Picture
Let's replace that 'South Pointe' with 'Ohio State'
Drew Thurman (4:38 pm)

1) It's been awhile since we had a recruiting update, but this week has produced some fresh news off the recruiting trail. First, Bucknuts reported yesterday that
Jadeveon Clowney could be taking a visit to Columbus
. The 6-6 245 pound defensive end Clowney, is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2010 class, so this was big news. Obviously this is a total long shot, and as 11W pointed out, he could very well be getting a free trip to see a storied program. The fact that the Buckeyes have joined his list so late doesn't leave much room to believe he is super serious about the Buckeyes at this point. Then again, you never know what can happen on a campus visit. Just don't hold your breath. Also, Bill Greene reported today that defensive end Chris Wormley received an offer from the staff. Wormley, the teammate of 2011 commit Ken Hayes, is one of the best handful of players of Ohio in the 2012 class. The staff also extended an offer to another 2012 prospect in Jacoby Boren (Justin and Zach's little brother). Tons of fans questioned the offer to Zach a few years back, but I don't think anyone will be complaining now.

2) All the talk about the running game has been a little annoying this week. Not only has every Buckeye news source produced an article trying to diagnose the problem, but the message boards are filled with a thousand threads on the subject. So, I've tried to stay away from the subject as much as possible. With that said, I did enjoy the Ken Gordon's piece today on Jordan Hall. Not only does it give some interesting background on Hall's recruitment back at Jeanette, it talks about the potential for more playing time this season. It sure sounds like Tressel is coming to the realization that he needs Hall to play a bigger role this season.

"Tressel sounds as if it could. He said Saine could be used more as a receiver out of the backfield, 'so the more you do that, the more Jordan could maybe play some pure tailback.'" 

Maybe is the key word though.

 
 
Picture
Dave Thurman (7:42 am)

After reading Pete Fiutak's entertaining article comparing the schedules of Ohio State and Boise State (which Drew referenced in yesterday's post), I concede that he makes some good points.  But while games at Illinois and Minnesota may look like patsies to the average sports writer, until you've been on the road in the Big Ten you don't know how tough it can be. This Saturday, ready or not, everything changes, as the Buckeyes enter conference play. And no matter where Jeff Sagarin or any other computer geek ranks the lower echelon Big Ten teams, there is no such thing as an easy victory on the road in college football's most physical conference. 

Let's consider this week's tussle with the Illini in Champaign as an example. There is simply no comparison between playing Illinois and taking on New Mexico State, San Jose State or Idaho.  Why?

1.  Memorial Stadium will be packed with over 60,000 fans who will rock the house with some serious noise.  I'm guessing that's a little more intimidating than facing 15,000 in Las Cruces, New Mexico, or Moscow, Idaho!

2.  Illinois (like most every Big Ten team) actually has some tradition.  I'm not just talking about legends like Red Grange and Dick Butkas, but recent teams like the 2001 squad which went to the Sugar Bowl and the '07 team which played in the Rose Bowl.  There is some recent success to actually inspire hope and confidence. Of course Idaho did play in the Humanitarian Bwol in 2000, and New Mexico State was in the Sun Bowl back in '59 and '60!

3.  The Fighting Illini are stocked  with some highly ranked players.  Quarterback Natahan Scheelhaase was offered by Oklahoma, Iowa and Arkansas.  Running back Jason Ford turned down Wisconsin, Boston College and Iowa.  Justin Green had verballed to Ohio State before changing his mind on signing day.  Wideout Jarred Fayson originally signed with Florida, choosing the Gators over Miami (Fl), Alabama and Georgia,  Remember Martez Wilson? The Buckeyes coveted the athletic linebacker, but so did USC, Notre Dame and Michigan.  I could go on.  Needless to say, you won't find  that kind of talent on teams in the bottom half of the WAC. 

