Scarlet and Gray Q&A – Week Eleven

Written November 16th, 2011 by Chris

What is it about Ross-Ade Stadium? The stadium, with the obscenely big press box, always turns into a house of horrors when the Buckeyes take the field in on Purdue’s campus.

Lots and lots and lots of questions

Whatever you think plagued the scarlet and gray this past weekend, one theory that has been floated out there is the pressure of mistakes from the past. Perhaps exercising the demons of past losses proved to be a tougher challenge for this young Buckeye team. Not to mention the fact that this actually is a fairly talented Boilermaker squad.

As I stated in last week’s column, this was a game that scared the daylights out of me. Ohio State didn’t handle the spread offense the week before, and I figured a better version of that offense would have a better success this past weekend. If you think about it, the fact that the Buckeyes were even in this football game at the end is a small miracle. The fact that the scarlet and gray even had a chance to win the football game at the end was impressive, considering they had no business winning the football game the way they played.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s get into a little Scarlet and Gray Q&A.

The running game was rather poor this past weekend. Who’s to blame?

One bright spot

It is pretty clear that there are a myriad of culprits for a poor running game.  Chief among them is the coaching staff. I give them credit though, because they did try to rectify the situation. With JB Shugarts being out last week, it was evident that the team really was unprepared for his absence.  The variety of runs seemed very predictable as well. Ohio State does rely on some base plays, but it seemed like the offensive staff got caught off guard when those plays didn’t work.

The offensive line does bear a part of the blame too. The unit’s uninspired start contributed to the slow start, and even when tweaks were made, the group did not consistently stay on their blocks. It was unfair to think that Antonio Underwood could play the tackle spot last week.

Finally the tailbacks did themselves no favors either. Boom Herron seemed to run a little uninspired this past week. Every team gets into a funk during a game, but it is the seniors like Herron who are supposed to shake the rest of the team out of it. If Herron couldn’t get it going, then I am not surprised the rest of the team could not.

With Andrew Sweat likely out with a concussion, should Ryan Shazier be the starter this weekend?

All season long the defense seemed to be lacking that aggressive play, especially during crucial moments during games. Welcome, Ryan Shazier. The freshman stud stepped in for Sweat (who sadly won’t be able to play on senior day), and by some analysts’ account, he played better than his counterpart in the latter half of the ball game. Like every inexperienced player, the Florida native will have some growing pains. He may be the breath of fresh air this defense has been clamoring for throughout the majority of the season.

Shazier is not going to solve all of the defense’s issues, but his fire and passion may go a long way in stemming the tide just a bit. Shazier seems to have the speed that Sweat has lacked, and he provides the sound tackling that has been lacking from Etienne Sabino most of this season. Shazier seems to be the complete package, and it will be exciting to see how he grows in the final and presumably three ball games.

Devier Posey has been listed as co-starter this week.  Is he going to have any meaningful impact on the 2011 season?

Difference Maker?

While his time will be short, Posey still has a chance to impact this year in a big way. One constant in the offense has been the inexperience in clutch moments from the receiving core. Corey Brown has been injured often this year, and while I love Evan Spencer and Devin Smith, neither have been able to make consistent strides at getting open down field. Again blame the coaching staff a little on this, but there is only so much that a coach can do to make these guys figure out the fine art of working the coverage.

Can Posey provide that downfield threat that Ohio State has sorely needed all season? You can argue you have to have a quarterback who can get it there first, but Posey should have quite an impact especially in third and long situations. Posey, hopefully, will want to make as much of a mark as he can, and he will played like a man possessed the next two weeks. We will now see if the months of working with Braxton Miller on the practice field will translate into game day success.

How bad is the B1G this season?

I recently told a colleague there is some grace in losing last weekend. It means that Ohio State won’t be embarrassed in a bowl game, should we play in one after the regular season.  This might be the worst I have seen this conference in quite some time. Not one team in the B1G is in the Top 10. Only one team is in the Top 15, and there are just four in the Top 25 at all. I think we can all agree that after Nebraska-Michigan and Ohio State-Penn State, it is possible that there are only two teams left in the Top 25 from the B1G.

There are plenty of reasons why the conference is so bad. There are plenty of young teams like the Buckeyes, who are still learning how to play at the college level. Unfortunately there are far too many overrated teams right now in the conference. No one thinks Penn State and Michigan are for real, and some even question Nebraska’s legitimacy right now. Michigan State seems to be the strongest contender of the bunch, and they haven’t exactly lit the world on fire. Go through the other conferences right now in college football, and it is fair to say the B1G ranks behind the SEC, the Big XII, and the ACC right now. Sure, the Big East is still the ire of the BCS, and they might be the only thing saving the B1G from a lot of criticism right now.

I have a feeling that the conference’s performance in college football’s postseason is going to draw more anger and animosity from the rest of the college football. Look at some of these matchups for the bowls if they were to happen today: Michigan State/Wisconsin vs. Oregon in the Rose Bowl, Michigan State/Wisconsin vs. Arkansas in the Capital One Bowl, Michigan vs. Georgia in the Outback Bowl, or Nebraska vs. Florida in the Gator Bowl. Does anyone see a guaranteed win in that group? Maybe Nebraska?  I just have a strong feeling we are going to here plenty of negativity directed at the B1G all off season.

No matter what transpires down the road, the Buckeyes still have two big games left this weekend. Let’s get after the Nittany Lions this weekend and send the seniors out with a win.

1 Comment

  1. JohnNo Gravatar
    November 16th, 2011 at 11:54 pm

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