Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket Of Bullets

What went right against Minnesota? What didn't? This week's Bucket is a detailed look back at the OSU/Minnesota game and some of the good, not-so-good and downright strange things we saw. Also, Mr. Bucknuts shares some of feedback you sent to us in our site poll. Check out this week's column.

It was 1940. Ohio State's football coach was Francis Schmidt. The Buckeyes were still two years away from Coach Paul Brown and their first national championship in 1942. Yes, fans, that was the last year that Minnesota beat both Ohio State and Michigan in the same season. Sixty-five years ago. Minnesota took care of the more important part of that equation by besting the Wolverines earlier this year. Then Ohio State took care of business on Saturday, winning for their eighth straight time in the Minny Dome, 45-31.

I was the only one at Bucknuts confident enough to forecast a "blowout" win. I said by 13; we won by 14, so I apologize for the miss. Actually, I also said that OSU would win 30-17, which was just one point from the correct score…with 7:45 remaining in the third quarter! I knew the Buckeyes could move on their defense. I just under-appreciated their offense. At least their offense of the first half. Heacock and the OSU "D" did a masterful job of adjusting at halftime. Maroney had 118 yards in the first half – he had 14 yards and a fumble in the second half.

But the Glen Mason offense is a pretty thing to watch. When OSU had third-and-short, they threw caution to the wind (and failed) by running the old tried-and-true quarterback sneak. On Minnesota's fourth-and-two, they ran a tight end screen with the TE coming from the other side of the field! What a difference…And in the first half, when they were fresh, the Gopher line surge was fantastic. Many times, Maroney just followed in the wake and picked up a half-dozen yards.

Other things Mr. Bucknuts picked up randomly in this game?

· If Youboty wants to go early to the NFL, Saturday's game cost him millions. Take your pick: He got beat like a) A rented mule b) A tied-down goat or c) A redheaded stepchild. The analysts at the top of the show said that Cupito would pick on the freshman, Jenkins. I wish he had

· Minnesota passed to set up the run. After OSU left more Gophers open than anyone since Caddyshack, the rush offense was easy as they were running downhill and the Buckeyes were on our heels. And tackling their receivers by their heels thirty yards down the field.

· At the beginning of the year, the four games that worried me the most were Texas, PSU, Minnesota and Michigan. OSU shoulda beat Texas, they coulda beat Penn State and they did beat Minnesota. I like the trend even if I don't like the overall "Big Games in 2005" record.

· The Ohio kickers for Ohio State were far better than the Ohio kickers for the Minnies. Huston (Findlay) was outrageous on kickoffs and Trapasso (Pickerington) was solid punting. For the Gophers, Gianini (Canton Glenoak) was wobbly a bit (a key miss early) as was the punter, Justin Kucek (Canfield). Plus, both Gopher kickers were so scared of TD Ginn that it altered their game completely. ‘Ya gotta like our Ohio connections better than their Ohio connections…

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OSU's Ohio quarterbacks versus theirs… On a similar comparative note, I was really impressed by Brian Cupito, who I never appreciated much in high school (Cincinnati McNicholas) or thus far in his Gopher career. Brian always thought he was unfairly overshadowed by Justin Zwick in high school and was never given fair recruiting treatment by the Buckeyes coming out. He proved himself Saturday. Although Troy Smith had a good game as well, the differences – to me – were readily apparent. Cupito is poised, looks at several possibilities on each pass play, throws well enough to get by, and understands the pocket. Troy is a fantastic athlete who is so talented that he can play quarterback and running back at the same time. He has a rocket arm and great wheels. But seeing the field? Going through progressions? Touch on the ball? Pocket presence?

For those of you ready to tee off on me at this point, I say, "OSU won. They lost. Next…"

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Piling on…As a few of us were sitting around morosely considering the over/under on Troy Smith's single wing carries (it was 11 for the PSU game, 8 for Indiana and then back to 10 for Minnesota). We also correctly forecasted the "tendencies" from different formations and plays. There were a few: 1) When there are four wide-outs and less than 6 yards to go, TS runs a quarterback draw 2) When Troy runs the option to the short side of the field, he rarely gives up the ball and 3) When Troy gives up the ball on the option anywhere, he does it early.

The part that can be disheartening? If we can figure it out, how about those opposing coaches with miles of film who do this sort of thing on a more-or-less professional basis? It is fun to watch Troy start to evolve in the pocket and become a better quarterback. Let's hope the growth continues…

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Disappointments on the "D"?….Yes, you can even attend the Miss Universe contest and be disappointed that all the candidates don't, well…measure up. Guys are like that, you know. Despite the apparent embarrassment of riches we enjoy on this 2005 Buckeye defense, there are guys (to me) that haven't measured up this year.

Let's start with the overwhelming positives: I think that Hawk, Carpenter, Pitcock and Whitner are All-Americans. I think that Youboty and Kudla will play in the NFL. Hey, six out of eleven at that level is pretty fantastic!

As to the others, "disappointment" might be an overly harsh term. Marcus Green does his job and seems to steadily improve. Malcolm Jenkins appears that he will be on the Youboty level given a little time. So that leaves three positions open to criticism: 1) The "other" DE 2) Schlegel and 3) Salley

I am disappointed that Richardson didn't step up at DE and that Gholston has been hurt most of the year. Luckily, Carpenter took over when needed and this potential deficiency has been obscured. As for Schlegel, you have to love the big lug and love him for all his intangibles, as well. Yet, he is a step slow, doesn't cover that well and has trouble getting off blocks. Either a healthy D'Andrea or a playing Hoobler could be an improvement. Finally, and most controversially, Nate Salley does a lot of great things but he also does a lot of things that scare me. The great things? He is an inspiration and he is a tremendous hitter. The scary thing? He gambles on coverage and often seems to be out of position in order to cash in on those tremendous hits. That, by the way, is something of an indictment for a free safety – your last line of defense.

