Tressels, Fickells and Urbans,
Reality: this is Urban's worst team he's had at Ohio State.
My Perception: this is a great season and I’m thoroughly enjoying each game as they come...even the close win against Nebraska last Saturday.
Obviously, this chapter of Ohio State football is a extremely flawed. Unfortunately, Ohio State is prone to numerous mental mistakes that they don’t seem to be correcting over time. Also, the Buckeyes are experiencing talent holes due to a rash of injuries to star players and heaps of early defections the last couple years to NFL payday.
That said, I’m enjoying it as it comes. My son and I went down to the game last Saturday and we had an awesome time. I know most fans were greatly disappointed with the harsh reality of the Buckeyes performance against Nebraska...and can’t get past the disappointment. Personally, we enjoyed watching JK Dobbins break out and have a huge game rushing (finally!). We also enjoyed Keandre Jones blocked punt, occasional flashes of the passing game coming alive again...and the drama of a competitive game. Typically, Ohio State has only a handful of competitive games a season; this season is different so it's time to embrace it and cheer for Ohio State to pull out the victory.
Even in the real world, we did see some good things against the Cornhuskers that may help the Buckeyes as they come down a difficult stretch starting this Saturday at Michigan State. I loved the jumbo sets with Wyatt Davis coming in as a tight end and Dwayne flanked by two tight ends, Ferrell and Ruckert, to the spring JK in the red zone. The rushing attack was much better giving OSU a fighting chance to score short yardage touchdowns as opposed to settling for FGs. The Buckeyes decided to just line up and run the ball as opposed to trying to get the offensive linemen to successfully navigate the ambiguity of run pass option.
Dwayne, KJ, Terry and the passing game, especially without Austin back, struggled for the first time really all year. But, they’ve been the most consistent part of the team so far...you have to assume it will come back alive now paired with a more potent running approach.
The Buckeye offense will have to score and score in bunches because the defense is what it is. Last Saturday, we were excited to see Brendon White play so well in relief of Jordan Fuller after Fuller's targeting penalty. Also, I like the move of Shaun Wade to Safety with Pryor out with injury. OSU should stick with Fuller, Wade and White. Also, Ohio State may be able to sure up the backend if they get all three cornerbacks back healthy. It’s been three consecutive games now where Ohio State has only two healthy corners...and not rotating seems to be an issue. These guys are now used to seeing only a handful snaps and going hard when they are in the game...they seem to have trouble playing a lot of snaps in a row. Because of Ohio State offensive turnovers in the first half, Nebraska ran 47 offensive plays which is just way too many for a depleted Buckeye defense especially in the secondary and a banged up defensive line with the three best defense players either out or hampered with injuries.
If Ohio State can have every offensive possession this Saturday against Michigan State end with either a punt or a touchdown, I think OSU can win. If offensive possessions end in a turnover, turnover on downs or FG, the Buckeyes are in trouble. Last weekend, OSU couldn't get out of its own way with turnovers. Drue Chrisman is a great punter...he'll put the other team inside the 20, just make sure he gets that chance.
I'm still waiting for the real Buckeyes to show up, but even if they never do this season I'm going to enjoy the game at Michigan State this Saturday and root for Ohio State as they are.
Touchdowns: Dobbins, Dixon, Campbell
OSU 24 MSU 17
Go Bucks! Beat MSU! BB Landers for Heisman!