Miscellaneous Thoughts

     Well, I was all set to grade the team this week for the first time in a while.  Until… the game preceding the Ohio State – Minnesota matchup ran long on Direct TV and ESPN Gameplan.  So, while a good portion of the first quarter was being played, I was subjected to the ending of that oh-so-critical game between Clemson and Duke.  In lieu of grades, I would like to cobble together some quick hitters and thoughts on the weekend…


  • Darrion Scott.  I just love this guy.  He has played huge this season and is fast becoming the lineman who intimidates the opposition.  You know that opposing quarterbacks have to see him leveling multiple signal-callers.  Great hit on the QB.  It was just a thing of beauty to behold.  I am looking forward to seeing this guy line up on the defensive side of the ball for the Bucks in 2003.  If both he and Smith return, the defensive line for Ohio State should be one of the top 5 units in the country (if not top 3).


  •  A.J. Hawk.  I cannot believe he is only a freshman with his skills as a linebacker.  All last year Duane Long raved about Hawk on the Bucknuts boards.  I think all of the fans are now seeing why.  I do not know where he will play next season, but I cannot envision a linebacker unit in 2003 that does not have him starting.  In fact, he is already starting when Grant is hurt.  The most amazing thing is the fraction of dropoff in performance at the position is negligible.  What will he be like as a senior? 


  • Craig Krenzel.  Repeat after me… "11-0 as a starter when playing an extensive amount of time."  Pretty impressive.


  • I liked what I saw out of Hall and Ross Saturday.  It was great to see them get carries and have success.  The primary reason I say this is not because it allowed the coaches to rest Clarett.  No, I am rooting for these young men.  It would have to be difficult to be passed on the depth chart by a true freshman.  Undoubtedly, it would be hurtful to the ole male ego, and it would even cause fans to question your abilities.  Both Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross had nice games and helped OSU to a victory today.  Thanks guys.


  • The offensive line stunk in the first half.  I do not know if it was poor blocking schemes on the part of the coaches or what.  All I know is that the offensive line was worse than offensive the first 30 minutes on Saturday.  The second half offensive line was much better, but it still needs work.  I pine for the day when Ohio State has half the depth and athleticism on the offensive line that they do on the defensive line.  Perhaps part of the issue is the 8-9 man fronts OSU sees on most plays.  It is pretty hard to block 8 men for 3 seconds even when you keep your tight ends and running back in the backfield to help. 


  • Vance.  What can you say?  He showed serious courage to play after finding out about his family situation.  I am sorry for his loss and gratified that he had a good game this week.  I would not be foolish enough to say that a good game will somehow help him feel better about everything.  It will not.  I am just gratified because since he showed the effort and the courage to play when facing personal adversity, he deserves some reward for that.


  • Gamble and the defense.  What a game.  120+ yards of total offense for the entire game?  With Chris G. at cornerback, this team is ready to just come after the opponent.  His coverage abilities allow for more attacking schemes and mixing up zones, blitzes, man on man, etc.  The coaching staff may have discovered this by mistake, but they are looking more and more like geniuses by keeping him at DB for the stretch run.  The defense is the ONLY reason I think we stand a chance to go undefeated.


  • I was very disappointed with Minnesota's (players and coaches) comments about the loss.  Saying that the score is ‘misleading' is a bit… well… misleading.  Minnesota honestly was (and is) not a horrid team.  They are not great, but they are not awful either.  The problem for them was the Ohio State defense.  Teams have been saying all season that they believe they should have beaten Ohio State.  They all seem to have this perception that what OSU did was smoke and mirrors and that the score is not at all reflective of the teams' abilities.  Yet OSU held Minnesota to something like 112 TOTAL YARDS of offense Saturday.  Throw that in with the performance of Penn State at Ohio State and in two weeks combined, the Ohio State defense has not allowed 300 yards in total offense.  Incredible.  I know Mason and the Gophers have to say stuff like this (and believe it as well) to keep folks off of them in Minnesota, but for crying out loud.  What part of the 34-3 score was misleading when OSU kneels on the ball in the red zone to end the day?  Would 41-3 been more accurate?  Maybe 55-3 if Ohio State had not bobbled around for the first half?  "Misleading?"  Please.  Go bark up another tree because that dog won't hunt in these parts.


As for my other thoughts on national games?


  • Iowa is flat out good.  I would put them as a legit top 5 team in any poll.  They have a kicker who is almost as good (if not better) than Nugent, a solid QB, some serious running backs, an athletic defense… If OSU and Iowa played, I would take the Bucks based upon our defense, but the Hawkeyes are no slouches.  Take away a late game collapse against Iowa State, and the top 4 would have 2 unbeaten Big Ten teams.  How is that for a conference that is considered by many to be just above the MAC the past 2 seasons?


  • Mack Brown and Frank Solich played this weekend.  In a predictable result, neither team looked impressive and both played down to one another throughout the contest.  Solich wins the ultimate dunce cap for the week award though with his decision to let Lord throw into the end-zone one last time instead of just trying a field goal.  That may be fine if your quarterback is reliable, but for the season (including the Texas game) – Lord is only 69 of 136 (for a 50.7% completion ratio).  He has thrown for less than 100 yards per game and has as many interceptions (8) as he does touchdowns.  The result was a disastrous interception and a Texas victory by 3.


  • Washington State is a complete football team.  I do not want to see them on our schedule again.  They mauled Arizona State in every facet of the game.  They deserve their ranking based on Saturday's performance. 


