The Buckeye Battle Cry will be counting down the Top 25 players of the past decade all spring/summer. Every Monday and Thursday, Jim will be announcing a new player. Our #1 player will be presented on Monday, August 30th. Three days later, the 2010 season officially begins. To view the previous entries in our Top 25, click here.
Beanie Wells was a big, bruising back who did not hesitate to run a defender over. He also had the speed and quickness to make a cut and be past the defender before they knew what happened. His elite combination of size and speed made him a once in a generation talent and one of the greatest backs ever at Ohio State.
Unfortunately, his bruising running style also led to his greatest weakness; injuries. Constant battles with health issues nagged Wells throughout his career, particularly during his junior season. These health problems led to some serious offensive struggles for Ohio State in his absence, and also prevented him from challenging for the title of greatest ever at Ohio State. Read More
Later this evening, we’ll have a wrap up of today’s news and notes, but it would be a failure of epic proportions to not honor #28 in our countdown:
And you can’t forget that a man that large can fly:
Our friends over at MotSaG beat us to the punch on this one, pointing to the greatest collection of stiff arms ever seen:
#5 USC’s new defense.
I don’t know if anyone has noticed this amidst the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair in the aftermath of the Navy game, but USC only has three returning starters on defense this year.
This isn’t the same defense that throttled the Buckeyes last year.
I am not saying that USC can’t be good, or even great, on defense this year, but there will be a lot of new faces, and they will be playing in a high pressure environment on the road (some for the first time) in the second game of the year, and they will be trying to tackle Terrelle Pryor.
USC recruits better than anyone in the country, so you know that all of the new faces are going to be good, and they do have quite a few players who have started some games, but you can’t teach athletes to handle the immense levels of pressure that they are going to face in this game.
This defense has not proven itself in the type of environment or under the pressure that they are going to see on Saturday night and that is a good thing for Ohio State.
#4 Matt Barkley is a true freshman.
I don’t care how good this kid is, if Ohio State pressures him he will make mistakes.
you break the huddle, run up to the line and get under center, it is 3rd and long, the crowd is so loud you can’t hear yourself think, your ears are ringing and your shoulder is still stiff from the hit you took from Thaddeus Gibson on the last play (a screen pass which Brian Rolle blew up for a two yard loss), you scan the line, is the middle linebacker showing blitz? are the corners in press coverage or zone? oh god, Gibson knows we are passing, here he comes again *oh wait* I am supposed to be reading the coverage right now, shit, are they showing man coverage? wait, they are dropping back, this must be zone, am I supposed to call an audible when that happens? damnit, I wish this crowd would quiet down, jesus, my receivers can’t hear the audible anyway even if I did call one…oh well… HIKE!
Yeah, welcome to The Shoe Matt Barkley, I think you will find it a little tougher than running up a ramp, ass.
#3 The Shoe
The Shoe can be a pretty intimidating place (see my awesome reenactment above and the pretty photo). It is one of the top 5 most intimidating atmospheres in college football and if the crowd is fired up and into the game, the home field advantage that is experienced by Ohio State is going to be huge.
#2 Terrelle Pryor
Last year, Terrelle Pryor was thrown into the fire and he performed remarkably well for a true freshman. What makes Pryor’s performance last year even more remarkable is the fact that he did it in an offense that had practiced for the entire offseason (not to mention the entire 2007 season) handing the ball off to Beanie Wells.
A lot of people have criticized Jim Bollman and Jim Tressel for a lack of creativity on offense. Well, when you have Beanie in the backfield (not to mention Todd Boeckman at QB) who can blame them for pounding the ball between the tackles.
This year, the handcuffs come off. It may seem like a long time ago, but if you will recall the 2006 offense was quite dynamic. Bollman and Tressel can get creative if they have the right personnel. If Terrelle Pryor isn’t the right personnel for some creativity on offense I don’t know what is.
