You need a rushing game? Hey - do you need a freshman to run for 100+ yards and get the fans juiced? Who ya gonna call? Just dial 1-800-IND-IANA. Yes, Lydell Ross himself has rushed for 100 yards a couple times against Indiana in his token we-think-he-has-potential appearances. This year, he had his "token appearance" on the week before the game, allowing freshman Tony Pittman to hose those Hoosiers.
And you need to sack a couple of quarterbacks? Or shut down a running attack? That's HOO-SIER. They answer the call every year. We found out we got the answers we wanted when we dialed BEA-RCAT, as well. And though we barely got through at 1-800-THE-HERD, most of our other calls went unanswered. The questions are these: How do we get teams like Indiana on the schedule every week? Can the Nits repeat their hockey-impression offense and just score four again next week? Can Michigan State play down to the level of their first few games this year? Can Purdue and Michigan get bad in a hurry?
Can you hear me now? Good! How about now?
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Never kick a win out of bed…It's healthy to be skeptical but not that healthy to be cynical, so allow me the random Naïve Moment and to bask a bit in our manhandling of the Crimson and Clover. We were steady, we made fewer mistakes and we tackled a bit better. Did any of the rest of you think that the old mojo was turning in the first quarter when we started off with our best drive in four weeks? That's right - the key play was Pittman fumbling, then a good bounce on the instant replay. Then Smith throwing a sure interception that somehow got to Ginn, who ran past 13-14 of the Indiana defenders to score. OSU up 7-0. We were no longer "SU". Yes, fans we had our "O" back! Uh, kinda. Our next best drive of the past four weeks was the very next series - on defense. After a wide-open Indiana conversion on their third down play, we pushed Indiana back ten yards per play on three successive plays. I mean, when was the last time we gained that kind of yardage at the stadium in one series? You have to go back to the Cincinnati game, I think.
Here's the glass-is-half-full approach: something needed to happen to turn this team on and get them to believe in themselves. We saw the '44 and the '54 teams at halftime and both of those teams inspired themselves, before they inspired the rest of us. Maybe this is where the Mo turns. Maybe. We even need to get that momentum back as fans, as well. Saturday certainly helped…
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Coaches that escaped Little Big Horn…The knock against the defense these past three miserable pre-Indiana weeks is that they were playing "soft"; way off the receivers, lots of zone, little blitzing and too much read-and-react stuff. We seemed to emerge a bit from the coma Saturday. Tackling wasn't exactly crisp but we had a few big licks. What still bothered me (can you tell yet that I'm not completely convinced?) is how little penetration we got up front against their not-so-vaunted rush. There's a reason why our linebackers and safeties are amongst the Big Ten leaders in tackles. The defensive front needs to be more than just a speed bump.
Which brings me back to those coaches. Coach Snyder runs the sideline like he's about ready to put himself in. The players still seem unsure what all that means. And Coach Tressel still reads that program he has (even on defense) like it's a tout sheet. If he can get the team to buy in like he did in past years, he can throw out all the scripted notes and just focus on singing Carmen Ohio at the end of the game…
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Orlas King, in memoriam…As part of our requiems these past three weeks, we were remiss in not saying a few words about the passing of Orlas King, AKA "The Neutron Man". Orlas was a lot like the rest of us here - a pure amateur whose love of Ohio State football became a "professional" obsession. Neutron Man was a fixture at home games with his vibrating and, uh…unorthodox dance routines. He was always moving and always fun to watch. My own story about Orlas/Neutron Man? Two years ago at the spring Tressel luncheon, a Bucknuts' photographer was there and saw me talking with Orlas. We posed for pictures. The next day, I opened my e-mail to check out the downloaded digital images. Every picture of Neutron Man was blurred. His image - his aura - just couldn't stop moving. Picture perfect, eh? And our final "moving" tribute to Orlas King, Neutron Man…