  • I said it last week; expect the BCS mess to sort itself out.  All that has to happen now is for OSU, OU, or Miami to drop a game and you have a perfect situation.  The problem would come in if two teams lost now (or even all three).  It could happen.


  • Zook may be a better coach than I gave him credit.  I picked UF to win the Georgia game, but in watching it – I came to a couple of realizations on Ron…  First, he has not been a head coach before, and there normally is a learning curve associated with the position.  Second, he appears to be trying to run a more balanced offense than the Gators have seen since some guy named Steve Spurrier rode into town in 1990.  For the season, they are rushing 43% of their plays and have passed 57% of the time.  They have the same number of rushing touchdowns (15) as passing.  This looks great on paper, but it is difficult when the team is unused to operating with this as an offensive identity and frankly may lack the personnel to pull this off.  Finally, the defense is not playing consistently from week to week.  They shut Tennessee and Georgia down but allowed 36 to LSU and 34 to Kentucky.  The net result of this is that they are giving up an average of 20 points every week to the opposition, and that will catch up to you sooner rather than later.


  • I have thought it for a while, but I want everyone to know that I will be asking Santa for a Christmas present in the form or Philip Rivers declaring himself eligible for the NFL draft this Spring.  It would be very nice if OSU did not have to face him next fall.  That boy can play some serious football.


  • The best block I have seen all season came in the Georgia Tech and NC State game.  Some kid named Jenson laid the whammy on Starks.  Both of Starks legs were literally perpendicular to the ground and over his head when his back hit the turf.  What a hit.


  • Who in the world will play in the Fiesta Bowl?  If anyone tells you they know, then back away very slowly.  Nobody knows at this point.  Ohio State could lose this weekend along with OU.  Imagine the furor.  Miami could easily lose more than one game down the stretch.  Washington State has a tough slate with a game against Oregon looming large this weekend.  Texas has to get by Texas A&M.  I don't think it will happen, but there are enough tough teams out there to turn this into a real bloodbath.  With the length of the season, it would not surprise me if there were no undefeated teams after November's smoke clears.  I can even envision scenarios (unlikely though they may be) where two teams will play for a national crown despite the fact that one of them will have 2 losses on the year.  It nearly happened in 2001, so why not this season?


  • Multiple national commentators have been taking cracks at Ohio State this season.  I say let them take the potshots.  Forward the comments to the players or coaches.  Let them use it as motivation.  The bottom line is that this team is going to have to earn everything it gets because of the multitude of late season collapses over the last 30 years.  Let's let the season play out and see what happens.  Maybe the talking heads are correct in their assessment of this team.  I am hoping they are not.


  • Things sure are quiet this recruiting season.  I am not just talking Ohio State here.  It seems like a lot of top players are waiting to make any kind of decision until later this year than last.  Here is hoping that some recruits around the country can read a depth chart and decide that OSU is for them.


  • My top 10 would look like this:


  1. OU – Their defense is awesome.  Do not let anyone fool you.  If they make it out of the Big 12 undefeated with games against Oklahoma State, @ Texas A&M, and a championship matchup where they will likely face either Colorado or Iowa State for a second time?  They deserve to be #1.
  2. OSU – I am putting them here because their defense is improving and Miami is still playing only 1-2 quarters per game.
  3. Miami – This may be a more complete team than Ohio State if all the players would get their heads out of their rear ends.  They are not playing most of the game and then just trying to turn on the jets in the fourth quarter.  If they keep that up, they will face a team that has enough defense and offense to defeat them.
  4. Washington State – They are playing better than Texas.  Their quarterback is a better leader, and they have almost as many weapons as the Longhorns at the wideout position.
  5. Iowa – They too are improving week to week.  Their performance against Wisconsin was impressive.  Granted, they were at home.  However, Russell was out the whole game and still they dominated.
  6. Texas – This team is playing to the level of its competition consistently.  Plus, they cannot defeat OU despite having an obvious advantage in terms of overall talent.  The Longhorns would jump to #4 for me if they could show some consistency.
  7. Virginia Tech – I think Pitt never wins the game the other night if Jones had not been injured.  Yes, I did pick the Panthers to win the contest before kickoff, but even so – Jones would have gone a long way toward helping the Hokies remaining undefeated.  They have a good defense, good special teams (as always), and can run a pretty good offense at times.
  8. Georgia – Richt has this team doing better than it has in 20 years.  His problem is the same as Ohio State's right now.  Both rosters look like a M.A.S.H. unit.  The Dawgs had more stars playing hurt or not playing at all the other night than most teams have on their entire roster.  Throw that in with a couple dropped passes and critical mistakes at the wrong moments, and you get a loss.  The Dawgs are still a very good team.
  9. USC – Ironic isn't it that Carroll was their candidate after everyone else said no?  He has them playing good football again.  Maybe the day when Ohio State and USC meet in the Rose bowl again is not all that far off?  Look for the Trojans to give the Irish fits when they meet later this November.
  10. Notre Dame – This is really a 2/3 team.  They have a very good defense, some nice special teams play, but their offense is a nightmare.  If they had an offense, I would put them in the top 4 despite a loss.  However, the fact remains that they do not have an offense and have won all season because the other teams made enough mistakes for the Irish to squeak by.  It caught up with them on Saturday and might catch up with them again if they do not find a way to put more than 7 points on the board.



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