 
 
Picture
Drew Thurman (5:11 pm)

1) Obviously there is a lot of attention on Boise State throughout Buckeye Nation, especially because they could be headed to the national championship game if the Buckeyes falter in Big Ten play. The thought of a WAC team beating Ohio State out (or any other BCS qualifying school for that matter) has produced tons of complaining about the weak schedule that Boise plays. I have been one of those complainers. Pete Fiutak of CFN thinks we may need to tone down our frustrations though, as our schedule doesn't really look that much harder than that of the Broncos.

"Winning the Big Ten title sounds neato, but Ohio State is playing a four game season surrounded by a big bowl of yuck.

"I don’t want to hear anything about how beating Illinois, Indiana, Purdue (who just got cranked at home by a Toledo team that Boise State has to face), and Minnesota, for a team good enough to play for the national title, is any tougher than it is to beat San Jose State, New Mexico State, Utah State, and Louisiana Tech. All eight of those teams suck, and any team worthy of dreaming about the crystal egg thingy coming to the local Wal-Mart should beat any and all of them by three touchdowns.

"Winning at Nevada will inspire nothing more than a polite yawn, but winning at Iowa will bring mass celebrations with confetti, tasteful appetizers, and an influx of babies nine months later. But if it’s all supposed to be based on what’s happening on the field, then it can’t be ignored that the Wolf Pack obliterated Cal 52-31, Cal pushed Arizona to the wall in a 10-9 slugfest in Tucson, and Iowa lost to the Wildcats."


He goes on to claim that the Broncos very well may be able to handle the Buckeyes schedule. Interesting.

2) The big news today was that junior running back Brionte Dunn committed. Dunn is playing at GlenOak in Canton and is listed at 6-1 220 pounds. It's not just his size that makes this a high profile commitment for Tressel and company, it's the fact that Dunn has already amassed 1,300 yards in the first five games this season. The guy is running over and past people, and looks like some of the dominating running backs the Buckeyes have had the last several decades. The interesting thing is that he joins fellow running back Warren Ball in the 2012 class, and will also have to compete with guys like Roderick Smith, Carlos Hyde, Jaamal Berry, and Jordan Hall. Talk about loaded. Knowing what the Buckeyes have in depth both now and in the future, I sure would like to trade one of those guys for a cornerback!
 
 
Picture
DANE FOR HEISMAN!!!!!!
Drew Thurman (12:14 pm)

We knew Pryor and the Ohio State offense was going to feast on Eastern Michigan, but I don't think anyone ever dreamed the Buckeyes would put up 73 points and 645 total yards. A lot of this can be attributed to this new Jim Tressel we seem to be witnessing in 2010, who has assembled a more lethal offense than any expert could have predicted. Even more shocking is the fact that Tressel has not bottled this team up with his conservatism, but rather has opened things up completely. Everyone seems to have forgotten about his vanilla "Tresselball" of the past, because we have entered a new paradigm where the punter is rarely used and the offense is hitting on all cylinders. I don't care if it's EMU or Alabama, Tressel has reinvented himself as a playcaller and the 73 points produced yesterday prove it. Tressel was far from the only storyline in yesterday's dominating win though, so let's take a look at all that went into this thrashing of EMU.

This game was the Terrelle Pryor show, in fact, he had several Heisman moments along the way. On the first drive, Pryor had a 53 yard touchdown run that would set the precedent for the rest of the day. It appeared Pryor would get sacked, stalling the offense on their opening drive, but instead Pryor easily galloped down the field past any EMU defender that had an angle. He closed the day with 104 rushing yards and one touchdown. Four of the next five Buckeye touchdowns came via the Pryor-Sanzenbacher connection, which seemed completely unstoppable. This highlighted what was another consistent passing performance from Pryor, as he completed 20 of 26 passes for 224 yards and four touchdowns. If that wasn't enough, Pryor also caught a touchdown pass in the third quarter from Jordan Hall, which was entirely too easy. Overall, this was his day and everyone knew it. We can make fun of Michigan all we want for being a one man show, but in many ways that's what we saw from the Buckeyes yesterday.   

