Wow. Looking at the scholarship stats shared here, makes me wonder how depleted and how much we really had available on the roster vs. MSU last December.
I'm excited to see what receivers emerge, and Greene sounds like he passes the look test. But Stoneburner was one that seemed like a match-up nightmare that never really became all I expected. Not to mention TY Williams and Verlon Reed. But at least Greene has some solid college experience to his credit. If he, Mike Thomas, and Jalin Marshall can all step up this year, it will really be fun. I like Devin Smith, he's a great deep ball threat and is growing in that intangible of just finding a way to get separation. But we need a couple of others that really give a defense headaches.
Whoever wins the battle for #2 will almost certainly need to be ready for action. Much as I hope for Miller's sake that he can have a very healthy, very successful, COMPLETE senior year at QB, history is not on his side. Years 1-3 have all featured time missed with injury, With a re-worked, less experienced offensive line, I would say there's a bigger edge for Jones than just his previous experience, given his size. To me, other things being fairly equal, having a QB that's big and tough to take down is a big plus.
So even at Vanderbilt, the Harvard of the SEC, acedemics get the short end of the stick.
Looking at the remaining schedule, I see four, maybe five games that could be solid wins. In fact, we'll have to really improve and get an upset on the road to finish above .500. I keep telling myself "February and March is what matters." But this isn't a team that's young and waiting for a light to come on, and it's not a team that's just hit a bit of a cold spell. They are a team without an identity or confidence on offense.
I know that recruiting stars are sometimes meaningless, but how do we get talent and junior/senior leadership up and down the roster and not have a legit scoring threat. Yeah, I get it that Q Ross is our LEADING scorer, but even a winless team has a LEADING scorer. And I know in previous years we've occasionally had a leading scorer in the mid-teens for an average, but that was because a few others were averaging in double digits, as well.
Just realized I finally got my wish. Been hoping for an OSU squad that goes 8 or 9 deep (or more) in terms of spreading around the scoring. This team's bench is almost as involved and contributing as their starting line-up, but it's only because both are struggling.
To me, the two-game losing streak will be in the "rearview mirror" when OSU comes out in September and consistently plays well on both sides of the ball.
No doubt in my mind that Smith and Elliott can carry the load in terms of getting yards between the tackles, and I think if Dunn can have a solid return he brings a burst, especially outside the tackles. The question mark really is with how well the three of them can protect the ball (Hyde and Hall were great with ball security) and more than last year it will be really critical that whoever is lined up at tailback can protect Braxton Miller or anyone else at QB.
Kind of hoping that they can make Jalin Marshall into a big play threat at wideout. Even if he isn't the crispest route runner, we saw last year with Philly and Wilson how effective we can be with just swinging it out to an athlete at the LOS and giving him a block. We will miss Philly as a blocker downfield. At least we've got Spencer for one more year in that capacity.
All this article lacked was a listing of the several LBs (guys like David Perkins) who transferred out or left the team for other reasons. This past year, numbers wise, we were really, really thin. We also had the problem of not having consistent play from most of the LBs on the roster, but even if Perry/Grant/Shazier were all playing at a high level, there literally weren't more than a few names following them. This year, while we still are green at LB, at least we have numbers. I think Coach Fick sort of got some breathing room given that the pantry was a bit sparse last year. No more. He is loaded with talent to develop. Perry, Grant, Williams, Johnson, Mitchell, Burger, MacMillan, Hubbard, Booker and others are now in the fold, and the first six, all having at least a year in the program, should be ready to contribute in meaningful ways. If Willliams, Mitchell, and Johnson are still all somehow "waiting for the light to come on," I think the heat has to be on Fickell. I understand one or two top recruits just not cutting it, but when 4-5 of them at one position are falling into that description, it's no longer a player problem but a program problem.
