Keys to Victory: Indiana

Written November 3rd, 2011 by Jim

Eyes on the prize.

Indiana is not a good football team. They have never been very good so that isn’t much of a surprise, but they appear to be particularly awful this year even by their standards.

What does that mean for the Buckeyes? Well, it means that the chances of losing this weekend are very slim, but it also presents a tremendous opportunity for the team.

Rather than looking past the Hoosiers to bigger challenges down the road (aka playing flat), the Buckeyes can build off of an amazing win and continue to work themselves, week by week, into a championship caliber team.

Good teams win games; championship teams win games and get better each week in the process.

The Buckeyes have already done a great job at getting better (with some very large bumps along the way) as evidenced by the results against Wisconsin, but they need to avoid complacency by staying hungry against an inferior Hoosier squad.

Fortunately, I am confident in the coaching staff’s ability to keep the team focused, especially with the very real opportunity to play in the Big Ten championship game on the horizon if they win out.

Jim Tressel always said that Novembers are for contenders, and the Buckeyes are once again contenders in what has historically been a very successful month for them.

The team doesn’t control their destiny entirely; they are depending on Nebraska or Wisconsin (or both) to knock off Penn State to open the door to the Big Ten title game completely, but the chances of that happening are high and the Buckeyes need to prepare each week like they are getting ready for the championship game.

Here are my keys to taking the first step this week. Read More

Thoughts on a Win for the Ages

Written November 1st, 2011 by Jim

Well, that was fun.

A confident Braxton Miller is a scary prospect for defenses moving forward.

 

While the game winning play is already being compared to some of the all time greats and will undoubtedly be remembered fondly for decades, the immediate impact of this game is also worth getting excited about.

Braxton Miller’s numbers weren’t the greatest, but anyone who watched him in action could see that his understanding of the offense and comfort level on the field are already well beyond  earlier this year.

That is an exciting prospect for an Ohio State offense that has struggled mightily the entire season.

If Miller continues to progress and gain confidence in the passing game the offense should be able to do enough to continue winning games.

On that front, it is fortunate that the Buckeyes play two less-than-stellar defenses in Indiana and Purdue the next two weeks before a final stretch against Penn State and Michigan.

Here are my thoughts on the victory over the Badgers and on the Buckeyes moving forward. Read More

Football Midseason Report Card

Written October 19th, 2011 by Chris

Well Buckeye fans, we are halfway home to the end of the 2011 season. Standing at 4-3 overall and 1-2 in the B1G, this year has been some dizzying highs (winning the Sugar Bowl) and far too many lowest of lows. The real question is where the Ohio State Buckeyes grade out for the first half of the season and keys to improvement. Players and coaches will be broken down and evaluated on their performance so far.  So, listen up scarlet and gray clad coaches and players. Professor Schmidbauer is here to hand out some first half grades.

Quarterback

Breakdown: Anyone wondering what kind of faith the offensive coaches had in Braxton

Still Learning

Miller got a pretty good idea as to how much last Saturday in Champaign. The play as a whole has been pretty poor sans two games for the Buckeye signal callers. Joe Bauserman’s initial start against Akron was a solid debut for the resident geriatric of Ohio State. Braxton Miller’s first start against the Colorado Buffaloes was a nice debut as well. The rest of the performances have been lackluster, and I think we would all agree that is putting it kindly. Now the team is officially Miller’s and it seems like the Buckeyes can ride him as far as the freshman can carry them, well assuming there is not a strong wind anyway.

Area to Improve: If there is one key to the Buckeye season reaching eight or, dare I say, nine wins, it has to be the passing game. Ohio State proved you can win a game by only completing one pass, but it goes without saying we don’t want to see if the team can accomplish that feat again. Braxton Miller has not been able to consistently make throws in big spots in games yet, and opponents know that. You can believe that a serviceable passing will be a necessity to reach a New Year’s Day bowl game. Read More

Keys to Victory: Nebraska

Written October 6th, 2011 by Jim

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. Read More

Silver Bullet Points Prepares For Harvest

Written October 5th, 2011 by MaliBuckeye

Quick look at Tuesday’s press conference, Nebraska prep, and other news from the world of college sports:

Grey and headed your way

Buckeye 411

  • Injury update- Nathan Williams still out, Verlon Reed has torn his ACL and will be out for the season.  Yesterday, we were also informed that Melvin Fellows had been classified as a medical hardship, but there’s still no further information at this time. Philly Brown is day to day, and may see action against the Cornhuskers. Solomon Thomas will see some action- he’s returning from suspension and from surgery for the broken leg he suffered in the spring. Brewster said after practice that Philly and Michael Bennett both were active this afternoon.
  • Fickell Speaks- On dealing with adversity and suspended players:

Probably we went ahead and went with our three points of wisdom from John Wooden that said: Don’t whine, don’t complain and don’t make excuses. And I think that’s what we have got to be able to do, and it starts from the top down with all of us as coaches.

