Lots of things to catch up on… Some of this has been around for a bit, but we’re not all edgy and trendy and stuff.
The Story Of The Week
Although it’s not really sports related, the capture/death of Osama Bin Laden did have some ripples throughout Buckeye nation and the sports world, particularly on the twitterverse:
In 2009, the strength the Buckeyes was without a doubt the defensive line. They were talented, they were deep, and they were experienced. Those qualities helped Ohio State shut down the high powered, high paced Oregon offensive attack in the Rose Bowl. It was a fitting end to a great year for the line.
At the beginning of this season, there was little to no drop off in the starting four. Between Cameron Heyward, Dexter Larimore, Nathan Williams, and John Simon, Ohio State was in great shape along the defensive front.
However, depth and experience were a serious concern after losing five key contributors from the rotation. Nothing against the young linemen, but no matter how talented you are, you can’t replace three or four years of experience playing in the trenches in the Big Ten.
In the loss at Wisconsin, it was clear that the defense didn’t have enough gas in the tank to slow down the devastating Badger ground game at the most crucial points in the second half. To put it bluntly, they got steamrolled, and that can be traced directly back to depth and fresh legs along the defensive line.
The good news is that Arkansas shouldn’t have the horses to do the same thing in the Sugar Bowl. The bad news is that Ohio State will need to fill some serious holes along the line in 2011 with players that have yet to prove themselves.
Before I get ahead of myself, here is a look at Ohio State’s defensive line and how they performed in 2010. Read More
There’s no way that we can start this week’s post without wishing Happy Birthday to Coach Jim Tressel. Ironically, it’s also the day of the ninja; although I can’t imagine the silent assassins being as polite or methodical as Senior Sweatervest- how would you write “Dave” in kanji?
While there were several significant games on the old telly this week, there were also off field doin’s that should not be left undiscussed. First, in this year’s addition of the River City Rivalry/Snow Bowl, Pittsburgh easily handled Ohio’s BCS team. That didn’t, however, keep the Bearcat mascot from getting arrested and escorted out of the stadium. Video and such, for those of you who are into that kind of thing, can be found here.
The Big lEast ended as it started, with a three way tie at the top of the conference. Pitt’s victory, along with West Virginia’s win over Rutgers that seemed to make their fans filled with glee, meant that UConn was still in the driver’s seat should they hold off South Florida. A late, long field goal meant that the 8-4 Huskies have earned themselves a bid to a BCS game.
As we mentioned earlier, this means that a team that only managed 10 points against the Wolverines will get to face off against, most likely, the Oklahoma Sooners. While we’ve given the Big lEast grief here in the past, it should be noted that the conference only has two teams that don’t have the requisite 6 wins necessary to go to a bowl game, a much better experience than our west coast stalwarts in the Pac-10. At this juncture, only four teams from that conference will be headed to the post season, since Southern Cal is on probation (sorry, that’s still awesome to write) and Arizona State’s 6-6 record includes too many victories over FCS schools. So, with two teams going to the BCS, this means that there’ll be four bowls looking for help with the automatic tie ins.
No press conference this week, but we do have Tress’ thoughts from after The Game and so forth
Michigan is among the elite programs and will be and their record will reflect that in the course of time but, you know, we all have our ups and downs in a period and so forth and it’s highly competitive. It’s going to become more competitive because we’re adding Nebraska. The world changed when we added Penn State. The world changes even more when we add Nebraska. The world changed when Dano (Dantonio) went over to Michigan State. There’s constantly changes, but Michigan will be back, we don’t have to worry about that.
REPORTER: Jim, obviously you talk all the time about you want to get better over the course of a year. To be 11-1, where do you feel like this team is in achieving this goal and just how good of a team do you think you are at 11-1 at the end of the season?
COACH TRESSEL: Not good enough to be the outright Big Ten champions and automatic bid to the Rose Bowl and all those things that you shoot for, but we’re pretty fair, and I believe we’re a top ten football team and probably going to get to play a top ten football team and see if we’re allowed to stay in the top ten is what I would guess, but I think it goes beyond that.