This also was a record day for Dane Sazenbacher, who had four touchdowns. Coming into the game he only had eight career touchdown grabs, so this was a day to remember for him. Not only that, but his four touchdowns tied the Ohio State mark. Not bad for a guy 5-11, 180 pounds. It was interesting that he found himself targeted so much by Pryor considering that Posey, Pryor's usual favorite target, found himself in man coverage quite a bit throughout the afternoon. Sanzenbacher is a phenomenal route runner though, and Pryor seemed to be checking off underneath to the open man rather than looking long. Dane then did the rest, showing off his surprising quickness and playmaking ability.

We got to see the whole stable of backs yesterday, which should provide for lots of debating in the coming days. Early on Boom Herron handled the load, as Brandon Saine was missing in action for most of the afternoon. Saine only had three carries for 11 yards, and you have to wonder why he saw so few carries. Is Tressel making a shift away from Saine or was he just wanting to get some of the other guys some reps? The truth is probably somewhere in between. Anyway, Herron was the featured back yesterday, and had another typical Herron-esque game. He had 12 carries for 55 yards (4.6 a carry) with a touchdown. He also added three catches for 30 yards. He is never going to average seven yards a carry or be an explosive playmaker, but he is way more dependable than Saine play after play.

 
 
Picture
Will Jordan Hall push for more carries?
Drew Thurman (11:46 am)

Check out our Know the Opposition feature for full information of EMU. Below we have five things to look for this afternoon, to keep things interesting as you watch the Buckeyes play a cupcake...

1) Watch to see if Saine and Herron finally break through.

Two weeks ago, we thought we had a First Team Big Ten running back in Brandon Saine. Since his 103 yards against Marshall though, Saine has managed just 55 yards on 27 carries. For you mathematicians, that means he has averaged just over two yards a carry in the last two games. Herron has been Herron in the first three games, and though he gets the tough yards, is not an explosive option out of the backfield. Lucky for both guys, they are playing the 112th ranked rushing defense today. So watch to see if the staff can get both of these guys back on track. Part of the issue thus far is the play calling, which has been focused on getting Pryor in rhythm. My guess is that this will change today, but will Saine or Herron step up? 

2) Watch to see if Jordan Hall or Jaamal Berry make a statement for more carries.

Thanks to slow start of aforementioned Boom and Zoom, there has been an outcry from Buckeye Nation to give the younger running backs an opportunity. Both Hall and Berry have gotten most of their carries in garbage time, which is tough to judge, but each have definitely passed the looks test. Obviously the staff has both guys helping on special teams, but I think if the running game continues to look anemic, the Buckeyes could need one of these guys down the stretch. So watch to see if one of these youngsters shines today. Also watch to see how they block and how dependable they are with the ball. A missed assignment leading to a sack or a fumble could really hurt the opportunity for future PT. 

3) Watch to see if someone steps up at the No. 3 wide receiver spot.

Through three games, the preseason predictions have come true for the Buckeye passing attack. DeVier Posey, Dane Sanzenbacher and Jake Stoneburner are dependable as expected, but who is the guy at the No. 3 wideout spot? Between Grant Schwartz, Taurian Washington, Corey Brown and Chris Fields there is not a guy who has more than 20 yards receiving. They have all had moments of solid play, but none of them have showed the ability to be a big time, every play receiver. They should all get some major reps today at EMU, watch to see who emerges.   

