Here’s this week’s soundtrack/music to piss off the people in the cubicle next to you.
Every season, there’s one or two weeks that just screw up everything. From the Vegas lines, to the “pundit’s choices”, to alumni plans for Bowl Game Tailgating, and even the coaching hot seats get impacted by what actually manifests on the fields of play.
Welcome to that week. Be it the weather, the injuries, the flu, whatever- some astounding and amazing stuff happened over the past few days.
The top teams all continue to cruise along, with the exception of Florida who lost their Heisman Trophy fullback that throws the ball to one of the poorest pieces of blocking I’ve ever seen:
Up 31-7 late in the third quarter, you have to wonder why Tebow (who also suffered with the flu all week) was even in the game. Sure, the Gators won, but at what cost? At least they’re not Baylor, who lost their all-amazing QB to injury on Saturday.
Alabama and Texas rolled, so there’s really nothing to talk about there. But number 4 Mississippi either completely spit the bit against the Old Ball Coach (emphasis on “old”, as in “formerly good”), or revealed that their ranking was based on the smoke and mirrors of a bowl win against a not very good TTU team.
Then, number 5 State Penn went down against Iowa for the second straight year. This time, at home in a game characterized by sloppy fourth quarter play:
The six possessions that PSU had in the second half included 4 turnovers, a blocked punt, and a blown field goal. What did we learn in unHappy Valley? Either 1) Scheduling cupcakes may not be a healthy diet, 2) The Hawkeyes have got the Lions figured out, 3) PSU might want to rethink the whole “white out” idea, since it’s not a guarantee and may add more pressure, 4) If you decide to go to the “white out” in a costume, be prepared to look like an idiot on national tv….
Rolling right along, number 6 Cal got absolutely worked by the Oregon Knights. As one Cal fan said to me on Saturday- “looks like we started our late season collapse a bit early… you know, to get it out of the way.” Good thinking, that. What’s ironic is that for once, the Ducks didn’t have the ugliest uniforms in the Pacific Northwet. Perhaps they should stick with the classic look; and perhaps the Seahawks should fire whoever came up with those monstrosities. Fire them with real fire.
Number seven LSU needed a late game goal-line stand to hold off Mississippi State, and number 8 Boise State cruised. Number nine Miami dropped an ACC tilt against Virginia Tech- I guess discussions of their resurgence were a bit premature, no? Number ten was idle, and we’ve covered number 11 VaTach. U$C took vengeance on all things Washington by pounding the ‘Cougs. We’ll get to lucky number 13 in a bit- fourteenth ranked Cincinnati and fifteenth ranked TCU both squeaked by their unranked opponents. Number sixteen TBPU destroyed the school of one of my favorite coaches, while Houston earned their number seventeen ranking with a win over Texas Tech (great coaching hire). Elsewheres in the top 25, Georgia held off unranked Arizona State in Tempe and North Carolina fell to Georgia Tech. Florida State… well, they’re Florida State.
Other “interesting” games- Notre Ame needed to rally to beat Purdue (!), Washington proved that it couldn’t keep the momentum going by dropping to Stanford, and Mich1gAAn needed some serious home cooking from the officials to ensure a victory over Indiana.
You read that right, the Hoosiers almost beat TTUN in Ann Arbor. I really hope their QB can hold up until November.
Soo… let’s talk a bit about the number 300. Saturday marked the three hundreth consecutive sell out at Nebraska, a feat that dates back to 1962. That’s a ton of games, as the Sullivans can attest. The Huskers/Bugeaters celebrated with cool throwback uniforms and by beating the andouille out of the Ragin Cajuns of Louisiana Lafayette. Best quote about the streak? “Congratulations, Nebraska fans, for preserving the lone streak Steve Pederson and Bill Callahan couldn’t destroy” Here’s to 300 more, Husker fans.
