Archive for September, 2009

Mailbag, post-Toledo and pre-Illinois

September 27, 2009

Week two of the mailbag, lighter on OSU critcism as we transition from the 18-1 loss to USC and prep for the Big Ten with a 38-0 victory over Toledo. After watching OSU hammer the Rock-ettes, all I can say is, “How does Dan Hawkins keep his job.” Sheesh, how bad must Colorado be to allow To-Le-Do score 54 points? Bad enough to join the Big Ten, maybe? Whew.

All right, send your emails to Bruce@971thefan.com and we’ll answer the best of them here on the Buckeye Ford Blog.

Q. from Brian: If Ohio State is having trouble punching it in in the redzone, instead of trying to pound it in running the ball, why dont we bring in Joe Bauserman at QB  split out 6’5″ Jake Stoneburner, and 6’6″ Jake Ballard, and put 6’6″ Terrelle Pryor and 6’2″ Duron Carter in the slot.  Have the Jakes run fades to the pylons, have Carter come across underneath, and have Pryor run the back line of the endzone.  You’d have ridiculous size advantages outside,,, either hit the Jakes with a jumpball,  or throw the ball between the goalposts a foot over the cross bar where only Terrelle can go up and get it… if thats not open you have an athletic Carter working underdneath.  Is there any secondary in the country that could match up with that height advantage?????  Id try that 3 times vs trying to go goal line power sets and watching our RBs run into a wall over and over.

A: Anything’s worth a shot, I suppose, but the larger issue is pounding the ball for a tough yard when needed. Are you going to run that on fourth-and-one at midfield? I doubt it. Sooner or later, you have to be able to get a yard when the defense knows you’re running it.

Q from Rob: I think we, as fans, need to afford Pryor the status of first-year-quarterback and give him time to progress.  Last year, by design, he was nothing more than a compliment running back to Chris Wells.

A: Well, he’s not a first-year quarterback. He has 15 starts entering Big Ten play. He should be better than the two horrible interceptions he threw against Toledo.

Q from Ed: I’m optimistic about the rest of the season because of what I see out of our defense. They are talented and relentless, and appear very determined. Our offense still has some growing to do, but I’ve seen the same pattern in previous Tressel teams…they get better as the year goes along. No, we are not a great team at this point; but I see us being a very good team by the end of the season.

A: Ohio State teams have always improved under Coach Tressel as the season progresses. There’s no disputing that. The defense appears capable of stopping most teams, but it has to make a stop at crunch time when it counts. Going back to Illinois’ last visit to the Horseshoe in 2007, that hasn’t happened. The Illini killed the last seven minutes that day and since then, Penn State and Texas in 2008 and USC this year have all driven for the winning points when a late stop would have brought an OSU victory.

Q from Angela: Year after year, fans have to hear Mark May and all the pundits slam OSU for all those games of the past, and we never hear much about USC losing at least one game a season to an unranked team they should have handled easily. Nor do you hear about Oklahoma on the national stage. People love to hate OSU — whether because of the fans, the team’s overall success in its conference, or Tressel. But just once I would like to hear Mark May bask USC or Oklahoma for their issues.

A: Mark May is, in my opinion, an equal-opportunity basher. That’s his role. He’s playing a part. The show he’s on is as much entertainment as it is informative. When Trev Alberts left, Mark May inherited the job of stirring the pot. He does it well. Believe me, Oklahoma is not getting a pass nationally for its big-game failures. OSU fans just aren’t as sensitive to OU criticism as they are Buckeye bashing. The OU jabs go in one ear nad out the other. The OSU cracks rattle around in your head for weeks.

We also had a spirited discussion Thursday about the most painful loss in Ohio State football history. Why? Because Illinois is the opponent this week, and the Illini knocked off the No. 1 Buckeyes, 28-21. That memory apparently conjured hundreds of others, judging by the response on 97.1 The Fan.

From Brian: I was at the game in 1995 in Michigan Stadium, and let me tell you it was not fun. I remember the crowd chanting “Biaka-batuka, Biaka-batuka, Biaka-batuka” as he ran all over us. I also remember a true freshman named “Woodson” covering Terry Glenn like a blanket. Bad loss!

From Teresa: There are several MSU losses that still give me heartburn, but by far the worst was 1998. When you look at who we had on that team (David Boston, Michael Wiley, Dee Miller, Ryan Pickett, Katzenmoyer, Na’il Diggs, Antoine Winfield, etc.)…they were coached by that jerk Nick Saban (who stole our signals)…it was Cooper’s best chance to get to a national championship. It still stings.

From Jason: I find the loss to Florida in the NCAA basketball championship game the most painful  We had already been devastated by the Gators in the football championship the same year and thought we may get our revenge on the court, only to be disappointed again.

From Grant: For me it was the ’04 Iowa game.  33-7, on the heels of two big ten losses to NW and Wiscy, and then Iowa chicken-kicked us sooo bad that the 33-7 wasn’t even reflective of how bad it was. My wife and I were babysitting my nephew at his house and all we wanted to do was go home and we couldn’t even do that. Dang, I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about it.

