Five Things: Illinois

By Chris Lauderback on November 16, 2008 at 4:00 pm

The Middle Cinnamon Roll
If you've ever thrown down an 8 pack of Pillbury's oven baked cinnamon rolls you know two things. One, they are orgasmically delicious. Two, the middle one is the greatest and softest of them all. With those two facts in mind, my brother has officially annointed Beanie as the Middle Cinnamon Roll.

First, there's no doubt he's a great back. A healthy Beanie is the best back in the country and yesterday was another example. He continously displayed his power dragging players for extra yards while also showing his agility and quickness hitting holes and hurdling helpless defenders to the tune of 24 carries and 143 yards - good for a hair under six yards a pop.

Impressively, Beanie didn't have a negative yardage play (3 for no gain) while busting runs of 13, 25, 30 and 35 in a consistenly bruising performance.

The other side of the coin, however, is this marked another game where he left the field at least twice due to tweaks. Look, I'm not saying the guy isn't a workhouse nor am I trying to pile on because I've got nothing but love for #28 but I can't help but challenge the whole warrior label that some want to place on him.

The continuous nicks causing him to remove himself from the game mean something, don't they? If nothing else, don't they register on the radar of NFL scouts who supposedly leave no stone unturned? I don't know..I'm not losing sleep over this I'm just wondering what you all think about this topic. Is he a warrior in your mind? Are the constant nicks and plays missed legit in your book? Will it impact his draft status? I'm honestly curious as to what everyone thinks about this taboo topic.

The Deer, The Steer and Our Fear
Even with the Illini defense armed with the knowledge a running play was coming (52 rush, 10 pass), Beanie and Pryor couldn't be stopped. Force yourself to give the line some of the credit - don't just shower it all on the Deer and the Steer. Pryor was electric running 13 times for 110 yards and a score while Beanie got loose for the aforementioned 24/143. To put up those stats with that lack of balance is a testament to the guys up front, though I don't have much good to say about Illy's front four.

I can't believe I'm typing this but Rehring actually had two great blocks according to my notes (my handwriting is sloppy and I was sitting in a bar so maybe I'm misreading) and Cordle also created some running lanes in between he and Brewster. I don't care if OSU played Columbus State, to put up nearly 6 yards a pop when the defense knows you are running 84% of the time is impressive.

Of course, the concern with all this is that even though OSU again won the surest way on a windy day for the second consecutive Saturday, the lack of balance, or even preparation for furture balance could be setting the Buckeyes up for the annual bowl melt down. Sure, running it 84% of the time (74% last week) will get past chumps like Northwestern, Illinois and Michigan, but I don't think that approach is gonna fly against a legit bowl foe. That said, what do you do? I don't particularly blame Tressel for the play calling considering the weather and the fact Illy couldn't stop the run but I'm not sure the overall offense is improving due to lack of need to throw a pass.

Regardless of who OSU is matched up with in January, they are certain to at least be better than anyone on this year's schedule with the exception of USC and possibly Penn State. Trying to run it 4 out of 5 plays, in good weather, isn't going to get in done in a bowl. I hope Tress has some WD-40 for TP's throwing arm. It's going to be rusty...

Thanks for the Dirty Hit
I've never been a Ron Zook fan so my bias is probably in play here but are they not a DIRTY team? Seriously, I will always excuse an agression penalty in the flow of the game but Zooker's boys were a little over the top. Beyond the extra cirriculars that weren't called, they spent a lot of time pushing, shoving and woofing after plays in a way that the 'Canes would be proud of.

In particular, I think it was #4 Donsay Hardeman, who was responsible for the helmet to helmet hit on Sanzenbacher on the TD drive putting OSU up 30-13. Without DVR, I think I recall it was a 3rd and 4 at midfield when Pryor fired a pass intended for Dane that another Buckeye WR tipped. If not for the suspension worthy hit, Illinois would've gotten the ball back down only 10 but personal foul kept the TD drive alive. Thanks, Dirty.

