Drew Thurman (11:55 am)
The Buckeyes cruised to an easy 38-10 victory on Saturday against the Hoosiers. The score doesn't really even do this game justice, as Bill Lynch and company put up about as much of a fight as EMU did. It sure is funny how the Wolverine defense made them look like an offensive powerhouse.Let's look back at the Five Things to Watch For that we posted on Friday, and see how they impacted the game.1) Watch for how the Buckeye defense handles the Pistol Offense.
I was a little caught off guard this week with all the predictions about this game. I predicted a 31-14 final score, and thought I was being a little generous to the Hoosiers. Turns out I was. The Buckeye defense completely handled whatever Indiana threw at them all afternoon, and it started on the defensive line. They didn't register a sack, an area that has continued to be a struggle, but Chappell had little time to breath. Both Cameron Heyward and Nathan Williams were in his face a lot especially Williams who had six tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss. The secondary also had one of its best games, helping to hold Chappell to 106 yards and two interceptions. Chekwa had seven tackles, which led the team, while also adding a pass breakup. Jermale Hines had five tackles himself, and Torrence added an interception on an arm punt from Chappell.
It was also good to see some of the youngsters get into the act on Saturday. Jonathan Hankins had three tackles, and continues to improve on the inside of the defensive line. The big man has some big things in store. Also, Travis Howard (3 tackles) and Storm Klein (4 tackles, 1 TFL) brought the heat in the second half, making the most of their playing time. Both guys would get nailed with penalties for helmet to helmet hits, but as Chris Spielman would point out in the commentary, they were just solid football plays. 2) Watch to see how the running backs perform.
Well, the running game didn't silence any doubters after the performance against Indiana. Herron started the game, and had 12 carries with 68 yards and two touchdowns. The problem is that if you don't count his 39 yard touchdown run in the first quarter, he averaged under three yards a carry. I know that sounds overly critical, but the running game didn't pass the "looks test" against the Hoosiers. Let's not forget this defense was giving up 207 yards a game while allowing opponents to average 6.3 yards a carry. Yet outside of his one long run, Herron was stymied all afternoon. Saine on the other hand didn't get a carry, but was used creatively in the offensive game plan, primarily as a receiver (84 yards, 1 TD). Jordan Hall was only given one carry in the game, while Carlos Hyde (9 carries, 48 yards) and Jaamal Berry (5 carries, 42 yards) split carries in garbage time in the fourth quarter.
At this point it's obvious that the state of the running game can be equally blamed on the offensive line and the running backs. The offensive line has shown great improvements in pass blocking this year, but has continued to struggle with opening holes, being physical and keeping penalties to a minimum. With that said, Herron (and previously Saine) haven't helped them out at all. I like Herron and think he runs hard, he just isn't a premiere running back by any measure. Behind a really good line I think he would be fine, kind of like Pepe Pearson was, but this line has been average. Enter Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, and Carlos Hyde. The young backs would obviously be an improvement (they are premiere backs IMO), even if they were to just get a few carries in crunch time. I don't buy the crap that Tressel won't play youngsters, as guys like Beanie Wells and Terrelle Pryor jumped up the depth chart when they were needed. I think the time has come for Berry, Hyde and Hall.
Dave Thurman (9:06 pm)
Many a coach has been known to say, "Statistics are for losers." And so often that is true. Like last year when Wisconsin bemoaned the fact that they outgained Ohio State 368-184 but still lost the game 31-13. Of course you can manipulate numbers to say what you want them to say. For instance, while Wisconsin did have twice as many yards as the Buckeyes from the line of scrimmage, Ohio State had an 89-yard interception return for touchdown by Kurt Coleman, a 32-yard interception return for touchdown by Jermale Hines, and a 96-yard kickoff return for touchdown by Ray Small. Obviously all of those yards, when added together, tip the scales to Ohio State, even though they didn't come from the line of scrimmage. No wonder Evan Esar said, "Statistics: The only science that enables different experts using the same figures to draw different conclusions." And good old Mark Twain put it even more succinctly when he wrote, "There are lies, damned lies, and statistics."
Realizing all of that, we football fans are wise to not put too much stock in figures. Still, after Ohio State's recent victory over Indiana it is impossible not to dwell on a few interesting numbers.
334 - Pryor's passing yards Saturday, his most to date. Actually by halftime Pryor had already thrown for a personal record 280 yards as he literally shredded Indiana's dreadful secondary.
