Saturday Skull Session

By D.J. Byrnes on January 10, 2015 at 6:00 am
J.T. Barrett, left, and Stephen Collier, right, share a moment after the Sugar Bowl.

Boone, North Carolina: Decidedly a good city. Thanks to OSU07ASU10, who I assume is actually Daniel Boone due to his knowledge of this city and eastern seaboard trading/hustle routes, I checked out Capone's Pizza. It did not disappoint. The Boone Saloon is also in line for a pay raise when if I do make the move down here in June.

I'll be cooling my heels in Charlotte's airport before this is even posted, and please believe... there will be a reckoning of a Skull Session going down at 6 a.m. on Monday. SAVE THE DATE.

Oh, and one of Marcus Mariota's favorite targets, redshirt freshman Darren Carrington, will miss the game because he smoked the pot. Ramzy, that beautiful, bourbon-battered bastard, summed up my #take succinctly:

Make no mistake: I am a monster, but not the kind that laughs at bone-headed mistakes by people with underdeveloped frontal lobes. (Also probably because I made way, way, way, way worse decisions at Carrington's age than lighting a weed on fire, but let's move on BECAUSE THIS ISN'T ABOUT ME.)

 KING DOLODALE AGED A MAN 23 YEARS, Y'ALL. Before Cardale Jones was a Buckeye, he belonged to the storied Fork Union Military Academy, and it seems Dolodozer took to a regimented lifestyle about as well as I would've.

From Urban Meyer's BFF, Pete Thamel of

The sleepy Virginia town where Jones ended up is the home of Fork Union Military Academy, a prep school as vaunted for its discipline as for the football disciples it has produced. John Shuman has coached and taught at Fork Union for the past 35 years, 28 of them as head coach. His former lettermen read like an All-America roll call, as everyone from Vinny Testaverde to Eddie George, Plaxico Burress to Carlos Hyde and Anthony Castonzo to Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank have played there. They all endured the same experience as Jones: full military uniform, no girls, no television, no music, a meticulously kept room and limited contact with the outside world. Days begin at 6 a.m. and are packed with classes, practice, marching and studying until lights out at 10 p.m. Rinse. Repeat. “It can be a battle to get guys to commit [to the discipline],” Shuman said. “And with Cardale, it was a battle. That’s why I look like I’m 80. I’m only 57.”

Jones grew up in Cleveland with so little supervision that he often roamed the streets and slept at friends’ houses many nights each week. The difference in structure, jarring for anyone, hit him like a plunge in a cold tub. He fought. Hard.

“This is terrible,” Jones recalled thinking. “Like, we don’t have cheerleaders? I was heartbroken. We couldn’t have our phones, no electronics.”

In the article, Glenville's Ted Ginn Sr., admits to tricking Cardale — who roomed with current teammate Mike Thomas — into attending the academy.

At first I was like, "Why did Cardale think there would be cheerleaders at a military academy?" But then I remembered when I was 18 I went to school in Montana, a place I didn't know anybody, and it took me until the night before I moved-in for it to don on me I had nobody to call once my parents left me to my own devices. (Thankfully for me, Facebook was much cooler [and wilder] in the fall of 2005 than that broken-down water cooler most of y'all log into to this day.)

Cardale might not have liked his time at the academy (the article notes Jones insisted to OSU staff his graduating school be listed as Glenville), but I promise you this: He is the better man for attending the prep school, which he might not realize until he's older.

OFFENSES: THEY CHANGE, ACTUALLY. Our Patrick Maks wrote the other day about what Urban Meyer learned from a 2011 trip to Oregon. It was worth the click.

But what about Urban Meyer's changing offense?

From Chris Brown of

The most important adjustment Ohio State made after the loss to the Hokies was to improve at running the ball on the perimeter of the defense — and to do so with the running back. Traditionally, Meyer and even Herman would have relied on the QB to pull the ball on an option play and try to get to the edge, but the Hokies crashed their safeties down on the quarterback, holding Barrett under 3 yards per carry. In response, Meyer and Herman turned to one of the staple plays of their title game opponent: the Oregon Ducks’ sweep.

Sweeps are as old as football, and the most famous is Vince Lombardi’s old Green Bay sweep. But under Kelly and offensive coordinator turned head coach Mark Helfrich, Oregon tweaked the blueprint, devising a way to run a version of the sweep in the context of a spread formation. Before this season, Meyer and his staff met with Kelly and his Philadelphia Eagles coaches, and in 2014, Ohio State made the sweep a key part of its arsenal.