From Jonathan: The 1999 game between Illinois and Ohio State in Ohio Stadium where Illinois won 46-20. Rocky Harvey ran for maybe 20 TD’s and 1,000 yards that game. My entire group had left and I sat in the South Stands alone for the entire fourth quarter and watched that debacle. Anyone who made it through that entire game (or the 1999 season) can make it through anything.

From Craig: The weekend of the OSU and MSU game in 98 was my high school jr year homecoming.  I grew up in Southern California so the game was pretty early there so I was able to watch the first half before going to a team meal and then to our game. I had my best game of the year with 3 sacks and our team won big. After the game we had our dance which I was really looking forward to with the girl I was taking. As soon as I got home to get ready for the dance my mom sat me down and told me the outcome of OSU’s game and I was so crushed I barely made it out the door and only lasted about half an hour at the dance. I will always remember that feeling and nothing else I have experienced as a sports fan compares.

From Adam: It’s 1996 vs Michigan, the fact that Shawn Springs slipped and gave up his only td should not have even mattered…. OSU had a high scoring offense that got inside the 5 yard line three times and could only score FG’s. That’s why OSU only had 9 points. OSU should have had a 21-0 lead or 17-0 lead and should have won 21-13 or 17-13 instead of losing 13-9. That’s exactly what happened this year vs USC when we got inside the 10 2x and got 2 FG’s instead of atleast one TD! Also Cooper, panicked and started Joe Germaine instead of Stanley Jackson. OSU was 11-0  when Jackson started and Germaine came off the bench (including the Rose Bowl win ) . When Cooper announced Germaine was starting early in the week, I knew OSU was in trouble.

From Ron: Wisconsin  1982 6-0, cold wet and third loss in a row, first time since the ‘Shoe opened in 1922!

From Ben: The first two Buckeye games I ever went to were the 1996 Michigan game, and the 1998 Michigan State game.  I thought I was a jinx!  I didn’t go to another game for five years.  I have been to a half dozen or so games since, and they’ve won every one, so hopefully the curse has been broken.

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Mailbag, post USC loss and pre-Toledo game

September 19, 2009

With Ohio State football at the quarter pole, and given the fallout from the 18-15 loss to USC, we’re going to make the Buckeye Ford Beat a collective effort and allow you to get the answers you want regarding Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes.
Send me an email at Bruce@971thefan.com and, while I won’t guarantee it will be included here, I’ll try to get to as many as I can.
Here’s a sample of what flooded the email inbox this week:

Q: from Jim — Do you think #2 is thinking he should have gone to The “U” instead of signing up for 4 years of Tressel ball???? How many OSU QB’s are starting in the NFL right now, let alone on an NFL roster?? It was just good to see that a Sophomore QB can actually make plays when he is working with a real Off. Cord. and not a stubborn head coach trying to stick around peg in a square hole.
A: Zero OSU QBs are starting now in the NFL. That’s never been a strength at OSU, developing NFL quarterbacks. As for an offensive coordinator, don’t hold your breath. Jim Bollman has the title, but JT calls the plays and will continue to do so. He said this week, he doesn’t want to be a coach with his feet up on the desk, reading the paper. He wants to be involved. Of course, he could be involved with a new guy who has been somewhere other than Youngstown State or Ohio State, someone who might be able to say in a meeting, “Coach, when we played Oklahoma (or Florida State, or Miami, or any other big-time team), this is how we did it.” There’s no one on the staff who can do that now. They all owe their careers to JT.

Q from Jack — I, like most people, think Jim Tressel is a terrific person and certainly an outstanding head coach. But I do not think he has found “true north” on his offensive compass. What I mean is that he is enigmatic. For example, he has both Pryor and Boeckman in the Texas game last year and uses the athletic talent of Pryor to score a TD as a receiver — yet Coach T restrained use of Pryor’s athletic ability in the USC game by not using his option skills and apparently having Pryor mentally clamped into not running the ball when the field was wide open for him with the result that Pryor had to throw a pass that he instictively (you could tell) did not want to throw because he either saw or peripherally sensed the opening was there for thim to take off. The great coach that Tressel is surely must know that if Pryor has to think too much or be shackled by the called play, he will become robotic and ineffective (even when he does run he seems “controlled”). So, Coach T is a mystery to me
A: The slot receiver appeared open a lot against USC. The key word is, appeared. USC often rolled its coverage to that guy once the ball was snapped. Maybe they were baiting Pryor, or maybe he missed opportunities for easy 5-yard-or-more gains. Clearly, TP doesn’t read the field as well as he perhaps will when he’s more experienced. JT said this week that at this point in their careers, Troy Smith, Vince Young and others weren’t starting or shouldering the responsibility TP does. What he didn’t say was that TP has a full year as a starter under his belt. He should be better at a lot of things he struggles to do.