Sometimes the ball bounces funny and you end up undefeated or you end up losing however many, and our guys just kept working and whatever came their way, they handled it and pressed on and handled adversity and handled success as it came. They need a little break and they need to take a deep breath and then they need to think about playing against one of the top teams in the nation wherever we play, whoever it is. We’ve had — really we’ve had 13 games in 2010. We played a pretty good Oregon team on the first day of the year, so it’s been a lot of fun.
But who cares what I think. See ya
As the days grow shorter, so too do the press conferences. Here’s what we’ve got:
They do what they do and they do it so well. They believe in it. Their players believe in it. They’re very, very physical at what they do and the schemes back that. They want to be a balanced offense and they’ve probably, over the past couple years, gotten more balanced, and so they’re not going to change. Now, they may change a little play they run because of what people are doing against them or they — in ’06 they blitzed us a lot more than they ever did. They came after us pretty good, but it was within their system. It wasn’t as if they’d never run those blitzes, they just did their blitzes rather than eight percent of the time they did it 15 percent of the time and it felt like they were blitzing every down, that’s what you admire about them, that’s what you admire about Penn State, that’s why you come out, we got behind Penn State and that wasn’t a shock to me that we were behind Penn State, Penn State plays their defense, they play their offense, they do what they do, they’re very capable as anyone else is, they have good athletes. How we were behind was a little bothersome, but scheme-wise, the good teams, they’re going to do what they do, and Iowa will do that.
REPORTER: Your players talked after the game about the, job if speech is the right word, but the talk you gave them before they went back out for the second half and just did you feel disappointed that you had to make that speech at that point or that you needed something like that and just what were your thoughts there during that? Did you think you were at kind of a junction of the season there a little bit?
COACH TRESSEL: I was disappointed that we weren’t playing like we were capable of playing. We’ve all been in games where you’ve played as well as you could and you lost and that happens, or you played as well as you could but you made those two mistakes and, therefore, you lost. I didn’t think we were playing anywhere near we were capable of playing and we were playing against a team that they knew was good. We play them every year, it’s not like we hadn’t played them in a while, and we were playing in our stadium and all the rest, and at this time of year when you’re supposed to have been improved, so, yeah, I was disappointed in our — and up until that stop, I wasn’t disappointed in that, in fact, I was energized by that, but disappointed up to that point.
REPORTER: How often do you have to go to that big halftime speech to get your guys motivated?
COACH TRESSEL: You only do what’s going on in the course of the moment, so you don’t sit there saying, okay, it’s game seven and I haven’t played that card because you can’t play a card. I mean, you have to react to what’s going on and, you know, typically what’s going on is that we’re playing near to our ability and we’re maybe not doing some little things, it’s atypical that we just weren’t ourselves.
I really can’t repeat that. He got pretty animated. He definitely, you know, spilled his heart out to us and he challenged us, he challenged us to go out there the first play, you know, the kickoff team to make an impression and defense to get a stop and once we got the ball back in the huddle, he was like, you know, we had those — we had that penalty and then we had another penalty, but his attitude didn’t change. His eyebrows didn’t go up. They were still down. And he was like, well, let’s just make the drive a little bit longer.
They’re a little bit thicker on you, a little bit stronger on you…
And now we need to go on the road and play better than we’ve played on the road. We head to Minnesota and it will be the first time for any of us on our team to ever have seen the stadium let alone play in it, so that will be exciting for us. And it’s an evening primetime game, and our guys will get excited about that. So now we’ve got to go back to work and understand that we’re facing a veteran quarterback in Adam Weber. We had him in youth camp. I thought he was outstanding then, and 10,000 yards later I think he’s still outstanding. And I think the school career passing record for us is a little over 7,000 and he’s got 10,000, just to put it in perspective what he’s been able to accomplish and he’s a heck of a player. He’s a competitor. He’s a senior. You can just hear in his comments that he doesn’t want to hear about coaching transition or this or that, this is still the 2010 Minnesota Golden Gophers and still the same team it was at the beginning of the year who has a passion to get some good things done, and through his leadership, you can be sure that they’ll never stop, and that’s the kind of leader that you want to have. And he leads a young group of receivers who I think are getting better and better and they’ve done a good job of giving you a lot of different formation looks, a lot of different personnel groupings.
