All I saw were blue skies on Saturday. What rain? What weather disrupted the tailgating? That day was all sunshine.
In reality, it goes back to the SDSU comments: "It's never as good as you think and it's never as bad as you think." Against SDSU, 10 of 11 assignments being executed often meant a disastrous offensive play. It wasn't just Troy not reading his progressions. It was the quarterback, receivers, offensive linemen and running backs all taking turns with a few mishaps.
All these games won't be like Iowa. We will see another SDSU performance this year. But as I heard former Bengal Dave Lapham say on Sunday, "There is no column for "Ugly Win" and no column for "Pretty Loss." SDSU was an ugly win, but it goes in the win column. We will take ugly wins all day long. (And ugly wins by a few touchdowns are even better.)
The Buckeyes started things with a traditional I-Pro formation and ran the ball right at the Hawkeyes. Many thought Iowa linebacker Chad Greenway was better than A.J. Hawk, and the Buckeyes decided to find out on the very first play. While Greenway will go very, very early in the draft, he and Hodge and the Iowa defense missed Matt Roth and Co. from 2004. They also missed their home crowd as Ohio State pushed around that Iowa squad. The final score didn't even show how lopsided the game was.
The two keys going into this one were Troy Smith's completion percentage and team attitude. When Smith was only completing 51 percent of his passes, the playmakers weren't getting the chance to be playmakers. Santonio Holmes had YAC. Ted Ginn slipped defenders on Saturday. We all got to see what Anthony Gonzalez can do after catching a slant.
Many fans feel a horizontal passing game is the ticket to an ugly offense. I don't care if you throw horizontally or vertically, if the passes are not completed, it will look ugly. Smith was throwing the ball well and the receivers did a nice job catching the ball in the Big Ten opener.
As far as attitude, I recall last year's Iowa defeat. On most plays last year, the Buckeyes didn't necessarily line up incorrectly or mentally blow a specific task they were called to execute. The problem was the Hawkeyes played with more speed and more intensity and Iowa seemed to want it more in 2004. The 2005 version showed an Ohio State team that carried the fight to Iowa. The offensive line was possessed as they opened up holes for 300+ rushing yards. OSU may have fumbled the ball more than Iowa on Saturday, but they wanted to win more than Iowa. Sometimes a defensive lineman is responsible for the B gap. The offensive lineman is responsible for opening up that same B gap. At that point, you can throw out your chalk and your fancy laminated play-calling sheet. What is going to happen in that B gap? Ohio State controlled the B gap on Saturday.
OSU heads into the bye week. After their performance on Saturday, I almost wish they could keep going. However, this time off will give Smith and these receivers more reps. It will also give OSU extra time to prepare for Penn State. Don't be fooled by the Northwestern game. Penn State will play better at home in a night game against a Top 10 Buckeye team than they did against Northwestern. We will have our hands full. OSU's defense will look great. The offense will move the ball. If the Buckeyes don't turn the ball over, they come out with a big win. If they fumble six times, I would expect them to lose.
OSU has some things working for them and some things working against them. I like the fact that they look so good on defense and the offense showed the pop we all expected coming into the season. I'm nervous that this is OSU's first road game. I'm nervous that bye weeks sometimes lead to slower starts. At the end of the day though, this team should be mature enough to handle the travel and craziness of the Happy Valley atmosphere. If you want a reason to lose or to feel sorry for yourself as a football team, you will find it. The 2005 Buckeyes would rather take the attitude of "Nothing keeps us from winning." Their seniors are special.
Antonio Pittman - Confident, productive running will only lead to more confident, productive running. Success running the ball snowballs…it feeds itself.
Anthony Gonzalez - Gonzalez is playing great. In addition, he carries himself with great class off the field. (With all due respect to Coach Ferentz (because I think he is a top 3 coach in college football), what is this talk about putting 244 lbs. Greenway on #3 receivers?)
Donte Whitner - All-Big Ten.