The Beanie Contingency?
Reports are still varied on the status of Beanie's right foot with talk of either turf toe, a torn ligament or possibly a lisfranc sprain serving as the most repeated versions. All we know so far is Tressel says the injury is not turf toe and that x-rays are negative.
Without anything concrete to make me feel better, I'm hanging my hat on the fact Beanie looked emotionally stable when he came back to the bench - a stark contrast to his demeanor as he was carted off the field. If he thought his season was over, I don't think he would've been able to hide his disappointment and as teammates stopped by to greet him, none of them appeared too floored by whatever info he was sharing.
So, if Beanie can't go in two weeks and beyond, how do you think Tressel will attempt to fill the void? To me, it seems pretty obvious OSU will be forced into a running back by committee approach considering the replacements all lack durability and to a lesser degree, versatility.
Saine can be effective as a receiver as well as running outside the tackles - I was especially impressed when he and Pryor ran the option - but he's not an inside runner and I have questions about his ability to take a 20 carry pounding especially against the likes of USC and Wisconsin. Regardless, he's the starter in any game #28 can't go.
Though Boom Herron vaulted up the depth chart in recent weeks, I wonder if it won't be Maurice Wells that Tressel turns to as Saine's main backup. Tressel loves experience and to his credit, Rasta looked quick and hungry (5/32, 1/10) when given the chance yesterday. That might be enough, unless Boom blows up the Bobcats, to make Tressel go with the senior on the road in the Coliseum.
Lord, let's hope this conversation is a moot point and Beanie returns in time.
The Ghost Looks Focused
After spending last few months trying to vacate Tressel's doghouse, Ray Small turned in a solid, if not spectacular afternoon in multiple facets of the game.
He looked more relaxed as a receiver, hauling in three for 35 yards including a third down conversion. It's only three catches but when 11 different guys are credited with a reception, it's hard to put up gaudy numbers. For me, it was good sign that instead of non-stop dancing after the catch, Small threw a juke or two but generally he appeared focused on running north.
Small also had a solid day on punt returns (4/79) with an impressive 45 yarder late in the first quarter. Again, he threw some moves but for the most part his cuts were made while moving forward as he ran with a greater sense of purpose than we're used to seeing.
When the gun sounded, Ray was second in all-purpose yards with 114 (Beanie 121). I'll take that.
Lastly, I came away impressed with how enthused Small looked when the kids stepped up. I think he was one of the first guys to greet Posey on that sweet TD catch and run down the sideline. I know - just one game - but I think Small's finally drinking the Tressel kool-aid and learning what it takes to be a good player and a selfless teammate.
Special Teams Take a Step Forward
No doubt it was frustrating watching the O bog down in the red zone but the residual was plenty of much needed field goal opportunities.
After a dismal kick scrimmage Pretorious and Pettrey combined to go 5/5 on FG's including a 54 yard pop from Pettrey and a 50 yarder from Pretorious. More important was the appearance that the kicks had more loft upon clearing the line of scrimmage than what we're used to resulting in zero blocks.
With regard to kickoffs, Pettrey (2/9) and Trapasso (1/1) combined to record 3 touchbacks in 10 tries. While I'd certainly prefer a touchback every time, at least the majority of Pettrey's boots had some lift and were caught inside the three giving the coverage team a chance to make a play.
YSU averaged 19.6 per kickoff return and none were longer than 24 yards. Not world beating stats, but a decent start for a team looking to improve on last season's special teams stank.
Should OSU Backups form Big Ten's 12th Team?
Feeling a little giddy at the promise shown by various freshman/reserves, talk amongst my group of game watchers suggested that if the Big Ten wants to expand, maybe OSU should field a second conference team.
Sporting the likes of Pryor, Adams, Brewster, Shugarts, Posey, Flash Thomas, Mo Wells, Herron, Moeller, Hines, Spitler, Rolle etc etc., we figured the B-squad could finish no worse than 4th. We were obviously joking around but there are just so many guys that deserve playing time, it's hard not to think the backups couldn't compete in-conference.
One thing's for sure, it would be tough for teams to stop Pryor and Saine running the option. I'm already wondering how much we'll see of that against USC if Beanie can't go. But I digress..
The best part of this daydream was the notion of watching OSU doubleheaders on Saturdays leading up to a Scarlet versus Gray conference championship game.
Seeing how poorly the rest of the conference teams fared yesterday, maybe this isn't that far fetched of a scenario.
BTN Coverage Struggles to Impress
I'm no stranger to watching games on BTN so I was properly prepared for disappointing coverage and, of course, the network delivered with another shoddy effort.
The only highlight for me came midway through the first half when Charles Davis jokingly complemented YSU on having a balanced offense - five yards passing and five yards rushing.
Some lowlights included the TV clock showing 7:54 remaining for about a thirty minutes. Then, when the producer finally noticed the error, the interim solution was to focus a camera on one of the stadium clocks. The image was so faint it was virtually impossible to read.
The camera crew also had a rough day as Pryor faked them out on numerous occasions. The best example occurred on the second play of the 4th quarter when Pryor faked a give and took off on a shifty 21 yard scamper. With Davis raving about the run, the producer peeled off three replays, two of which didn't even have Pryor in the picture. Mercifully, the third try captured an image of the actual ball carrier. Well done.