On the Lighter Side

In a special Monday edition of "On the Lighter Side", Gary Housteau says that it might be time for some big changes on the offensive side of the football for Ohio State. But will it happen?

"May the better team win!"

That's all that I really wanted to happen. It would have been very difficult to drive home from Ann Arbor if Ohio State would have played like they were the better team but lost on a fluke play or a bad call or something of the sort.

But Michigan's win over Ohio State Saturday was a "no-doubter."

And you want to know what was even worse than losing the game? The whole state of Michigan knew it was going to go down that way.

I literally couldn't believe hearing the, what I perceived then as, bravado that former Michigan players and their fans were speaking with. It seemed comical to me at the time. Almost to a person, from what I heard on the radio or from their fans in the tailgate lot prior to the game, they gave Ohio State absolutely no shot against their Wolverines. None!

Ed Muransky is one former Michigan player that was on the radio Saturday morning that gave the Buckeyes no chance against his Wolverines. Muransky, a successful businessman who toiled briefly in the NFL, was born and raised in Youngstown and is back living in the Youngstown area. Sure, I expected him to say that Michigan was going to win, but I was shocked that he said it would be a 31-10 final.

No respect! That's what it amounted to!

And in the tailgate lot, one Michigan fan after another that I spoke with predicted a big win over the Buckeyes.

Not a person could I find that respected anything about Ohio State's offense. Combine that with the fact that they were supremely confident with their offense, and I was able to at least follow along with their thinking process.

The defending national champion's offense is a national joke. And you don't even need the statistics to prove it. The unit is an embarrassment to the team and to the university and to their loyal fans. All year long, for the most part, the offense hasn't been worthy to be on the same field with the Buckeye defense, and they proved that to a national television audience on Saturday.

And speaking of the defense, the formidable unit that Ohio State fans were confident enough to pound their chests about, they were out-manned and out-played to the extent of which we haven't seen in two years. To an extent that I thought wasn't even fathomable, especially playing against Michigan.

But it's the offense that needs to be changed. Drastically and fast! Sure, there's a bowl game yet to be played, so we'll have to put up with it again, one more time, but no longer should loyal Buckeye fans have to be subjected to such a consistently putrid offense.

First and foremost, it needs a philosophical change and that could be the biggest impediment of all. I understand that "playing not to lose" is the major premise behind the way Jim Tressel coaches on game days, but teams like Oklahoma, and Michigan for that matter, have proven that you can let your hair down a little on offense and still win. Especially if you have a top-notch defense to fall back on.

Until Tressel hires a legitimate offensive coordinator and hands him the controls, Buckeye fans will continue to be subjected to such meager offensive outputs on a weekly basis, and as a result of that, fewer of the top-rated offensive recruits will look at Ohio State as a viable option for them.

We've heard all of the excuses by the apologists blaming the much-maligned offensive line and/or the inadequate options at running back, but Ohio State has always been predominantly a running program even before Tressel came to town. Why is there such a dearth of offensive line candidates and running backs all of a sudden?

There are also people who say that Tressel's offense will be different once he starts playing with the players that he's recruited. Well, don't hold your breath if you believe that one. This leopard's spots ain't ever changing.

Next season, Tressel will have two Elite-11 high school quarterbacks at his disposal who will both be in their third year in the program. What will be the excuse next year?

It's inexcusable! The offense that is.

It's either the offensive line, the running backs or Craig Krenzel himself who have taken the heat for the lack of offense the past two seasons. But maybe it's simply the philosophy of what plays are being called and when that have truly hampered all of the aforementioned parties involved.

I still haven't determined if it is Tressel that has made Krenzel look like a bad quarterback or if it's Krenzel who has made Tressel look like a bad play-caller. Looking at just the three-and-out in the first series by the Buckeye offense and then the classic overthrow by Krenzel in the second series on Saturday, Michigan fans got a quick glimpse of what Ohio State fans have had to endure watching all year long.

I'm not a proponent of just winging the ball all over the field out of a five-receiver set, but I would like to see the passing game be at least a competent facet of the Buckeye offense. If you have weapons, use them! Why make a receiver the caliber of a Mike Jenkins have to fit into your offensive system? There's a lot there to learn from the Michigan defeat, like watching what a real offense should look like.

The Buckeyes will be very fortunate when Fred Davis (a high school wide receiver) becomes a Buckeye in this recruiting season, but forget about getting a talent like Mario Manningham to come to Ohio State. These guys are play makers and need to be used as such. They watch the same game that we watch.

Sure, we need to say "Thank you" to Coach Tressel and all of the members of the team and staff for another wonderful season. The Buckeyes haven't lost a home game for two seasons now and that's very important. There is a lot there to build on for next season.

But as the beloved alma mater at The Ohio State University, "Carmen Ohio," says, time and change will surely show. It will show if Tressel believes in his talented offensive players enough by now to exploit them or if he'll continue to play it safe, punt the ball and play defense.

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