Skull Session: Stopping Saquon Barkley, Buckeyes Easy with Chris Worley, and Penn State Remembers Michigan Words

By D.J. Byrnes on October 20, 2017 at 4:59 am
K.J. Hill dippin on the cops for the October 20th 2017 Skull Session

Don't fret, America. The Dodgers—or "Los Doyers" as we neighborhood kids used to call them in Pasadena, where I was born—will slay this disgusting Yankee beast where it stands.

Week 9 OHSAA talk:

  • Best of luck tonight to the Piqua tonight in Tipp City. Tippecanoe folks act like they're the Hollywood of Miami County, which is hilarious. The Red Devils (best nickname in Miami County, give 'em that) gotta fall.
  • As for River Valley at Harding in Marion County, give me the Presidents. RV gave me my diploma, but I wouldn't have a football blogging fiefdom without the HHS football program. 


Word of the Day: Rapine.

 STOPPING SAQUON. Here's a thing you might hear between now and October 28th: "To win this game, Ohio State is going to have to stop Saquon Barkley, one of the premiere players in America at the running back position."

First of all, thanks for that searing insight. Secondly, stopping Saquon is easier typed than done.

But, if there were hypothetically a front seven that could shutdown Saquon, it would look like Ohio State.


First, stop the run
If there’s one thing this defense does well, it’s stopping the run. The Buckeye defense, led by the defensive line, is ranked 2nd overall in rushing S&P+. They’re 11th in unadjusted success rate (32.6%) and 3rd in IsoPPP (which measures the magnitude of successful plays, capturing explosiveness). They’re also 3rd in adjusted line yards, 4th in opportunity rate, and 10th in stuff rate.

No matter how you look at it — the Buckeye run defense is elite.

The remaining schedule has Saquon Barkley and Penn State’s 19th S&P+ rushing offense, and then no offense ranked higher than the 50s in rushing S&P+ — unless the Buckeyes get to the Big Ten Championship, where they’d likely face Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor and the Badgers’ 18th-ranked rushing offense.

The D-Line vs. Barkley will be an NFL matchup. I like Ohio State in that matchup, too, for important reasons.

  1. The defensive line outnumbers Saquon Barkley.
  2. No other Penn State offensive player is as good as Barkley.

I think they hold him under 100. But I'll change that opinion if he shreds Michigan. I may higher it to 103.

 WORLEY EASY. Last year, Dante Booker sprained his MCL against Bowling Green. Jerome Baker replaced him and broke out against Oklahoma. Every week, Meyer and staff did a dance about Booker being "one week away." 

He never returned.

This year, Chris Worley suffered an injury against Army. Though he played last week in Nebraska, he has yet to return to his former role. Meanwhile, his replacement, Tuf Borland, has been lights out.


Yet the middle linebacker didn’t play against Rutgers or Maryland and played in a limited role against Nebraska last week, mostly in nickel situations. Redshirt freshman Tuf Borland has played well in Worley’s place. On Wednesday, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano hedged a bit when asked if Worley would be the starter when fully healthy.

“I think,” Schiano said. “We’ll have to see when he’s healthy where we are. I hate to ever predict that stuff because everything is so fluid. We may move a guy to another linebacker position and (have) Chris play. Who knows? What we try to do is deal in the present, and right now we felt he could handle those nickel reps.”

Schiano said that he knows Worley wants to play more.

Sounds like Worley will have a role eventually in the defense, but he probably won't return to a lion's share of snaps at middle linebacker. Borland has been that good in replacing him.

 THE TREE REMEMBERS THE AXE. Michigan dumped Penn State last season in Ann Arbor. It was the best the Wolverines played all year. Afterwords, the got high on their own supply and chirped to the media about their big regular season win.


"The linemen were getting so excited because I would call the same play and we were getting 9 or 10 a pop," Then Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight said last year. "When that happens it's demoralizing for a defense. I have never played defense, but I can imagine it would suck to go through that every single play and just have someone run over you."

"We were laughing in the huddle. We would run the exact same play eight straight times. We literally ran the same play eight times. We were cracking up."

Well there's that.

And it's safe to say as linebacker Manny Bowen tweeted out those quotes earlier in the week he hasn't forgotten them either.

I have a vivid imagination some have alleged borderlines on criminal, and I can't ever see J.T. Barrett piping off like that. Regardless of the outcome against Penn State, Michigan fans will come to rue the smack they talked about Barrett earlier this season when Jim Harbaugh was still known as a QB whisperer.

 FATALITY. Ohio State whipped Nebraska so bad its coach is just trying to show up to work every day and do the bare minimum duty required by his contract.

From the Associated Press:

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — With a new athletic director on the way and Nebraska having an open date this week, the future of embattled coach Mike Riley has been the hottest topic in the state and among Cornhusker fans everywhere.

Riley joked after practice Wednesday night that he wanted to borrow the sign that hangs over the desk of Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, the one that says "Just coach the team."

"That's all I'm going to worry about," Riley said, "and then we'll let the rest take care of itself."

Riley, a mediocre coach if there ever was one, is about to achieve the worker's dream: Getting paid millions of dollars by your employer to go do literally anything else. Nothing but respect.

 HOW DARE YOU, SIR. Crew chairman Anthony Precourt made a pathetic attempt earlier this week to extort Columbus for a downtown soccer stadium.

Hours later, it became clear Precourt never intended to keep the Crew in Columbus. He has been fondling Austin's balls for over a year.

From Laura Newpoff of Columbus Business First ($):

City leaders, sponsors and soccer fans might have felt blindsided by the news yesterday that the Columbus Crew SC could move to Austin, Texas, but team majority owner Anthony Precourt made up his mind last year.

Will Anderson, digital editor at our sister paper, the Austin Business Journal, said Precourt told him on Wednesday that Austin was the target since 2016. That's when Precourt hired Barrett Sports Group to interview Columbus executives about a stadium relocation plan here.

Precourt should at least have the human decency to return 2018 season ticket deposits before he rips the club from under its diehards. He hasn't even committed to that:

Oh, but it gets better. He took to Twitter Thursday night and issued a statement that made me wonder if he was drunk off a bottle of $5,000 Chardonnay and wearing clown paint:


Meanwhile, people with souls are gathering to save the Crew. For those interested in helping, visit

Other fans have organized a "Save the Crew" rally in front of City Hall on Sunday at noon.

 THOSE WMDs. College football and Waffle House: A match made in Heaven... Scientists pinpoint jealousy in the monogamous mind... 7 amazing National Park buildings... War to sell mattresses an internet nightmare... Ornery shelter cats get second chance chasing mice.

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