The life of an Ohio Stadium Usher can be interesting to say the least, especially for someone like me who lives two hours away. Due to being a high school football official and working all over the state, I can get home pretty late on Fridays, only to get up at 5:30am to head to the Shoe. This wasn’t the case this past weekend as I had a very close to home game at my alma mater and was in bed and asleep by 11:30!
I had my reservations about the game but not the day as me, my daughter Kristiana and those with me were going to try to get to the Driven tent on Lane Avenue and meet the man that provides me with daily inspiration. Roy Hall is doing some amazing things with the foundation that he has built with former Buckeye walk-on then starter Antonio Smith. Please click the link to their foundation on our homepage and see what you can do to help.
Roy and former Buckeye Maurice Clarett have forged a friendship that is paying huge dividends for the foundation and for their lives. Maurice was in town shooting the ESPN special 30 in 30 and has been hanging out at the tent and signing autographs with Roy. I could not pass up the chance to meet them both on Saturday and it turned into one of my favorite moments in meeting former Buckeyes. Both were gracious in meeting me and it’s clear that their faith is what carries them now. It was a great time for me meeting them face to face and I am sure to never forget it. There are some great things on the horizon that I am involved in helping Driven and I hope you’ll join me!
Spent a good portion of Saturday’s pregame hanging out with my middle child Kristiana, giver her a follow plz. She is a huge Ohio State fan and is currently working her bottom off to get to Columbus and go to school. She and I have always had a great sports relationship as she has always been very athletic. She plays basketball and runs track in club sports at her current school of WVU-Parkersburg and need to stay active as I believe it’s what has kept her healthy over the years. If you don’t know me well then you don’t know that she has Cystic Fibrosis and has been amazingly well. God has taken wonderful care of her. That and my son’s conviction has contributed to my faith greatly over the years. Read More
Growing up a Buckeye fan was one of the few things my dad and I had in common. We watched every game on TV or listen to it on the radio. Whether it was on TV or radio, we did whatever it took to make sure we caught the game. Unfortunately, I never got to experience and game at THE Shoe with my dad before he passed away. After all those years of watching and listening to the games and dreaming of how great THE Shoe must be, I never thought I would be able to get to see it in person.
My first game at THE Shoe was versus Penn State in the infamous game where the Buckeyes won and the only touchdown was Ted Ginn’s punt return. Then five years ago, after being on a waiting list for 6 years, I was chosen to be an usher. I went from not knowing if I would ever see a game live to being able to see EVERY game and I still don’t think it has sunk in yet. Today I would like to step in for WVaBuckeye and give you my view from section 15 on the D Deck.
Being the band geek that I am, of course I have to start with The Best Damn Band in the Land. The Ohio State Marching Band is almost as famous as the football team itself, and every week they come down that ramp in the North stands to a standing ovation to 105,000 of its dearest fans. And every week the Silver Bullets charge on the field through the band’s tunnel, but this year is a little different as they spell out “OHIO” in a very classy diamond formation and then the team charges through that. Read More
Bumped back a day to cover today’s press access- one more day means even more news, notes, and inanity.
There was no NCAA violation. If you could bold and underline that for me, please.
Done and done, coach.
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.
Lots of folks are talking about the comments today from a Florida writer that The Horseshoe isn’t a hostile environment, but none have done so better than Spencer Hall at EDSBS. We’d link him anyway, if only for this photo and caption:
Mr. Hall also reminds us that other Big T1e1n stadia have “interesting” ways of creating atmosphere. A billion cocktails to you, Orson.
Hopefully this well help you all get through your day, watch each video 4 or 5 times and it will be time to go home before you know it.
I hope you enjoyed that, I know I did.
#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.
Keep passing to the TE’s and RB’s - We had great success in the passing game last week by going to the TE’s and RB’s – in fact the top two receivers were at TE/RB. USC will be a lot better in pass defense than Navy was, and we will need to spread it around in order to be able to move the ball at all against them.