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Yes, I have a personal life…I also have a son playing college football, one playing high school football and two little girls that just play all the time. So, Mrs. Bucknuts and I make a pact that we will get away once during football season. We drive (late Friday night after the high school game) to Cincinnati for the weekend, always during an "away weekend" for OSU football. We have done that 3 of the past 4 years. And my record watching the Buckeyes from the Queen City? A disaster. The first year, I watched JoePa's Nits come back and inexplicably beat a better Buckeye team to secure the "all time" victory game. Last year, I watched that dreadful Wisconsin dancing-in-the-rain game where our Gamble went down the drain. And this year? Well, it was the Iowa weekend and ‘nuf said about that. I know Cincinnati doesn't support Ohio State football like it should, but this is getting ridiculous…
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Adding injury to insults…I was talking to Duane Long last week and we were reminiscing back to the good times (you do remember laughter, right?) and how the sudden injuries, transfers and, yes, deaths, have contributed to the overall demise of the Buckeye offense. There have been 6-8 playmakers that could have been difference-makers. And they all went down or out. Maurice Clarett's case is well documented. Louis Irizarry - unfortunately - had multiple cases. Both JaJa Riley and Sammy Maldonado transferred prematurely and could have contributed. Brandon Joe was hurt last year and playing on five cylinders this year. Drushawn Humphrey tragically died before he got to OSU; he was actually ranked ahead of Clarett as a junior. This year's series of unfortunate events includes multi-talented Marcel Frost. Marcel was highly thought of as a young defensive end (where we need help, as well…) but once Louis went on his rampage, Marcel switched to tight end. Duane commented about Frost, "He was exceedingly smooth. Honestly, he looked almost as good as Irizarry out there". Maybe we will be treated to an early Frost next season…
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Indiana wants me, but I can't go back there…That is the theme song of the continuing strange saga of John Kerr. You know he had to be looking forward to kicking some Hoosier butt this past weekend. I met with John two years ago while he was still at Indiana. He was forceful in accusing the team of taking away some of his stats, once he had, quit just to diminish his accomplishments. He said that Coach DiNardo tried to take a swing at him when he announced his plans to transfer. He worked out on his own in Bloomington, got good grades, left the campus for home each weekend so he couldn't get in trouble. Yet, after all that dramatic build-up, he still hasn't sent he field in two years as a Buckeye. Even worse, we had to burn a red-shirt year for Chad Hoobler last Saturday because we really don't have a #2 inside linebacker now. I am officially changing John's theme song to "The Magical Mystery Tour"…
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It's an odd time to be a Buckeye…And it's just as odd everywhere else…Ohio State does nothing especially well (except kick) and wins easily. Michigan does everything well (except kick) and barely ekes out a win. Purdue basically outplays two Top Ten teams back-to-back and loses both (Orten for Heisman? I don't think so) and Penn State gives up six points to Iowa (remember the 33 we spotted them?), just 20 to high-octane Purdue and but 16 to powerful Minnesota - and loses all three.
And fellow Bucknuts, that's what makes it college football. And what gives us perennial hope. Win two more games and beat Michigan? Hey - not a bad season after all, eh?
Listen, I would like to come out of my cynical coma. We preach cautious optimism here at Bucknuts. But it doesn't always work. Well, we also tell our writers:
1. No sentence fragments.
2. Generalizations are never good.
3. Exaggerations are a billion times worse than understatement.
4. And don't ever start a sentence with a conjunction.
But do we take our own medicine? Do we listen to our own lectures? Not usually. We are nutsy fans (and cranky supporters) just like the rest of you. We mess up - just check our record of predictions this year! And we try to proofread carefully so that we don't any words out.
But it doesn't always work out that way. Yet, I promise you this: if we beat Penn State, I will be back with the old swagger. It's a young Ohio State team loaded with promise and we have to rally around them.
Hey - at least for a week!
Comments, brickbats, suggestions and the usual calling-outs can be directed to Mr. Bucknuts at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com