Skull Session: Differing Quarterback Personalities, Raekwon McMillan's Anticipation, and Time to Play Ben Victor

By D.J. Byrnes on November 4, 2016 at 4:59 am
Mike Weber bundled up for the November 4th 2016 Skull Session.

Folks, it switched. I called the Big Ten's move to Friday nights a shameless money grab for ESPN and FOX. But after a day of watching octogenarian Cubs fans weeping and drinking decades-old celebratory Coors, I wish the local team were on the ol' television tonight. 

Hope Cubs fans enjoyed that title, though. Because all they have left to keep warm at night is Smokin' Jay Cutler and four-loss Northwestern. No, no, I swear I'm not bitter. Why would I be bitter? I don't even like baseball.

Alas, I'm spending the night in Canal Winchester (read: Ohio Las Vegas) after a few hours at 11W's Land-Grant Charity Banger. If I get a haircut between now and then I may wake up as Ohio's junior Senator.


In Columbus on Saturday? Pay the Dubgate charity tax and drink and eat all you want just a five-minute walk away from the Horseshoe. A tailgate run by a bunch of middle-aged dudes with a sports blog isn't as creepy as it sounds; you're going to have to trust me on that.

 THE OL' GUNSLINGER MEETS THE COOL HAND. Back in the day when a western's climax didn't involve android sex work, a common trope featured a final showdown between the ol' gunslinger and a much chiller but equally talented desperado, usually a sheriff.

In Saturday night's production, Tommy Armstrong plays the slinger and J.T. Barrett is fixin' on enforcing the law.


Armstrong and the Cornhuskers have had success with explosive plays this year. His average completion this year is 15.3 yards. The issue throughout his career is interceptions. He had 16 last year. He has made improvement this year with only seven.

Asked if he believed needed to be harnessed, Armstrong said, “I don’t think so. I think it’s just the trust I have in my players in one-on-one situations. Sometimes in one-on-one situations, it doesn’t go well.”

But Armstrong said that he has made an effort lately to take fewer risks.

I too have tried to take lesser risks in my life. That is why I drink IPAs and make bad tweets from home as opposed to bars and restaurants. 

In the past, I would predict the local team rolling on the big stage, but Meyer knows Armstrong is a liability. Luke Fickell and Greg Schiano won't have to throw the sink at him if the defensive line plays up to potential. Meyer and Barrett know slow and steady wins the race. 

 RAEKWON IS GOOD, ACTUALLY. Some say Raekwon McMillan is good. Some say he is bad. Such are the times with the local team having lost a single game to a team coached by James Franklin.

McMillan is the lynchpin of the defense, and despite criticism, he's a special athlete in space.


Something that's come with experience for McMillan is the ability to read an opposing player's eyes and body language. That helps him anticipate plays.

That's what happened against Penn State two weeks ago when he looked Nittany Lions running back Saquon Barkley in the eye and knew a pass was coming. McMillan helped force an incompletion in the end zone.

"I kinda knew what they were gonna do," McMillan said. "Saquon was kinda looking at me from the backfield, giving me the eyes like he about to -- he knew I had him manned up -- so he was gonna do something. I just took off and ran man, and luckily I made the play."

McMillan joked reporters think he's "having the worst season ever." Critics can say what they want about his play, but five-star rankings don't mean perfect. When the chips are down, McMillan is a guy you want at the heart of your favorite team's defense.

Fans of other, lesser teams may think it's their guy, but they'd be wrong.

 PLAY THE YOUNGSTER. We've reached my favorite part of the Skull Session: The part where I type unsolicited advice to a three-time NCAA champion coach.

Coach — you don't mind if I call you coach, right, coach? — here's the thing. It's time to play Ben Victor. You didn't spend all those man-hours to recruit a 6-4 talent from Fort Lauderdale to put him on the bench against Nebraska. It's not even supposed to be that cold Saturday night.

His redshirt is burned, and he's a mix of talent currently not found in any other receiver.