The sweep is a perfect complement to OSU’s inside zone because as soon as the defense begins pinching down, Herman can call this play to get the ball to the perimeter of the defense, with several athletic linemen out in front. It’s worked: When Alabama shifted its defensive linemen down into a type of Bear front in an effort to stop OSU’s inside runs in the Sugar Bowl, Herman called for a version of the Oregon sweep, and the play went for an 85-yard Elliott touchdown — the biggest score of the game, and maybe of the Buckeyes’ season.

When this happened (GIF via


You could've shot me in the chest with a .50 caliber rifle, and I wouldn't have felt a thing. The way Ezekiell cut-in, disappeared for a second, and then shot out of that pile and down the sidelines... I'll never forget where I was or who I watched it with for the rest of my life.

GEM RECRUITS MAKE A WAGER. Gotta love when people put up instead of shut-up.

Via Andrew Nemec of

Of course some thirsty-ass Michigan fan took an internet conversation between two #teens and turned it into a way to make it about his sorry-ass team, which is sitting on the couch like the rest of us herb.

How about no, Randy, how about no?

In all honesty, I think Waller got the better of Hilliard here. While there's no doubt another middle-aged man is en route to correct Hilliard's use of the word "scarlet," what's the burden of wearing another team's colors without proof? ROOKIE LOOPHOLE LEFT ON THE FIELD, HILLIARD.

SALTY STUDENTS. Ah, college students. 

From Amanda Etchinson of

The Ohio State football team is set to play Oregon for the national title Monday at 8:30 p.m. in Arlington, Texas. There were 1,000 student tickets to the National Championship that were available to students at no cost through a ticket lottery. Five hundred of these were provided and paid for by Taco Bell in cooperation with the College Football Playoff and the other 500 were paid for by the university.


Undergraduate Student Government President Celia Wright said although she was “delighted and shocked” by the university’s decision to subsidize the cost of 500 additional student tickets, she thinks the university should offer more tickets to students.

“I became disappointed with the priority not placed on getting students to the game,” she said. “It is unfortunate to me that we have the inability to allow more students to watch their own team play … (although) we have (tickets available through The Office of) Student Life tour (packages), and we have these free tickets, we still haven’t given, in my opinion, a decent proportion of the full ticket allotment for Ohio State to students.”

Of course, they're not wrong. Students are the lifeblood of any university, and as such, Jerry Jones' Tombstone should be teeming with them on Monday night. But it won't be, because this world is run by money, which has never been a forte of any college student not born on third base.

As for my advice to them? Well, Marlo Stanfield summed it up best:

It's a painful lesson, but one worth learning, in my opinion.

DECKER GETS HIS DAY. Remember in 2013 when Buffalo's Khalil Mack roughed-up Taylor Decker and the worst fans thought Decker was going to be a scrub? Those were some good times. (Khalil Mack, now playing for the Oakland Raiders, will likely be this year's Defensive Rookie of the Year, by the way.)

From Darrell Wacker of

VANDALIA – As Taylor Decker and his Ohio State Buckeyes take the field in Monday’s National Championship game, there will be a small part of Vandalia in Dallas.

Decker’s parents, Ron and Sheila Decker, were presented a proclamation on Friday afternoon by Vandalia Mayor Arlene Setzer making Monday Taylor Decker Day in the city.


“I’m so proud of him that words can’t even explain it,” said Sheila Decker. “He has worked so hard, he thinks about things before he does them and just doesn’t jump into things.”

Decker, the reigning King of the Slobs, surprised me when he announced before the Sugar Bowl he was returning next year. I suppose it's not iron-clad, because that guy could be making a lot of money next year, and his health is only one play away from disaster. 

Regardless, that dude has been a damned rock this year.

FSU BRINGS OUT THE BIG GUNS. I eschew all Braxton Miller rumors in this space because 1) I think he's gone and 2) It's only January and the speculation and #takes already bore me.

This, however, is something concrete, and is about as close to a recruiting Godfather offer as you'll ever see in public:

Why would Braxton Miller want to watch a girl wearing his jersey get naked with another guy? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

THOSE WMDs. Easy call: Mark Pantoni named's Player Personnel Director of the Year...  Former FAMU band member sentenced to six years for hazing death... Focus 3, the group that gave OSU E+R=O, featured in The Wall Street Journal... Derek Fisher is the opposite of motivation... Potential Aaron Hernandez Juror Yells ‘Go Pats’ In Court, Is Sent Home... Agreed: Monopoly is a monotonous board game that should be avoided.

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