Defensive Line Sets the Tone
We must consider the level of competition but the D-line gave Painter and the entire Boiler offense fits for much of the day.
Once again, Thaddeus Maximus led the charge up front recording six stops including two TFL's, a forced fumble and a sack. Dude has been a flat out monster since cracking the starting lineup. I love his motor. The move is one of few coaching decisions that hasn't made me vomit in this train wreck of a season though it should've come about a month earlier.
Gibson wasn't alone this week, however, as Abdallah contributed a sack (3 tkl) with Larimore and Denlinger adding their own TFL's. Worthington was also a presence adding 3 stops in addition to helping hurry Painter in the pocket.
The pressure from up front helped force a supposed preseason Heisman candidate into a 23/51, 1 INT performance and the group also helped stop the run as Purdue was held to 2.7 yards per carry (26/70).
Again, the level of competition must be factored in, but the line has at least shown some improvement in both production and in their ability to tie up blockers so the LB's can make some stops (Animal 10, Freeman 9).
Bottom line, this unit still has a ways to go but at least they are showing signs of life. With Ringer in the on-deck circle, they'll need to prove this wasn't more a product of Purdue's suck than their growth if OSU plans to escape East Lansing with a W.
Time for a Change at PK?
Considering our offense is famous for getting less effective the closer it gets to the goal line, should OSU consider putting AARP co-chair Ryan Pretorious on the pine in favor of Aaron Pettrey?
Yesterday's 38 yard miss in the 2nd quarter capped off the most aggravating possession of the day (more on that later) and probably got the crowd in trouble with all the goody-two-shoe fans as boos rained down on the field at a clip Pacman Jones would be proud of.
On the year, Pretorious is now 13/17 but he's only 6/10 from 30+ yards out and just 2/5 from 40+ while Pettrey is 2/2. I know, that's just two kicks, but Pettrey was also 5/7 last year from 40+ yards. Some might advocate the current pseudo two-kicker system wherein Pettrey kicks the long ones but I say bench Pretorious and let Pettrey kick full time. I'm tired of holding my breath waiting for the ball to first clear the line of scrimmage then to see if it might actually have a straight flight pattern.
This Week's WTF? Coaching Moment
There were a few WTF Coaching Moments to choose from but nothing was more upsetting than OSU's response to the Jenkins INT that set the Buckeyes up at the Purdue 30 yard line with 14:54 left in the half and already up 10-0. This was a chance to step on Purdue's neck so what do Tressel and Bollman come up with? They insert Mo Freaking Wells into the lineup and proceed to run him two straight times setting up a 3rd and 5 which turns into 4th and 2 after a Pryor scramble then Pretorious shanks the aforementioned 38 yarder. Cue me reaching for the nitro-glycerin pills...
What's so mind-blowing is that unless Beanie was unable to play, which didn't yet appear to be the case, why the F is Mo Wells in there with a chance to put the game away? I'll tell you why. Probably because Tressel was sticking with his usual script of getting his backup RB in there early to get some touches.
I don't necessarily disagree with that strategy as a basic concept, however to not have Beanie in on that series, with that field position, is a crime. Also, I think that strategy is further compromised when it's not truly your second best RB (Boom) that you are putting out there - it's your third best RB, behind a horsesh!t line. To not have your best players on the field at that time is a disservice to your team. Period.
I feel like a growing segment of the fan base continues to pile on Heacock and Bollman (rightfully so) but at what point does some of the blame shift to Tressel? It's not like he's a CEO/Coach like Cooper where the assistants do all the heavy lifting. Plus, he's the same guy that was getting credit a few weeks back for waking up the offensive line. Now that they are clearly back in their slumber, does that mean all the heat goes back to Bollman but not Tressel? I'm tired of it.
Don't misconstrue my comments to say Tressel needs to go because he doesn't. I just think he should be held more accountable because he's not putting his players in the best position to succeed with his play calling and his loyalty to at least one coordinator that is no longer effective is jeopardizing the program.
Beanie Expresses Frustration
Don't know if you caught the actual postgame locker room interviews on Fox local but Beanie was clearly frustrated with the way the game unfolded. Besides his own health issues - his toe and a recent flu bug - he also chose his words carefully while offering not-so-veiled criticism toward the play calling and the performance of his offensive line.
“We’ve got to be able to pass the ball. Me being a running back, you’re probably not expecting me to say that. But it’s true. We’ve got to pass the ball. Not even to give me more room, just to have a better game plan. We’ve got to get the ball downfield to Robiskie and Hartline and all our young guys. We’re just not getting the ball to our playmakers.”
I can't find any other actual transcript quotes but he also made it clear the offensive line needed to block because it doesn't matter what play is called if the backfield is full of defenders before a play can develop.
One last thought on Beanie. While I'm sitting here banging on Tressel for not having Beanie in on a key drive, I can't help but feel Beanie is sometimes more than okay with being out of the lineup. I mean, if Spielman was a RB on the sidelines during that 2nd quarter drive starting at Purdue's 30, do you think he'd just be standing off in the distance with his helmet pushed up waiting for the coach to send him back in? Me neither. Just sayin'.
Jenkins is So Fun to Watch
I want to end on a positive note so how 'bout Malcolm Jenkins yesterday? In the first half alone he registered a blocked punt, an interception and a sick pass breakup on a 4th and 2 try.
Beyond the statistical production, he continues to be the emotional anchor of a defense that has played better in recent weeks and we're gonna miss him more than we realize when he heads to the NFL.