Week one is in the books and the Buckeyes are 1-0. As is typical of Buckeye Nation, there is a lot of overreaction to just how that first win managed to come about, both positively and negatively. We’ll look back at Buffalo and ahead to the San Diego State Aztecs. So without further ado, it’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
I have to admit, the Bulls were a little better than myself or likely any of you were willing to give them credit for prior to the game. We all threw out our fake cautious “They’re on scholarships too…” and “Any given Saturday…” and “If the Buckeyes aren’t ready…” mumbo jumbo but there isn’t one of us who truly thought Buffalo would give the Buckeyes are game let alone stand a shot at winning.
I’m not saying that they ever actually did have a shot at winning during the game itself, what I am saying is they didn’t back down, fold up the tents, collect their paycheck and get their hind quarters out of Ohio as easily as everyone thought they would and should be commended for it.
Getting ready for the Aztecs
By now you’ve all no doubt discussed till you were blue in the face the things you liked on Saturday and the improvements you want to see this week. I’m here to tell you that San Diego State, while on scholarship, on any given Saturday, and if the Buckeyes aren’t ready, still have absolutely no shot this week in Columbus.
The Aztecs dropped their home opener 40-19… to Eastern Illinois. Yikes!
Based on what I have read about them and their ridiculous loss last week compounded by Ohio State not looking sharp at times in their own home opener and having to suffer Urban Meyer’s wrath this week, Brady Hoke’s former team should be decimated in Ohio Stadium.
Which leads us to my question to you this week: Is an absolute shellacking of San Diego State going to quench your thirst and get your mind right that Ohio State is one of the elite teams in the country? Tell me in the comment section below!
I ask because a lot of Buckeye Nation went absolutely guano insane that they didn’t roll Buffalo 70-3. I read comments like “shouldn’t be in the top 20” all the way to “probably going to lose at Cal”. I’m now beginning to hear some of the national pundits already backtracking on their Urban Meyer butt kissing to say how they think Ohio State is likely going to stay in the top 5 all season but probably won’t deserve it because the schedule it so lite.
Glass half empty, glass half full
I think when it all boils down to the root; it really just comes down to how you see things. I was impressed at times on Saturday against the Bulls. I also felt discouraged a lot of times.
When there are afternoon games, I formulate my opinions on a few checkpoint times. The first being midnight: How am I feeling around midnight the Saturday of a game? Then I’ll do another assessment on Sunday at around noon. Do I still feel how I did 12 hours prior or are the good points winning out over the bad or vice versa.
What I took away from Saturday was a pretty typical opening day game. We had the sleepy noon crowd, the MAC opponent, the fast start and then the foot slipped off the pedal and a feeling of “we can step back on it anytime we want” became prevalent on the sidelines. As it is typically with a young team, stepping back on the pedal isn’t so easy. Especially considering your opponent has now had a chance to feel you out, take a heavy shot from you, regroup and find themselves still standing. It breeds confidence on the opposing sideline.
I mentioned that to me it was a typical opening day game, and therein may very well be where the problem lies. Why was there such overreaction from people in the media, the callers to radio shows and on Twitter? Is it as simples as being because this isn’t supposed to be another “typical” season? The expectations are much higher. The team goals are realistically set at playing in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena except a week after the actual Rose Bowl Game is played.
So I understand why some people hit the panic button on Saturday afternoon. Everyone expected to see 2006 Northern Illinois style domination. It even started the same way, with Braxton Miller hitting Devin Smith for a long touchdown on the first offensive series for the Buckeyes. I was totally flooded with the memory of Troy Smith hitting his number one target Ted Ginn on the Buckeyes opening series for a long touchdown strike to open the 06 season on a rainy Saturday against UNI.
But keep looking a little deeper at that game. After scoring on their first four offensive possessions and rolling up a 28-0 lead before even one minute of the second quarter had expired, the Buckeyes finished that afternoon 35-12 winners. From the 14:00 minute mark of the second quarter all the way to the final whistle, the Buckeyes were outscored 12-7 by Northern Illinois and a 5’-2” tall, 115 pound soaking wet running back.
Sure, they rotated a plethora of young players into the game and in normal Jim Tressel form he himself took his foot off the gas pedal, calling off the dogs, if you will. That said, they still committed two turnovers inside the UNI 10 yard line and blew two field goal attempts self-destructing four more scoring opportunities. Very reminiscent of 06 with UNI compared to how Buffalo managed to score off turnovers that if the drives had converted would easily put the Buckeyes tally at a margin of over 50 points.
