When I was a kid in the 1980s, Penn State was a program that, along with the Buckeyes, I tended to pull for. There was and I guess still is a "blue-collar" mentality to the program. But then, my Junior year at OSU, they joined the Big Ten. And in the last 20+ years, no program has offered more baseless whining, more "conspiracy theories," more bitter, spiteful antics, and more classless targeting of their opponents than Penn State. I really can't stand these guys, and love how much we've beaten them. To this day, one of my favorite OSU games with the first one we had against Penn State. It was Halloween weekend, and we got surprised with snow. It flurried throughout the game and Raymont Harris ground the Nits into the ground in a rout. Fantastic day.
No doubt. I don't care if it's video game numbers. If guys keep getting better each week, executing well, limiting mistakes each week, we will be 10-0 and looking every bit deserving of top 5 status when the Spartans come to town.
Much as I have wanted to see a greater sense of urgency from this team, I really like Meyer's words about finding ways to enjoy the wins. We can't get complacent or stop working to get better and improve, but it is very sad to think of these young men or their coaches not able to enjoy being a part of something so special and historic.
The big plays to running QBs were frustrating, but I'm not towered about it for now. Hackenberg is s virtual statue at QB, and Rudock is only slightly more mobile. Biggest concern is avoiding more injuries in the secondary.
I think we win in Ann Arbor and this offense is going like a freight train by the end of November. But I can't argue with those who would say that Michigan is looking better than anyone else in the Big Ten right now. If you pick games based on a three year average of wins and losses, MSU should be favored on Saturday. If you base it on how teams have played this year, the skunkbears should be favored. That said, go Sparty!
I don't like seeing OSU surrender 75 yard runs and 50 yard pass plays, but I'm not much worried froMaryland's success. In our remaining games, the top teams we face all have QBs that are statuesque to very average in terms of their mobility. Whatever challenges they might bring with their arm, I am not the least bit worried about Hackenberg, Cook, or Rudock killing us with their legs, and no one else on the schedule has the skill players to cause us much grief even if they do have a running QB.
We improved from week 5 to week 6. Mission accomplished. New mission - improve from week 6 to week 7, and win. If we keep taking forward steps, we will be ready for Sparty, and for The Game.
Cardale played very well, and JT played very well. Our offensive line.........getting better but still struggling in some confounding ways. Cardale has answered the bell from struggles earlier this year. Zeke is running hard. Receivers are doing a better job with perimeter blocking and getting separation. D-line is getting the pressure and starting to create the chaos we expected. Corners and safeties are a little thin from injuries, but responding well. Hoping the Slobs can begin to blow things open in the next few weeks. Tough test coming against Penn State's defense.
It makes sense, basic math. Red zone there's more space to work with side to side than north/south. In that situation, JT is the one best equipped to use the whole field. Cardale is our starter for how he can stretch things north/south, but JT's skills are better suited when there isn't as much north/south real estate to work with.
Best thing about yesterday was that Braxton is showing signs of arriving as a legit receiver. We appear to be at a place where Marshall, Thomas, and Miller will all need to be reckoned with, or close to it. When that happened, defenses cannot take all three of them away, and account for Zeke. Finally getting close to having that "numerical advantage" that makes our offense explosive and our team a championship caliber contender.
One thing I don't want to hear, if it's again a close game through 3 quarters is, "well, Maryland was a lot better than people gave them credit for." No, they're not. If the Terps stay in this game, it won't be because of parity among teams in the power conferences. It will be because we have again failed to execute. I like what Kevin Wilson's done at Indiana, but unless then enter November with 6 or more wins, I'm far from sold that we faced such a equal opponent last week that they had a first and goal in position to tie in the final minutes.
Was in Taylor from 1991-1993. Great times. A group of us once managed to knock a plexiglass window out of the exit door at the end of our hallway.
At some point this year, I think by the end of October, Braxton will have developed and learned enough as a receiver to be a threat there the way that he was a threat at QB for three years. With his athletic ability and knack for reading the field, there is reason to expect him to become a guy that is nearly impossible to cover.
But while that's happening, badly as Meyer wants Braxton to get touches, I'm glad they're not trying to force things. Once the line comes together to the point where Zeke is gashing teams in the middle again, and the safeties and LBs are having to commit their initial step between the tackles, the edge runs are going to be like a feeding frenzy for Miller, Marshall, Samuel, Wilson.
Last year, the sloppy mess of a dogfight against Indiana (along with similar struggles vs. Michigan and Penn State) were exceptions to the rule, sprinkled among dominant beatings of Cincy, Maryland, Rutgers, MSU, Illinois, and Kent State, games in which with the exception of 49 at MSU we scored 50 or more, games that contributed to a season that set all kinds of offensive records.