So, with an entire offseason to mold the offense to take advantage of Terrelle Pryor’s skill set (last year it was a work in progress/hybrid between taking advantage of Beanie and Pryor the entire year, which partially explains the lack of production in my opinion) I expect some creativity a la 2006 and a much more dynamic offense this season.
Think about how much defenses struggled to stop Pryor last year in an offense designed for Todd Boeckman and Beanie. Think about an off season of work molding the offense for Pryor. Think about Pryor’s improvement as a passer. Smile.
#1 USC struggles on the road.
You read that right (gasp!), USC struggles at something. In fact, I went back and looked at USC’s road games over the last two years and found some interesting results.
In 2008 USC lost on the road (at night) against a 9-4 Oregon State team in front of 46,000 fans. They also won a close game (17-10) on the road against an 8-5 Arizona team in front of a whopping 56,000 fans.
The rest of their road games last year were against 5-7 Virginia, 2-11 Washington State, 5-7 Stanford, and 4-8 UCLA. If you see any challenges in there let me know.
In 2007 USC lost on the road to a 9-4 Oregon team at Autzen Stadium. While Auzten is known to be one of the louder venues in college football, it still only holds 54,000 fans.
They had trouble with a 4-9 Washington team (you know, that awful team that we took so much heat for having the audacity to schedule) pulling out the close victory 27-24 at Washington in front of a crowd of 72,500.
They also struggled to put away a 7-6 California team on the road in front of 76,000 fans, eventually pulling out the victory 24-17.
The rest of their road games in 2007 were against 5-7 Nebraska, 3-9 Notre Dame (haha), and a 10-3 Arizona State team that they beat 44-24 (wow, that seems like it might be a quality road win!).
So, uhhh, notice a pattern here.
First of all, they haven’t played in front of nearly as many people or experienced nearly the crowd noise that they will on Saturday (see #3).
Second of all, USC has clearly struggled on the road over the past two seasons. Combine that with #5 and # 4 and you will have to excuse me, but can someone please remind me why we are the underdogs again?
I don’t know what is getting into me, but as this game approaches I am starting to feel pretty damn confident.
Actually, since Jim’s blocked punt in the 1979 MACh1gAAn game led to another loss by TTUN, and since we seem to be making a lot of friends from “bluer” websites, let’s take day five in a different direction.
As in the last five versions of The Game:
2004- 37 to 21 Troy and Teddy lead to the upset of the #7 team in the nation.
2005- 25 to 21 “The Catch”. Oh, and the amazing tackle by Shawn Crable on Ohio State’s last score.
2007- 14 to 3 All Beanie, All Day. Plus, Jake Long allows Chad Henne into the Gun Show that is Vernon Gholston.
2008- 42 to 7 Goodbye, Beanie. Hello, Boom and Terrelle.
Just think, if they hadn’t been breaking all of those practice and training rules, they would have been shut out.
To be honest, the best thing about day five is that next year we’ll be able to use this template for countdown day six.
If you’re like most football fans you probably play some form of fantasy football. It gives me the ability to have a rooting interest in any NFL game I watch. I also like to have hometown players on my team but since I live in Cleveland that’s not such a good idea. So if you’re an Ohio State fan and are playing fantasy you may like to have a Buckeye on your team. Here’s a quick look at OSU players in the NFL and what their fantasy prospects might be.
Troy Smith – Baltimore Last year his tonsils gave the job to Joe Flacco and he’s not getting it back anytime soon. If Flacco struggles or gets injured jump on the waiver wire and snag him. Other than that he’s not worth drafting
Antonio Pittman – St Louis Rams He’s number two behind Steven Jackson and won’t get many carries while Jackson is around. If you draft Jackson in the first round he’s worth picking up as a handcuff but other than that probably not draft worthy.
Chris Wells – Arizona Cardinals This is an interesting one. I had high hopes for his rookie season when I saw he was picked by Arizona, but since then I’ve become more skeptical. He missed OTAs to actually finish his spring classes and then suffered an injury early in camp. Meanwhile Tim Hightower has been putting on quite a preseason performance. What does this mean? I don’t know – could go either way. I would definitely draft him but I wouldn’t count on starting him until we see where the season is going. Still I predict quite a future in the NFL for Beanie.