Mitchell or O'Neal could be an improvement back there. If Youboty stays (yes, the Gopher game was an aberration…), OSU will have one of the best "Back Four" in the business for 2006…

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Red shirts, gray shirts and hair shirts…Over the course of the 2005 season, some players stayed on course and others took a detour. We are asked about all the players that haven't seen he field – or those who have seen less of it than originally presumed – and the various categories into which they might fit. Here are those players and categories, off the top of my head:

Red shirts: Andre Amos, Doug Worthington, Rob Schoenhoft, Jim Cordle, Donald Washington, Anderson Russell, Ryan Williams, Brian Hartline, Todd Denlinger, Austin Spitler

Amos is getting the ravest reviews although the staff is excited about Schoenhoft at QB, Denlinger at DT, Cordle at OL, Worthington on the defensive line and Russell somewhere. Look for all of those guys to be in the "rotation" next year.

Gray shirts: Freddie Lenix, Aaron Pettrey

Lenix is expected to be a gray shirt but still needs to qualify academically; the odds there are right at 50-50. Pettrey should challenge Pretorious to replace Huston next year (what will the fans chant then?)

Hair shirts: Marcel Frost, Erik Haw, Sian Cotton, Tim Schafer, Sirjo Welch, Jonathan Skeete

Frost is finally seeing action as is Cotton and Welch. The staff never discusses these doghouse denizens. Schafer might be a combo of "doghouse" and "depth chart" but now on offense. Haw and Skeete are both cannabis casualties with the Skeete story looking more like an Irizarry/Guilford epilogue.

Medicals: Brandon Underwood, Steve Rehring, Marcus Freeman, Rory Nicol, Mike D'Andrea, Devon Lyons, Vernon Gholston, Angelo Chattams, RJ Coleman

Underwood could come back although the scuttlebutt is that he will transfer, like brother EJ. Rehring, Freeman and Nicol are the equivalent of red-shirts and all will be prominent in the two-deep next year. D'Andrea actually got a "medical" for next year and could still reach bona fide star status. Lyons and Gholston have nagging injuries and it serves them (and the team) well that they retain that extra year of eligibility. Chattams and Coleman retain their scholarships, don't count against the 85-man scholarship limit, but won't play anymore for the Buckeyes.

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You can finally spell "Pittman" with a "T-D"…We are searching through the Bucknuts research stacks (well, Kirk's computer…) to find if Tony Pittman had set some kind of record by rushing for more than too yards on 169 carries this year – before scoring a touchdown! It further underscores (so to speak) that it's nice to have the Pete Johnson or even Dionte Johnson type to finish off some of these drives when you have to move the pile. And speaking of Pittman, maybe Dionte could spell "Pittman" when the Bucks are down inside the five? Just a thought…

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Polls apart…We decided that we were mentally tough enough here at Bucknuts to take a user's poll and find out what you guys out there liked about Bucknuts, what you didn't like and what you were simply confused about. Nearly 2000 of you responded which means – at a minimum – you do have strong feelings. The only item in the survey that came back as 100% in the "Great Column" was your overwhelming love for the Bucket of Bullets. Comments ranged from "Pulitzer material" to "it changed my life" and virtually every know encomium in-between (oh yeah, it said to quit using big words just to show off; one comment said to "eschew obfuscation" but I don't know what that means…)

I won't go over all the findings, but a scant 20% of the surveys reflected anything really negative with the most common complaint being "It should all be free" or "Quit charging money for this junk, moron" or "Everything on the internet should be at no cost to everyone". We will take all those well-intentioned comments under advisement. Some of you loved the message boards. Many of you, surprisingly, don't use them. We had a wide range of opinions on columnists, technical features and, well, there were "The Comments" section. Here were my four favorites:

1. No more Schnittker at the goal line!

2. Pay the damn players more.

3. Why is Jim Bollman still coaching at OSU?

4. Mr. Bucknuts should use his real name.

Hey – Mr. Bucknuts is my real name, and my ancestors going all the way back to the Latvian Bucknutski family would be offended knowing that people wanted me to forsake it…

Anyway, there will be more polls to come on more specific subjects like The Bucknuts Radio Hour, Ramzy, audio files, our player videos and the like. We loved hearing your feedback and truly appreciate your support. Keep those cards and letters coming!

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Lies, damned lies and statistics…Part of the defensive game plan was not to blitz the quarterback in the Metrodome, not to go for sacks, and to contain their passing attack. Well, the ultimate result was good even if some of the statistical results were mixed.

· For those of you knocking Troy Smith (yeah, look over here sometimes, too), he is now second in the Big Ten in passing efficiency.

· For those wishing OSU had another tailback, Pittman is now fourth in the Big Ten and top twenty in the nation in rushing.

· Minnesota's 578 yards of total offense is the second highest total a Buckeye team has ever given up.

· Against Penn State, Minnesota had 287 total yards. Against Ohio State, the Gophers had 335 yards – in the first half.

· Against Michigan, Minnesota only had 139 yards passing and had 400 yards against us; yet, the Wolverines were only able to generate 94 yards rushing – just half of what Antonio Pittman alone got against Minnesota.

· By the end of the first quarter, Maroney had more yards rushing than Ohio State had given up in any full game to anyone this year.

And that's why statistics are kept in a separate place in the sports vault than the record book for wins and losses. Don't forget – OSU won, they lost. The best stat of them all…

If you want to complain about the winning or take pride in the losing, Mr. Bucknuts is the perfect audience for you. Contact him at Mr.

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