I’m not going to wax philosophic after that Penn State game. Being in the stadium for Dr. Wood’s last home game was wonderful – particularly getting a chance to shake his hand and thank him for everything after the game. The game, though, left a lot to be desired.
With spring practice well underway and the spring game quickly approaching, it is time to move from “way too early looks” at each position into some more informed analysis based on practice reports.
[Note: I apologize for not getting to the defensive backs in my “way too early looks”.]
This offseason has been a tumultuous one to say the least. The tattoo revelations leading up to the Sugar Bowl and the resulting suspensions guaranteed a shadow over the off season. The additional news concerning Jim Tressel didn’t exactly make that shadow go away.
Fortunately, time heals all wounds, and cracking pads on the field helps to speed up that process- at least for me. After some time off from writing following the Tressel news conference (which is part of the reason why I didn’t get to the DBs), my enthusiasm for football is back in full swing.
So what follows will not only be a look at the DBs for the first time, but also a review of all of the position groups with some updated thoughts based on news from practice. I apologize ahead of time if this ends up being lengthy.
My rebuttal: FOOTBALL!
My attitude this offseason has always been that no matter what happens, when the Buckeyes take care of business on the field everything else will fade into the background.
Redemption through wins.
Off field BS be damned.
Here is a look at how each position is looking heading into the spring game.
Seriously, TP. We love you here and we’ll defend you a lot. But you don’t make it easy, do you?
On a positive note, I’m willing to bet that Vico is loving this video, knowing that Evege is in it too. The Donnie loves his family (they’re an awesome family, by the way)
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…
As promised, updates from Tressel’s press conference and other college football news:
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.
Notes and commentary from around the globe, as long as your globe revolves around college football.
I saw Brutus over at the Block O event last night and asked him if he was going to be ready for Saturday, and he’s probable from an injury report standpoint.