130 - Ohio State's total rushing yardage, as leading rusher Terrelle Pryor did not run the ball one time (although he was sacked three times for -19 yards). Once again questions about how well the OSU tailbacks can run the ball go unanswered, although nobody can blame Brandon Saine who didn't get a single carry, though he was used brilliantly as a receiver.
Drew Thurman (7:34 pm)
Check out our Know the Opposition
feature for full information on Indiana. Below we have five things to look for against the Hoosiers, as the Buckeyes get their first look at basketball on grass this season...1) Watch for how the Buckeye defense handles the Pistol Offense.
As the experts will tell you, it's really not an offense, it's a formation. Still, it is the backbone of the air show the Hoosiers have put on thus far in 2010. The beauty of this formation is that is gives the Hoosier offense the ability to run downhill while also allowing Chappell to get the ball out quickly in a shotgun set. Not only that, but they will use the pistol to put a twist on play-action plays and confuse defenses. Below is a look at their pistol formation as broken down by the Big Ten Network (h/t Smart Football
So watch to see how the Buckeye defense handles all the different looks IU throws at them. The running game wouldn't be the problem as the Hoosiers use it just to keep defenses honest. On top of that, running back Darius Willis is questionable going into the game. The issue is how the Buckeyes account for Ben Chappell and the intermediate passing game. Along the Olentangy
does a great job breaking down Indiana's version of the pistol, and as they highlight, Chappell is great at finding the holes in defenses. 2) Watch to see how the running backs perform. I have been pretty critical of the offensive line in recent weeks, but a simple look back at the game film has totally changed my perspective. After going back and checking out the Illinois game, I realized that the offensive line is not the issue it's the running backs. Now I've criticized the running backs, along with every other halfway intelligent fan out there, but the game film shows how bad this problem really is. Boom and Zoom are simply missing holes and not following their blockers. Boom has done a better job and at least runs the ball with purpose, Saine on the other hand just looks lost right now. He is running the ball timidly, dancing in the backfield, and more times that not completely missing the hole. So keep an eye on the running backs tomorrow and how well they follow their blockers, namely Zach Boren. Also watch to see how Tressel will divvy up the carries between Saine, Herron, and hopefully Hall/Berry. The boys from Bloomington are giving up more than 200 yards a game, and there is no excuse why the Buckeye rushing attack shouldn't get back on track.
Stadium: Memorial Stadium (56,692)
2009 Record: 4-8
2010 Record: 3-1
Head Coach: Bill Lynch (fourth year at IU, 17-24; eighteenth year overall, 98-91-3)
Lettermen Returning: 45 (22 lost)
Returning Starters: Offense - 9; Defense - 4; Specialists - 2
Base Offense: Ace (3 receivers)
Base Defense: 4-3
Returning Stars: QB Ben Chappell, WR Tandon Doss (pictured) & LB Tyler Replogle
Kevin Kline - Oscar winning actor
Dick Enberg - Sportscaster
Hoagy Charmichael - Songwriter
Mark Spitz - Swimmer (won 7 gold medals in '72 Olympics)
Jane Pauley - TV journalist
Jimmy Wales - Co-founder and president of Wickipedia
Steve Alford - NBA player and NCAA coach
Joe Buck - Emmy Award winning sportscaster
Shaun Micheel - PGA golfer
Cheerleading Scouting Report:
With a strong-armed quarterback and a potent offense, the Indiana Hoosiers travel to Columbus with renewed confidence. Taking a page from rival Purdue and ex-coach Joe Tiller, the Crimson and Cream feature "basketball on grass." While last week's game with Illinois was done in less than three hours thanks to a steady diet of running plays from both teams, this game may drag on as IU is prepared to pass more than fifty times.
Most Ohio State fans may be yawning about this matchup, considering IU has been a steady cellar dweller in the Big Ten and hasn't defeated the Buckeyes since 1988, but this isn't your father's Indiana Hooiser team. Led by Ben Chappell, this squad is averaging 362 yards passing per contest, and plans to test a wounded OSU secondary that may want to make sure there is oxygen available on the sideline.
Family Feud is a feature in which Dave and Drew throw around their opinions, which many times are quite the opposite of one another's, on various Buckeye football subjects. This edition takes a look at some of the issues that could be stumbling blocks to the Buckeyes in the coming weeks.