But that wasn’t the only 300 on Saturday- Ohio State’s Jim Tressel marked his 300th game as the Buckeyes squared off against the Fighting (kinda’) Zooks of Illinois, in the battle for the ugly turtle. Tressel entered the game 220-77-2 and left the game 221-77-2, after #13 Ohio State handed a 30-0 (300?) beating to the Illini. It was a game that saw a bit of everything- a tribute to Woody (0 passing yards in the first half), going for it on fourth and goal (late in the game, too…), and defensive lineman Doug Worthington attempting to fly. Major kudos for anyone who can send me video of the leap of doom. UPDATE- BuckeyeSki from Eleven Warriors with the assist! Thanks man-
Coming this week: Conference games continue, as LSU and Georgia kick off the SEC in earnest. Cal tries to rebound against U$C, and Indiana hosts the Buckeyes. The first annual “nicknames that make me giggle” game as Mich1gAAn and MAChigan State square off.
“It’s Ty Willingham’s Fault”- Washington travels to Notre Ame. War Tiger rolls into Rocky Top, and OU heads to the sunny beaches of Miami. Illinois hosts Penn State, Nebraska is off, and TCU welcomes SMU.
And here’s a friendly video from the Mich1gAAn Department of Tourism:
Back Thursday with a visit from June Cleaver’s favorite neighbor.
After spending two posts (which are already outdated a week later) going over the offensive line, it is time to move back to the defensive side of the ball. In this post I will look at the defensive tackles.
Very quickly, I would like to mention that we are trying to work out a feature here at The BBC where I will come back and re-evaluate each of the positions I break down at various points throughout the season. It should be fun to track how each of the positions are performing and to look at any surprise developments. As I mentioned above, the offensive line already looks like it may be drastically different from what I was looking at in my analysis just a few days ago, so that may be one of the first positions I go back and look at again once the season begins. Stay tuned for that.
Before I can get to re-evaluating, I have to make it through the initial evaluations. So, on to the DTs…
Experience; the defensive tackles at Ohio State have it. Fifth year senior Todd Denlinger, fifth year senior Doug Worthington, and redshirt junior Dexter Larimore all return after being mainstays in the DT rotation for the past two seasons. That is a lot of returning experience, unfortunately, this group is mostly experienced at being mediocre (at least for Ohio State).
2007 was the year that this group of players took over as the main contributors in the DT rotation (Denlinger logged significant minutes in 2006 as well) following the graduation of David Patterson and Quinn Pitcock. What followed was a season of usually solid, but never spectacular, play from the new DT rotation.
Move ahead to 2008. Many hoped that with a season of experience under their collective belts, Denlinger, Worthington, and Larimore would improve upon their ’07 performance and become a dominant group in ’08. That dominance never materialized, and another season of unspectacular play went down in the books.
Now they enter their third year in the rotation, and the question still remains: will this group finally break out of mediocrity? Being the eternal optimist that I am, I think that they could, by my optimism is dulled by the fact that I thought the same thing last year.
Regardless of past performances, I am still crossing my fingers for a dominant season. Beyond the veteran group I mentioned above, there will also be an infusion of young blood this year that will make the rotation at DT even deeper. Additionally, it appears that some DEs may be moving down to DT on passing situations (I will go over this more when I look at the DEs) which will add a new dynamic to the position.
Dominance? please please please (fingers crossed).
Improved play along the defensive line is one of the keys I am looking for this season, and DT is the position that needs the most improvement on the line. If the defensive tackles are able to dominate games the growing pains experienced by the new linebackers and cornerbacks will be minimized, which will obviously be the ideal situation.
Games are won in the trenches, and these are the guys manning the trenches on defense for the scarlet and gray this year:
Doug Worthington (#84)
Fifth year senior Doug Worthington is penciled in as one of the starters at DT in the fall media guide. Worthington came to Ohio State as a highly rated defensive end in 2005 but never found his way into the rotation. He eventually found his way to tackle where he played his first significant minutes in 2007 and has been in the rotation ever since then. At 6’6″ and around 280 lbs. many people feel that Worthington is a bit too tall and lean to excel at tackle. While this may have been true initially, he has had extensive experience at DT at this point and he should be acclimated to the position to the point where he has an understanding of how to get the job done despite his height.
