Well, it’s been another interesting week, which is to say it’s been another week of football season. Remember the off-season? I’ve blocked it from my consciousness. Nothing but football in my head this week.
Hang Loose, Buckeye Fans
We’ve all witnessed a lot of angst over the Buckeyes’ performance in what had to be the Worst. Blowout. Win. Ever. Or at least the worst one since last year. The Rainbow Warriors traversed 15 time zones to visit the Shoe last Saturday, and it became clear early on that Tech lag trumps jet lag, as the Buckeyes looked a lot more fatigued than what had to be a road-weary Hawaii squad. The Rainbows showed up ready to play, unlike the Buckeyes, who seemed to have confused a visit from Hawaii with a trip to Hawaii. Maybe there’s something to that Haka thing. I mean, it’s no Quick Cals, but I suppose you have to work with the traditions you have. Of course, Ohio State’s vastly superior talent eventually prevailed over a valiant effort from an outclassed Warrior team. I guess fancy dances and snazzy uniforms can only help for so long.
I actually think it was good for the Buckeyes to struggle a little bit (on offense, anyway). I’ve been growing increasingly uncomfortable with the Buckeye love-fest in the national media. A little reality check is always good (thanks, Ramzy), and you just know that Urban used the Bucks’ early “struggles” to the team’s eventual benefit during practice this week. But, with all due respect to the esteemed Mr. Nasrallah, there were definitely some things not to like in last Saturday’s easy win.
The Buckeyes’ woes in the kicking game continued, and if it doesn’t improve, I fear it is only a matter of time before it costs them a game (Coach Tressel nods his head vigorously). More kicks out of bounds (and don’t you try to confuse me with your statistics). And it’s not just the kicking, it’s the coverage that concerns me. Hawaii nearly broke a kick return a mere 5 days after a potential big return by the Hokies was thwarted by linebacker-in-training Jack Willoughby (go re-watch the VT game if you don’t believe me). No fumbles on punt returns this week (though I’ve still got my eye on you, Jalin Marshall), but the Bucks added a botched FG to the mix, so we’ve got that going for us.
If You Have Two Quarterbacks…
Never has the old cliché seemed to ring truer (well, maybe for the Browns, but that’s another story--see below). Most everyone has been quick to credit the short week for the sloppy QB play, and while that was certainly a factor, I can’t help but wonder if the division of practice reps is having an effect on both QB’s. I’m on Team J.T., but I’d really like to see someone grab the job and keep it, like, really soon.
Speaking of (ex)quarterbacks, Braxton Miller still looks like the best player on the field on offense to me, even though everyone in the stadium knows what he is going to do when he lines up behind center. Urban is being understandably cagey about Braxton throwing the ball at some point, but continuing to run him into a stacked box makes me nervous, given his injury history, even if it was moderately successful against Hawaii. Let’s just hope that he and the offensive staff are establishing tendencies now, so that they can break them later.
One of the great things about college football to me is that so much can change in a week (remember 2007?). Last week at this time there was much hand-wringing over the perception of the Big Ten (it really hurt the Buckeyes last year, didn’t it?). Fast forward a week and the B1G is good again? Enjoy it while you can, and while were at it, let’s give Sparty and Dino some love after their perception–altering win over perpetually overrated Oregon. Most of the rest of the league held up it's end of the bargain as well, and we’ll just pretend that the recent expansion never took place (really, Rutgers and Maryland?). Can we just send the Terps and the please-choose-some-other-shade-of-red Knights back to wherever it is they came from? I hear the SEC is looking for some new patsies to
lose to play.
Browns Gonna Brown
Due to the early end of preseason games, last weekend we all got a break from the Fighting Haslems (me from watching them, and all of you from having to read my thoughts about them), but it was back to reality for the TP-less Brownies last Sunday. After Josh McCown seemed bent on committing suicide-by-defense, and nearly succeeded on the Browns first (First!) drive of the new season, Johnny Freaking Football came in and gave Browns fans a fleeting glimmer of hope in what now looks to be another long, dark season in the Factory of Sadness. As a former resident of the Cleveland area, I always thought that what we referred to as the “gray season” had more to do with the near constant fall and winter cloud cover, but I’ve come to realize that it is no coincidence that the malaise that descends on Northeast Ohio in the fall and persists through the winter is contemporary with the pro football season. Instead of making the dramatic change to the New, Bolder Orange and Brown, they should have adopted Oregon’s greyscale uniforms to match the mood they manage to impose on Browns fans as soon as the real games start.
TL;DR: Haka>Quick Cals; Kick the habit; Two heads are not better than one; B1G Time; Cleveland
Aloha Rainbow Warriors. Hope you have a Haka of a season from here on out.