Across The Web: THE GAME

Written November 29th, 2013 by MaliBuckeye

If it’s Thanksgiving week, it’s time for our yearly check in with That Blogger Up North, Yost from the often hilarious and occasionally comprehensible MZone. Before I got started writing, Yost’s was the only “enemy” site that I visited regularly; my “career” is mostly “Hell, if he can do it, anyone can…”.  We were able to pull him out from under his barstool for this year’s visit, and made sure to use small words in our questions.

In spite of his obvious deficiency, he’s a great guy who’s mostly on the twitter these days, and worth a follow.

Lots of speculation that Devin Gardner has a significant injury. Do you believe that he’ll be able to play, or will Shane Morris get his first taste of The Game? If it’s Morris, what does he bring to the table that’s different than Gardner?

Hello, Sunshine.

I think rather than a singular injury, Devin is suffering from the effects of 11 games of playing behind an O-line providing him with all the protection of jello pudding.  Couple that with a schizophrenic offensive strategy at the coaching level and it’s hard to tell where player injuries merge with play calling incoherence.

There’s no question Devin will play and I’ll think he’ll play the entire game barring any new injuries in the OSU game.  Good, bad or otherwise, I think we’re long past the point of Morris coming into the game and expecting any significant improvement.  He hasn’t had any real meaningful game experience all season.

Unfortunately, all the “easy” games he was supposed to get experience in (Akron, UConn, etc.), Michigan ended up in dogfights so he sat on the bench.  To put him in Saturday unless it’s an emergency would just be pointless.

In addition to Morris, Brady Hoke has been able to bring in some top recruiting classes- what’s your take on the future of the program in Ann Arbor?

Long term, I think U-M is going to be fine, although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed at the regression this season compared to Hoke’s initial campaign.  I thought – and still think – Hoke can lead Michigan to great things.  However, I’d be surprised if the head-scratchingly bad 2013 season hasn’t instilled a wisp of doubt in even the most ardent Brady Hoke supporters.

After the way this fall’s campaign has disintegrated before my maize and blue eyes, next year is crucial for Hoke.  Because if 2014 is another substandard year like 2013, I think you’ll see the bottom drop out of Hoke’s support.  And if he doesn’t make needed changes to his staff (yeah, you know who), then he’s turning the heat up another 20 degrees before next September even rolls around.  Because if Hoke doesn’t realize something isn’t working on his staff at a coaching level, then much more of the blame will shift to him and not just on coordinators or position coaches.

Word Association- Al Borges. Read More

Across The Web: THE GAME

Written November 23rd, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Against our better judgement, we invited Yost from MZone back to our clubhouse for a little give and take. We also provided a translator so he could understand the big words we asked him, and still can’t figure out how he managed to write to us in crayon and nail polish in an email.

Seriously, give the guy a follow- he’s one of the good ones, and feels as strongly about the sanctity of The Game as we do…

S.E.Grin

Gentlemen,

Thanks for having me on this week to talk about The Game – although I was cursing you with the intensity of a thousand suns as I stayed up until the wee hours finishing this after being doped up on turkey and eating whatever-the-hell the ass-awful side dish was that my Aunt Karen made for Thanksgiving (don’t worry, it’s cool:  I don’t think she reads The BBC or really gets the Internet.  Hopefully, if she is online, she’s on a f*cking cooking site).

Anyway, due to the late hour and my above-mentioned turkey coma, please excuse any typos or general “what the hell is he talking about?” stuff.

Here we go:

Topic Du Jour- Expansion. If you had five minutes with Jim Delany what would you tell him about the additions of Maryland and Rutgers? Any thoughts on future additions to the conference?

If I had 5 minutes, I’d probably spend the first four smacking the crap out of him.  For Delany and the others involved (I’m looking at you, Dave Brandon and Gene Smith) to say this has anything to do with academics, or that Maryland and Rutgers are a good “football fit,” is shameful.  This is about adding BTN to the basic cable package in the major markets of Baltimore/D.C. and New York.  Period.  It’s a horrendous, stupid, asinine, dumb, idiotic, whore-ish,  awful, terrible, dreadful, atrocious, abominable move by Delany and the conference.

Mr. Personality

And to announce this during the week of The Game is mind boggling.  Bo and Woody must be rolling over in their graves.  I wish they were still around and had 5 minutes with Delany.  This would never have happened on their watch.

As for future additions, after the clusterf*ck this week, it really doesn’t matter.  Because it has nothing to do with football anymore.  Hell, if Delany thought cable systems in England and France would add the BTN, he’d consider colleges in London and Paris then worry about teaching them American football.  Yes, I do believe what he did this week was that crass.

But other than those minor qualms, I think it was an absolutely awesome move.