We are pretty spoiled as Buckeye fans. Pretty great to be in the top 20 for so long that to fall out of it and have a losing streak means time to push the panic button. I'd like to think this is just a matter of needing to re-build, some cyclical thing catching up with us, but I don't think it is. A team that recruits very well and has the number of juniors and seniors this one does should not look this lost and lacking in offense. I could easily shrug off this sort of play from a roster full of frosh and sophomores that are still sort of working out their chemistry as a team. But this is a team loaded with experience that's regressing. I think they bounce back, find ways to manufacture points and regain confidence to finish at or above .500 in the conference, but the last three games have been awful.
In the BCS, anything below 10th and it was difficult to climb to the title game. Now, as long as we're in the top 15, it really doesn't matter to me.
I would sum up the article as -
1. It was a very tough decision for Miller to return
2. The only question mark he has left is in the month of November
I like his confidence, and he has plenty of reason to believe in himself, but he is not ready for the NFL. Not as a QB, and while he could choose another position the difference in guaranteed money that goes to QBs vs. other skilled players is worth the effort. His completion percentage is respectable, but too far south of 70% for the NFL.
Part of me is glad that he's returning. But I had sort of made peace with watching next year be a time of "growing pains" for Cardale Jones or JT Barrett. I hope one or the other of them gets some serious opportunities next year.
I thought they actually played really well and rose to the challenge at MSU. I actually still felt pretty good about them after that loss. It was a battle against a very good program where we came up just short and could have had our first big win of the year. But the Iowa collapse in the second half was painful to watch, and last night was more of the same.
What I saw was not just shots not falling and a lot of turnovers. Shootiing slumps and sloppy play catches up some nights with every team. What I saw was a team that in key situations did not have an "answer," did not seem to have a clear sense for what the five guys out on the floor needed to do, did not seem to have guys that were saying, "I want the ball in my hands" when points were desperately needed.
I could understand this sort of offensive struggle and confusion if we were in one of those "rebuild" cycles where we just lost a whole lineup to the NBA and we're building it back up with freshmen and sophomores. But there are WAY too many juniors and seniors on this squad for this sort of nonsense.
Also, if this was a team that trended young, it would give me a lot of hope that we'd get a lot better as the season progressed. With so many in their third or fourth year, it leaves me instead thinking that most of our roster is approaching their ceiling for college ball, in which case there's really no reason to expect the "light to come on" in March for them.
Ah, the 1980s. The decade of the enormous shoulder pads.
I think with Apple, and maybe also with Bell, holding them out of more playing time or red-shirting them might have had to do with their positions on the field. Playing corner and safety, coverage in general, is so much about confidence. I think Eli Apple in 2013 might have contributed and shown flashes, but would have also had some really confidence-shakinig moments. In 2014, he's likely in a better place in terms of his physical and mental development to handle those occurrences. As for Vonn Bell, likely a light came on late in the season (as it should happen).
I hope that Meyer's mindset is not set on the last two years. It was a great run, but I'm done with hearing about this team as one that has won 24 out of 26. They are now a team that has lost their last two games. I think that's the truth that they need to face as they go into 2014.
I like where the defense is headed. Looking forward to hearing who Meyer taps to replace Withers.
Any thoughts from 11W on the best candidates for that?
To me, 1998 Vols will always be #16 among 16 BCS champions. I still believe, and will until the day I die, that the 1998 Buckeyes would have bested Tennessee by double digits in the tiltle game that year, given the opportunity.
Like I said, ecstasy being an illegal drug, I can see some punishment, but a game seems more appropriate than 3, or a full season.
Where are guys losing their scholarships for smoking weed?
Ok, so he violated the conference rules for the drug, but in truth OSU should punish him for taking Ecstasy, even involuntarily, anyways. Though I think it warrants a one game suspension, not three. Still would have missed the bowl game, I suppose, but no more than that.
A year? For Ecstasy? Are they high?
i have hope because of Urban, because of our recruits, because of the signs of life with the young pups on both sides of the ball.