 
 
Picture
Rynearson Stadium with the usual gameday crowd
Dave Thurman (7:28 am)

Mascot: Eagles
Stadium: Rynearson Stadium (30,200)
2009 Record: 0-12
2010 Record: 0-3
Head Coach: Ron English (2nd season, 0-15)
Letterman Returning: 44 (18 lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 8; Defense - 7; Specialists - 0
Base Defense: 4-3
Base Offense: Ace (3 Wideouts)
Returning Stars: QB Alex Gillett & DE Javon Reese

Notable Alumni:

Bob Welch - MLB pitcher (1990 Cy Young Award winner)
Judge Greg Mathis - Television personality
Barry Gordy - Founder of Motown Records
John Harvey Kellogg - Co-founder of Kellogg's Corn Flakes
George Gervin - NBA Hall of Famer
Stan Heath - NCAA basketball coach

Cheerleading Scouting Report:

Click here for photo and bio

Eastern Michigan Overview:

The Eagles stumble into Columbus with a couple of clipped wings, having lost fifteen straight games.  Coach Ron English took over a struggling program, and has not been able to turn things around.  In fact, he has yet to win his first game at Eastern Michigan.  One would have to go back a long way to find this weak of an opponent on the Buckeye schedule, and that includes FCS rival Youngstown State.  Although neither Marshall or Ohio put up much of a fight, they were at least bowl teams in 2009.  Eastern hasn't seen the post season since 1987.  One wonders what kind of psyche the Eagles bring into this game, and whether or not they have any competitive spirit left in them.  They started the year with two close lossess but were then annihilated by Central Michigan a week ago.

On offense it all begins with Alex Gillett, a duel threat quarterback who is having a nice season.  He has hit 57.6% of his passes, tossing four touchdowns, and has run for another 172 yards and a score.  He is certainly the brightest light on a mediocre offense.  Interestingly his backup is redshirt freshman and Cleveland native Devontae Payne, who has a great deal of potential and may get the chance to play quite a bit.
 
 
Picture
Drew Thurman (10:28 am)

When your team sucks and only 1% of your own state (may be an exaggerated number) even cares what you do on the gridiron, you might as well have some fun. I'm sure some of the folks down in Athens are a little ashamed of the Brutus-Bobcat debacle, but apparently not everyone. I have to admit I got a good laugh when I found this shirt over on BobcatAttack.com, and I would be all over ordering some if I was a Bobcat fan. Some Buckeyes fans have taken this whole thing super personal, but who cares. It's Ohio U, they barely know who they root for...

 
 
Picture
Drew Thurman (9:33 pm)

One of the interesting moments of Tressel's press conference on Tuesday was when one of the reporters asked him if would rather not play Eastern Michigan. As was sighted, they are on a 15 game losing streak and 112th in the country this season against the run. So the question was this - is this a hard sell? Tressel responded with this...

"It's not really a hard sell because we don't assess the schedule from the standpoint of, oh, I wish it was this or I wish it were that. You know me, I wish there were 11 games, but there are 12, and for good reason, to fill an inventory of 12 games and to fill an inventory of 36 sports, it's just the reality we're in. We didn't know when we were scheduling this game that it was going to be these numbers, but, you know, in some ways it's a good challenge. If you're going to be affected by that in game four, then how might you be affected by something else much further down the line?

"So in some ways, the mental exercise of seeing if you can really convince yourself that you really believe that what we do is what's most important and us getting better is what's most important and the opponent doesn't really matter, which is what was being said against Miami, you know, this isn't the '02 game, this isn't about them, this is about us, which is the truth, that's the way everything should be. So to me it will be a good mental -- and I'll have a lot better feel as to how we'll handle it about 5:15 tonight, so I don't spend much time wishing things weren't so. I've given you I wish I were six-three before, I'm not."

As expected, Tressel gave the typical head coach lingo. Any good head coach is going to point out that it's important to compete against yourself, challenge yourself, and see where you are mentally in game like this. But as bloggers and fans we can ask the real question - is there anything good that come from playing a cupcake like Eastern Michigan? Well, let's take a look...