Continuing that theme: It’s been speculated that the recent moves would also mean a recalibration of the divisions. Any preferences there?  What if a divisional shift meant moving The Game away from the last Saturday in November… thoughts?

If you want The Game to continue to be The Game, you have to have M*chigan and Ohio State in the same division and it must always be the last Saturday in November.  Must, must, must.  The mere chance that, due to being in different divisions, Michigan and Ohio State could play twice a season should appall both our fan bases as it dilutes the rivalry.

During the last realignment, our AD, Dave Brandon said that if M*chigan vs Ohio State once a year was great, twice would be even better.

He’s out of his mind.

There should never, ever be a chance for a mulligan when M*chigan and Ohio State play.  You either win and celebrate for a year, or lose and have to wait a year for your shot at redemption.  That is what makes The Game…The Game!  It’s not The GameS, fergodssake!  You think The Ten Year War would have been the same if it was just the The Ten Year Warm-Up Act or The Ten Year Practice Run?   Read More

Across the Web: Wisconsin Badgers

Written November 16th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

After a week off Ohio State looks to get back on the field this Saturday and continue their growing rivalry with Wisconsin. What this also means is, after a week off we reach out to our fellow bloggers across the Big Ten for our Across the Web segment. This week we turn to Andy Coppens from MadTownBadgers and Delany’sDozen to give us some insight on the Badger’s. Check out our turn under the microscope from yesterday!

Hangin' Out In Pasadena

1. Coach Beliema and Coach Meyer say that there’s no bad blood following this off season’s “war of words” about recruiting. Do you think this adds to this game at all?

I think it’s honestly something for us media types and bloggers to chat about more so than something real between these two for the game. Come Saturday all the off-field stuff goes away and it’s all about what happens between the lines.

However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Wisconsin and Ohio State have been in some really big recruiting battles in the past season and probably will be for as long as Bielema and Meyer are around.

2. Last year, Ohio State’s last minute heroics derailed solid Wisconsin team; the year before, Buckeye players are still talking about how their undefeated season was “stolen” from them. What’s the perspective on the growing rivalry between these two squads?

I think it’s easily one of the biggest growing rivalries because of where these two teams are and likely will be in the future – competing for division championships. That alone helps grow the rivalry but the fact that Wisconsin owns the most wins over OSU since 1999 and the games have more often been good to great also adds to it.

Wisconsin fans have a general dislike for OSU and adding Urban Meyer to the mix only kicked that up a notch. I think the programs have respect for what each other do, but the fans, well that’s a whole different ball of wax. I’d say outside of Minnesota and arguably more than the Gophs this is the game Badger fans care the most about.

3. Is Curt Phillips the answer? Read More

Across The Web: Purdue

Written October 19th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Against our better sensibilities, we’ve turned once again to the gentlemen at Boiled Sports for a nice fireside chat about this week’s matchup. Not only are they experts on all things Black and Gold, but they also make a very very tasty s’more… win/win, as far as we’re concerned.

*Sigh...

What is it about playing the Buckeyes that makes Purdue play that much better? Any chance we can get that voodoo doll back anytime soon?

No one finds it stranger than us that Purdue has often seemed to compete well with the Buckeyes, even when Purdue’s not very good. From Holy Buckeye to 2009, when Purdue isn’t getting bludgeoned by an angry Bucks team in C-bus, they’re usually putting a serious scare into them (see aforementioned 2002) or outright upsetting them (see 2000, 2004, 2009). Purdue oddly plays better against good OSU teams than it does against mediocre Wisconsin teams and middling Michigan teams. It makes about as much sense as it sounds, so we don’t have an explanation. But it’s worth remembering that those years I called out all required nearly superhuman efforts… in 2000 it was an unbelievable Drew Brees comeback, in 2004 it was a hobbled Kyle Orton comeback and in 2009 it was Ryan Kerrigan just deciding that he was an NFLer and he was going to manhandle and frighten Terrelle Pryor all day. Will any of those kinds of efforts happen Saturday? It’s always possible, but… no.

Someone said earlier in the year that Purdue is the Portland Trailblazers of the B1G, with Hummel, Marve, Bolden and now Mostert all suffering knee injuries over the past two years.  It’s not quite Iowa’s luck with running backs, but what’s going on in West Lafayette?

We’ve asked that many times, usually while crying and unable to sleep at 3 AM. Some can just be chalked up to bad luck – but what a lot of us find more alarming is how many recurrences of blown ACLs are happening. It’s an engineering school, after all, so shouldn’t somebody be able to figure out how to repair these things correctly?

Notre Dame is totally overrated, right? Am I right?

We definitely like to say ND is overrated whenever we can, but it’s hard to argue with them deserving credit this year. They’ve won the games on their schedule which, for a change, isn’t full of powder puffs. Starting with Navy and Purdue doesn’t look real stout in hindsight, but they’ve answered the bell every time they’ve needed to so far and as long as they get officials to whistle guys down before they cross the goal line in overtime, they should continue to do well.

