National TV Turd
It probably won't matter either way after next week but it was unfortunate that the Buckeyes put up such a dismal effort against an inferior opponent on national TV.
Expect the fallout to be shown in the blog poll as the Buckeyes will be lucky to stay in the top 6 after providing a tanker load of kerosene for the haters. The only hope is that the game was so bad that most of the national audience abandoned the game in favor of a rerun of Full House or CHiP's.
Lord knows I was dangerously close to rooting on John and Ponch as they chased some drug dealing surfers in a conversion van instead of watching Ben Person do his best sieve impersonation.
I can already feel my defense mechanism kicking in trying to convince me yesterday was nothing more than a mental letdown thanks to a week of talk about Beanie's toe and USC, which brings me to item number two...
Who's more accountable for yesterday - players or coaches?
The phenomena of playing down to the competition certainly isn't just an OSU thing but it's a tough pill to swallow when both the players and the coaches stink it up the week before the biggest game of the season. I want to scratch for positives out of yesterday's debacle but to do that, I first have to bitch about the negatives.
While the list is long and distinguished, I can only stomach touching on a few of said negatives starting with the coaching. How 'bout that 4th and 1 dive up the gut with the team's least powerful and worst inside rusher (Rasta) running behind a sleepwalking offensive line to kill the first drive of the 2nd quarter?
Calls like that shake my belief in the myth that the staff truly takes individual player skills into account when deciding what play to run.
Though I might meet resistance, I also question not going for two after Boom's TD cut the OU lead to 14-12 with about three minutes left in the 3rd quarter. I know the book says most coaches won't considering going for two until the 4th quarter but I think you try to tie the game right there.
In the end it didn't matter but why not go for it? You only need a FG to take the lead if you fail to convert and you still need a TD either way if you give up a FG to Ohio. In the end, I just hope Tress wasn't worried OU would score a TD putting OSU in a nine point hole if the two point try failed.
I was also puzzled with Boom being benched after sparking the 13 play, 73 yard drive that got OSU back in the game. His numbers during the drive weren't amazing (7/32) but he appeared to find a rhythm behind a line finally opening some holes. Why was he benched? Can he not handle more than 12 carries (50 yards, TD) a game?
On the player side of things, many on the roster had lackluster performances starting with Pretorious. Hell, I didn't even know kickers could get caught looking ahead but after a shanked PAT and a pulled FG, I'm not so sure. The South African wasn't alone, however, as the offensive line and the top two receivers also failed to show up which brings me to item three...
How good are Robo and Hartline?
Due to TV coverage zooming in to the vicinity of the ball it's often difficult to evaluate receivers unless you're at the game but how is it that these two seemingly fail to gain separation from defenders at an alarming clip? The few wide-angle shots yesterday confirmed this after seeing similar issues last week.
This is not to say these guys aren't any good because they definitely are - I just don't think either one is elite especially when you consider the lack of game breaking speed and a lack of consistency. Both had drops yesterday, none more painful than their back to back drops forcing OSU to kick a FG cutting the Bobcat lead to 7-6 late in the second quarter.
Robo struck first as he appeared either not ready or scared to take a hit while Boeckman's slant pass hit him in the hip at the three yard line. On the next play, Boeckman placed a nice ball to the left side of the endzone but Hartline let it go right through his hands. It wasn't routine, but Hartline will tell you he should have had it. These two need to get it going next week to support Small and Sanzenbacher.
Offensive Line Play Will Dictate What Happens at USC
I honestly thought Boom and Zoom with Dreadlocks would combine to have a solid, if not spectacular day and maybe they did rushing 26 times for 113 yards (4.3 ypc) and two scores however the effort put forth by the offensive line was simply unacceptable.
The first half pass and run blocking was about as bad as I've seen outside of the MNC's and after watching USC's defensive line, notably DT Fili Moala (#75), cannibalize UVA's offensive front, I'm going to have trouble sleeping this week.
I said before the season this group still had a lot to prove and they haven't proved anything yet. I still think Ben Person is useless and I'm not sure Bryant Browning is improving at a rate the recent coach-speak might suggest. He's slow to protect the edge and you can bet Surfer Pete is going to exploit any weaknesses the line has shown to date.
Spielman is the God of all Sideline Reporters
Without question, the highlight of the day was Spielman's work on the Buckeye sideline. I know he's really a booth guy and we love him for his emotion but his insight is incredible. Sure, he was funny as hell because he was getting pissed at the shameful effort put forth by OSU early and his observations about the receivers not getting open and the lack of intensity up front were right on the mark.
I'd go through the tape to cite specific quotes but watching that diarrhea inducing effort once was enough. I will say his calling out of the o-line for participating in a pillow fight was one of the most awesome things I've ever heard on TV.
Maybe Tress should hire Spielman as Chief Motivator since the Vest seems to sometimes struggle in this department. I think that post might be a little more valuable than a Speed Coach at this juncture.