinks he needs to play, and PT for the rest becomes scanty. Scott will be a regular because he is already contributing; Williams may get time because the situation inside is dire; but if Ross got only nine minutes yesterday when even with a couple of yankings for coaching more time was available then based on past practice by Matta he is still going to be getting only spot action in March.
The reality is that we could lose 10 or even 12 games in the early season and if that helped us grow so that we reach the finals of the B1G we would be going dancing as a matured, very dangerous mid-seed. If Matta instead tries to score 90 against cupcakes or limit losses against average teams the bench will not develop any better this year than it has in past years, and because our starting 5 is not as good as in past years we will have little cause for long-range optimism.
In other words, success for the 2012 team probably depends most not on Craft or Thomas but on Matta changing his approach.
Our defense let Kansas shoot 51% yesterday, 45% on threes. Part of that was poor shot selection by our offense meaning that our defense did not have a chance to get set. Our defense and offense work together and if our offense continues to play street ball our defense is going to lose form. And, again, we were getting beaten on routine inbounds plays, meaning that even when set our D has issues. Our defense can address inbounds but unless Matta changes an ofense that shoots quickly good teams are going to shoot well against us.
We are not a good outside shooting team. Last year Sullinger was capable (creating matchup problems for foes) and in theory Buford needed to be defended, but this year other than Thomas who do you want taking 3s? Thompson shot well from outside yesterday but is that where he should be playing, and do you really expect him to keep it up? Ross gets lots of press but in practice has not been overly impressive. If we can't hit some shots from long we WILL shoot that poorly again against a team of good athletes playing disciplined defense because our inside game is even worse.
It wasn't a total humiliation but the second half was not as close as the final score. Earlier romps over bad teams masked fundamental problems that are not going to be fixed quickly. For starters I voiced concern early on that if Thomas is the only reliable scorer defenses are going to make his job a lot harder, and indeed we are seeing that he is getting his points on volume shooting, which is not great for team play. He is a better shooter than Buford, but even if he never goes 1 for 16 he can still kill us by hitting only a third of a lot of shots. Though unlike Buford's teams it's not clear who should be taking the shots if not Thomas. The biggest issue is that Matta seems to be not very good at fitting players into offensive roles - he has his preferred motion offense and then turns guys lose, which against tough defense results in street-level jacking and bricking. Matta does not have the stars to run an offense based on undisciplined shooting. There is little presence inside that can create an inside-outside game, so defenses guard the perimiter and get in position for rebounds. And other than Scott, who has become an unexpected plus, the bench simply is not contributing. For all the talk of Ross' brilliance we have seen very little of it generally, and very little today. And if Matta stays true to form he will do little to try to develop the guys who could be valuable role players in March but will sink or swim with what he has settled on as his starting five, plus Scott and whatever bigs he thinks might stop some bleeding. We actually played better against KS than I expected, which tells me that if Matta tries to develop game plans based on who he has we could get better still, but if he continues to direct the team the way he did today and against Duke our stay in the NCAA is not likely to be a long one. And our streak at the top of the B1G will probably end. It likely is true that Duke and Kansas are amongst the best and it is not an insult to lose to them, but the struggles today suggests that this team may struggle against good defense played by teams a step or two below Duke and KS. (And if we don't defend in-bounds plays better we are going to dig holes for ourselves our offense will never get us out of.)
It's also worth pointing out that when we made our run that put us up by 6 or 8 in the first half a Buckeye on the floor was seen smiling (Thompson, I think), as in "we are too good to be stopped." Bill Self called a time-out, after which the Jayhawks took over. Until the Buckeyes learn that there is NO celebration until the game is really out of reach - until Matta gets the team to understand this - the team is going to lose focus and perhaps struggle getting it back.
Any team can beat any other team if it gets shots to fall. It's the coach's job to design and call plays that use the strengths of the players he has, to increase the chances that shots taken will fall. The Buckeyes today were not just having bad luck, though there might have been some of that in close misses - too often they were taking shots that should not have been taken. And too often they were taking shots that were open but shooting with such bad form they had little chance of gong in. When you bank in a three you probably should not have taken the shot!
I'm not as sold on the Buckeyes this year as most, mostly because I'm not readuy to celebrate bench players who shine only sporadically. And our inside game is the weakest the Buckeyes have had in a long, long time. If Withey could shut down Sullinger (and he did) our only hope is to bang him into frustration fouls (which is how I thought teams shopuld have played against Sullinger last year). If so it is not personnel that will decide this. Like Ramzy I feel a key is our ability to finish the game. I don't know if I mean it in the same way as Ramzy. I do not see the Buckeyes as quitting against Kansas in the semis or Duke this year; rather, the other coaches made adjustments at half that Matta did not counter. Until proven otherwise to me, the key in beating a squad that can match our line-up top to bottom (and I think KS can) is whether our coach matches theirs, especially after intermission.
This gets a down vote? Really? for pointing out that we gave up 72 points to UNC-A? what, that is not supposed to be mentioned? for pointing out that there are only six Buckeyes in the NBA? shooting the messenger is now legal?
As for Stevens he has coached five full years at a school with limited resources, no TV exposure, nothing to draw the "top-tier talent" and has a wining percentage of 78%. This could come against a weak schedule, but making two championship games and coming within one basket of winning one is, simply, a better coaching job than Matta has performed with a program attracting one-and-dones. For head-to-head he has a better winning percentage at Butler than Matta had at Butler. This doesn't prove that Stevens is a better coach than Matta, but it does prove that down votes for saying that he might be are are an abuse of the voting system.
Our great defense yesterday gave ANC-A 72 points. We do generally play solid defense, but suggesting that Butler doesn't is silly. Butler's defense just beat the Hoosiers. It may turn out to be a fluke win for the Bulldogs, IN may turn out to be over-rated, but right now that was a better team performance than anything OSU can point to this year. Essentally your comments, while containing grains of truth, are based on what underlies far too much of the comments in 11W - we are OSU, how dare you compare us with anyone else. We have the best coaches in the country, how dare you criticize!
Except for Turner who is finally coming imto his own few players coached by Matta are doing very well in the NBA. Only six OSU players are on NBA rosters and other than Turner it's hard to find a name that was "developed" by Matta. Mullens is exceeding expectations, Sulliger may meet them. Lighty did not get drafted, and neither he, Buford nor Diebler is in the League. Matta may have squeezed out of them what was there but he did not turn them into "top tier talent". In fact, he let Buford continue bad habits that hurt the Buckeyes and hurt Buford. Daequan Cook is a pro but that is arguably despite Matta who played him very little, not because of Matta.
This does not mean that Matta is a bad coach - his record speaks for itself. Including too many losses below seed in March. This year with only one proven scorer, a defensive-minded guard who is struggling on offense and a void in the middle Matta is going to have to build a team around roles, not players. As Brad Stevens has done but Matta has not done particularly well. We will find out if we can do to Indiana what Butler did. I can't imagine OSU under Matta beating even a half-decent team if three of our starters foul out, as Butler did yesterday. I will probably get down-voted again but IMHO there is no comparison between the quality of work done by Thad Matta at a school in one of THE prestigious conferences with a HUGE athletic budget and what Brad Stevens has done at a small school playing in the relative shadows.