OSU 27 – Toledo 22. OK, you saw it. I saw it. It is over. It was ugly, very ugly. I was surprised but probably should not have been. Don’t we do this pretty much on an annual basis? Sort of like some dreaded family reunion. You have to go, but you really don’t want to go there. Still, you show up and make nice and are miserable. You keep reminding yourself that if you make it through this stupidity without a nasty divorce you get to go to Florida next week. So our young Buckeye team sleep-walked through a near MACatastrophe. This was not unlike what we have done in years past against Ohio, Marshall, Bowling Green, Cincinnati and Navy. It is not a good thing, but seems to be something of a rite of passage. The difference this year is we are not sure we have enough playmakers on the field to flip the switch when the competition merits doing so. First a word to those five to ten thousand “fans” who thought it was appropriate to boo when Joe Bauserman avoided a sack by throwing the ball away or missed a receiver. We have been over this before; it is never, and I do mean never, appropriate to boo a player in scarlet and gray. Second, if you are going to behave in such a manner please go to your family reunion or whatever lame activity you have in your sad little life and stay the hell out of our stadium. OK, back to the matter at hand. My observations were as follows. On Defense. The Bucks tackled very poorly, especially on the perimeter. We did a lousy job of shedding blocks, which were probably holds. It seemed that we had players in position to make plays on the quick screens and hitch passes which gave us so much trouble, but they whiffed or got locked up with blockers too long. This is very fixable, and I trust will be remedied. Pass coverage. Our DB’s cover very well. I saw very few receivers open beyond five yards beyond the LOS. No one was fooled by the attempted double pass (thus, it stayed a single pass). We had some trouble with the Wildcat formation. Beyond the first time, I do not know why. Toledo’s offense was good, and they were fast. It will be interesting to see if they move the ball this Friday when they host Boise State in the Glass Bowl. That may tell us a lot more than my ramblings. We really need John Simon on the field. When he left on a cart in the third quarter, to be re-animated in the locker room, it was scary. Fortunately he returned in time to lead a late defensive stand and save the day. It would also help if Nathan Williams would be available this week, but I just learned he was scoped today and is out indefinitely. Andrew Sweat and Dominic Clark are players. Tyler Moeller, please come back to being what you used to be.
Offense: Joe Bauserman started hot then cooled off. His receivers need to do a better job of making plays for him, especially on the long balls. Joe needs to know that if he puts the ball within your grasp, you will beat the defender and go get the ball. I would have loved to have seen Braxton Miller play, but I don’t think there was any place to get him in. The coaches see him every day in practice and they know what he can and cannot do and what he knows and what confuses him. If they thought he would have helped the cause last Saturday he would have played. Please trust our coaches. Luke and company were doing all they could to win the game against Toledo. Sure Braxton may be the future, but with this team we had damn well better stay in the moment. And at this moment Bauserman gives us the best chance to win. I hope that changes some in Florida.
The one coaching decision I will question is this. When we were driving to salt the game away middle of the 4th quarter why did we give the ball to a freshman who fumbled last week? That should have been Carlos Hyde’s ball all the way on that drive. If we had scored, we would not be going through all this angst. Field goals. Someone needs to do a Jedi mind-meld for Drew Basil. He looks so good on the PATs and is even OK on kickoffs, but what happens on the field goals. I know he has a cast on his arm and hand, but cannot figure out how that screws up his kicking. I guess we need to remember that it was toe injury which ended Dizzy Dean’s pitching career. Maybe the cast throws off his weight shift as he kicks. I think Drew may need to hire one of Tiger Woods’ former swing coaches and implement the stack and tilt. My friend Roger Obenauf is available to explain and demonstrate the stack and tilt to the uninitiated. Our special teams as a whole are a mess. Why? Didn’t we used to win with special teams and defense? Kickoff coverage has been spotty at best and we are coming up against a team who, if my memory is correct, took back both a punt and a kickoff for TD’s last year. We have had a punt blocked and to the naked eye Ben Buchanon seems slow in getting the punts off, not that the block was his fault. Now that we have had a kick blocked there is blood in the water and every team we play will be trying for the block. We have been below average in special teams for the last several seasons and I don’t get it. One last gripe about the offense is that our RBs seem to lack vision at times and make bad cuts. That may very much be an experience thing. Hyde in particular, has made some nice cuts, but has missed a few opportunities too. I am not sure what to make of the offensive line just yet. They appear to be coming off the ball quicker and harder than in years past. They have done a good job for the most part in pass pro. We do OK at the LOS, but do not seem to be able to get any helmets on guys in the next level, allowing the LBs and safeties to keep blowing up our plays.