 
 
Picture
Drew Thurman (12:03 pm)

- Here at the TSB, we have never been huge fans of Tom Lemming or his recruiting bias. Not only has he been historically critical of the Buckeyes while continuing to show man love for Notre Dame, the guy is just plain arrogant. But our feelings aside, it was nice to see him actually throw some support the Buckeyes way as Braxton Miller found himself as the No. 1 quarterback on Lemming's list. Miller continues to bring praise from the recruiting gurus, and headline the 2011 class. With the one man show he has been putting on at Wayne HS, much like Denard at Michigan, it's not hard to understand the accolades. The only question is - can he remain healthy enough to live up to the hype?

- Tressel had his weekly press conference yesterday and gave some important updates, especially on the injury front. Here was the latest status from Tres:

"But at any rate, speaking of injury reports, we probably will lose Donnie Evege for a significant number of weeks. Travis Howard maybe for a week or so. Dorian Bell maybe a week, he and Travis would be the quickest back. We'll have Andrew Sweat back. Carlos Hyde is now pretty healthy and tonight we'll be able to see just where he might be able to help us out. Is there anyone else I'm missing that's been banged? Corey should be back. You know, Corey could have played last week, but we just thought it was at that danger moment where he was feeling pretty good and he had practiced, we call it the thud, it's not full, it's not getting all the torque, and we just thought it would be smart and Scott Sika does a good job so we felt he would be ready to go, so, yeah, Corey should be ready to go."

If you wondering about the status of Brutus, Tressel chimed in on that too...

"And I saw Brutus over at the Block O event last night and asked him if he was going to be ready for Saturday, and he's probable from an injury report standpoint."

- The depth chart has been released for Eastern Michigan this Saturday, but there are no real changes. The only thing to really take note of is that Andrew Sweat has returned to his SLB spot, and Travis Howard and Corey Brown are listed as the backups at each corner position. It is a little perplexing how Howard is still on the depth chart this week when Tressel claims he is out for at least a week, especially when he was so open about Dominic Clarke stepping up to help out there.

 
 
Picture
There is nothing glamorous about this hard-hitting, head-hunting Buckeye D
Dave and Drew Thurman (7:55 am)

Three weeks into the 2010 season it's time to take a look at the eleven teams in the Big Ten and rank them according to their play thus far.  We call it the 'glamour" rankings because until Big Ten season starts it is more about catching the eye of fans and voters across the country than anything else.  The real season begins a week from this Saturday!  Anyway, here we go...

11. Minnesota - If you lose at home to South Dakota, you deserve to be in the basement. They did rebound and play a decent game against USC, but moral victories don't really matter on a list like this. They have given up 90 points through three games, the most points in the conference, and are also towards the bottom in points scored. Things are a mess in Minneapolis.  

10. Purdue - Marve has been anything but marvelous. Not only that, but Keith Smith is done for the season, which is a killer since he caught 91 passes for them last year. Both have helped to contribute to the Big Ten's most inept offense thus far. Regardless of their record in the non-conference, things will probably get very ugly for the Boilermakers when they hit the Big Ten.

9. Indiana - It's hard to get much of a read on Indiana since they have played a schedule that would hardly challenge a WAC school. They may be 2-0, but their opponents have been Towson and Western Kentucky, who was 0-12 last year by the way. It's not exactly like the Hoosiers overwhelmed the Hilltoppers either. Until they do something against a decent opponent they will remain towards the bottom. Their upcoming schedule includes Michigan, Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Penn State, and we aren't holding our breath.

8. Illinois - Quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase has shown some major potential and Mikel Leshoure has become a solid back, but they have only been able to beat the directional schools thus far (Southern and Northern Illinois). Yes, they lost to Missouri again. Their next game is against the Buckeyes, and then we will know much more about them.   

7. Penn State - Let the griping begin. Fans in Happy Valley think this is a top twenty team, but their offense has been anemic so far. Evan Royster has been the single biggest disappointment of any player in the Big Ten, and true freshamn quarterback Robert Bolden is still learning the ropes. While the defense has held its own and will keep this team in a lot of games this season, this squad has not passed the looks test. We predict three more losses this season.