Joey Galloway – New England Patriots Injured last year, now in New England behind Moss and Welker. Could see some production if he’s healthy, and remember it is Brady throwing the ball
Ted Ginn Jr – Miami Dolphins Lots of upside here. Year three is when lots of receivers blossom in the NFL. I’d draft him as my number 3 receiver. He hasn’t shown he can do it yet but this may be the year.
Anthony Gonzalez – Indianapolis Colts His third year in the league. Marvin Harrison is gone. This guy has sleeper written all over him. I predict 1200 yards and 10+ TDS. Don’t jump too soon – he’ll probably slip into the 4th round but he will be a first round worthy pick this year.
Santonio Holmes – Pittsburgh Steelers Super Bowl winning catch will make him go earlier in the draft than he probably should. Still he’s a good receiver playing for a championship team. Hines Ward is getting older and Holmes will take over main receiving duties eventually. Is this the year? Maybe but don’t overreach for him.
Michael Jenkins – Atlanta Falcons Defenses will be keyed on Michael Turner running the ball and the Falcons two main aerial threats – Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez. This should leave lots of one on one situations for Jenkins. He’s developed into a deep threat and could put up some numbers this year.
Brian Robiskie – Cleveland Browns Last year I went against my better judgment and drafted a Brown. That Brown was Braylon Edwards. I learned my lesson. That being said Robiskie has great hands and runs good routes. Someone has to catch the ball in Cleveland. I wouldn’t be against having him as a backup but I’d be wary of anyone wearing brown and orange this year.
Mike Nugent – Tampa Bay Buccaneers Don’t ever draft a kicker before the last round. And Nugent may not even have the starting job in TB. Stay away.
In my last post, I looked at the linebacker situation at Ohio State. Talking LB’s is one of my favorite topics and I think Ohio State’s linebacker tradition stacks up against any team in the country (I’m looking at you Penn State).
While it is fun to envision our LBs running around laying the smack down on some hapless Big Ten offenses, the position that will have the largest impact on the outcome of the upcoming season is offensive tackle.
Unfortunately for Buckeye fans, play along the offensive line has been lackluster for several years now, and in particular the play at the tackle positions has been a huge liability. Whenever the Buckeyes played against a top defense with highly regarded ends (Florida, LSU) chaos in the OSU backfield was sure to ensue.
I would even go so far as to say that less than stellar play at tackle has been the #1 cause of Ohio State’s recent big game woes and was the #1 contributor to the premature end of the Todd Boeckman era at quarterback. Once Beanie went down, teams could tee off with the pass rush and our tackles were helpless to stop them. The results of this unfortunate situation was less than ideal for poor Todd Boeckman,who’s inability to get rid of the ball quickly didn’t help matters.
Now it is time to turn the page as both tackles from a year ago have moved on. LT Alex Boone has moved on to the west coast (undrafted free agent to San Fran) and RT Bryant Browning has made a slightly shorter move west to RG. While it is not beyond the realm of possibility that Browning will find his way back to tackle, I think it is safe to say that he will spend the rest of his time in Columbus comfortably away from open space on the inside.
That means that both tackle positions need to be filled sometime before the start of the season. How well the new players step in and perform at tackle will go a long way towards helping or hindering the development of a guy named Pyror (maybe you’ve heard of him?). While Pryor is clearly more mobile than Boeckman could ever dream of being, running for his life the entire season is a less than ideal situation for both Pryor and the team, which means that improvement at tackle despite the turnover is a must.
While I have no doubt that the Buckeyes can win a majority of the games they play this year based entirely on Pryor’s ability to scramble, for Ohio State to finally get over its funk and win its biggest games (see USC, Penn State), Pryor needs to be able to sit in the pocket and pass the ball. Not only will this keep opposing defenses from committing everything they have to stopping the run, it will also make Pryor’s ability to scramble even more lethal when other teams drop back to defend the pass and see a 6’6″ blur of scarlet and gray fly past them.