How many times have we said, we are going to focus on what we have, not what we don’t have and focus on moving forward. So that’s what we have to do. We are not going to make excuses for guys. We are not going to allow them to be down and we are not going to allow them to do that; as coaches we are not going to do that as a team, and we believe everybody will follow suit.

  • Captain, My Captain- Brewster, Sweat, Moeller. Attorneys at Law.
  • Read More

Offense: Not as hard as Jim Bollman makes it look

Written October 4th, 2011 by Jim

Not as hard as Jim Bollman makes it look.

Here are a list of things that everyone who has played college football on a video game system in the last five years knows about calling plays on offense, but apparently Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman does not.

  • You run the ball to set up the play-action pass. A creative mix of run plays and play-action pass plays keeps the defense off guard. By alternating the focus of the secondary, and especially the linebackers, from the line of scrimmage to their coverage responsibilities, you can keep them off balance and open up running lanes or allow receivers to get open behind the coverage. When you run the ball over and over, the offense is predictable. When you run play-action passes over and over, the entire point of the play is rendered useless as there is no deception or threat of the run involved. Jim Bollman apparently is not aware of either of these things.
  • You pass the ball to set up the draw play. The perfect time to call a draw play is when you are gashing the defense through the air passing the ball. With the defense focused on pass coverage and the defensive line focused on getting to the quarterback for a sack, surprising them with a draw play up the middle catches them off guard and hopefully results in some yardage. At the very least, it keeps the pass rush honest and keeps the linebackers and secondary guessing about whether they should be in coverage or defending the run. Once again, all of this works only if the offense is having success passing the ball and the defenders are worried about their coverage responsibilities. Without an effective passing game, draw plays are beyond useless and even detrimental to the offense. They take time to development and with no pass game to worry about, slow developing run plays are even easier for a defense to stop. Jim Bollman apparently does not know this after running more draw plays than completing passes against Michigan State. Read More

Keys to Victory: Michigan State

Written September 29th, 2011 by Jim

 

Keep on rollin'.

 

The Colorado game might not have been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Buckeyes, but it went a long way in calming the nerves of an anxious Ohio State fan base heading into the Big Ten season… at least a little bit.

The game wasn’t perfect, but you have to admit that you feel better about the rest of the season right now than you did just a few days ago.

That is not to say there won’t be some major challenges coming for the Buckeyes, far from it with Michigan State and Nebraska looming the next two Saturdays.

With Braxton Miller at QB, at least there is the hope of victory in tough games moving forward.

That is the main takeaway from Colorado. Hope.

This team isn’t perfect, not even close, but there is a renewed hope that the Buckeyes can beat the Spartans this weekend with Braxton Miller leading the offense.

Kicking off the Big Ten season right with a victory will set up the return of the suspended starters for the trip to Nebraska nicely, adding to the hope surrounding this young Buckeye squad.

Here are my keys to victory against the Spartans. Read More

Keys to Victory: Colorado

Written September 22nd, 2011 by Jim

Rocky Mountain High

BREAKING NEWS: Coach Luke Fickell has confirmed that freshman Braxton Miller will be the starting QB against Colorado.

After last week’s performance, the main key to victory this week will be coming down with a strong case of amnesia.

Like a star cornerback who gives up a big completion, the Buckeyes need to move on, continue to play at a high level, and eliminate (forget) any uncertainty that may be lingering in their minds and affecting their play.

Moving the team forward will largely fall on Luke Fickell and the senior leadership. If there hasn’t been enough of them already this season, it will be another major hurdle to overcome.

Momentum has not been on Ohio State’s sideline for two straight weeks and another slow start against the Buffalos will be hugely frustrating for fans and players alike.

Nothing will be better for the Buckeye Nation’s collective football soul than starting fast, gaining some momentum, and perhaps most importantly, having some fun again.

The road to recovering starts this week.

Here are my keys to the game. Read More