The regular season that took so long to arrive has finally ended.
Back in August the Eleven Warriors staff got together to fling 2011W predictions at each other. As you will see below, prognostication isn't what a typical corporate talent review would refer to as a core competency for Team 11W.
We had high hopes for the 2011. You had high hopes. The spring and summer of Tatgate refused to end and we convinced ourselves that if we could just get to football season, everything would be all right.
Luke Fickell, his best buddy from college and the rest of his fellow assistants would simply slide over one place on the org chart and make everything work as it had for the past decade.
Maybe Tressel's absence and the turmoil from all of the real and fabricated scandals would cost the Buckeyes a game or two. Optimism is a drug; you can overdose, and we obviously did.
Below are the 11W staff's predictions for the 2011W season from August. As you'll see, on the big ticket items, we were...off. You wish we were right. We do too. *sigh*
But we weren't completely stupid, and that's something we hope to build on for our 2012 preview when we'll fight every urge to predict that Urban Meyer's offense will not be held under 70 once. That's called perspective.
2011W final scorecard: PFFFFFFT
|Ohio State's 2011 record:||9-3||10-2||11-1||9-3||10-2||9-3||8-4||9-3||9-3||6-6|
This year's team had been expected to trot to the B1G championship game in Indianapolis, and then Tatgate happened. Most of the staff saw Tressel's firesigtirement costing the Buckeyes anywhere from two to three wins, with DJ being the most optimistic and Luke turning the wayback machine to 2004. At two full games off the gruesome reality, even Luke was way off.
The Miami game was a lost cause; the Buckeyes were at their absolute worst that night and did not look competent for a whole quarter.
The other five losses came by a combined 25 points and Ohio State could have won any or all of them had a couple of plays gone the other direction. At the same time, Toledo, Illinois and Wisconsin could have just as easily gone south for the winning team.
At risk of channeling former Indiana coach Bill Lynch (who famously suggested that IU was "only 12 plays away from playing in a bowl game") the Buckeyes were at least that many plays away from changing the complexion of their season.
That's too many plays for a team that failed too many times to make them.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: 9-3.
|OSU Bowl Destination||Capital One||Sugar||Rose||Capital One||Fiesta||Capital One||Gator||Capital One||Capital One||Gator|
Since we went 0-fer in the season record, it only makes sense with the B1G's tie-ins that our bowl predictions were laughably inaccurate as well. Luke wins for having the Buckeyes in the Gator Bowl, albeit with a far more palatable 8-4 record.
Note that the Gator is the Big Ten's fourth-place bowl tie-in, and that Buckeyes are going despite finishing tied for eighth place. Ugh, that sentence sucks so much.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Capital One Bowl
ACTUAL: Gator Bowl
B1G DIVISION CHAMPIONS
|Leaders Champ||Wisco||Wisco||Ohio State||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco||Wisco|
Wisconsin is almost the consensus pick to be most appreciative beneficiary of Tatgate, while Nebraska and Michigan State are the clear 1-2 in the Legends (I had to look this up) division.
The 11W staff, like the wizards we sometimes are, saw the October 17 meeting between Wisconsin and Michigan State as the non-Ohio State B1G game of the year, and we were sort of in the ballpark. <-- not as much of backhanded compliment as it is a raspberry at ourselves
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Wisconsin vs. Nebraska for the B1G title & Pasadena trip.
ACTUAL: NAILED IT.
everybody GOT out of braxton miller's way, as expected
Braxton was pre-ordained as Ohio State's starter back in 2008. Saying he'd be the starter in 2011 with only an elderly baseball player standing in his way wasn't exactly salient, but given the decision making of this coaching staff, it wasn't necessarily a dunk either.
Clearly we took that indecision into consideration. Had we asked ourselves how long it would have taken Ryan Shazier to see the field we probably would have missed that one by about five games.
We were as mystified when Miller was completely held out of the Toledo game as we were when Joe Bauserman came into the Nebraska game with a three-score lead and promptly began launching clock-stopping passes into the Memorial Stadium stands.
Once Joey B looked completely lost at the Miami beatdown - as the cameras caught him chuckling on the sideline in defeat - the prophesy was all but fulfilled:
|Starter vs. Akron||Miller||Baus||Baus||Miller||Baus||Baus||Baus||Baus||Baus||Baus|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Bauserman sets the table for the future.
ACTUAL: NAILED IT. AGAIN. /high fives
When Boom Herron returned from his suspension he made it appear as though he was going to reinvent the offense with his production as well as the mere threat of his production. Unfortunately, after starting with a bang, he got less and less effective, finishing his final regular season as a Buckeye with a whimper: A meager 37 yards on 15 carries.
Jordan Hall had his flashes, but they were exactly that and little else. Mike Brewster had a surprisingly underwhelming season; a preseason Rimington candidate, he ended up barely on the B1G's second team. Jake Stoneburner, like all of the tight ends before him in the Tressel era, was largely forgotten for most of the season.
DeVier Posey elevated the offense and made it abundantly clear just how much his presence was missed, but he played in two games. That leaves Miller - the team's leading passer, rusher and scorer - as the clear MVP of the offense.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Boom would come back to the rescue.
ACTUAL: Jason is a great evaluator of talent. The rest of us...
defense: top 30 again, yet underwhelming
Tatgate's roster damage was largely confined to the setting-up-the-punt side of the ball, but the loss of Nate Williams unexpectedly crippled the Buckeyes' pass rush. The linebackers were thinner than expected and Tyler Moeller, though valiant in his return, wasn't his old self. On top of that, "Howard Island" wasn't the shutdown corner that his self-given nickname purports he is. There is still time.
