Thursday Skull Session

By D.J. Byrnes on January 8, 2015 at 6:00 am
LSU quarterback braxton miller, amirite?

Tick. Tick. Tick. 

Do you hear that, haters? That tub-thumping ringing off them yonder hills can only be one beast. The Ohio State University war machine cometh!

URBAN STEALS FROM PETE CARROLL. Football, unlike writing, is a copycat sport. So, it's no surprise when one elite coach — say, Ohio State's Urban Meyer — admits to sealing from another elite coach — in this instance, reigning world champion Pete Carroll.

From Chris Vainnini of

“Really disappointed we didn't play them. A lot of those guys redshirted,” Meyer said of the class of 2013 players. “I was very disappointed, and they weren't ready. We don't redshirt. It's not like we are going to say, ‘Hey, let's save them for the '17 year and let's have a heck of a year.’ You can't do that now, because they are all gone, any ways, after three. If you're a great player, you're gone, so play them. If they are not good enough, don't play them. 

“So that's the mentality we have when we go out and recruit. When they are here, we don't say, ‘We are going to save you and let you mature a little bit.' That used to be a big deal in college football. Pete Carroll, I stole him from him. One day, I was listening to him talk at USC back in 2006, and he says, ‘We don't redshirt guys here.’ I thought, how cool is that? Go out and recruit guys that go play. Because kids want to play. So I was disappointed that they didn't play more their first year, because there was a handful of those guys that redshirted and some of those guys won't be here for their fifth year, so we screwed up. We didn't get another year out of them.”

I hated them at the time, but Pete Carroll's USC's teams were the definition of swagger (RIP Todd Boeckman).

Urban's called the #Dream14 the best class he's recruited; Raekwon McMillan and Curtis Samuel have shined the brightest, but it will be interesting to see which redshirted freshmen take the attitude of Darron Lee and which ones wash out. Urban Meyer, for his part, isn't hiding his gauntlet on the matter. 

THE OREGON BUCKEYE TREE. Man, look at how the official Oregon site worded this one.

From Joe Mosley of (via r/CFB):

Former UO cheerleader and alumna Mimi Sommerville was joined by football players from 55 years ago, current players including De'Anthony Thomas, and others on Thursday to place a plaque commemorating a yellow buckeye tree given to the UO following the 1958 Rose Bowl. The event was organized by the College of Education in conjunction with UO Athletics.

The tree – now 60 feet tall and a fixture outside the Lillis Business Complex – was a sapling when it was planted by Sommerville and others following the 1958 game, in which the UO lost to Ohio State, 10-7.

Ah yes, it was "gifted" to them; I assume much in the same way a buddy gifts you a roll of $2 bills after his squad gets washed out in a bet. 

Pedantry aside, however, I did think this was a cool story. More of it can be viewed here: 

OREGON'S D: STIFFER THAN U THINK. One of the main reasons I think Ohio State will win is because its defense is peaking at the right time, but it's hard for me to compare OSU's unit to Oregon's. Thankfully, there are experts for that.

From Matt Hinton of

By reputation, the Ducks D is the intractable Achilles’ heel of the operation, and the raw numbers this season have borne out that label. Under longtime assistant and first-year coordinator Don Pellum, Oregon has yielded more yards per game (421.9) than any team that has ever claimed a national championship, and more points per game (22.3) than 15 of the 16 outfits that won the title under the banner of the Bowl Championship Series.2Within the Pac-12, arguably the most offensively oriented league in the nation in 2014, Oregon ranked in the middle of the pack in total defense and yards per play allowed and came in next-to-last when it came to stopping third-down conversions.


At this particular point in the season, however, the raw numbers may not be giving Oregon enough credit for its ability to bend without breaking, or for hitting its stride at the right time. In their last two games, the Ducks have effectively clamped down in runaway wins over Arizona and Florida State, holding the Wildcats to a season-low 13 points in the Pac-12 championship game and FSU to just 20 points in last week’s semifinal round, matching the Seminoles’ worst output in two years. In fact, since the calendar turned to November, only one opposing offense (Utah’s) has managed to eclipse 20 points against Oregon. Throughout that six-game stretch, Pellum’s unit has been at its best: solid against the run, stingy in the red zone, and opportunistic against the only active quarterback with accolades to match Mariota’s.

I'm saving my official prophecy for Monday's Skull Session, but I wouldn't be surprised if this wasn't a low-scoring affair like the Auburn-Oregon national title game a few years back. 

 OFFENSE ON DECK. On the other hand, this could be a game that requires 50 points to win. (My interns are pounding "coffee" while working around the clock to crunch the numbers.)

From Tom Dienhart of

While many of the aspects of these attacks are similar, there is a striking difference: tempo. Oregon likes to work at a break-neck pace all the time, while Ohio State is a bit more methodical and varies speeds.

“The risk of tempo offense, which I debated for years, you three-and-out them and 24 seconds you just took off the clock. And you’re playing a good team, that’s not good,” Meyer said. “So there’s plus and minuses.”

But the advantages are many, as defenses may not be able to sub-in defensive personnel for matchup purposes. And the quick pace can keep a defense on its heels and wear it out. Points also can come in bunches. To wit: Oregon has jumped on foes in the second quarter, outscoring them, 235-91. And the dominance has continued coming out of halftime, with the Ducks holding a 166-79 edge. By the start of the fourth, it’s usually game over in favor of Oregon.

My only question: Can Oregon's offense contend with the consistency of Ohio State's running game? (Because Ohio State is going to run that ball.) I just don't think Ohio State's defense will allow it.

NO, DISPATCH! BAD, DISPATCH! Listen, I'm all for bravado on behalf of your local team... BUT YOU CAN'T PROFITEER OFF IT.

This is a real screen shot, by the way:



I suppose the good news is if Ohio State loses we now have our scapegoats.

THOSE WMDs. Fantastic Joey Bosa feature in this week's Sports Illustrated... I bet Danny Sheridan wishes he had this #UrbanMeyerHotTake back in his chamber... The 2015 Outback Bowl was the highest rated ESPN2 program in history... They found the second-longest insect in the world... New York Times grants clemency to its Knicks beatwriter.

View 138 Comments