Things didn’t go as expected in Miami. Players are deciding to stay or go. New recruits are on board. We’ll start putting a bow on the 2013 season. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
By now you’re probably tired of hearing about what went wrong and what should or could have happened at the Orange Bowl on Friday night. I won’t deny it, I’m with you. Unfortunately there are a few things I think need discussed, or at least have my opinion weighed in on. Some are a bit out of the box.
I’ve read and heard a lot of people talk about how Clemson is a talented team, and that can’t be denied. I’ve read and heard people say that the better team won, and maybe there’s some truth to that.
The fact is that you can throw out whatever cliched line you want, the Buckeyes were winning at halftime 22-20. A lead that came about despite one of the worst halves of football we’ve seen since Urban Meyer took the controls. Ohio State came out of the locker room looking uninpsired and as though they really didn’t want to be in Miami at all. Of course Clemson errors played a big part in the Buckeye advantage, but no matter how you slice it up, they were leading at halftime.
The third quarter absolutely belonged to Carlos Hyde. I’m not sure what was discussed at the break, but the decision to come out and ride Carlos was simple and magnificent. The offensive live began getting huge movement as Hyde bullied behind them and brought the Buckeyes to a 29-20 lead with 5:50 to play in the 3rd. Camera shots on the Clemson sideline showed a team that was done. I had mentioned several times during the week that Clemson was prone to quit when a team leaned on them and took a lead, especially if they had been ahead early. It was happening.
The next few minutes were frantic and completely changed the game. After the defensive line had begun to finally impose their will as they held the Tigers to two possessions that ended in a punt and a fumble. Despite the defensive effort, we all know the Corey Brown muffed punt swung the momentum back in Clemson’s favor.
Here’s what eats at me nearly a week later: Despite Philly Brown’s fumble and the subsequently fast Clemson touchdown, Ohio State still had the lead and the ball with time about to expire in the third quarter. They were finally winning the war up front, using their size and strength to lean on the Clemson line and finally getting their guards to the second level and putting hats on linebackers. So why did they revert back to the mistake they made against Michigan State in the Big Ten title game and go away from what got them there? It makes no sense to me. I went back and checked my Twitter timeline after the Clemson touchdown made it 29-27 (and some of yours!) and we all were in agreement and screaming it: @ScriptOhio “Get composed. Calm down. Move people up front. Feed Carlos.”
Here’s my summation: There were many times this year that the Ohio State Buckeyes came out and, in my opinion, looked as though they thought they could just proverbially show up and get the win. That no matter how lax they started or uninspired they seemed, they could turn it on at any time and walk away with a convincing win. Naturally, some of that has to do with the opponent. But when looking back at Meyer’s track record, should it?
Urban Meyer came to Ohio State with the reputation of being a “stomp on the throat” kind of coach. A guy who wants to beat everyone by 50 if possible. His Florida teams always seemed to be as hyped up as a team can possibly get and would come out firing on all cylinders the vast majority of the time, regardless of opponent. His Utah teams played above their pay grade and let it all hang out while seemingly having a great time doing it.
To me, the Ohio State Buckeyes of 2013 always seemed tight. They always seemed as though the pressure was on. And when they played lesser opponents they let their guard down so much it almost worked to their detriment on several occasions.
If you feel like I do, or maybe do now and didn’t know you did until just now, what do you think is the cause? Is it Meyer being not as firey as he was in his previous tenures due to the health issues that caused him to quit at Florida? Or, are the players wrapped up in their own hype and press? Maybe it’s some combination of the two or something I haven’t thought of. Where is the disconnect? Why didn’t we see an energized team that was loose and ready to rock every Saturday? And why (how) in the world did we see a team start slow and look tight as could be in their two biggest games since 2010?
I want to know your thoughts. In the comment section below, sound off and let me know if I’m on to something or absolutely crazy!
Coaches under fire
Braxton Miller stated after the game that he injured his arm early on the first series of the game and the pain level was a “9.5 out of 10.” Urban Meyer and the coaching staff have came under a little bit of fire by fans and even some in the media who feel he should have pulled Miller and played Kenny Guitton, who proved to be a more than capable backup this season when needed. When Miller took big hits early in the fourth quarter and appeared to be pretty shaken up, the same group insist he should have been pulled at that moment as well.
I’m going to defend Urban and his staff on this one. Braxton Miller is a dynamic playmaker and one of the reasons you’re in this game to begin with. If he says he is ok, the team doctors say he is ok, then in my opinion he’s ok. We ask a lot of the coaching staff during games. Doing medical analysis is one thing they shouldn’t be asked to do.