Worthington is a leader on the team and will continue to be a consistent presence at DT. Anything above consistent would be a pleasant surprise.
This is a bit off topic, but I think Worthington would be a perfect defensive end for an NFL team that runs a 3-4 defense.
Dexter Larimore (#72)
Pencilled in as the other starter at DT is redshirt junior Dexter Larimore. At 6’2″ and around 300 lbs. Larimore is closer to the size that you typically see for a DT at Ohio State. Larimore has an extensive wrestling background (ranked #1 in the nation on the mat as a senior in high school) which the coaches seem to covet from their defensive tackles these days (everytime I hear that one of our DTs has a wrestling background I hope and pray for the next Tim Anderson).
Larimore redshirted in 2006, saw playing time in 2007, and was a rotating starter in 2008. He has plenty of experience and is described as “an extremely tough, physical player” which is nice, but like Worthington, anything above consistant play from Larimore this year would be icing on the cake.
Todd Denlinger (#92)
Todd Denlinger is another fifth year senior who has been around the program for a long time (five years, if you want to be exact). After redshirting in 2005, Denlinger made solid contributions along the line in 2006 and looked to be heading towards a bright future. Injuries had other ideas, and are largely responsible for lackluster years for Denlinger in ’07 (missed three games with a knee injury) and ’08 (hobbled practically the entire year with an ankle injury).
If Denlinger can stay healthy for the entire year he will be another solid verteran contributor at tackle. When healthy, I actually think that Denlinger has the ability to be the best defensive tackle on the team. He has speed and quickness (he played linebacker in high school) and a motor that never stops running (at least according to the media guide). A healthy Denlinger definitely improves the DT group, and I actually think that he is the player that could push the group out of mediocrity. It looks like Denlinger will be seeing some reps at TE this season as well, so the coaches are either confident in his abilities and don’t think he needs the extra reps lost while he is with the offense, or I am way off base about how much he will contribute on defense this year.
Those are the three veterans that I mentioned in the intro. I think you can basically put their names in a hat and pick two to decide who the starters will be in a given game, but there will be lots of rotating and I expect to see the young guys I am about to go over see plenty of action this year as well. I really hope that Denlinger and Worthington are able to go out with a bang and have outstanding senior seasons, and who knows, maybe they will even shed the mediocre label. Like I mentioned earlier, I thought they would be much improved last year and was wrong, so I will wait and see this year before I predict that the veteran tackles will be anything other than ordinary.
Beyond the veterans, there are also several young players on the depth chart that will be a part of the rotation this year. They are Willie Mobley (#96) and Garrett Goebel (#53). Both players redshirted last year, so I really have nothing to go on as far as there contributions so far in college, but I will try to give a brief rundown on each anyways.
Mobley was one of the top players in Minnesota coming out of high school. At 6’3″ and around 265 lbs. he is a little bit smaller than you would like for a tackle, but he was projected as a defensive end, so hopefully the speed and quickness that he brings to the field will make up for his lack of bulk. While it wouldn’t be surprising to see Mobley on the field this season, it seems like his reps will be limited.
Goebel, on the other hand, looks like a young player that is going to get significant minutes in the rotation this year. By most accounts, he does well in practice and is getting a lot of time with the first team. At 6’5″ and around 280 lbs. Goebel has good size, and like Larimore, he was an outstanding wrestler in High School, winning the Illinois state championship in 2007.
I look for Goebel to the fourth man in the DT rotation this year.
The end. I guess the summary is that the DTs are experienced, deep, and they won’t be bad, but will they be good? I sure hope so. The play of the defense this year really starts with how well the defensive line, which is by far the most experienced position on the team, plays.
This is a position that will be one of my favorites to come back and look at during the season, because there is a possibility that it will be a really encouraging re-evaluation.
Look for a break down of the DEs in a day or two (sneak preview, they should be really, really good this year).