As you’re reading this, I’m headed from the left coast with the whole Mali family on our summer vacation. First stop is guaranteed to be really awkward, since my daughters aren’t allowed to say the name of the state we’re visiting. At any rate, here’s a couple of tunes that‘ll be running through the ol’ brainpan today.
What can I say, the dead period trudges forward like an Iowa running back in a race against an SEC cornerback. Up in Eugene the penalties on the Oregon Ducks have been levied. Aaron Hernandez is an idiot and his actions have allowed a door to open for a former Buckeye. Meanwhile, over in Youngstown the city mourns the loss of a great local business and sportsman. It’s Wednesday, let’s rumble!
The 27 month investigation into Chip Kelly and Oregon is over. Remember 27 months ago? We were all tied up in the ongoing “tattoo” saga. Jim Tressel was still the head coach at Ohio State, and we all waited to hear what the next turn would be in the debacle that it was.
Before we get into the Oregon sanctions, something funny I wanted to talk about regarding the Oregon scandal. On June 1, 2011, a little twitter account called @ScriptOhio posted an innocent comment reporting what it had been told regarding the school (Oregon) to be the next ones put in the NCAA’s gun sights for investigation. The “tweets heard round Twitter” simply read “Remember the “recruiting scandal” that was about to hit Oregon and got buried when the Tressel story broke in March?” followed by “VERY STRONG source tells me that within a week the Oregon story will break and its going to make Ohio State look like “child’s play”.”
These two tweets were the definition of “viral” for someone as small time as myself, as they were both retweeted well over 100x each. I wrote about it then, I’ll summarize it for you right now: A friend went down and visited his very good friend Jim Tressel in mid May before the resignation/firing. Sitting in the coaches office with JT and a few assistants, they were discussing the impending sanctions etc., like guys do when they sit around and shoot the breeze. Tressel then let out that Oregon was next on the block and the assistants in the room all chimed in in agreement that what they were hearing about the Ducks was way worse. Read More
Just a friendly warning that there are only four more days to borrow money from your pops so you can buy him a gift. If you’re looking for ideas, check our friends at The Buckeye Room… And now, the news.
We Hardly New Ye- Well, it wasn’t news to us, as we’d heard for a while that Brian Bobek was looking to transfer, but earlier this week the University made it official. Potential landing spots could be the University of West By God Virginia, and a B1G program yet to be named. Brian’s got family across the conference, so we wish him luck in all of his games except one. A bit of a sad note, since he was supposed to be “next up” after Brewster graduated; however he was jumped on the depth chart in the spring, including being passed up by the latest in the Boren Legacy (just an incoming freshman). Again, godspeed!
Time for the hump day look around the world of college sports, with a soundtrack from a reunited legend. We look at playoffs, SEC controversy, NCAA hypocrisy, and other items this week.
It is that time again, time to go back and look at the offensive line. Hoorah!
At the beginning of the year the offensive line was a serious question mark for this team, particularly the offensive tackles. Now, heading into our week 5 match up against the mighty Hoosiers, it is safe to say that I feel… uh… better. That being said, there is still much room for improvement, but I am optimistic that the line can continue to improve each week, they are still young and relatively inexperienced after all.
It has been an interesting ride for the line (and the fans) to get to week five. # 75 Mike Adams (who I tagged to win the starting left tackle job in the preseason) was suspended for the first two games, leaving the job open for #55 Andrew Miller. Now Adams is back from suspension, got the first start of his career at LT against Illinois, and there is a magical OR on the depth chart between Miller and Adams heading into this weekend. I expect both Adams and Miller to continue to get playing time and to spell one another. Basically we are right back where we were at in the preseason.
On the other side of the line, #64 Jim Cordle won the starting job at right tackle, suffered an ankle injury somewhere around the USC game and will be out of action for at least a few more weeks, leaving the position by default to #76 J.B. Shugarts (who I also tagged as the starter in the preseason, making me wrong on both accounts). When Cordle comes back from injury, I would guess that the RT spot will get the magical OR on the depth chart as well, reverting the competition at RT back to the preseason as well.
Like I said, interesting ride.
Normally, you would think that open competition at both tackle positions heading into week five would be a bad thing because no one has separated themselves from the pack. That isn’t the case for the Buckeyes. I would attribute the lack of a clear starter at the tackle positions to surprisingly solid play across the board rather than frustratingly poor performances.
I think the offensive line surprised everyone with how well they played against USC in week two against elite competition. Week three was a so-so performance for the line considering they were playing against one of the worst defenses they will face all year, which was somewhat concerning.