The best (and only good) part about them making the BCS title game would be to see Alabama beat them by 30.

Might explain the success against the Buckeyes.

A number of folks are calling for Coach Hope to be replaced ASAP, and you did a great job addressing this earlier in the week. What is it about him that inspires a “Wait and see” attitude from you? It’s gotta be more than the mustache and the undefeated* record against the Buckeyes, right? Is it the energy ball?

We just don’t like being the pitchfork-wielders. Yes, it’s probably time for a change and we’ve said that, while not explicitly writing “FIRE HOPE!” But Danny Hope is a good man who we genuinely like. He’s not dirty, he loves being Purdue’s coach and he loves the players and they love him. There’s literally nothing not to like about the guy… other than that he’s not a very good football coach.

Purdue’s defensive front was identified as a strength for the Boilers early in the season, and there were some who said they had the best front four in the B1G.  Last week, though, they just couldn’t disengage from Wisconsin’s blatant holding and Montee Ball had a huge day. What needs to happen to get them back on track (after Saturday, that is). Read More

Across the Web: Hoosier Time!

Written October 12th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

This week Ohio State takes on the Hoosiers from Indiana who played incredibly tough against the Spartans last week… this could be an interesting game for the Buckeyes.  For some insight on the Hoosiers, we welcome back John M. from www.crimsonquarry.com to answer some questions from our panel.  Here’s what John has to say:

Bottled Up

1. Indiana took Michigan State to the wire last Saturday.  Did you expect that this team would be able to put up such a good fight against the Big Ten runners up from last year?

No, I really didn’t expect it.  I think the second half looked much how I feared the first half would look when IU’s offense tried to take on MSU’s defense.  As it stood, IU was able to put up some points against the MSU defense in the first half, and the defense played well, too, forcing MSU to punt on 7 of its first 10 possessions before finally collapsing.  I wouldn’t have expected IU to be in the game without a dramatic turnover advantage, but it happened.

2. How do you feel about the work Kevin Wilson has done at Indiana so far?  Are the Hoosiers moving in the right direction?

I like Wilson.  I like his resume and the staff he has put together.  Obviously, at some point the wins will have to come, but I do think this team is meaningfully better than last year’s team, which is better than the alternative.

3. What does Indiana like to do offensively that has made them suddenly so dangerous?  Which players are the vital cogs that make the offense work so well?

IU has been running a very fast-paced offense that is somewhat similar to what would have been seen at Texas Tech under Mike Leach.  IU OC Seth Littrell is a Leach protégé.  I’ve been very impressed with all three quarterbacks that IU has used this year, and as always seems to be the case, IU has some respectable pieces at the offensive skill positions: Stephen Houston and Tevin Coleman at RB, Kofi Hughes, Cody Latimer, Nick Stoner, and Duwyce Wilson at WR, Ted Bolser at TE.  I do think IU’s offensive numbers are a bit deceiving.  IU has been productive, but in all three losses IU has had extended periods of close to zero offensive production: the second half against MSU, the first half against Northwestern, the third quarter against Ball State.  IU’s defense is improving, but IU won’t win another game if the offense continues to take entire quarters and halves off.

4.      How do you see the Hoosier’s defense adjusting from attacking Michigan State’s power running game to Ohio State’s spread look? Read More

Across the Web: Special Husker Double Edition

Written October 5th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

To The MAX

Last year Nebraska joined the B1G and Ohio State traveled to Lincoln for an exciting game. Last year also introduced us to Tad Stryker, Dan “Husker Dan” McGlynn, and Husker Max.com. They joined us last year for our questions and they graciously decided to put up with us again this year and answer our questions about this year’s game.

1) Watching Nebraska defeat Wisconsin (woot!!) on Saturday, we couldn’t help but have deja vu with the second half comeback. Do you attribute that to great half-time adjustments, players executing the game plan better in the third and fourth quarters, home crowd momentum, or Bert Bielema just being awful? We’ll totally accept a combination of the two.

Tad Stryker: Yeah, that comeback did bring back a memory or two, didn’t it? The home crowd was a big factor, but the players settled down and stopped making critical mistakes. As far as coaching goes, putting Ciante Evans on Abbrederis for the second half was one of the best adjustments the Huskers made all evening. Second-year offensive coordinator Tim Beck stuck with the running game despite being down 17 points, unlike last year in Madison.

Husker Dan: The main cause of the Huskers’ second half resurgence was that they got out of their own way. There were also half-time adjustments to the offensive and defensive line schemes. Better execution, half time adjustments and the fact that Russell Wilson is playing for the Seahawks helped to contribute to the Husker win! Bret Bielema is a good coach, but clearly doesn’t have the talent he’s had the past few years.