We are wrong to expect the same ridiculous explosiveness from a new offense, new coordinator, so much inexperience at WR, etc., but let's not pretend we're the same or better than a season that shattered so many records, because we're just not there. And that's okay.
I think saving any passes we have in mind for Braxton until MSU or TTUN might not be worthwhile. As they are at the back end of November, we have no idea what sort of field/weather conditions we'll be encountering. Even though Meyer has been way more open and explosive with his offense than Tressel, late November tends to be a time to keep the passes short and count on the ground game, especially when out in the elements.
I think tweets about our demise are premature, and the people calling for Ash and Fickell to go were way out of line, but those who tweeted that our struggles against Indiana could keep us out of the playoff were 100% accurate. I don't think anyone in the country believes that if last year's team had simply beaten Wisconsin by a few TDs, we'd have been in the playoff. We got in the playoff because of one of the most dominating performances in recent memory at Lucas Oil Stadium that night. Conversely, an ugly win would have put us in a bowl game against either TCU or Baylor, whichever of them didn't get into the playoff.
I'm a little confused by DJ's take on Cardale at this point. Cardale seems to have regressed, likely somewhat to do with no longer working with Herman who had gotten so much out of him. But he will turn things around, working with Beck instead of Herman, because........??????? That's where it falls flat. I think Cardale is a very good QB. I agree with Carter that he's gotten away from some fundamentals this fall, and it's limiting his effectiveness. I believe he has it in him to get better and turn it around, and quickly. But everything I've read about Cardale and Meyer and Herman and leadership and his growth as a player suggests that Herman put in a lot of work over the last couple years to get the very best out of Cardale. I don't know that Beck can help get him back to where he needs to be.
The stats from Austin Ward are somewhat comforting. Looking at total yards, total plays, yards per play, we can say that we're the same as we were in the first half of 2014. But to me, that's not the whole story. We began 2014 with a starting QB that hadn't played in 2 years, and zero college game experience. In game one, we struggled on offense against Navy for a few quarters before putting them away. Then VT came in and exposed our offense big time. Following those two games, our offense took a couple steps forward by throttling a weak Kent St. team, then passed a bigger test with a dominating win over Cincy in which the offense again improved, then went on the road and beat up Maryland in College Park, improving each week after VT. This year's offense looked very strong against VT. Then seemed to take a step back against Hawaii, to which we all thought, "well, they only got a few days' rest, it'll be fine." Then, they looked lethargic and again didn't show marked improvement against NIU. But they're a very good MAC school, so we shrugged. Against WMU, we did some signs of improvement. But then this past week, they struggled greatly for much of the day. And this was not against a top-rate defense. Point being, while it's true that by some of the numbers we're exactly where we were in our championship season at this time, in terms of trajectory we are going in the wrong direction or treading water as of week 5, while last year's model was taking over and dominating as of week 5. And yes, 2014 had weeks where they took a step back, too. But those were the exception. Championship teams are supposed to win, but also improve as the season goes on. We all expect that we will improve, but it's alarming to not see it happening already.
The last time we had an efficient red zone offense was last year, and the year before that, when we ran the zone read which uses a defense's pursuit and angles against them.
Agree that Marshall needs to be more careful. Though with the losses of Noah Brown and Corey Smith, not sure who is waiting in the wings to emerge. The coaches were high on Parris Campbell, but he has not done well with the opportunities they gave him. Marshall and Thomas are our best bets at wideout, and I fear that with the injuries we have had that the depth behind them is not strong. With Smith,s injury, someone is going to get their chance, maybe several will get platooned until someone gets it done.
I am 100% confident that we get these things resolved. Turnovers, penalties, bad exchanges, timing - these are fixable. That said, I see no shame or betrayal in people expressing disappointment or frustration with the offense. In my amateur opinion, people need to be patient and bear in mind that since we are no longer running the zone read, this is a different offense even though most of the players are the same and that brings change in blocking, assignments, rhythm, play-calling, etc.. But while being patient and trusting, by the standard metrics for offensive performance, we are not a great offense currently. Based on what we have done on the field, we are hardly even a very good offense. We're close, but that doesn't guarantee anything.
I couldn't help thinking as I re-watched the Indiana game that their defense had no fear of Jones at all as a runner. That's a problem. I would love to see more of JT and the zone read, but Meyer has shelved it. Maybe he felt that defenses were starting to adjust and shut it down. I don't think our line has regressed, or our running backs. We've gone from a run game where if a gap is shut to the running back, the QB keeps and looks for another gap, countering the pursuit of the defense, to a run game where if the gap is shut to the running back he pretty much has to put his shoulders down and make the best of it. I don't know if the line is that much less dominant now than last year, but certainly without the dual threat of Zeke or a QB coming downhill depending on which option is most open we don't look the same on offense.
