Cus Words 9-2: No One To Run With?

The Allman Brothers Band offers motivation for this week's column, which looks at what the Buckeyes did well, what they could have done better, and how things will be different this week. Those topics, some TV suggestions and Big Ten rankings make up this week's Cus Words.

What we learned last week:

Where to begin? Well, let's not fall into the trap of getting too complicated.

Todd Boeckman can still throw the deep ball with the best of them.

The offensive line is a lot closer to its end-of-2007 form than to how it looked at the start of last season.

The defensive line is more active.

Jermale Hines can bring the wood, and he looks like he has speed to spare even as a bigger safety than we're used to seeing in these parts.

Brandon Smith can block.

Tyler Moeller has not forgotten how to deliver a hit.

Beanie Wells can find a hole, and when he does, he can really run.

The defense is still stifling, and it is not about to begin playing down to the competition.

Terrelle Pryor is the truth.

So is DeVier Posey.

The defense already looks like a pretty cohesive unit, an important fact if the team is going to defend similar offenses with infinitely more talent than they saw last Saturday.

Jim Tressel can be awfully flexible, and there is not much limit to what he's willing to do to make his team a better offensive unit.


Now on the downside:

Boeckman still has issues with his mechanics at times. Both he and his head coach said after his 187-yard, two-touchdown performance that he needed to continue working on his consistency.

As good as the run-blocking was, the pass-protection could have been better. That didn't help Boeckman keep his feet set or avoid throwing off his back foot, either.

It was good that Boeckman had such excellent touch on those deep balls to Brian Hartline and Brian Robiskie, because the YSU corners were able to stick pretty close to the OSU receivers on both plays.

Normally I'm not one for the quick-hitter type recaps in a column of mine - I can be quite long-winded, as I'm sure my colleagues or fiancé would readily tell you - but in this case I'm wary of drawing too many firm or complicated conclusions from one game.

I have seen Ohio State burn and stifle lesser competition many times before, and I am reserving judgment for now.


What we can expect to learn this week:

It would be easy to say that with another patsy on the docket we can expect more of the same this weekend, but that figures to be far from the truth.

First of all, while not a BCS team, the Ohio Bobcats are certainly a step up from a Division I-AA squad. Ohio was picked to finish near the bottom of the Mid-American Conference, but the Bobcats will bring a stiffer challenge to the Buckeyes than did the Penguins.

And this week is particularly worth watching because all of the "skill players" will likely for the first time enter a contest without the team's best offensive option.

Beanie Wells is not the only hope Ohio State has for winning the national championship. Far from it. But he is like a great power hitter in the middle of a good lineup. Not only does he possess the ability to change a game by himself, he makes life easier for everyone else on his side because of the attention he draws.

In this case, teams don't pitch around Wells to try to avoid his threat. On the contrary, they pay him more attention, which makes everyone else's job easier. Any of Wells' backups are capable of gaining yards, without question, but do they call for a team to drop an extra man into the box to stop the run? I'm not so sure they do.

Then there is Boeckman, who proved last week he's still got a knack for the deep ball but who figures to shoulder a heavier load without Wells. Boeckman can make the big play, but can he consistently sustain drives without the big fella to lean on and provide an additional threat? Can he get a defense on its heels and dictate the tempo and action as the focal point of the Buckeye attack?


All-Buckeye Beater Team Nominees

For those of you who are new to the column, every year I pick out the players who give Ohio State the best look each week. At the end of the season, the best of make the All-Buckeye Beater Team. In week one, I'm tapping YSU cornerback Lenny Wicks, linebacker Na'eem Outler and defensive end Jamie Frasure.

Wicks had a game-high nine tackles, including one for loss, while Outler had a TFL as well among his four tackles. Both did a good job coming up in run support. Both of Frasure's tackles were for loss, including the Penguins' lone sack on the day.


DVR Directions

While you are watching the Buckeyes and Bobcats in a titanic intrastate struggle at noon on ESPN, set the DVR to record another Big Ten-MAC clash on ESPN2 as Michigan tries again for the first win of the Rich Rodriguez era, this time against a Miami (Ohio) squad that comes in smarting from a season-opening beatdown at the hands of Vanderbilt.

At 3:30, watch Penn State take a big step up in competition from week one opponent Coastal Carolina to Pacific 10 foe Oregon State. The Beavers visit for a game that will be televised regionally by ABC. Some Ohioans will no doubt get Cincinnati and Oklahoma in that time slot. At 3:45 there is a contest that could hold a little intrigue for Ohio State fans who have ESPNU. Virginia plays host to Richmond, which could be interesting to peak in on just to see if the Cavaliers are really as bad as future OSU opponent USC made them look last Saturday afternoon.


Cus Words Power Poll (preseason ranking in parenthesis)
1. (1) Ohio State (With or without biggest gun, Buckeyes are still the best from what I can tell so far.)
2. (3) Wisconsin (With how bad the Illinois defense looked, this is almost a default selection)
3. (4) Penn State (See the reasoning behind Wisconsin's ranking and repeat. Good debut for Daryll Clark, though.)
4. (2) Illinois (How could the Fighting Illini defense have looked that lost? Missouri did not even play its best. Big props to Juice Williams, though. Maybe that offense can take off.)
5. (5) Michigan State (Maybe Michigan State is just not better than last year. The results were awfully similar.)
6. (6) Northwestern (The Purple did just what it should if a good year is in store: Beat an awful team with ease.)
7. (8) Indiana (No rust for Kellen Lewis, who engineered a nice win over Western Kentucky after a turbulent offseason.)
8. (7) Michigan (They should thank Utah for trying to give the game away in the fourth. And yes, that offense is as bad as it looked.)
9. (9) Purdue (Joe Tiller's boys get started this week.)
tie 10. (11) Iowa (A comfortable win over a Division I-AA team is similar to a narrow one of a low-leve MAC team, right?)
tie 10. (10) Minnesota (The Golden Gophers ended their losing streak, but Northern Illinois is not expected to be very good.)


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