1. How will the injuries impact the secondary as the season progresses?
Dave: No team can lose two starters from their defensive secondary and not feel the effects. Losing Barnett hurt because he was really coming on and was an aggressive player. However, losing Tyler Moeller is a huge blow because he was so versatile and brought such energy to the defense. One can only hope there won't be other injuries as the year progresses. I think our corners are solid, though not quite as good as some anticipated they would be. Jermale Hines is an excellent player whether at safety or star. Like most Buckeye fans I am not sold on Orhian Johnson but hope that he gets more confident each game and starts to react rather than think. Christian Bryant is going to be a good one, but he may take his lumps the next few weeks. Young players like Travis Howard, Corey Brown, Dominic Clarke and Jamie Wood need to come on and be ready to play. However, the wild card may be veteran Nate Oliver. If he can remain healthy I think he can help out at safety or the star. The Indiana game is coming at a good time, because the Bucks need to be tested by a passing team.
Drew: I agree with a lot of what you are saying, but it sounds like you have a bit more optimism that I do. I really think the injuries in the secondary will cost the Buckeyes a game down the stretch. This unit is just not very strong. Chekwa to me is not a No. 1 cornerback. He is very weak jamming guys at the line, and hardly ever turns his head to play the ball. Torrence isn't any better, and really got exposed against EMU when Chekwa went down. Don't get me wrong, both guys are sure tacklers, but they are average in coverage. As for safety, well Jermale Hines is pretty much the only guy of note here. I really wish the Buckeyes had another option back there, because I feel his impact would be much better at the star. Sorry, I just fear Christian Bryant trying to tackle John Clay. And the sad thing is, Bryant at 5-9 178 pounds is the second most physical guy left in the secondary next to Hines. Especially compared to a guy like Orhian Johnson, who is just a ghost and disappears for long stretches of the game. So yes, I have my worries. I think they can salvage enough to get the Buckeyes through most of the schedule, but between Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, don't be surprised if we trip up somewhere.
2. Will Brandon Saine continue to share time at tailback or will he play more slot?
Dave:Jim Tressel's latest press conference did not give me a great deal of hope here. His greatest strength is also his greatest weakness, namely, his loyalty. While Saine is talented and did some good things last year, he is clearly not the best (or even second best) running back on the roster. I would like to see him used as an H-back or even a number three receiver because he is fast and has excellent hands. My guess is that he will still play some running back, but that Herron will continue to get most of the carries. I do hope that the Indiana game is a chance to use Jordan Hall more, and see how he does against a Big Ten defense (even if it is one of the weakest in the conference).
Drew: I think we continue to see him get 5-8 carries a game, along with 3-4 receptions. Unless he gets his confidence back and starts looking like the guy we saw for the last four games last year, I don't expect much more production. Like you, I wish Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry would get some more love, but Tressel seems dead set on Saine playing running back. The sad thing is that this wastes all the athleticism that Saine brings to the table. We don't have a No. 3 receiver that comes close to Saine's speed and playmaking ability, yet we only see Saine get a few designed throws out of the backfield. Maybe I will be proven wrong in the coming weeks, but I just think Tressel may have missed the mark on this one.
Drew Thurman (4:12 pm)
1) Tressel's weekly press conference was early today, and he has some interesting notes on the injury front.
First off he had this to say about Pryor and the status of his quad: "Sunday we did a little bit of drills and weight lifting and all that, so we didn't really test it, per se. Yesterday was our day off and he was in doing his film study and his rehab and all. I would expect every day he'll get closer to 100%. I don't know who's 100% after five games that has as much wear and tear as a guy that has his hands on the ball, but I think he'll be fine."
2) As for Tressel's thoughts on Tyler Moeller..."It's really disappointing because he had the similar injury sometime before his head injury, and then unfortunately during the time he was rehabbing with his head injury, he could not work on anything that would raise his heartbeat and all that, so in essence, he probably spent seven or eight months doing nothing, which did not allow him to rehab, and so he got back and he was giving us 30 plays a game and that type of thing and just caught a guy the wrong way and that not-all-the-way-rehabbed injury just couldn't handle that and you just feel terrible about it. And from his standpoint specifically, we're going to appeal for a hardship, and all that takes time and paperwork and documentation and so forth, but you just feel sick for him because you saw the pain he was in last year not being able to help his teammates and now he was, and now he was having fun. So, yeah, it's very disappointing and obviously it hurts us."
3) Tressel also made a few comments today that make you scratch your head.