“He’s a big, fast guy who has great ball skills,” Meyer said. “A wonderful young man. He just has to remember the speed of the game and the toughness of the game. He is one of the more talented guys I’ve seen at his age. He’s got an incredible future.”

Meyer said that Victor must improve his consistency and live up to the Buckeyes’ four-to-six-seconds-of-maximum-effort credo.

“It’s more than going out and catching a post route,” he said. “It’s blocking and doing (other) things right.”

If he's a wonderful young man and one of the most talented guys Meyer has seen, the small things will work themselves out. He needs a chance to make it happen, though.

Look at K.J. Hill. He played a handful of plays, made one catch, and finished with only 16 yards less than Parris Campbell, Marcus Baugh, Terry McLaurin and Dontre Wilson combined.

 A TURNING TIDE. It's college football season, but it's also NFL season, which brings us back to the bedrock of American democracy the deciding daddies loved to know: the Electoral College.

How would it crown, the NFL or CFB?


NFL/CFB Electoral College

Final: 293 (NFL), 245 (CFB)

Ben Koo, the author, admitted he'd switch Missouri and South Dakota based on feedback. 

I'd vote for all three of Montana's votes to be switched, too. I lived in the Treasure State for two and a half years, which makes me an expert in their thinking and ways of life. Montana–Montana State is an underrated blood feud in this country and there isn't a majority NFL allegiance, either.

The upside to the big CFB broadcast deals is America will awaken to college football's superiority over the NFL. It's decisive now that CFB has the semblance of a real playoff.

And no, I'm not talking about North Illinois and Kent State for #MACation, either. I'm convinced the only people who watch MACtion are college football writers as an excuse to control their living room TV. "This Wednesday night game is actually a big deal, honey! How have you never heard of MACtion?"

I don't have time for MACtion.

But the secret about the NFL is it's a money orgy for a cabal of serpent men and its product is more diluted than the crushed up Advil the dishwasher sells out of the back of your local Red Lobster.

I've watched 35% of the Browns' 0-8 season (down from 99% a year ago), and I now spend my Sundays living like a sultan of the Ottoman Empire.

Hell, Whitney's brother came over last night and I had to put on the Thursday night game because that's what two bros do when they platonically chill. It would have been more entertaining to listen to Adele through my cellphone speakers with the lights off.

 OSU TOOK LANDLORD MARKET SHARE. Back in my day when Sloopy's sold 50 cent pitchers and a handful of nickels kept the Bier Stube jukebox rolling all night (still can actually but roll with me here), a college sophomore possessed the ability to survive the off-campus housing jungles.

But like everything involving these sorry-ass Millennials these days, Ohio State stripped that right and forced sophomores to live on campus. I thought the policy was bad until I realized it took money out of Columbus' most notorious organized crime syndicate: Off-campus slum lords.

From Mitch Hooper of

With the second-year living requirement now holding sophomores on campus, the lack of students out house hunting this leasing season has many landlords expressing concern: If second-year students are required to stay in the dorms, how will this affect the off-campus leasing market?

According to Ohio State’s 2016 Enrollment Report, 7,885 freshmen were enrolled on main campus, which translates to about 11.9 percent of the main campus population. As stated on the Second-year Transformational Experience Program website, an OSU study found that living on campus procured academic benefits. However, with the implementation of this living requirement, off-campus housing companies will lose business to the dorms.


Although landlords and property managers will be losing potential renters, students who live on campus statistically do better academically, which was a key reason in implementing this requirement, said Dave Isaacs, spokesman for OSU’s Office Student Life. He also said that when OSU explored factors such as participation in on-campus events and interaction with peers as well as faculty, researchers found these were important predictors of second-year success.

Also: Money.

Dave Isaacs forgot to mention money, which Ohio State makes a lot of by forcing 20-year-olds to lodge and eat in company facilities. Still, it's probably a better learning environment than a rat-infested shanty one health code violation from condemnation that's also somehow a prime target for professional burglars and drug addicts.

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