My point is that that team turned out alright and made it to the finish line they hoped to achieve. The problem was Urban Meyer met them at that line and had no interest in allowing them to cross it. Jim Tressel was badly outcoached and his team terribly exploited in a game nobody wants to relive around these parts.
At the end of the day, it was week one. There was plenty to crow about and plenty to moan about. It’s a young defense and a still maturing offense. Step off the ledge or you’re going to miss a lot of fun.
It’s time to move on
I hope not to upset anyone, but I have to say what I feel. For me, one of the biggest issues and causes for a lazy performance can be directly pointed to the noon kickoff time. I’m sorry to the elderly folks who keep insisting on these start times and throwing their weight around with the athletic office, but this program should never again kickoff a football game before 3:30 pm, and I’m including The Game in that statement.
Nobody (that intends to stand, get rowdy and provide a home field advantage) wants to be in the stadium at noon. For students that means they have to go in around 11 to get their spots in Block O in either end zone. Going in at 11 means they have to be on their way to the stadium from whatever lot or party they are at likely by 10:30, maybe even earlier.
For regular fans like me, it means we have to be in a tailgate lot at nearly the crack of dawn. I’m just not excited to get up and in a tailgate lot at 7:00 am for a game with the Buffalo Bulls or, for that matter, the Indiana Hoosiers, Minnesota Golden Gophers or Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
The fact is that Ohio Stadium needs to be a pit, a place that nobody wants to play. It used to be, but the lower level opponents aren’t seeing it that way any longer. And it can’t be that way, otherwise one of these years you’re going to see a Buffalo or Cincinnati come into The Shoe and steal a win. And if you think that’s an issue as it regards to rankings or national perception, imagine how it will look in the minds of the recruits that are standing on the sideline trying to decide between Ohio State and Alabama.
It’s time for the stranglehold being held by the elderly to be released and game day at Ohio Stadium to step into the present and stop living on its past. Crank up the music, move back the start times, get a party atmosphere going for the students and watch Ohio Stadium become feared again.
I don’t care about the fumble, I want more of Dontre Wilson. He is a sparkplug and is going to leave a mark on this season before it is all said and done.
Speaking of done, where was Bri’onte Dunn on Saturday? We saw Warren Ball get a few reps and even true freshman Ezekiel Elliot got a touch or two, but nada for Dunn.
Thankfully Bradley Roby and CJ Barnett will be back this week for San Diego State. Doran Grant was completely avoided by the Buffalo coaching staff because they were having too much fun exploiting Armani Reeves. At this point in his progression Reeves needs to be covering slot receivers not a team’s big play threat.
Curtis Grant had some struggles in coverage but overall I thought played a great game. Even when he was late, he was still getting to the ball and seemingly in the right place. We know Grant has all the physical tools, his not being able to instinctively know where to go and what to do has been his downfall. Maybe that is changing. It seemed promising against the Bulls.
Since it was brought up earlier, check out Urban Meyer’s book called “Urban’s Way” for some truly fascinating insight into the 2006 championship game. It’s hard to look at, but if you want to know what Urban is truly all about, give it a read. And like I said, the chapters on the 06 championship game are as compelling as it gets.
For the love of God, can someone on the medical staff come up with a plan to keep these guys hydrated? How embarrassing that some of our guys are going down with heat related cramping issues. We don’t play in Florida, Georgia or South Carolina. We can’t handle a hot day? Get it together, medical nerds.
Wrap it up
So, we’re on to the next one. And I fully expect a complete and total annihilation this weekend. Meyer will have fire in his eyes after some of the lapses last week and use them to motivate. He also knows he can’t allow his team to get caught sleepwalking while looking ahead to the following weeks prime time roadie at California. Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
We’re looking for an old school beat down on the Aztecs this weekend, so why not go a little old school on our track of the week. Ten years ago, January 19th 2003, the Oakland Raiders were playing in the AFC championship game against the Tennessee Titans. Guess who decided to pull up in the back of a semi-truck, drop down the side revealing a make-shift stage, and put on a blistering hour and a half set in the parking lot for the Raider fans there the tailgate prior to that game? You guessed it. From the back of a truck, here is Battery!