We've talked a lot around here about how the Buckeyes offense has not missed a beat from last season, despite having to replace 4 skill players of which one won the Heisman and two others were NFL 1st round selections. We even half-joked that the 2007 version of the Buckeye offense was actually an upgrade from 2006.
While an upgrade may be a bit of a stretch, the numbers seem to indicate that Boeckman, Wells, Robo & Co. are performing just as well as their great counterparts of 2006.
It's a fairly easy case for an upgrade at the running back spot. Beanie is the best Buckeye running back since Eddie and when it's all said and done (only a soph, he's definitely back for one more) he may be regarded as better.
Pitt actually matches up well with Beanie just looking at the data, but when you throw in Wells' 4 carry week off against Kent State, and the fact that you've actually seen him throwing defenders 5 yards downfield with a stiff-arm, this comparison isn't really that close.
No disrespect to Pittman, a very good back, but Beanie operates on that other level.
Raise your hand if you thought Robiskie would put up better numbers than Ginn. To say this would have been pure blashpemy in July, but Robo is indeed an upgrade.
Ginn benefited more from sheer speed than anything else. Even as a senior when his route-running had improved, it still wasn't in the class of what Robo puts out each weekend. Robo has the routes of Holmes and the (college) size and fluidness of David Boston. He's not exactly slow, either.
Anthony Gonzalez was loved for his awesome quotes and knack for making clutch catches. With the injury to Harrison, he's seeing playing time for the NFL's 2nd-best offense and his admirers in Buckeye Nation are numerous.
But there honestly isn't anything I can remember Gonzo doing that I don't think Harline could do.
Through nine games, Hartline is slightly off Gonzo's pace, but some of Gonzo's looks have been distributed to tight ends this season. Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that there's nothing Gonzo did at Ohio State that I don't think Hartline could do.
Still, slight edge to Gonzalez -- but Hartline is only a sophomore.
I'm going to be generous and give Biggie Small an edge over Robo last season as the team's 3rd receier. They each managed to lead the team in receptions through 9 as the 3rd receiver and Small's juke skills and speed are what puts him ahead.
The Ghost is alive and well -- and while not having Ginn-speed, he's close. His 60 yard catch was the longest play from scrimmage Penn State has allowed this season.
Finally, at quarterback, the Buckeyes replaced a Heisman trophy winning quarterback -- a guy many fans considered the best quarterback in school history -- with a guy that's putting up similar numbers, all during his first 8 starts.
Maturity, great size and an NFL-arm have already pushed Boeckman to 4th on the Buckeye list for most touchdown passes in a season with 21. With four to play and seeing how he's thrown at least two touchdowns in every game this season, he has a decent shot at Smith's school record of 30, set last year. Say he falls one short and finishes with 29. That's more than Hoying and equal to Germaine's greatest season.
Smith could bring plays back from the dead with his scrambling ability, but Boeckman is starting to look scary. Against Michigan State two weeks ago and Saturday against Penn State, he went into halftime with at least 180 yards. If called upon, he could easily put up 350. That's a comforting feeling.
The numbers are nearly identical, although Todd has thrown a few more picks. Chalk that up to the fact that it's his first year starting. So, give Smith a slight edge for his ability to create plays, but make no doubt about it -- Boeckman is a better passer right now than Smith will ever be.
The new crew is certainly measuring up to their celebrated predecessors. Of course, this is all just really a testimony to the Vest's ability to tailor his playbook to suit the abilities of the players he has to work with. Run it with Krenzel, move the pocket with Troy and now that he has a classic pocket passer, let it rip.