There are a lot of reasons to feel real positive as we head into the final two regular season games. Ohio State has some good and some bad with the offense, defense and special teams, but the good is completely outweighing and dominating the bad since the loss to Penn State.
Holmes, Gonzalez, and Ginn are putting tremendous pressure on opposing defensive backfields. Taking on those receivers is very difficult, but taking on those receivers for four quarters is impossible. It appeared the offense was a bit out of sync throwing the ball early against Illinois. There is a simple fix to that…keep throwing the ball. Keep putting it up there.
The Buckeyes have great special teams and defense. More importantly, Smith is making good decisions and the junior quarterback is not throwing interceptions. Keep throwing and good things will happen when your quarterback is not throwing picks. The speed of Ginn was amazing on his long touchdown. The move of Santonio Holmes was incredible on his first touchdown catch. Let's not spread the ball around too much because we want a disproportionate amount of throws going their way.
People wondered if the Buckeyes were susceptible against the pass after Minnesota and Cupito picked on the DBs a few times. You are very susceptible to the pass if you don't get after the quarterback, but Illinois' quarterbacks were running for their lives. They have never run so far and so fast and they have never been hit so hard. Wow. That is pressure on a quarterback. The defense had an answer for anything and everything Illinois tried to accomplish on offense. Illinois is not a good football team, but hopefully you know how I feel about that subject. I do not apologize for inferior opponents. If Illinois' offense is bad, that is Illinois' problem…not Jim Heacock's.
While everyone knew Pittman was the best option and certainly above-average, I found some people questioning if he was a guy that could make something out of nothing. Was he climbing towards 1,000 because of his supporting cast? Was he rushing for 100+ because Holmes, Ginn, and Gonzalez were freaking out defensive coordinators? Could he make something out of nothing, or will he just get what the defense gives?
I am right on the Pittman bandwagon. He is explosive. He is catching the ball well. He is pass blocking. He is getting tough yardage in short yardage situations. His first touchdown run against Minnesota showed him going the distance. His first touchdown run against Illinois showed him making something out of nothing. A running back had no business taking that into the north endzone, but Pittman didn't seem to care. He is shoving around arm-tacklers. He is running with attitude and very bad intentions. I hope Wells and Wells make a big impact next year, but the Buckeyes need Pittman in the backfield the next 2 ½ years because he is a big time back.
It is great seeing Holmes play so well. Any time a player could have gone to the NFL but makes the decision to return, you just naturally find an extra reason to cheer for him. When Doss returned, you just liked him even more. When Hawk returned, his legend just grew. I don't have a problem with early departures; if you can go make a bunch of money as a first-rounder, go get it done. I will never blame you.
I think the players feel the same way about teammates. The players want to perform well for Santonio. They are very excited to see him score. They want to make an extra block for him. They respect someone that much more when they could have entered the "lifestyles of the rich and famous," but decided to come back and eat at training table and go to class everyday. Holmes wasn't honored as a captain for the Buckeyes, but he is as respected and admired as anyone on that sideline. Players want to follow Santonio's lead.
Donte Whitner – Big hits all day long.
Troy Smith – Avoided bad decisions. An incompletion isn't a bad decision. I have labeled him an athlete playing quarterback as opposed to a pure quarterback in the past. I might be eating those words real soon. He keeps getting better.
The Defense – No touchdowns and no field goals.