The two best defenders this season were John Simon and Jonathan Hankins. The edge should go to Simon.
|Defensive MVP||Simon||Sweat||Orhian Johnson||Moeller||Moeller||Moeller||Nate Williams||Howard||Moeller||Simon|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: A fitting end to Ty Moeller's 39-year college career.
ACTUAL: Alex FTW. Everyone else FTL. Ramzy and DJ FTLOL
STILL wanted: YOUNG guys for braxton to throw to
Verlon Reed went down for the year. Posey missed ten games. T.Y. Williams has tennis racket hands and Philly Brown occasionally had seal flippers. Devin Smith had trouble getting open. Tight ends weren't pass-eligible (were they? debatable)
In hindsight this was a trick question: Ohio State threw for a total of 1489 yards. Western Michigan's Jordan White and Houston's Patrick Edwards each had more receiving yards by themselves than Ohio State had total passing yards. To lead Ohio State in receptions this year, you only needed 15 catches. That's not even two per game.
As Jim Bollman eschewed safe, short passes in favor of...whatever the hell that was for 11 games, we're confident this is one area of frustration that the next regime will soothe, quickly.
|2 WRs Who Emerge||Reed and Smith||Reed and Smith||Reed and T.Y. Williams||Reed and Stoney||Reed and Brown||Reed and Smith||T.Y. Williams and Smith||Reed and Smith||Brown and Smith||Nobody|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Reed & Smith would give defenses nightmares.
awwwwww isn't that cute you contributed right away
We were all right on the impact freshmen (Reed would have shined...well, it's all relative) but nobody saw Shazier coming. Miller was the safe pick, and it was the right pick:
|Top Freshman||Miller||Miller||Reed (RS)||Miller||Miller||Bennett||Smith||Miller||Miller||Miller|
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Four years of high school hype couldn't be wrong.
ACTUAL: We can't wait to see him in a real, competently-run FBS-level offense
start engraving the trophy for most inspirational player
From the season preview:
The most important award named for the guy you should know more about is the only clean sweep of the season. We all think it's going to be the guy not named Methuselah or Bauserman who has been around the longest. He of the stapled cranium, the surgically re-attached pectoralis, the four fewer teeth as of this summer, the four Gold Pants and five championship rings (all still in his possession NO WAY OMG) and the proud manifestation of the model train jones that you've kept repressed for so many years.
If Tyler Moeller isn't this year's Bo Rein award winner, something amazing will have happened. Anything short of another player assassinating the pissed off owly-looking Al Qaeda guy who took over for Osama in the south end zone during a live game after scoring a touchdown - and then flashing his bloody Nike Block O gloves at the camera amidst the deafening cheers while he's flagged for excessive celebration - is going to result in Moeller taking home the prize he richly deserves.
We'll have to wait until the awards banquet to confirm, but as inspiring as Miller and Simon were with their effort, what Moeller has endured transcends any play or game.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: Moeller.
ACTUAL: Ty already won it from 11W. The rest is details.
your 2011w ohio state most valuable player
How exactly does one choose an MVP for a 6-6 team that finished 107th in total offense and saw its defense shredded by Michigan for the first time in eight years? Based on results, this will be more symbolic - not unlike temporary captains - than based on merit.
Like Terrelle Pryor before him, Miller's natural ability prevented pitiful offensive playcalling from looking even worse than it was. His absence directly led to the Nebraska loss, he won the Wisconsin game, he was a botched PAT from winning the Purdue game and had the defense showed up at all, he would have been the clear MVP of the Michigan game despite some errant throws.
Even with the outgoing Nick Siciliano "coaching" him, Miller shined with his natural athleticism and his still-uncorrected throwing mechanics. Ohio State finished 107th in total offense in 2011. Look for at least a 50-spot improvement in 2012, largely on #5's back.
11W COMPOSITE PREDICTION: A senior leader from the offense.
ACTUAL: The freshman who kept it from completely falling apart.
Finally, 11W sends heartfelt gratitude to Luke Fickell for gracefully handling a thankless job as a temporary program steward and unenviable crisis manager. His hair is still somehow dark, which in and of itself is either a miracle of genetics or the result of inner serenity we wish we possessed.
We'll leave you with our words of wisdom from August, below. No further comment is necessary. We're happy to see the Buckeyes play in a bowl game - in any bowl game - but we're also quite ready for the Urban era.
this season will be a success if:
Alex: Ohio State beats Michigan.
Chris: Miller wins the job and limits turnovers.
DJ: Ohio State wins the B1G and beats Michigan.
Jason: Ohio State wins every game it's favored to win. This means Fickell is more Tressel than Cooper.
Joe: Miller makes good decisions with the ball.
Johnny: Leadership emerges on offense and defense and the team doesn't implode after an early loss.
Luke: Ohio State has a season that can make fans proud, provides invaluable experience to the future of the program, and lays the stage for the next era of OSU football.
Ramzy: The transition into Fickellball is seamless and uncomplicated. Ohio State has to win in Ann Arbor by a comfortable margin, as the rosters are not close.
Sarah: This team eventually clicks like a Tressel team would.
THIs season will be a failure if:
Alex: Ohio State loses to Michigan.
Chris: No QB emerges, forcing a season-long rotation.
DJ: Losing to Brady Hoke.
Jason: Losing to Michigan or dropping five games.
Joe: QB unsettled throughout the season.
Johnny: November record is 2-2 or worse.
Luke: The pulse of the program in its current iteration is contingent on Jim Tressel as its heart valve so to speak.
Ramzy: Open tryouts at QB, RB and WR last into the Colorado game.
Sarah: Ohio State loses to Michigan.