The Buckeyes finished off a hard fought win at Northwestern late Saturday night and then the bye week began. As the warm nights come to a close, let’s look back a bit on the first half, ahead at the potential BCS standings, and put a sock in the mouth of the people STILL complaining about Luke Fickell. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
Northwestern And The First 6
I still can’t believe that we are six weeks into the 2013 football season. Time fly’s when you’re having fun is more than just a saying.
We come to the midpoint off a road win on national television in Evanston against the Northwestern Wildcats. And let there be no question about it, the Wildcats were game to fight and did just that. I still saw a lot of opportunity to put this game to bed early, but the Wildcats heart and the Buckeyes willingness to miss tackles, blow coverage, commit turnovers and penalties would hear nothing of it.
And here we were at halftime, Buckeye Nation all abuzz with comments about how Braxton Miller should be replaced by Kenny Guiton and Luke Fickell should be fired like Lane Kiffin. I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio and love my Cleveland sports teams, but I have to ask: When did Buckeye Nation start becoming like Cleveland sports fans in the sense that nobody gets a fair argument, everyone is an expert and players need to be replaced at the first sign of not looking like Peyton Manning, Clay Mathews or Bill Belichik? One of the things I have always loved about the Columbus sports scene and especially Ohio State fans in their strong footing in reality. More on this later…
What have we seen?
A few things I’ve seen in the first half of the season are promising for a bright future and productive second half. A few other things I’ve seen leave me to believe that they’re in trouble against the top 2 teams in the SEC, ACC and PAC-12. And that just can’t be the case if you want to be national champions some day.
I love what Carlos Hyde brings to the team not only as a bulldozer in the backfield but his heart and leadership. Several reporters wrote about Hyde being the mouthpiece at halftime in the locker room telling his teammates that they “score points, we don’t kick field goals”. While field goals technically are points, I think you understand what he means.
He made a few mistakes, namely idiotic turnovers, he’s been jittery from time to time, but Braxton Miller is the man behind the center. His ability to make something out of nothing alone is enough reason to put the Guiton quandary to bed forever. I know Meyer said he strongly considered making a move in the second half… but he didn’t.
Michael Bennett, Joey Bosa, Ryan Shazier, Joel Hale, Noah Spence, AdolphusWashington have been outstanding. These guys jump off the sreen and are making an impact up front on the opposing running game and pressuring the quarterback.
Jamal Marcus and Chris Carter have stepped in and been contributors. Tyvis Powell has been all over the field in a starting role and making the most of his opportunity. Curtis Grant is being the guy we hoped he would be.
The secondary, and I’m going to stop right there. You know how see and hear those commercials “But for Ohio State…” well if not for the secondary the Buckeyes could have three steamroller wins in prime time on national television.
There is far too much peeking in the backfield to go with what appears to be a combination of two of the worst things that can happen when you’re covering someone: Being poor at fundamentals and letting an inferior athlete beat you one on one or being in the right place and doing the wrong thing. Both are happening far too much.
Luke Fickell… again
The last point leads me to my next topic and it is to simply say “stop it” to people trashing Luke Fickell. I’m going to be blunt and honest (who me?) and tell you that it makes you sound stupid. Especially if I ask you “what is he supposed to be doing, what would you like to see him do?” and all you can reply with is “under Tressel we shut teams down!” Ok…
I mentioned this a few weeks ago and it’s clearly something a lot of you are having a tough time getting a grip on: With the way offenses are progressing, teams are going to score points. The days of Ohio State (or anyone for that matter) playing in big games and winning them 17-7 are long gone. And that’s not an excuse for Luke Fickell somehow being a bad defensive coordinator. He’s not.
I would like to formally take this moment to thank Kirk Herbstreit for adding gas to the Fickell fire (see what I did there?) by making the statement “soft coverage”. The second it came blurting out of his mouth, Twitter feeds and conversations all across Buckeye Nation became littered with experts on secondary schemes who could not understand why stupid Luke Fickell was playing “soft coverage”.
What Herbie failed to tell the wannabe Lombardi’s hanging on his every word, despite their supposed utter disdain for him, is that the play he was questioning was clearly zone coverage. Doran Grant had the receiver after ten yards, the linebacker who was out of place and running after the receiver (barely making it into the frame on the screen) was likely supposed to cover him in the flats for first 10. It explains Grant not really moving and then reacting on the cut to the sidelines when he realizes his flat help is out of position. Grant was also staring deeply into the backfield, something that would cost the Silver Bullets and give the nerds an easy touchdown later in the game.
But Herbie makes no mention of these things and carries on with the game. He then backs his point up later on in the same or following drive when Grant is in man and makes a great pass breakup and later picks one off. All the while, morons across Ohio and America are screaming at Luke Fickell about playing “soft coverage”. To be fair, I don’t blame Herbstreit for this. He’s just doing his job. You would think, though, that a former quarterback would recognize a backside zone and point it out. Anyways…
In summation on the Fickell “thing” for lack of a better of term, watch what you are actually seeing when you watch the Ohio State defense. You’re seeing a tight end or slot receiver race across the middle with a linebacker two steps behind him. You’re seeing a slot receiver run a short post and not get jammed by the linebacker off his release like he should. You’re seeing tackles missed in abundance from the back end of the defense. You’re seeing defensive backs cheat and look into the backfield (a big no no) instead of keeping their eyes on the receiver.And before you start, I brought up the peeking last week in WNR, well before Herbstreit mentioned it on Saturday night. Check my stats, playa!
I’m not saying Fickell is perfect and doesn’t provide a few head scratchers when you see a 3 man rush on what you would think is an obvious blitz situation. But I’m here to tell you that he isn’t the problem. The problem is wearing the helmets and playing in the game.
According BCSguru.com the Buckeyes should likely open at number 6 when the first BCS poll is released on October 20th. And the more I think about it, it seems about right. I considered dropping Ohio State to 5 this week in my own poll here at The BBC. I have as much pride in the program and love for the team as anyone, but they haven’t looked like a better team than Alabama, Clemson, Oregon and maybe Florida State to this point this year. I still have them ranked at 4, but FSU is gaining.
Looking big picture down the line, Clemson and Florida State will eliminate one of themselves. I suggest rooting for Clemson in their matchup as history would tell you there is a better chance of Clemson “Clemsoning” than of FSU losing to Florida in their regular season finale.
As for Oregon, we have to hope that Stanford or Washington can shock them. Then, turn around and get beat by them or someone else in the PAC-12 titel game.
If Alabama goes undefeated, they’re going to Pasadena to play for the crystal ball. If Alabama loses in the regular season and wins the SEC title game, they’re going to Pasadena. If Alabama has one loss and/or loses in the SEC title game, whoever beats them in Atlanta will go to Pasadena. One team for sure from the SEC is going. ESPN won’t allow it any other way.
So that’s essentially how it shakes out down the final 6 for the Buckeyes. They obviously need to win and if possible win big in all 6 games and then trash someone in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Championship Game to have a shot at the January 7th trip to Pasadena. Win them all and have nobody else lose, or even drop one, and they are likely slated for the January 1st trip to Pasadena.
A lot of scoreboard watching will be happening in Buckeye Nation.
Wrap it up
So here we are, getting ready for the final 6. Get those leaves raked this weekend, you aren’t going to want to miss any of what is in store for us! Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
Justice for Luke?! More like And Justice for All! Rehearsals for the movie shoot took place last summer in Mexico City. The Met Club was there to film parts of it. Here is And Justice for All complete with crumbling Doris!