I’ll keep this short and sweet: We will miss Ryan Shazier. We’ll miss his leadership, his tenacity, his speed and playmaking ability. I’ve always tried to be honest with my thoughts when guys leave early for the NFL. If they’re ready, I’ll back them 100%. If they’re not, I’ll say so on that situation too. In Shazier’s case not only is he ready but there is literally nothing he can gain by staying aside from team goals.
Which leads me to…
I’m not sure what Braxton Miller plans to do. By the time you’re reading this he may have already released a statement announcing his intentions one way or the other. All I can do is give my opinion. I think it’s really simple, he has to return to school. His accuracy, his touch on the ball, his decision making, his inability to make NFL throws and inability to throw his receivers open when they are covered are all pressing issues that either need vast improvement or are traits that he needs to acquire in the offseason. Without being really good at all of the aforementioned NFL quarterback components it doesn’t matter how well he can run or dazzle with the ball in his hand, he is headed for the late rounds of the draft.
New recruits to “Dream 14″
The “King of Cool” Mark Pantoni, Ohio State’s Director of Player Personnel (also the guy who tweets “BOOOOOOOOOM!” every time a new recruit commits to Ohio State) nicknamed the incoming class of 2014 “Dream 14″. I think it’s fitting considering the disgusting riches of talent it is stocked with. That group grew by two on Saturday at the US Army High School All-American Game in San Anotonio as Cleveland Glenville’s Marshon Lattimore and Erick Smith put on the Buckeye hats on national television.
The 6′, 175 lbs Lattimore is likely going to have a chance to make an impact at cornerback right away. He is the number one ranked player in the state of Ohio and hits like a truck while has the vertical jump of a track star. Lattimore is a huge pick up in a position (obviously) of great need. Many “experts” expect to see Lattimore play some offense as well reminding some of the dynamic Chris Gamble.
Erick Smith is a 6′-1″ 185 lbs safety who like Lattimore ranks as a fourstar prospect. Smith is slotted at number four in the state of Ohio overall. Coming in to a position that loses CJ Barnett and Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown and likely Christian Bryant, who’s medical red shirt application was denied by the NCAA though he is appealing, Smith stands a shot to possibly work his way onto the field this fall alongside Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell.
The curious case of Noah Spence
I can’t say I wasn’t more than a bit shocked when I heard the news that All-Big Ten defensive end Noah Spence was suspended from the Orange Bowl and the first two games of 2014 for violating the Big Ten’s rules on performance enhancing drugs. I was even more surprised when the news came out yesterday that the PED was the street drug commonly known as “ecstasy”.
Spence’s father further the drama when he told a local Pennsylvania television station that the original suspension was for an entire year and that the appeal they filed actually resulted in a reduction of the suspension to only three games. He says Noah was given an open container at a party in the Short North area of Columbus that unbeknownst to him contained the drug. He also says that they are filing a lawsuit against the Big Ten.
I’m not sure what the grounds for the lawsuit can be. If he tested positive, then he tested positive. How it got into his system is irrelevant. The only issue or case, from my non legal oriented mind, that Spence’s family may have is if the test was done illegally or without his consent in some way. This seems like it could be an all-summer kind of story. Stay tuned.
The BCS is finally over. Beginning this fall a new four team playoff system will be in place to determine college football’s national champion. The last BCS National Championship game sent the much maligned system out with a bang as Florida State rubbed out a 21-3 deficit to beat Auburn 35-31.
In my preview of the game, I said I expected the Noles offense to be too much and that they were 10-14 points better than the Tigers. I was wrong in my estimation of how well the Auburn defense would play. I should have known better after questioning Florida State’s offensive line all year. For 3-1/2 quarters the Tiger defensive line had their way with the Noles front five. In the end, special teams and last minute drive by Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston was too much and the SEC streak of 7 straight championships came crashing to a halt.
Wrap it up
Next week we’ll take a look back at 2013 and I’ll share some of my “years best things”. Expect shenanigans, as always. Until next week, Go Bucks!
Metallica track of the week
2014… wow! This year marks the 20 year anniversary of the first time I saw Metallica live! June 18, 1994 at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls (Cleveland) Ohio on a blistering hot day a mere 24 hours after OJ Simpson embarked on his famous white Ford Bronco police chase. The Ecstasy of Gold from the movie The Good, The Bad and the Ugly is/was/always will be Metallica’s intro theme along with the video clip from the film. The very first time (I get emotional lol) that I heard James Hetfield rip into his ESP Truckster live in concert was the opening bars to their version of the Budgie song Breadfan and it was glorious! For our MTOTW we go back to almost 10 years from the exact date of that first show, June 16th 2004 in Bremen, Germany for (exactly how it was that first live experience!) The Ecstasy of Gold intro and Breadfan!