All in all, we need to keep several things in mind. First this is a very, very young football team. Secondly, missing the suspended parts is hurting a lot. Whoever the playmakers are going to be this year, we have not seen them yet. That could be because they are young and have not yet fully emerged, or they may not have played yet. Another distinct possibility is that we are just not very good. If we lose to Miami, brace yourself, 2011 is going to be a rocky ride. If we beat Miami, remain with your seatbacks fully upright and your seatbelts fastened because I am not sure if Miami is any good either. We do know for sure that there will be turbulence with the Spartans, Huskers and Badgers.
Other games last week:
Notre Dame at Michigan: The first night game in the big house. Wow! Electricity comes to Ann Arbor. Every week we get some team on national TV changing their unis. Weasels, were your regular home jerseys not ugly enough? The Weasel throw-back jerseys were more throw up than throw- back and on HD TVs no doubt caused projectile vomiting throughout the nation. By comparison Notre Dame’s throwback uniforms were just silly. I thought their helmets looked a bit like a Lucky Charms cereal box. It looks like Irish coach Kelly has cleaned up his potty mouth. I did not see Irish coach Kelly swear once. Sadly his defensive backs play did not improve as much as their coach’s vocabulary. You gotta feel for Coach Kelly. His defensive game plan was sound. Stop the run, contain Denard Robinson and force him to pass. They did just that. Then when Robinson launched passes which had the parabolic arc of a miss-fired mortar, the Irish DBs wobbled around aimlessly while the Weasel receivers accepted the gifts floating down from heaven. The Irish looked like early astronomers, staring skyward in silly outfits, not quite knowing what they were seeing. It was the most amazing example of bad air defense since we attacked Iraq. With a secondary of Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Jose Feliciano Notre Dame will get scored on more than Paris Hilton. Just a suggestion but I’ll bet Michael Floyd could double as a DB at times much the way Chris Gamble did for the Bucks in the 2002-03 seasons. All this allowed Weasel coach Brady Hoax to be off and running (probably in pursuit of the Krispy Kreme truck) with a 2-0. I am not sure whether Coach Hoax more closely resembles Fozzie Bear or Flounder of Animal House.
South Caroline at Georgia: The Bulldogs are now following up their stellar 6-7 2010 campaign with a 0-2 start. The only thing anyone cares about in Athens now is who their next coach will be.
Alabama at Penn State: Nick Saban and the Tide looked like they were just trying to get out of Nittanyville without embarrassing the natives and their ancient chief. I think Alabama is really good, especially on defense.
Iowa vs. Iowa State: The campaign to make Kirk Ferentz Coach of the Year permanently has been sidetracked. Still the Hawkeye faithful will want to extend his contract because you never know when the NFL may need a guy who can’t win championships and looses to his rival (and a very mediocre one at that). Just a tip to Coach Ferentz, John Cooper is still waiting for that same phone call.
LSU at Mississippi State (Thurs): I don’t think all the cowbells in Starkville can stop the Tigers. After rudely dispatching the Demons from Northwestern state, the Bayou Bengals are ready for anything.
MSU at Notre Dame: Notre Dame is not as bad as their 0-2 record indicates, but they are bad enough to lose to the Spartans and become 0-3. Somehow, the Irish are favorites; what does Vegas know that we don’t?
Boise State at Toledo (Fri): Wouldn’t it be nice to see the Rockets hang with Boise? Would that not give us a sense of optimism and reduce our reliance on antacids before kickoff Saturday.
OU at Florida State: I think Alabama, LSU and OU are really good. I think FSU is high up among the “pretty goods”. Can pretty good beat really good? No
Ohio State at Miami: Last year the Buckeye defense had very little problem with the Hurricane offense. Cane coach Randy Edsall has banned earrings and caps indoors. Does he mean caps as in “hats” or caps as in “if you say that about my momma again I’m gonna bust a cap in yo ass?” I recall that in a similar step toward a more disciplined program previous coach Randy Shannon had banned guns from the team’s facilities. Sounds like the place is going to be a monastery pretty soon. In 2010, the Canes hurt us with their return game and helped us with Jacory Harris penchant for throwing picks. We look every bit as vulnerable to returns, but Harris has been suspended so we have no evidence if his generosity will continue.
We need to be able to run the ball this week. Really. We need some big plays on defense like fumbles and interceptions. Special teams need to not screw up. Sounds like a pretty simple (and obvious) formula for victory. Control the LOS, win the turnover battle and be OK in special teams. I really have no idea. We saw Miami lose to Maryland, but they were without eight players who had been suspended for just one game. Plus no one knows if Maryland is any good and everyone was distracted by their ugly uniforms. Will we see some more of Jamaal Berry and possible Braxton Miller. Too many questions for this simple mind to know anything for sure. We just have learned that our three suspended players (not to be confused with our 4 other still suspended players) have been reinstated. If the NCAA geniuses don’t change their minds again, this should be good news. How much it will matter is anyone’s guess. So, just for fun I will predict a Buckeye victory to the tune of 27-17. Yes, you read that right; Drew Basil emerges from his funk and stack and tilts two field goals. Here’s hoping! My real advice is to start drinking early for this one.