So, who is going to step in to the most important position for improvement on offense and hold the fate of the upcoming season in their hands? Below I will look at the two main candidates competing to play at each tackle position and then briefly go over some dark horse candidates.
Left tackle is the most important position on the offensive line and behind the quarterback is probably the most important position on the entire offense. The left tackle protects the QBs blind side, and when they don’t do a good job, bad things happen.
[insert picture of Boeckman getting sacked that none of us really wants to look at]
Alex Boone manned the LT position for the last four years at Ohio State (’05-’08, 36 starts), and while his off the field issues prevented him from ever reaching his potential (I contend that he was no better as a senior than he was as a true freshman), he at least brought consistency to the position and even earned First Team All Big Ten honors last year. Despite his status as a four year starter and All-Big Ten tackle, Boone was also consistent in getting man handled in bowl games against the SEC. For proof of my hypothesis that tackle play was one of the largest contributors to our big game letdowns, look at the results of bowl games in which Boone played well (Notre Dame, Texas) compared to the ones in which he got burned (Florida, LSU).
Fast forward to this year. It has been a two horse race to see who will replace Boone at left tackle, Mike Adams (#75) and Andy Miller (#55) have been battling each other since Spring ball to earn the spot, and they will continue to battle into fall camp (hopefully a leader emerges before too long).
I am looking for whoever emerges to bring increased athleticism and focus to the position and to compete at a high level against even the best DE’s in the country.
We’ll start by looking at Miller, who could be considered the underdog in the competition to start. He came to Ohio State as a tight end in 2006 and has bulked up enough to be moved to tackle. He is currently a redshirt Junior and is listed at 6’6″ and 280 pounds. Miller has played sparingly in his career thus far, but he did play significant minutes at guard last year in the USC game when starter Steve Rehring went down with an injury.
While it is entirely possible that Miller is capable of handling the starting spot at left tackle, I almost feel bad for really hoping that he doesn’t win the job. Miller is the type of hard working team player that all fans love to root for, but if he ends up starting, that probably means that Adams is failing to live up to his massive potential, and that is not a good thing for Ohio State.
So that brings us to Mike Adams, who was compared favorably to Orlando Pace coming out of High School (see what I mean about massive potential?). At 6’8″ and around 300 lbs. Adams has prototypical size for a tackle and has been the heir apparent at LT since he committed to Ohio State.
The fact that he was unable to separate himself from Miller during spring practice may be cause for concern. Throughout the spring there were reports floating around that Adam’s didn’t play with the type of tenacity that you typically like to see from your offensive lineman, and that is what was holding him back.
The explanation for his lack of separation from Miller may have been due more to physical limitations rather than psychological ones, however. It is a very real possibility that Adams was rusty during the spring after shoulder and foot injuries limited the amount of playing and practice time that Adams was able to get his freshman year (he only played in four games). Adam’s himself seems to subscribe to this belief, saying (when speaking of his injuries last year and the time he lost):
“That really set me back,” Adams said. “I feel like that was a time where I really could’ve come into myself.”
Now it appears that Adams is back 100% and he is saying all the right things.
When asked how badly he “wanted it” at media day, he had this to say:
I wish I could say, but it might not be appropriate for the newspapers.
Sounds good to me.
Additionally, Adams has apparently been hitting the gym as well.
Adam’s said he’s playing at about 300 pounds, losing 40 pounds from a year ago and then putting a little weight back on in a healthier way.
“I feel faster,” Adams said. “I can move better all around. It was something I decided to do for me, just try to get my body ready and help my chances of playing more this year.”
Oh, and about that tenacity thing, Adams has been listening to the criticism and has this to say:
“One thing that makes you more aggressive is knowing what you’re doing,” Adams said. “I definitely know the plays better, and that allows me to play better and play harder.”