Q from Chris: We’ve seen numerous coaches completely transform a team within 2 years. I think what is so frustrating, is that it’s obvious that what Tressel is doing isn’t working. Why is it taking so long for a relatively MINOR change?Whether that means with his coaching/teaching philosophy, offensive philosophy, new offensive coordinator, etc… whatever. Fans have given him plenty of time to make the minor change and we’re seeing what appears to be the SAME philosophy that continues to not work. We’d just like to see more obvious adjustments to show us that they are trying SOMETHING.
A: Getting Jim Tressel to give up control of the offense is far from a minor change. He, like all coaches, are control freaks. Last year, he said he couldn’t envision giving up play-calling responsibilities because “my ego wouldn’t let me.” JT doesn’t open up the window to his soul too often. That time, he did.
Q from Dan: It’s comical how well Tressel is at never answering any questions, but thanks for pointing out that he is beginning to become condescending in the face of due criticism. For starters I’m not even sure that I believe he does care about losing, but I certainly don’t care how upset he is about losing to 6 or 7 straight top 5 teams because I don’t feel upset, I feel embarrassed

A: My comment on The Big Show about JT sometimes being condescending referenced his point that “I don’t know what I have to gain by addressing (reporters) every week. Why does he have to gain from it? It’s his responsibility to talk to the press, because that’s how the fans get answers. He, of course, makes the call on what he answers. But it’s not appropriate for him to insult reporters for asking USC questions late in the week before the Toledo game. A good reporter asks questions fans want answers to. My guess, even with Toledo coming up, most fans wanted answers to numerous issues that arose against USC.

Q from Benjamin: I normally support Tressel and his conservative game management approach, I think it wins games. But folks, the fact is that he abandoned his core philosophy when it mattered most in this game, and no one seems to have noticed. Why is no one focusing on our last possession of the first half, it was inexcusable and inconsistent with Tressel’s whole coaching strategy, and that is the main reason people have a right to be upset with him. It’s OSU’s ball with 1:49 left, 10-7 lead, USC has no timeouts. Repeat, USC has ZERO TIMEOUTS. What do we do? I’ll tell you: Pass incomplete on 1st down . Seven yard run on 2nd down. Pass incomplete on 3rd down. Punt to USC on 4th down, leaving them 0:55 in the half. That’s right, we didn’t even run a minute off the clock! Everything else I can forgive, but USC’s field goal as time expired on the 1st half was totally preventable, and the resulting 3 points were the difference in the game. Run the ball on 3rd and 3 in your own territory against USC with a 10-7 lead (that you earned in on the first play of the quarter by kicking a field goal on 4th and goal from the 1) with 1:00 left in the half when USC has no timeouts. And we lose 18-15, imagine that. UNFORGIVABLE!!!!
A: No argument from me on that one. The series at the end of the half was a head-scratcher. Seriously, has Terrelle Pryor shown he can move the team down the field throwing the football in the hurry-up offense? It was a high-risk attempt to score, without a percentage reward for the risk. What hurt OSU was the failure of its defense to bottle up Stafon Johnson on a first-down run when USC was clearly trying to run out the clock. When he made it to midfield, Pete Carroll went all-in with his true freshman. You could look at it like OSU was fortune not to give up a touchdown on that series. The fade route to David Ausberry was there, if not for Ausberry starting his route too close to the sideline.
Q from Angela: If we had been down most of the game and had not dominated throughout 3.5 quarters (minus 2 minutes before the half), and we had finished 18-15, Tressel would have gotten a pass from fans. But because we dominated the entire game on defense and should have won the game by most views, Tressel takes the heat because the same thing happened in the last 2 minutes vs. Texas last season in the bowl game. When you have dominated and have the game won and you go safe rather than trying to seal the win, and your defense falls apart AGAIN in the last couple of minutes, then fans get frustrated. Tressel doesn’t seem to learn from his mistakes. When you have a 6’6” Qb and you didn’t get the 1 yard you need on 2nd down when you ran the tailback up the middle, then maybe you should use that QB to try and get the yard.
A: That’s an interesting observation. After winning close against Navy, most OSU fans expected USC to dominate. I think they would have accepted an 18-15 score before kickoff. But the way it transpired really ticked them off. As for running TP on short yardage, I am mystified why a guy that big and supposedly talented as a runner isn’t used on the goal line or when a tough yard is needed.Why not roll him out on a quarterback sweep and let him use his athleticism to go for the mark?Maybe because JT has no faith in his O line to keep a defender from shooting the gap and making a tackle for a loss. I understand if that’s his fear, don’t you?
Q from Kyle: One thing I have not heard a lot of is in order for Tressel ball to work you have to have a lock down defense. This years defense is not that type of defense. In order for them to win a big one is score 21 then play D. Just my thought.

A: Good thought. You’re not a lockdown defense unless you can lock down when it counts the most. The OSU defense has shown a troubling knack for allowing a big game-deciding drive against Illinois in ’07, Penn State and Texas in ’08 and now USC in ’09.

KEEP THOSE EMAILS COMING TO BRUCE@971THEFAN.COM AND WE’LL TRY TO ANSWER AS MANY AS POSSIBLE HERE AT THE BUCKEYE FORD BEAT.