Final Word - Indiana: If you are like me then you would just as soon turn the page on the game Saturday night in Bloomington, and move on. Our family was actually there, and enjoyed a great afternoon tailgating under an autumn sky, in a great spot a little south of the stadium. The weather was ideal, we experienced some Hoosier Hospitality and I was pumped for a great game. What I did not expect was for Halloween to come a couple weeks early, and for a bunch of impostors to be dressed in scarlet and gray, pretending to be Silver Bullets. Nor did I anticipate a four-hour long game complete with numerous missed tackles, blown assignments, questionable calls, and the overturning of plays in spite of lack of "indisputable evidence." It was a strange night indeed!
As for post-game awards, Urban made it clear that no defensive players graded out as a champion against the Hoosiers (surprise, surprise). From my seat on the 30-yard-line I noticed a couple of positives on defense: Ryan Shazier did pretty good job in pass coverage, and Noah Spence played with energy and intelligence. Beyond that, it was pretty sad. Of course, on a night when the team scored 52 points (which should have been more like upper 60's or low 70's), there were plenty of "champions". Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, and Jack Mewhort were co-offensive players of the game, and other players who graded out champion on offense were Corey Brown, Jake Stoneburner (nice to see him reappear), Reid Fragel, Corey Linsley and Jeff Heuerman. On special teams, Meyer cited Travis Howard as the player of the week, with Jamal Marcus, Zach Domicone, Bradley Roby and Ben Buchanan also grading out as champions.
Obviously, Urban was not happy with the performance and made that clear in his post-game comments. Then at Monday's press conference he shared his displeasure with the defense, players and coaches. Some other notable comments from the head man:
First, concerning injuries we know that Etienne Sabino is out for at least two more games, and it sounds like Jordan Hall won't be back this Saturday either (and it may be longer, as he is not healing quickly). Freshman "piranha" Najee Murray is out for the year, after suffering a season ending injury to his knee during a freshmen scrimmage. Classmate Armani Reeves is recovering from a sprained ankle and may be available this week, but is questionable.
The news is better for senior Nathan Williams, who missed the Indiana game due to a concussion. Meyer has reported that Williams will be available this week. And although both Travis Howard and Christian Bryant missed a portion of Saturday night's game they did return, and should be good to go this week, despite nursing some bumps and bruises.
Injuries have influenced the two-deep in unexpected ways. Of course, Zach Boren played a great deal of middle linebacker Saturday night, his first action on defense in 3 1/2 years, and wound up with 8 tackles, although his play was not exactly stellar. He may continue to play some linebacker (Meyer called the move "temorarily permanent"), but the big news this week is that the coaching staff is considering playing Nathan Williams at MLB, a position he played in high school Big Nate lined up at linebacker for a couple of plays earlier this year, and with the growth of Noah Spence, the staff is toying with sliding Williams from DE to MLB, at least for portions of the upcoming games. It is definitely something to keep an eye on.
As for Storm Klein, he should continue to get some time at linebacker, although it is clear the staff isn't sold on the senior. And, the guy who started the year in the middle, sophomore Curtis Grant, has completely disppeared in recent games, but both Urban Meyer and Luke Fickell say they haven't given up on him long term. It took Sabino a long time for the light to go on, and possibly that will also be the case with Grant as well.
Bring on the Boilers: Purdue comes to town this Saturday, a team that has beat the Buckeyes two of the last three years. Danny Hope has never struck me as a great coach, but he does have a winning record against Ohio State. However, this year's edition of the Boilermakers is leaking oil as the season moves into the second half. Urban said on Tuesday, at the B1G teleconference, that he sees a good Purdue team on film, though he also mentioned that they have been plagued by missed tackles, as have the Buckeyes. Looking ahead to this weekend Urban also said that the offensive line play has been the biggest area of improvement from OSU, and you have to believe they will look to run the ball at Purdue, since recent opponents have had so much success in that regard. The head coach also mentioned that he would like to get Kenny Guiton into a game without Miller being injured, and said the team is trying to toughen up Devin Smith by hitting him every time he catches the ball. Not sure that will help with his drops, but at least it is a thought.
Coach Hope of Purdue also praised the improvement of the Ohio State offensive line and said that Braxton Miller is a much more complete player than he was a year ago. Bemoaning his team's play the past couple of weeks, Hope said the Boilermakers haven't blocked or tackled and have dropped too many balls. We can only "hope" that trend lasts for at least one more week!
Tidbits: The 49 points OSU allowed Saturday night in Bloomington were the most they have surrendered since 1994, and the most ever given up to Indiana...Bradley Roby's 14 passes defended is tied for most in the nation along with Alabama's Dee Milliner and Rice's Phillip Gaines, and Roby missed a game...OSU is recruiting a JUCO player for the first time in quite awhile. Continuing their search for playmakers, the Buckeyes have offered wide receiver Corey Smith. The 6-foot, 170-pound Smith is originally from Akron Buchtel. After graduating from Buchtel, he played one season at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan, and then headed to East Mississippi Junior College. So far this season, Smith has over 30 catches and 7 touchdowns...One of the pleasant surprises of late has been running back Carlos Hyde who has been a beast agaisnt Nebraska and Indiana. ESPN's Adam Rittenberg had a nice piece on "El Guapo" earlier this week, mentioning the turnaround from a season ago when Carlos tweeted about his lack of playing time, and desire to play elsewhere...Speaking of the boy's at ESPiN, they also took time this week to do a midseason report on every team in the B1G. You can read it right here, but don't expect any surprises or revelations. Their offensive MVP of the first half is Braxton Miller, and defensive MVP is Bradley Roby...Finally, the Plain-Dealer's Doug Lesmerises opines that OSU would rank 7th in the NCAA BCS standings if they were eligible. My guess is the teams in front of them all play a little better defense! Have a great week, and go Bucks!