I'm of the opinion that JT would be great as the starter, but the coaches discussing him for red-zone situations is not the same thing as saying that the QB battle isn't resolved. Meyer has decided to go with Jones. If Jones is having an awful game, he may bring in Barrett, in relief. But Jones is still the starter.
I can understand the idea. It's a challenge to have a back-up come in cold in that area of the field, but Cardale missed on, I think, three passes in the first half, and they were all red-zone throws that could have been TDs. For all Jones' strengths, and there are many, the guy is not strong in terms of red zone efficiency. And that includes not just this year, but the historic three game stretch at the end of last year. I'd love to say, "Eh, he'll get it fixed." And it's possible. But it's more than just a mistake or an error, it's a tendency for him to put too much heat on throws in close quarters.
No excuse for the turnovers and the penalties, but we are essentially breaking in a new offense. The formations are the same, and most of the personnel, but without the zone read that was the anchor for everything else last year. It will take time, maybe even more than next week. Though, with PSU's defense, I hope we start clicking soon. I have zero fear of over-rated Hackenberg scoring more than 10 points on us, but if our offense gifts their defense with points, we could be in for a long night.
I'm fine with a person saying, "We stopped them apart from that one play," or maybe even "We stopped them apart from those two plays." But not "We stopped them apart from those three plays." That's like saying, "I could be a doctor, except for the schooling and the skills."
"Especially against a great team like Indiana" was weird to read. They are a talented team, at least a talented offense, for sure. But to hear them called a great team? Weird.
I think it's unfair to be angry at Cardale. JT might be doing better with what's there, and might not. From what I've seen of the pass game this year, the receivers aren't getting the separation that they did last year. When they are getting it, they seem to be getting the ball. But I've seen a lot of tight coverage. I can understand the argument that if the somewhat thinner (this year) receiving corp is struggling to get separation so it's best to have the more mobile, athletic QB to make something out of nothing on the field (Barrett). I also understand the argument that with such a small margin for error, have the guy back there with the best gun (Cardale). All that matters is Meyer makes the call, and he has a mountain more data and info to work from than any of us. If he sees Cardale as the best QB for this offense, so be it.
I'd like to think that it's just a matter of confidence, or momentum, or rhythm, but I think it's more than that. This is a different offense from last year's, and I don't mean in terms of how we're executing but in terms of what we're anchored in. Last year, we were anchored in the zone read. Everything worked off of that, from the jet sweeps to the pass game where I think the receivers were helped by the back seven needing to always have one foot ready to give run support on the edge to stop JT or Elliott when they got to the second level because we were running a scheme that gave us a numbers advantage. Not to mention, and I'm not sure on this, but I'd imagine that blocking up front for the zone read is different enough from blocking for the current run game that the o-line has had to make a lot more adjustments than we expected. This is very much a new offense in terms of design and emphasis, even though the formations are still the same and many of the faces. We've got a few more weeks to get it clicking.
I kind of agree. For the past three years, we've had an offense that was anchored in a steady diet of zone reads where the QB or the RB could sting you, and it was a matter of letting the defense make a move and then responding (literally taking what they give us). That's no longer our offense. This year's offense is more straight-up, pro-style. Because of that, the pass game relies more on play-action, and I think there's just less of a margin for error.
At this time last year, we had put up 50+ for a few consecutive weeks following the loss to VT. I don't think everyone hated Herman last year following our throttling of Maryland.
The comparisons to last year need to stop. It's easy to say returning most of last year's line, and our QBs, and some other skill players from last year that we're the same offense, but by personnel and by design, we're not. Last year, we had a jump ball deep threat who we could just throw the ball up for grabs and he'd go get it. That's not in our offense now. Alters the passing game. Tom Herman is at Houston and with his exit also went the core plays (zone read) from last year's offense that set the table for other things that we did last year. The success of Eilliott and Barrett last year with executing that aspect of our game forced the other team's back seven out of their element, and opened things up for receivers on the back side. Not to mention the blocking up front is handled differently with that offense than with the offense we have now. You have run blocking, and you have pass blocking, but not all run blocking is the same.
Even though personnel and staff is still very much the same, it is different enough this year that we are in many respects breaking in a new offense. We have to keep this in mind in terms of the slow starts and the penalties and mental errors. Back loaded schedule is helping us a lot. Glad that IF we are still sputtering when it comes around to PSU's defense, that we'll have them in the Shoe and not be in Happy Valley.
On the road, close game, down to Thomas, Marshall, and Wilson in terms of really experienced wide-outs, and still no consistent deep threat to stretch the field, and Zeke doing so much damage, I understand the inclination to keep it on the ground.