Once again, check and check next to the things I would like to hear Mike Adams say.
So, it seems like Adams is doing and saying all of the right things this offseason, now we just have to wait and see if it translates on the field. In the end (especially given all of the quotes I just quoted) I expect Adams to win the starting job and to perform well. How well Adams handles the pass rush of elite teams will go a long way in determining what type of year is in store for the Buckeyes, so uh, no pressure or anything.
Ah, right tackle. Last year Ohio State had to replace four year starter (’04-’07) Kirk Barton, and the man chosen for the task was redshirt sophomore Bryant Browning. Browning didn’t perform terribly throughout the season (he started all 13 games) but he did not have his best games against elite pass rushers to put it mildly.
[insert picture of Browning in the Penn State game that none of us really want to look at]
So it is safe to say that it is back to the drawing board at RT going into 2009. Like LT, there appears to be two main contenders to start; 5th year Senior Jim Cordle (#64) and true Sophomore J.B. Shugarts (#76).
Cordle is a versatile lineman who has 26 career starts. He started the entire 2007 season at center and began ’08 at center before moving over to LG for the final 10 games of the season following the injury to Rehring at USC . While Cordle was at LG, freshman Michael Brewster took over at center and will continue to play there this season, leaving Cordle without a position and a candidate for the RT spot. The coaches (and fans) are hoping that Cordle’s quickness and superior knowledge of the game will allow him to play well on the edge despite the fact that he is a bit undersized for tackle at 6’4″ 300 lbs. and has little experience in space.
Football, being the unpredictable sport that it is, decided to throw a little kink into the competition at RT when Justin Boren injured his knee on Friday and will have to sit out at least a week. This means that Cordle may move back to LG (where, you’ll remember, he spent most of the season last year) to take Boren’s place while he recovers. If this move occurs, the door will be open for the other candidate at RT, J.B. Shugarts.
Like Adams, Shugarts was highly regarded coming out of high school (he’s from Texas), was slotted to play RT from the moment he arrived on campus, and was unable to play in six games last year due to a shoulder injury which also kept him out of spring ball after off season surgery. This lost time has prevented Shugarts from stepping into the RT spot that everyone assumed would be his.
While Cordle has intelligence and experience, Shugarts brings raw ability and size (6’8″ 300 lbs.) and is a natural tackle where Cordle is a bit out of position. Once again, I am rooting for the young guy (Shugarts) to win out the RT competition, not because I dislike Cordle, but because I think if Shugarts wins out the competition that gives the offensive line the best opportunity for improvement (hopefully to the point of dominance). While I think Cordle has the ability to be serviceable at tackle, Shugarts has the ability to dominate and that is what I would like to see happen.
My ideal situation at the start of the year would be to have Mike Adams at LT and J.B. Shugarts at RT, but only if they earn their spots by living up to their massive potential.
Beyond the players I listed above, there are a few more candidates for the tackle spots, but if any of them start it would be a pretty big surprise.
Jack Mewhort (#74).
Mewhort is a true freshman (listed at 6’7″ 290 lbs.) who enrolled early for Spring ball which could give him the extra experience he needs to crack the starting lineup at one of the tackle spots.
Marcus Hall (#79)
Hall is the highest rated incoming freshman along the offensive line (6’5″ 300 lbs.). He could see playing time at tackle or at guard. I would imagine that he needs to refine his footwork in order to handle elite pass rushers on the edge, so I predict that if he makes contributions this year it will be at guard. Then again, I am no expert, and I wouldn’t really be surprised if he got playing time at tackle either.
Regardless of whether or not Hall and Mewhort start or even get significant playing time this year, they are definitely guys to keep an eye on going into the future.
Another player that will probably be in the two deep at tackle is Josh Kerr (#73). Kerr is a redshirt Junior (listed at 6’4″ 285 lbs.) who has been a perennial backup and has been unable to establish much of a reputation due to injury plagued seasons in each of the past two years. He is probably the longest shot to crack the starting lineup, but I look for him to provide quality depth and experience at both tackle positions if needed.