My favorite had to do with Brandon Saine's role going forward. Apparently Tressel is seeing a different version of Brandon Saine than we are. "I think his performance has been solid. He's gotten four or five touchdowns, does a good job out of the back field. He hasn't had the running yards. I'm not sure who would have in the situations he just happened to be in, but Brandon Saine adds a dimension of speed and versatility that we have to absolutely use. So have we figured out exactly how to maximize that? Probably not. But that's what you do during the course of a season, you know, who's available, who's healthy, what do they do, how can we -- what's some good match-ups, so I'm sure it will change every week."
His 2.5 average a carry over the last four games is more than just bad situations. Sorry Tressel!
Dave Thurman (8:43 pm)
The boys from Bloomington invade Ohio Stadium this Saturday bringing a high-flying passing attack in hopes of defeating Ohio State for the first time in more than two decades. While the games haven't always been entertaining, and you may not be too excited about this week's opponent, let me remind you that this border rivalry has produced it's fair share of interesting characters and moments.
1. Bob Knight - The "General" was born in Massillon and raised in Orrville, making him a Buckeye by blood, if not by attitude. Of course he played for Fred Taylor at Ohio State, and was on the 1960 National Championship team led by Jerry Lucas. Knight has given props to Coach Taylor at various times through the years, and it is reported that he was also a big Woody fan, who patterned some of his coaching style after Hayes. For thirty years, Knight's Indiana teams clashed with Ohio State and it was always fun to see the Buckeye fans give it to Bobby. It was a love-hate relationship as many of the OSU faithful secretly hoped to lure Knight away from Bloomington. It hasn't been the same since he left the Big Ten in 2000.
2. Lawrence Funderburke - The enigmatic big man who grew up in Columbus and graduated from Werhle High School headed off to Indiana in the fall of 1989 as one of the most ballyhooed players in the nation. Initially Knight and the Hoosiers loved him, but Funderburke couldn't keep his mouth shut, and liked to banter back and forth with the tyrannical coach. The honeymoon didn't last long, and Lawrence decided he wanted to head back home to Columbus. At one point, when Knight didn't wish to release him, he threatened to sue, but eventually Lawrence transferred to Ohio State and enjoyed three productive seasons in scarlet and gray, helping lead the Buckeyes to the Big Ten championship in 1992. Each trip to Bloomington was quite eventful as the Hoosier fans made life miserable for Funderburke who seemed to revel in controversy, and often played his best games against Indiana.
3. 1987 and '88 football games - The IU faithful has not had much to cheer about in this rivalry, as Ohio State has completely dominated to the tune of 66-12-5 all time.. But, for two years in the late 80's, the Hoosiers not only won, they had a major impact on the coaching careers of Earle Bruce and John Cooper.
Dave Thurman (7:41 am)OSU escaped Champaign with a Big Ten Conference road victory but not without a costly injury to Tyler Moeller (pictured) and a big scare concerning Terrelle Pryor, which may impact the game plan against Indiana this Saturday.
Let's look back at the Five Things to Watch For that we posted on Friday, and see how they impacted the game.
We mentioned that the team who wins the rushing battle usually comes out on top in this game. Sure enough Ohio State outgained Illinois 213-119 although the numbers were a little skewed by one long run by Pryor, and the final drive of the game when the Buckeyes featured Boom dive right and Boom dive left. Still, in a physical game that was played in nasty weather the fact is that OSU ran the ball better than the Fighting Illini. Give credit to the Silver Bullets for a solid effort against Illinois' big backs, Leshoure and Ford.
The turnover battle didn't have a major impact on this contest because there wasn't a great discrepancy between the two teams. Ohio State threw two interceptions, one by Pryor and the other by Joe Bauserman (the first two picks by the Illini in 2010). Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, who looked shaky against Missouri, was only picked once, by Jermale Hines. It could be argued that the Bucks would have finished off Illinois earlier if not for the miscues, but in the end the game was not decided by turnovers.
We wondered if DeVier Posey would have a big game, reckoning that with Stoneburner out and Sanzenbacher nursing a dislocated finger, it might be time for DeVier to play like he did against Oregon in the Rose Bowl. No dice. In truth, DeVier had a lousy game, dropping a couple passes and winding up with merely 3 catches for 19 yards. True, Ohio State didn't throw much in a return to Tresselball, but had Posey caught the passes he should have, it would have opened things up earlier in the game and caused a whole lot less popping of Rolaids in the fourth quarter.