Skipping Rocks? Hardly...

2) Taylor Martinez has improved his passing significantly this year, both statistically and in his decision making. However, there seem to be several moments of regression (UCLA game, 1st half against Wisconsin)… what are the coaches doing to help him put together a complete game?

HD: This is a great question. I’m not sure the coaches can do much, other than stay out of his way. Taylor Martinez is light years from where he was a year ago. He played most of 2011 with two bad wheels that limited his ability to throw and run. This year, he’s become much more of a leader. He is definitely in charge of the offense. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance this fall. When he reaches his full potential, look out. He has the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the country.

TS: Martinez has improved a lot, but I still don’t think he can beat a high-level opponent with his arm alone. I think the coaches just need to keep reinforcing his confidence and let him run the ball with abandon (no more hook slides). When the Husker run game improves, Martinez improves as a passer, and so on.

3) At the game in the Rose Bowl, the Blackshirts seemed to be out of position in a number of occasions. What adjustments have Nebraska’s defensive personnel and coaches made since UCLA? Read More

Across the Web: Sparty Edition

Written September 28th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

This week THE Buckeyes will take on the other team from up North. For this week’s Across the Web we look to our friends at www.enlightenedspartan.com, who also joined us for last year’s chat. ES took some time from his busy schedule to answer our questions on Sparty.

Gholston The Lesser

1. Are MSU Fans excited about William Gholston’s play, or is it more of a “man, I hope he doesn’t kill us with a stupid penalty”?

ES: Gholston is the Spartans’ version of Dirty Harry… he is mean, and with a penchant for taking no prisoners ‘cause he’s THE MAN – but while kicking butt, he’s not thinking about the impact of his actions outside of his own skin. So, we’ll take his two steps forward, knowing we’ll take one step back.

2. What are the odds that MSU drops Notre Dame, following their move to the ACC? Bigger rival- the Irish or the Wolverines?

ES: Part 1, ND: Nil. As expected, the Catholics dropped the Wolvies, because scUM is a far more disinteresting matchup. The Spartans have a much longer history, and more wins in the series, and we’re on the docket for… forever.

Part 2, Rival: Our bigger rival is the Rodents, and that’s tied into our relationship in the Big Ten… speaking of which, the Roadkill was the only Big Ten school to vote against Michigan State joining the conference back in 1949, and we’ve hated that scUM ever since. The ES is permanently irked at having to watch both scUM and the Goddam Catholics get support annually from millions of Trailer Trash who love them yet never even attended college. Read More

Across the Web: UAB

Written September 21st, 2012 by Gary Russell II

This week for our Across the Web segment we travel down South to Birmingham, Alabama. Steve Irvine from The Birmingham News was gracious enough to take time out of busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. Check out Steve’s answers to our burning questions below:

The Man In The Middle

1. Who are three Blazers that we should be aware of? Linebacker Marvin Burdette is the team’s leading tackler and has a shot at setting school career mark in tackles. Wide receiver Jackie Williams, who is tied for the team lead with 11 catches in two games, comes up with clutch catches. Offensive tackle Chris Hubbard is the lone returning starter up front and a All-C-USA player.

2. How do you see Coach McGee’s offense at UAB being different than his time at Arkansas and Northwestern? I think he wants to do the same thing they did at those places. I’m not sure he has the players in place to do that just yet. He runs a pro-style set that combines the running and passing game when things are going well.

3. With Coach McGee, Coach Brohm, and Coach Peterson all having connections to Ohio State and the B1G, how do you see this helping the Blazers prepare for Saturday’s contest? It certainly helps when it comes to knowing the surroundings. Once the game starts, though, it’s about the players.

4. The Buckeyes have struggled all season defending the deep pass. How do you expect the Blazers to take advantage of that, and how successful might they be?  UAB likes to throw the deep ball but hasn’t had success doing that thus far. They have the pieces to have an effective deep passing attack but haven’t executed that aspect of the offense yet.

'Supposed to be SEC

5. Who will the Blazers look to in order to stop the OSU offense and Braxton Miller? It’s going to take all 11 defenders to slow Miller down. UAB won’t stop him but the Blazers hope to minimize the damage.

6. The Blazers are facing their second straight ranked opponent. Do you think that facing South Carolina last week helped the Blazers prepare for this week’s matchup with Ohio State? If so, how? It definitely helps getting adjusted to the surroundings and possibly weathering some tough times on the field. Will that be enough for UAB to hang in there? Perhaps, but my guess is UAB will get worn down in the second half, just as it did at South Carolina.

Thanks again to Steve Irvine from The Birmingham News for meeting with us. Be sure to check out his work at The Birmingham News and his blog “Off the Vine“.