Then last week happened. I feel like last week was a huge step forward for the offensive line and the entire offense. The Buckeyes were able to run the ball with authority the entire game despite the fact that Illinois knew we were coming at them on the ground.
I think this success can be attributed to two things. One is that the offensive line is continuing to improve each week and I would say they are definitely starting to gel as a unit.
The second reason for our success on the ground last week was schematic. Ohio State ran a large amount of their plays out of the shotgun formation and used a lot of option read plays between Pryor and the running back. This meant that Illinois had to protect the edge on both sides of the line because they didn’t know whether the ball was going one way with the back or if Pryor was keeping it and running the other way.
The confusion this caused for the defense severely limited Illinois ability to pursue from the backside and helped to open up holes along the line. Throw in the fact that we pulled #86 Jake Ballard from the TE position on quite a few of the misdirection plays (something that I can’t recall ever seeing before) and it looks very much like Ohio State has turned a brand new page in offensive game planning.
But back to the line. They played well last week and were consistently able to get a solid push up front. No matter what the schemes, if the offensive line doesn’t move people off the line the play isn’t going to work. We were able to move people last week.
To get back to the whole competition at the tackle positions going into week 5 situation, like I said earlier, I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing. My worst fear in the preseason was that no one would separate themselves from the pack, leading to the situation we are in now. While no one has separated themselves from the pack so far, it is not due to poor play as I had feared, but rather because everyone has played relatively well up to this point.
The combination of Miller, Adams, Shugarts, and Cordle have performed so well that the coaches have seemingly decided to redshirt all of their young guns along the offensive line in favor of using the depth at tackle to provide a rotation across the line. Take a look at the depth chart going into the weekend.
You will notice that many of the starters are also listed at backup for other positions along the line. Andrew Miller is listed as an OR starter at LT as well as the backup at LG. Bryant Browning is listed as the backup at RT as well as the starter at RG. When Cordle makes his glorious return in a few weeks, the depth and versatility of the line will only improve and allow the coaches to use veterans as starters as well as backups along the line even more.
This weeks veteran heavy depth chart is in stark contrast to the depth chart released in the first few games of the year in which freshmen Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, and Marcus Hall were all in the two deep.
Now the freshmen are nowhere to be found, indicating two things to me. First I think it shows that the coaches would prefer to redshirt their freshmen linemen (update: Tressel mentioned on his call in show today that Hall will probably see the field this weekend). Second, and more importantly, it indicates to me that the guys in the two deep now are really stepping up their game and proving to the coaches that they can handle to load along the line.
I have spent most of my time so far discussing the tackles, that is because the middle of the line has worked out exactly as I predicted with the Killer B’s (#65 Justin Boren, #50 Mike Brewster, #70 Bryant Browning) holding it down. While I wouldn’t call their play dominant just yet, they have been serviceable, and like the tackles, the way that the interior line played against Illinois has me feeling good about the future.
So in summary, on the edge Miller and Adams are still rotating at LT, Cordle (when he returns) and Shugarts will most likely still be rotating at RT as well, and when Cordle and Miller aren’t on the field at tackle they will be providing depth on the interior. All of the tackles are playing well and it looks like they are getting better each week.
On the interior the Killer B’s have been consistent and look to continue to get better as well.
Basically, what looked to be a major question mark at the beginning of the year has proved to be a pleasant surprise (at least for now), and the line looks like they will only continue to improve.
I mentioned this previously, but Ohio State has a favorable schedule until the trip to Happy Valley and it should give the line plenty of time to continue to gel and get better as a unit and individually. It looks like the Buckeyes are in pretty good shape along the line heading into week five.
This post is going to be a brief look at the rest of the positions that I have not covered yet on offense. I would like to go over them more in depth, but I am running out of time.
So, if you are craving in depth, take a look at my previous entries covering:
For the rest, look here. I guess I will start at the top.
The QB story at Ohio State begins and ends with #2. He has recieved so much coverage over the past two years that I will keep this brief. Terrelle Pryor can run, but can he improve as a passer? If he can, things will be awesome. Even if he stays the same as a passer (all indications are that he has improved drastically) things will still be pretty sweet.
Redshirt sophomore Joe Bauserman (#14) and true freshman Kenny Guiton (#13) are the backups. I don’t have much to say about them. Guiton is probably a year or two away from being ready to play and Bauserman is servicable but unspectacular.
A pair and a spare, that is what to look for here.
#1 Daniel ‘Boom’ Herron (redshirt sophomore) and #3 Brandon Saine (junior) are the pair looking to replace the departed Beanie Wells. Herron performed admirably in limited action last year as a redshirt freshman (89 carries, 439 yards, 6 TDs) while Saine spent last year off the radar for the most part due to injuries.