Drew Thurman (10:03 pm)"Nothing really felt good today, to be honest, even at the end," Michael Brewster said. "Everybody feels like crap right now. But like I said, we grinded it out at the end."This quote (via The Dispatch) pretty much sums up the Buckeyes 24-13 victory yesterday at Illinois. The optimist in me wants to claim "a win is a win," but yesterday sure felt like a loss. Well, maybe a step backwards. Just read the quotes from players like Brewster, they know that the only real positive from yesterday afternoon was the victory. Not only was Tresselball back in full force, but Pryor came away from the game gimpy and Tyler Moeller may very well be done for the season. Definitely a tough day for the scarlet and gray. We are living in a dream world if we think the Buckeyes aren't ever going to have a bad game or take a few tough blows though. So settle down Buckeye Nation, all the negativity is a little annoying! With that out of my system, let's break yesterday down a little bit.The Positive First...- The Buckeyes found their starting running back in Boom Herron. Now I still want to see Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry get involved when things matter, but it's hard to argue with Boom's 23 carries for 95 yards (4.1 avg) and one touchdown. Especially considering that he did most of that damage in the second half when the Illini were loading up the box. Illinois' strength is their front seven on defense, and Boom held his own without a lot of help from the offensive line. By the way, he also outperformed Mikel Leshoure in case you wondering. What about Brandon Saine? Well, yesterday was the second week in a row with minimal carries for him, as he had eight carries for 14 yards. I would like to see the staff transition him to being the No. 3 wide receiver, since no one has stepped up there. He has great hands and top end speed, and is way too valuable of a weapon to get such little playing time. - The staff also has found a future star in Christian Bryant. Losing Moeller absolutely sucks, as he has been the best player on the defense in 2010, but Bryant stepped up in a huge way yesterday. He had five solo tackles, and just looked hungry to hit people. It's really hard to believe he is true freshman. If Moeller does return by some miracle, I really hope Bryant steps in for Orhian Johnson, who just looks soft to me. There is a reason C.J. Barnett was originally named the starter. - The defense definitely responded in a big way yesterday. After a weak showing against Eastern Michigan and early success for the Illini in the first quarter, they clamped down. The reason Tressel was able to be conservative was because the Illini were struggling to just get first downs. A lot of kudos has to go to the defensive line, who easily had their best showing of the season yesterday afternoon. Nathan Williams was second on the team in tackles with nine, and also recorded 1.5 sacks. What really impressed me about his performance was his ability to help stop the run. So many defensive ends are all about the sack, go guns blazing towards the quarterback, and then leave their teammates out to dry. Williams showcases great ability to come back towards the ball and bring down running backs. Also, Cam Heyward came to play as always. Make no mistake about it, without him this defensive line (and defense) would struggle a lot.
Dave Thurman (9:12 pm)
Check out our Know the Opposition
feature for full information on Illinois. Below we have five things to look for Saurday in Champaign, as the Buckeyes play their Big Ten opener on the road...1) Watch to see who wins the rushing battle.
Most years this rivalry comes down to who rushes for the most yards. Although Ohio State is more two-dimensional than in the past, it is still vital for the Buckeyes to run the ball effectively. Outside of Pryor's scrambles the rushing game hasn't been overly impressive, so this would be a good week for Saine and Herron to get their mojo back. Illinois, on the other hand, is clearly a runnng team and needs a big day on the ground. Can Homan, Rolle, and the rest of the Silver Bullets plug the middle and force Nathan Scheelhaase to try and beat them through the air? That will go along way toward deciding this contest.2) Watch to see who is victorious in the turnover battle.
Illinois is talented enough to win this game if they can play mistake free football and force the Buckeyes into some turnovers. So far Ohio State has been very careful with the pigskin, but that was the case last year, too, until OSU traveled to Purdue. Road games are never easy, especially in conference, and it is essential that Pryor and company make good decisions and hold onto the football.3) Watch to see if DeVier Posey (pictured) can have a big day.
As has been well documented, Jake Stoneburner is not making the trip to Champaign, taking one dangerous weapon away from Pryor's aresnal. In addition, Dane Sanzenbacher apparently injured a finger on Thursday and there is some concern about his effectiveness on Saturday. That means Posey needs to step up big time, which he is more than capable of doing. Of course, Pryor has other targets. All the tailbacks can catch, with Saine being a tremendous reciever. Certainly Fragel, Boren, and the backup wideouts are competent as well, but one gets the feeling that Terrelle will rely on Posey as much as possible.