Do I think the Buckeyes can win on Saturday night? Yes, I always think the Buckeyes can win.
What changes for me is how likely I think that outcome will be. For most games, my level of confidence in a Buckeye victory is very high.
This week… not so much.
The reason for my extreme pessimism centers almost exclusively on offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. His performance last Saturday was the sad culmination of a decade’s worth of built up frustration stemming from his bumbling mismanagement of the offense.
My faith in his ability to put together a coherent, much less effective, game plan was utterly destroyed once and for all, and it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel while Jim Bollman is still on the staff.
Regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, getting a new offensive coordinator in 2012 is absolutely essential no matter what the head coaches name ends up being.
I still have faith in the players. The Buckeyes have some of the best talent in the Big Ten.
Unfortunately, when the offensive coordinator calls slow developing pass plays that require five offensive linemen to block seven pass rushers while the QB stands in the pocket waiting for receivers to get open 20 yards down the field over and over again; well, talent can only take you so far.
(And as an aside, let me say that the poor pass protection against the Spartans was NOT the offensive lines fault given that the scenario I outlined above was standard operating procedure throughout the entire game. Everyone railing against the offensive line needs to find another scapegoat for the pass protection problems; his name is Jim Bollman and his play calling put the entire offense in a no-win situation the entire game regardless of the level of individual or group performances.)
If Ohio State continues to squander its talent on offense under Jim Bollman’s leadership, the game against Nebraska and the rest of the season will not be pretty.
Here are my keys to the game.
Mildly Coherent Game Plan
Jim Bollman discovered last week that throwing random plays together with no rhyme or reason does not an offensive game plan make.
Given his inability to make a single adjustment in response to what the Spartan defense was doing, my faith in his ability to miraculously come up with something mildly workable this week is depressingly low.
We can only hope…
Rhythm and Focus in the Play Calling
Mixing up run plays and play action passes rather than just running one or the other over and over. Passing the ball successfully before running a draw play rather than running draw plays over and over again without even pretending that you might be thinking about passing.
Or just not run a draw play at all…ever again.
These tweeks from last week’s game plan would be pleasant surprises
Something- ANYTHING, to Counter the Blitz
Every team left on the schedule and for the rest of time will be bringing a heavy blitz until the Buckeyes prove it doesn’t work marvelously against them.
NEWSFLASH: molasses slow play-action draws are not the proper response to a defense that is bringing multiple blitzers on every single play (once again, this type of idiocy in the play calling takes the blame for sacks off the line and the QB and places it squarely on the person in charge).
Everyone not named Jim Bollman has known about this for a long time, but hopefully now he is fully on board with this very basic football concept.
Quick passes, screen passes, rolling the quarterback (you know, the one that is good at running, not the slow one) out of the pocket? Yeah, maybe we can try one of those things this time around instead.
Jim Bollman has a ten year track record at Ohio State which indicates the chances any of the offensive keys happening are very small.
With an offense hampered by the incompetence of the guy calling the plays (once again, NOT the players’ fault), the defense will need to step in and score some points.
Pick sixes, scoop and scores, safeties; all of these things would be greatly beneficial to the team’s chances of victory.
The special teams can help out as well if they would like.