And what's up with Vontae Davis? Why does such an established and talented player feel the need to chirp after every play? He went out of his way to jaw with Pryor, which was ironic from the standpoint that resident idiot and ESPN analyst Andre Ware forgot to notice. I guess Ware was too busy criticizing Pryor's comments after the NU game to notice how a seasoned veteran like Davis behaves on the field.

Seriously, did you guys catch Ware essentially saying Pryor's comments fire up a defense and change the game? Idiotic. If that's the case, then what's the excuse for Pryor torching the fired up Illini defense for 110 yards (8.5 ypc)? Am I to believe if wouldn't have talked he would've had 200 yards rushing? Bottom line, words don't make defenses better and words don't break tackles. Ware belongs on Raycom, at best.

Where'd the Defense Go?
Once again, Juice and the Ilini offense gave the Buckeye D fits racking up 455 total yards (season high against OSU) though the Buckeyes did stiffen up a bit in the second half yielding just 163 after surrendering 292 in the first.

The first half was highly frustrating as Heacock stayed almost exclusively in zone and chose not to blitz Juice on more than a few obvious passing downs and/or 3rd and mediums allowing the shady passer to survey the field. One particularly painful example was Juice's first TD pass on 3rd and 6 at the OSU 8 yard line. He had all day to throw before launching a turd to Chamberlain for the score. That play killed me because the few blitz calls to that point seemed to pay off. To his credit, however, Heacock did dial up more blitzing as the game wore on.

I thought Moeller, in particular, did some nice work off the blitz in place of an injured Hines. A Moeller blitz forced Juice into the second quarter INT and he ended up with 7 tackles (2 TFL) and forced a fumble on the day.

As for his mates, the first half was a missed tackle convention resulting in numerous long runs. In the opening half, Illinois racked up 167 yards rushing on the strength of 8 yards per carry. Ridiculous.

Though this unit didn't have its best game but they did enough to slow Illinois in the second half allowing just 47 yards rushing on 14 attempts (3.35 ypc) keeping the game from ever being in doubt. Problem is, Illinois just isn't any good. All I can say is thank goodness OSU got some early turnovers or this would have been a totally different game.

Other Stuff

  • Hartline is now officially on my list. I was already a little salty on him after reports he was one of the whiners when Boeckman was shown the pine then followed up by more than his share of drops but yesterday put me over the edge. In case you don't already know what I'm talking about, I'm referencing the 3rd and 7 reverse to Hartline midway through the fourth quarter. As Hartline neared the sideline, he blatantly avoided any contact stepping out of bounds just shy of the marker. Of course, TP picked up the first down on a sneak but what the hell was Hartline doing? Total wuss move. And don't tell me he was concentrating on the sticks and thought he had enough yards - I don't think he ever even looked. Inexcusable to not stay in bounds and turn up field whether you get the first down or not.
  • Malcolm Jenkins had another strong day with 2 tackles, 3 pass break ups and his second blocked punt of the season. He now leads the team with 8 break ups (not counting all the ladies he's sent packing!). Man, I'm gonna miss that guy. A true Buckeye.
  • Kurt Coleman's INT gave him a team leading fourth of the season and he also had a career high with 11 tackles. Of course, that's bound to happen with RB's are dancing in your secondary for much of the game.
  • I said it last week too, but it was great to see Boom in there looking healthy again. He's no Beanie but he moves the pile pretty well for a guy with that frame and can make guys miss.
  • What the hell happened on OSU's last drive of the first half? Taking possession with 2:39 to go, Tress played it so conservative that he left :41 on the clock knowing full well his defense had no mojo to that point. I get running the ball four consecutive times to start the drive but to not throw, or even roll out with the possibility of a throw, on 3rd and 3 near midfield was a little painful to watch. AJ then shanks a 33 yarder and Illy does their thing to make it 23-13 at the break. Not fun to watch.