Keys to Victory: Nebraska

Written October 6th, 2011 by Jim

Do I think the Buckeyes can win on Saturday night? Yes, I always think the Buckeyes can win.

What changes for me is how likely I think that outcome will be. For most games, my level of confidence in a Buckeye victory is very high.

This week… not so much.

The reason for my extreme pessimism centers almost exclusively on offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. His performance last Saturday was the sad culmination of a decade’s worth of built up frustration stemming from his bumbling mismanagement of the offense.

My faith in his ability to put together a coherent, much less effective, game plan was utterly destroyed once and for all, and it is difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel while Jim Bollman is still on the staff.

Regardless of what happens for the rest of the season, getting a new offensive coordinator in 2012 is absolutely essential no matter what the head coaches name ends up being.

I still have faith in the players. The Buckeyes have some of the best talent in the Big Ten.

Unfortunately, when the offensive coordinator calls slow developing pass plays that require five offensive linemen to block seven pass rushers while the QB stands in the pocket waiting for receivers to get open 20 yards down the field over and over again; well, talent can only take you so far.

(And as an aside, let me say that the poor pass protection against the Spartans was NOT the offensive lines fault given that the scenario I outlined above was standard operating procedure throughout the entire game. Everyone railing against the offensive line needs to find another scapegoat for the pass protection problems; his name is Jim Bollman and his play calling put the entire offense in a no-win situation the entire game regardless of the level of individual or group performances.)

If Ohio State continues to squander its talent on offense under Jim Bollman’s leadership, the game against Nebraska and the rest of the season will not be pretty.

Here are my keys to the game. Read More

Offense: Not as hard as Jim Bollman makes it look

Written October 4th, 2011 by Jim

Not as hard as Jim Bollman makes it look.

Here are a list of things that everyone who has played college football on a video game system in the last five years knows about calling plays on offense, but apparently Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman does not.

  • You run the ball to set up the play-action pass. A creative mix of run plays and play-action pass plays keeps the defense off guard. By alternating the focus of the secondary, and especially the linebackers, from the line of scrimmage to their coverage responsibilities, you can keep them off balance and open up running lanes or allow receivers to get open behind the coverage. When you run the ball over and over, the offense is predictable. When you run play-action passes over and over, the entire point of the play is rendered useless as there is no deception or threat of the run involved. Jim Bollman apparently is not aware of either of these things.
  • You pass the ball to set up the draw play. The perfect time to call a draw play is when you are gashing the defense through the air passing the ball. With the defense focused on pass coverage and the defensive line focused on getting to the quarterback for a sack, surprising them with a draw play up the middle catches them off guard and hopefully results in some yardage. At the very least, it keeps the pass rush honest and keeps the linebackers and secondary guessing about whether they should be in coverage or defending the run. Once again, all of this works only if the offense is having success passing the ball and the defenders are worried about their coverage responsibilities. Without an effective passing game, draw plays are beyond useless and even detrimental to the offense. They take time to development and with no pass game to worry about, slow developing run plays are even easier for a defense to stop. Jim Bollman apparently does not know this after running more draw plays than completing passes against Michigan State. Read More

Keys to Victory: Michigan State

Written September 29th, 2011 by Jim

 

Keep on rollin'.

 

The Colorado game might not have been exactly what the doctor ordered for the Buckeyes, but it went a long way in calming the nerves of an anxious Ohio State fan base heading into the Big Ten season… at least a little bit.

The game wasn’t perfect, but you have to admit that you feel better about the rest of the season right now than you did just a few days ago.

That is not to say there won’t be some major challenges coming for the Buckeyes, far from it with Michigan State and Nebraska looming the next two Saturdays.

With Braxton Miller at QB, at least there is the hope of victory in tough games moving forward.

That is the main takeaway from Colorado. Hope.

This team isn’t perfect, not even close, but there is a renewed hope that the Buckeyes can beat the Spartans this weekend with Braxton Miller leading the offense.

Kicking off the Big Ten season right with a victory will set up the return of the suspended starters for the trip to Nebraska nicely, adding to the hope surrounding this young Buckeye squad.

Here are my keys to victory against the Spartans. Read More

Keys to Victory: Colorado

Written September 22nd, 2011 by Jim

Rocky Mountain High

BREAKING NEWS: Coach Luke Fickell has confirmed that freshman Braxton Miller will be the starting QB against Colorado.

After last week’s performance, the main key to victory this week will be coming down with a strong case of amnesia.