So that’s it for my look at the tackles. All in all I think we are in pretty good shape. If Adams and Shugarts can live up to their billing than we are probably in better than pretty good shape. The real test will come on September 12th, after that game we will really know how well our play at tackle has come since last year.
Some random thoughts floating around my skull tonight……
The Buckeyes have a LOT to live up to this year, and it’s much much more than a fifth straight Big Ten title and another crack at a big BCS bowl game.
Ohio State is more than just the champions of this league four straight years. We are downright dominating it, and that needs to continue. Take a look at this stat – here’s what the league looks like over the past four seasons;
Big Ten records 2005-2008
Ohio State has lost only 3 games in 4 years. EVERY other team in the Big Ten has had AT LEAST one season with 4 losses in it….and we don’t have a TOTAL of four losses combined.
That’s not just champion material….that’s total control. And it needs to continue.
Earlier today, Wisconsin suspended a pair of players, Aubrey Pleasant and Shane Carter. So far, no word on why the two were suspended, or any word on how long they’ll be out.
But it will hurt the Badgers. Both were starting safeties and both were seniors.
My biggest concern is not whether or not they players will return to the field this year, but whether or not it will affect the lineup on “Parks And Recreation” this fall.
Word from Penn State today is that sophomore LB Michael Mauti has an ACL tear in his knee. Not good news for a linebacker. Best wishes for a speedy recovery.
Tomorrow morning, I’ll be taking my daughter up to Cedar Point for one last time before she enters the 5th Grade. THIS is why I got two new writers….vacation days!
Just kidding guys…but make sure you put up a post for Day #19. Hint – use a punter whose name rhymes with Rom Rupa. And clean the kitchen. I don’t know who left those dishes, but it’s not my turn to wash them.
For those of you unfamiliar with Cedar Point, it’s THE place to go if you’re a roller coaster freak. Charlotte and I LOVE the coasters, so we’re all about it tomorrow. Also, it’s a few miles from the border of TSUN, so I’m wearing my Beanie Wells jersey. It’s been fun going up to CP for the last several years. Michigan fans usually just put their heads down and don’t look you in the eye up there anymore.
The BBC is using Twitter right now (follow us here), but we’re still new to the medium and we’re just getting revved up in taking full advantage of it’s technology. We are still trying to become as popular as Eleven Warriors (story of our life, huh?).
Anyway, I was at work yesterday when I got word of my latest follower on Twitter. Yeah, I was pretty jazzed about it for the rest of the day.
For those of you who don’t know the magic that is Bo Biafra, let me give you a taste. Here’s my favorite song of theirs, that I put into a video. Ladies and gentlemen, the lead singer of the Dead Schembechlers with their classic tune, “Chad Henne Is A Joke”. Lyrics are probably NSFW. Hide the kids and/or distract the boss.
Yeah, that was also a good excuse to post that video. It always pisses off the Michigan bastards. 250,000 viewers can’t be wrong.
Thanks, Bo. Nice to see you read The BBC. I’m a big fan.
Today we pay tribute to Ohio State’s 4th leading rusher of all time. Our hero for the past three seasons, Chris “Beanie” Wells.
I was conflicted about putting Beanie in today’s spot, because the timing was slightly bad. You see, yesterday was Beanie’s 21st birthday, and the one day difference between that and day #28….well, it was just an unfortunate coincidence. So happy birthday to you (yesterday) Beanie!
I could go on and on about Wells’ accomplishments and all the happiness he has brought to Buckeye fans. This posting could literally take days to write.
First, the stats – 3,382 yards rushing, 4th most in OSU history. 30 touchdowns. 5.7 yards per carry.
Second, the visuals – we’ll start with what our friends at Eleven Warriors call the Beanie Hop;
Next – The Stiff Arm of Justice (hat tip to MotSaG)
Next – Beanie, Michigan Killer
Is there anything else to add?
28 days until kickoff!