We learned earlier this week that junior cornerback Richard McNutt's career is likely over as a Buckeye. McNutt's chronic ankle problem simply reached the point of no return. If last week's game was in fact his final game at OSU, it was nice that it came against Northwestern, a team from his home-state (McNutt is from Park Forest, Ill.).
McNutt is a player that became popular with the fans because of his name and even had a tongue-in-cheek Heisman campaign started up by some OSU students. But he was also a very popular guy among his teammates for his laid-back, personable attitude. McNutt also showed a lot of toughness throwing his small body (5-10, 170) around, and playing on a bum ankle, and I wish him the best.
Seems like the junior quarterback is now throwing the ball harder and with tighter spirals than he was earlier in the season. Krenzel is still underthrowing the deep balls, but he hasn't thrown any "lame ducks" of late and has been accurate with the intermediate routes. And Krenzel continues to prove that he is more than capable as a scrambler.
My gripe about Krenzel? His play-action fakes are weak. I love play-action and it's bound to work with OSU being a running-team, but Krenzel needs to do a better job of selling the fakes. He just kind of holds the ball out there half-assed. You need to put the ball in the bread-basket of the running back, then pull it back and really sell it. Hopefully this is something Krenzel continues to work at because it's obvious to me when he's actually going to hand the ball off, or when it's a fake, so it's probably obvious to the defense too. It's like a baseball pitcher that tips his pitches.
As for the long balls, I must say that I am encouraged that the Bucks are taking some shots deep (about 6-7 per game). Eventually, they are going to hit a couple in the same game, probably when Krenzel learns to lead his speedy receivers. Hopefully it clicks next week against Wisconsin, or the week after against Penn State, because they'll need to do more than just run the ball to win those games.
PURDUE MIGHT HAVE FOUND ITS QB
True freshman Brandon Kirsch looked very impressive in Purdue's 31-28 loss against Iowa last week. Kirsch, subbing for the ineffective Kyle Orton, led the Boilers to two straight long TD drives in the fourth quarter, turning a 24-14 deficit into a 28-24 lead. This kid looked good throwing the ball and especially running it. Of course, Purdue's soft defense allowed Iowa to march right down the field for the game-winning touchdown, but Kirsch is going to be a player.
Anyone notice how defenders bounce off of Ben Hartsock? After pulling in a catch, the big tight end always puts his head down and goes north and south. It's always fun to watch this wrecking ball in action. And Hartsock has much better hands than most people expected. Hopefully we'll see him and the running backs get more chances in the passing game.
DOES OSU DESERVE ITS RANKING?
Absolutely. Granted, the Bucks were not impressive against Northwestern last week, but neither was No. 2 Texas (barely heat Oklahoma State), No. 3 Oklahoma (barely beat Missouri), or No. 4 Virginia Tech (Boston College gift-wrapped that Thursday night game with turnovers). And No. 6 Georgia's win over a very average Alabama team wasn't that impressive to me either.
So, it might be kind of a down year for the 2-6 teams, but the Buckeyes deserve to be there. I would say their 25-7 win over Washington State is the most impressive win that any of the other 2-6 teams have had so far this year. Obviously, that will change this week as Texas and Oklahoma square off in Dallas.
MY TAKE ON MORRIS
If Derek Morris' dad demanded that Derek started, or got any playing time at all this year, Jim Tressel did the right thing in letting him go. This locker room did not need a cancer and the campus definitely did not need a father posing as a Leigh Steinberg wannabe.
That said, If Morris simply didn't want to redshirt, I don't see the problem. This kid wasn't going to stay four years at OSU, let alone five, so redshirting him would have made no sense anyway. I don't think he would have been able to help the team much this year, but if he was qualified, why not give him a shot to at least crack the two-deep?
What do I think happened? His dad probably did demand "some" playing time right away and you just don't do that with Tressel. Some coaches might have compromised their integrity to keep a talent like Morris, but not Tress.
UPHOLDING THE TRADITION
Tim Spencer had this to say earlier in the week about what he expects from his running backs. "When you go out there as a running back at Ohio State, you represent every running back that came before you. Ohio State is bigger than Tim Spencer, Eddie George, or Maurice Clarett and we have a responsibility to uphold the tradition."
That is a lot to live up to, but it's true. It's why guys like Archie Griffin and George watch what Clarett is doing with great pride. Spencer wanted to drill home the fact that Clarett needs to keep all the great OSU RB's in the back of his mind next time something doesn't go his way. He is representing all of their accomplishments and needs to keep his emotions in check.
But Maurice will be fine. All you need to know is how hard he practices and how much he loves the game. Sit back and enjoy as No. 13 carries the Bucks through the meat of the schedule.