Like a star cornerback who gives up a big completion, the Buckeyes need to move on, continue to play at a high level, and eliminate (forget) any uncertainty that may be lingering in their minds and affecting their play.

Moving the team forward will largely fall on Luke Fickell and the senior leadership. If there hasn’t been enough of them already this season, it will be another major hurdle to overcome.

Momentum has not been on Ohio State’s sideline for two straight weeks and another slow start against the Buffalos will be hugely frustrating for fans and players alike.

Nothing will be better for the Buckeye Nation’s collective football soul than starting fast, gaining some momentum, and perhaps most importantly, having some fun again.

The road to recovering starts this week.

Here are my keys to the game. Read More

Thoughts on a forgettable first loss: Miami (FL)

Written September 20th, 2011 by Jim

Raise your hand if you didn’t feel that one coming.

My eternal optimism had me hoping and wishing that the Buckeyes could somehow overcome all of the off-season turmoil this fall, but that house of cards came crashing down on Saturday night with a thud.

The writing was on the wall all along, and it wasn’t even dry from it’s initial application following the 2008 season when this all happened before… or at least most of it.

Prematurely losing nearly all of the top offensive weapons wasn’t a part of the equation in 2008 (Beanie’s injury gets us part way), but nearly everything else lined up in an eerily similar fashion.

Starting QB that struggles in the face of pressure? Check (and as an aside, let me say that Todd Boeckman was a significantly better option at QB than Joe Bauserman).

Barely beating a MAC team the week prior to going on the road for a major out-of-conference challenge? Check.

Thoroughly embarrassed with absolutely no offense to speak of? Yep, that’s how this story ends.

The comparisons between the first three games of this season and 2008 are too obvious to ignore.

So where do we go from here? Read More

Keys to Victory: Miami (FL)

Written September 15th, 2011 by Jim

 

It all starts up front.

The Buckeyes travel to Coral Gables on Saturday for the first planned test of the season.

On the road for the first time, under the lights, against the always talented (but not always disciplined) Hurricanes, the game will certainly be a challenge.

For the Buckeyes to come away with a victory, they will need to improve across the board following their lackluster performance against the Toledo Rockets last weekend.

The good news on that front is the reinstatement of starting RB Jordan Hall, starting CB Travis Howard,  back-up safety Corey Brown, and the return of suspended guard Corey Linsley.

These players will make the Buckeyes better.

The bad news is that starting LEO Nathan Williams will be out again this week, and his absence will continue indefinitely after getting his knee scoped.

Faced with these opportunities and challenges, the Buckeyes look to earn their third victory of the season.

Here are my keys to the game. Read More

Thoughts on a shaky second win: Toledo

Written September 13th, 2011 by Jim

Following a win over Akron that left many giddy with anticipation for the rest of the season, Saturday’s 27-22 victory over Toledo brought expectations crashing back down to earth for Buckeye fans.

Are the Buckeyes the juggernauts we saw in week one? Are they the lackluster group we saw in week two?

How terrible is Akron? How good is Toledo?

The good news is that over the course of a season, a young team like the Buckeyes can improve from one week to the next.

This team may need to improve more than we would like this week, but they are certainly capable of it.

Is the team better than what they showed? Were they looking ahead? Were they overconfident?

And, of course, the question on everyone’s mind, why didn’t Braxton Miller play?

Unfortunately, these questions are impossible to answer after only two games.

It will take the rest of the season to fully sort them out… and even then the debates will rage well into the offseason.

Regardless of the questions, the bottom line is you take the win and move forward.

Hopefully the team learned about themselves, what they need to work on this week, and how they can improve each day.

Here are my expanded thoughts on the game. Read More

Keys to Victory: Toledo

Written September 8th, 2011 by Jim

Keys to victory.

Coming off a solid all-around performance against Akron, Ohio State and its fans have a lot to be optimistic about heading into game two.

The Buckeyes established a solid foundation on offense and defense to build from as they work to get better each week.

Fans and players can be optimistic, but not overconfident.

The Toledo Rockets have upset BCS opponents multiple times in the last ten years and are a favorite to win the MAC conference this season.

They will be a bigger challenge than the Zips.

At the same time, the usual MAC talent gap still exists, although it is not as large this week compared to last.

However, it is still there and the Buckeyes are clearly the better team.

The Rockets also represent a significant shift in offensive philosophy from the Zips; creating a substantially different challenge for the defense to overcome.

Regardless, if the Buckeyes take care of business, they will notch their second win of the season on Saturday- and in convincing fashion.

Follow me after the jump for the “keys to victory” against Toledo. Read More

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