I am happy for Braxton in that returning to OSU will give him another year to develop his game. I'm skeptical at the moment about the light coming on in terms of OSU's passing game. Yes, Miller's stats improved from his second to his third season. Yes, he is a more complete player. Yes, he is still incredibly talented and yet to hit his "ceiling." But against good defenses, and particularly in November and in big games the last couple of years, he has appeared frozen with indecision and regressed in his mechanics and decision-making.
I agree that with a young offensive line, Miller's leadership and athleticism will be very, very valuable for us and make a big difference. Without Kenny Guiton to step in, there will be a drop off should he be injured.
Part of me was looking forward to seeing the next starting QB at OSU emerge (whether that be Jones or Barrett) and take his lumps and make some mistakes but begin to grow and take charge. But will be good to have another year with Braxton. Hopefully it's a year when the other QBs get their opportunities to lead, as well.
Good point in reminding all that Hyde made similar comments a couple of years ago. But keep in mind that Hyde worked his butt off to improve his game from that point forward. Somehow I doubt that if Thomas had been consistently getting it done in practice as a blocker, route runner, pass catcher, etc., that they still elect to red-shirt him. I hope he does step it up because physically the guy gives us the sort of presence at receiver we haven't had in a long time - the sort of big, fast target that takes over games (ala Watkins and Bryant).
Thomas is right that Smith and Spencer did not get it done in the final two games. Hell, they didn't get it done in the final four or five games. I've been wondering for a while now about Zach Smith's future with OSU. I appreciate that the guy is grandson of Earle Bruce and probably bleeds scarlet and gray as much as any coach we've ever had. But with the output of our receivers, the way they seem to struggle so much with getting separation even two years into the program, the fact that apart from garbage time after two years there appears to be only 3 wide-outs (not including tight ends) that we trust out there on the field, it baffles me. If Philly, Smith, and Spencer (and to a lesser degree Fields) are the only receivers who at the tail end of a season are really earning the playing time and able to make meaningful contributions to the offense, then why aren't the others getting coached up? As a follow-up, if there are others that are proving themselves in practice, why aren't they getting opportunities on the field?
The struggles among the receivers (apart from Philly) have been worse than I'd thought. Looking over the stats, Devin Smith has 6 catches over the last 5 games. Evan Spencer has one catch over the last 5 games. That's not an offense "leaning on what works in the run game" or "taking what the defense gives it" or "adjusting the gameplan for the weather." That's a pass offense seriously regressing.
Great question about the passing game woes. I've wondered the same thing - if it's the receivers not getting open, or Brax not seeing it. Whatever it is, I hope it gets better fast. And with all due respect to the conclusion that of course that won't be a problem next year, I didn't expect it to be such a problem this year. Spencer, Fields, Smith, and Philly came into the year with a lot of experience and the expectation that they would really raise their game and become serious weapons for the offense. There were flashes of it against weaker opposition, but they seemed to struggle against tougher opposition with the exception of Wisconsin.
Herman and others have offered the rationalization that the lack of balance in the offense was warranted and okay because the run game was just that good, but I don't think any coach wants to be left with being one-dimensional on offense.
I hope Marshall and others step up quickly.
I think Herman's a good coach, but I was disappointed that with a month to prepare our play-calling and formations had no creativity or uniqueness. Not saying we re-invent the wheel the way FLA did to us in 2007, but a month to prep with experienced players and a veteran line should yield SOMETHING new - a few plays in the diamond formation, some other power looks in short yardage, using the quick screens to the wideouts to set up something bigger deep, more roll-outs when the pocket was continuing to cave on Miller.
Expected to see some new looks - not gimmicks, but just a few things that we haven't been seeing all year.
To me, it's still clear as mud how much Fickell is to be blamed. One game where we were missing key personnel with Fickell as the lone DC doesn't really provide a base for firing him at all. We spent the whole year with two DCs. For all we know, Withers taking another job and leaving the program might help matters (Withers was the DC who also worked with a seriously under-performing safety unit).
I do hope that Fickell can handle adversity with something more than his "well we won, didn't we?" response to things. That was disappointing and a bit childish.