Herron reminds me a lot of Antonio Pittman while Saine has great straight line speed and the ability to break tackles, but he doesn’t have much in the way of elusiveness.
I look for Herron to be the main guy this year, but Saine looked good in the spring and it wouldn’t be surprising if both backs saw extensive action this year. I think the two compliment each other nicely and I expect the pair to eclipse 1000 yards easily. If either does so individually it would be a mild surprise.
Battling to be the spare are #4 Jaamal Berry (5’11″ 195 lbs.)and #29 Jordan Hall (5’10″ 190 lbs.) who are both true freshman.
Berry has apparently been hindered by the lingering effects of off season surgery and Hall has taken advantage. I look for Hall to get more carries than Berry at the beginning of the year but both players are fully capable of contributing and provide a nice change of pace (both are very quick and elusive) in the backfield. There is a possibility that whoever loses the competition to be the third back will redshirt.
Also worth nothing is that Hall was a teammate of Pryor’s in high school.
Providing a big back look will be redshirt freshman Jermil Martin (6’0″ 227 lbs.) who wears #41. Martin moved to RB from fullback following Carlos Hyde’s failure to qualify academically. He may get some looks in short yardage or goal line situations, but I don’t think he will get many carries when it is all said and done.
I think that the RBs will be a pleasant surprise this year for those expecting a significant drop off following the departure of Beanie to the NFL, especially if the O-Line improves. It should be fun to see who steps up and performs on Saturday.
Fullback will be manned by a duo of true freshman younger brothers this year. #44 Zach Boren is the younger brother of Justin Boren and #49 Adam Homan is the younger brother of Ross Homan. I don’t think that OSU will utilize the fullbacks very much this year, but Tressel called the younger Boren his surprise player of fall camp and he is listed as the starter at FB going into the Navy game. At 6’1″ and 255 pounds it should be fun to watch him smash people lead blocking.
#8 DeVier Posy (6’3″ 205 lbs. sophomore) and #12 Dane Sanzenbacher (5’11″ 175 lbs. junior) are the starters, which is what everyone expected. Sanzenbacher is a slot guy in the mold of Anthony Gonzales and is the leading returner at receiver (21 catches, 272 yards, 1 TD). He has good hands and isn’t afraid to go across the middle, but he isn’t exactly a game breaker. Posey has great size and ability, but didn’t show very much last year (11 catches, 117 yards, 1 TD). He can be a great one, but I will wait and see before I label him as such.
Listed as the backups are #9 Duron Carter (6’2″ 190 lbs. freshman, which are extremely outdated numbers) and #5 Taurian Washington (6’2″ 179 lbs. junior).
First of all, good for Taurian Washington , I hope he is able to make a splash during an actual game this year after looking like a top reciever in each of the last two spring games.
Second of all, Duron Carter, WOW. He is quickly becoming one of the players that I am the most excited about watching this year. Carter has excelent size and superb hands and has impressed everyone in the off season and during fall camp. It looks like Carter might be a big time contributor right away.
I look for Posey, Sanzenbacher, Washington and Carter to be the starters in four reciever sets, with #82 Ray Small (5’11″ 180 lbs. senior) being a wild card. It doesn’t look like Small is out of the doghouse yet following some off season academic issues, but I would be surprised if he doesn’t get significant reps by the end of the season (barring further off the field issues).
I don’t want to make any predictions about the productivity of our recivers this year, as that depends a lot on how well Pryor and the offensive line perform, but the Buckeyes have plenty of players that are capable of replacing the Brians (Hartline and Robiskie) from the 2008 team, and the depth may even be improved.
There has been a lot of talk about using the tight ends more in the offense this year, which happens every off season. I will believe it when I see it. The starter is #86 Jake Ballard, who is big (6’6″ 256 lbs.) and has good hands. Ballard will be a steady presence at TE this year.
#11 Jake Stoneburner (6’5″ 230 lbs. redshirt freshman) is listed as the backup at TE and is a converted WR who could present some serious matchup problems for defenses. Will OSU take advantage of said matchup problems? Once again I’ll believe it when I see it.
If the offense looks to the TEs as much as in the past (11 catches for tight ends last year), take conselation in the fact that Ballard is a good blocker.
Also worth noting is that #92 Todd Denlinger (6’2″ 292 lbs. 5th year senior) is seeing time at TE during short yardage situations for some added muscle in the mix.
That does it for my look at the offensive skill positions. In summation, the Buckeyes are young, inexperienced, but very talented on offense.
I will try to have a post up before the end of the week on the DBs.