Over on their defensive side, they were very young when they began, now they’re eight or nine games into it and they’re no longer — you no longer talk when you talk about a team of so and so had this many starters returning because that’s irrelevant now because they’re going into this point in the season.
And they seem to have dialed up a little bit more of their pressure package in this last game or so than they did earlier in the year. They did a similar amount against us a year ago, so it’s not like we haven’t seen it. It’s not like it’s anything brand new, but they are bringing good pressure. I think they’re playing a little bit loose and getting just excited to go out and hit somebody and see if they can create turnovers and so forth, so it will be a great challenge for us.
Special teams, we always say, is the key when we go on the road and I think if anyone has an interest in Big Ten football and doesn’t think that the special teams had maybe the biggest impact on last weekend, Wisconsin’s fake punt was probably the turning point in that game. Michigan State’s fake punt was probably the turning point in that game. I think Iowa missed a field goal, which was big, and an extra point, perhaps. The Cleveland Browns, I didn’t see it, but the little reverse pass or whatever they did was huge in their game, and on and on and on. Missouri, I think, didn’t they bring the opening kickoff back?
So special teams is something that we’ll never stop talking about and you’ll never be able to convince me of its relative impact on the emotion of the game, and football is an emotional game. And so we’ve got to make sure that despite the fact that we’ve had to go with a lot of different lineups due to injuries in the linebacker and DB areas, we’ve got to get better at special teams, especially on the road. It’s a huge impact. Purdue found that. Go full circle, Purdue found that out, coming over here, you can’t make two big special teams mistakes and think you’re going to win in someone else’s stadium.
I apologize. It was disguised as a pooch.
We here at the Buckeye Battle Cry have been working hard at improving ourselves week after week. The holy grail, of course, is to become recognized by our favorite University as a legitimate news organization.
This season, we got lucky.
Ohio State rewarded us with press passes to the Ohio University game (which Jim attended) and to the Purdue game. I was lucky enough to be the one able to use the Purdue pass today and I wanted to share with you what it’s like to spend time in the press box.
Afterwards, I’ll regale you with actual football news and notes. Specifically my thoughts on how the Buckeyes looked from my seat in the stadium. Read on for more!
I thought the offensive line had a great challenge. It was kind of like one of those you get into a stalemate and you get into it, and you get into it, fortunately by the fourth quarter we won that stalemate. Probably didn’t win it early. Do they feel good about the fact that we didn’t win it throughout? I would hope that the competitor in all of us, we’d all like everything to work all the time, but you could see them on film. They’re a good football team. Especially in the trenches.
I thought they did a nice job of working the safeties down into the box, both run and pass, they tricked us the one time and robbed that little spot route and it was a similar coverage, though, when we threw the corner route behind it for the touchdown, but they got us the first time with it, and that also allowed them to have those extra guys in the box. That has a little bit to do with where the line goes toward where they work up the linebackers and safeties sometimes, but, no, it was — it was a reality, man, that was a tough one.
And now we have a chance to come home, play against an Indiana team that they threw it 64 times last week, 98 plays, you know, those receivers are veterans. The quarterback, of course, is a veteran. Their running back does a nice job in protection, and the amount that they run him, he’s very good at it and he’s a good receiver as well.
Defensively they struggled against a very fast, fast offense that Michigan brought at them. And special teams-wise, their return men, they’ve always done a good job on kickoff return against us and Doss is back there again.
I wish we had more balls. That sounds terrible.