Better blocking from the RB’s - Apparently, given what’s been said among the Buckeye blogosphere the last few days, I was too harsh on the offensive line and not nearly hard enough on the running backs. The RB’s need to learn to pick up the blitzes better in pass blocking or LiC is going to be on his back every single day.
The Defensive Line must slow – if not stop – the run – Barkley is going to be a fantastic quarterback for USC for the next several years. Fortunately for us, he’s still a freshman and prone to mistakes if he’s forced to make them. USC cannot be allowed to run the football and must be forced to have Barkley win the game with his arm. If the DL succeeds in making USC one-dimensional, USC should be a lot easier to control.
The secondary has to grow up and make plays - Kurt Coleman did a wonderful job against Navy. Anderson Russell…well…not so much. The corners weren’t tested much, unfortunately. If we’re going to force USC to beat us through the air, we need to be able to take advantage of it. Mistakes in the pass defense game will kill us as easily this year as last.
We must make some big plays early – The crowd is going to be fired up for this game without a doubt. Throw in an early sack from Thaddeus on third down or a 40 yard scramble from Pryor and the stadium will be shaking. Energy from the crowd is going to play a major role in this game, and nothing will bring that energy to a fever pitch like a few big time plays early in the game.
We must break Matt Barkley - I want ears ringing before kickoff. I want his ass on the ground every time he drops back. I want him crying for mommy at halftime. I want him curled up in the fetal position when the game is over. Barkley is a cocky little snot, we must shatter his confidence early, we must hit him constantly, we must break him.
Pryor must roll out of the pocket – Pryor came to Ohio State to become a passing quarterback. He can do that later. I want Pryor rolling out of the pocket early and often and I want him taking off the moment he sees some open field. Pryor outside of the tackles is the most dangerous weapon that we have on offense. Take advantage of it.
We must stop pulling guards on short yardage plays – Pulling a guard clogs the hole with a slow lineman, it forces the running back to slow down and adjust when he needs to be hitting the hole full speed, it allows weak-side penetration which usually runs into the running back who is waiting on the guard to get out of the way, it only works about half the time at best and we need to STOP DOING IT.
A freshman quarterback on his back A LOT – If you’re going to rattle Barkley into turnovers (and he CAN be forced into a bad night, he hasn’t had many good days in practice so far), you’ve got to make him wonder where the hits are coming from next. Two sacks in the first two drives will do that. Be all up in his jersey and he will throw three interceptions by game’s end.
No mental mistakes – That means EVERYBODY. No unnecessary penalties. Don’t blow the coverage. Kick the FG on 4th-and-2. Heads in the game…you’re at HOME. The pressure is on THEM. Let them know it.
Terrelle Pryor – leave the pocket – Not that he spends a lot of time there anyway, but the best way to knock USC off is to make Pryor as mobile as possible. USC has never handled mobile QBs very well and they tend to surrender a lot of points when they face one. With this young defense, it could get lead to a lot of yardage, but only if we force them to chase LiC.
Make Joe McKnight have more than half of USC’s total offense – McKnight is going to get 130 yards rushing and a few receiving yards. The rest of USC combined needs to be held to less than that. McKnight alone cannot beat us….so stop the rest of the Trojans and you get the W.
NOISE NOISE NOISE* – There’s 105,000 of you in that stadium, and I can’t be one of them. If you have tickets and you’re as quiet as you were last week, I’m personally going to beat the shit out of you Sunday morning. This is the biggest game in the Shoe since Michigan 2006. Act like it!
Barkley flustered – Look, champ- this isn’t your seventh grade all-stars game. It’s THE Horseshoe, the BDBITL, and 105,000+ screaming fans. Plus, eleven warriors who’ve been waiting all summer to make your acquaintance, and who couldn’t play like their hair was on fire last week because of the “read and react” option offense. I want him to have a Colt McCoy type night, circa 2006.
No false starts or stupid offensive line penalties – I’m going to keep asking for it until it happens.
U$C’s defense out of position – Open the playbook, make them guess where you’re going next. LiC, work your magic.
Mark May with his foot in his mouth – Dig your way out of the hole when the Bucks win, you hack.