Across the Web: Sparty Edition

Written September 28th, 2012 by Gary Russell II

This week THE Buckeyes will take on the other team from up North. For this week’s Across the Web we look to our friends at www.enlightenedspartan.com, who also joined us for last year’s chat. ES took some time from his busy schedule to answer our questions on Sparty.

Gholston The Lesser

1. Are MSU Fans excited about William Gholston’s play, or is it more of a “man, I hope he doesn’t kill us with a stupid penalty”?

ES: Gholston is the Spartans’ version of Dirty Harry… he is mean, and with a penchant for taking no prisoners ‘cause he’s THE MAN – but while kicking butt, he’s not thinking about the impact of his actions outside of his own skin. So, we’ll take his two steps forward, knowing we’ll take one step back.

2. What are the odds that MSU drops Notre Dame, following their move to the ACC? Bigger rival- the Irish or the Wolverines?

ES: Part 1, ND: Nil. As expected, the Catholics dropped the Wolvies, because scUM is a far more disinteresting matchup. The Spartans have a much longer history, and more wins in the series, and we’re on the docket for… forever.

Part 2, Rival: Our bigger rival is the Rodents, and that’s tied into our relationship in the Big Ten… speaking of which, the Roadkill was the only Big Ten school to vote against Michigan State joining the conference back in 1949, and we’ve hated that scUM ever since. The ES is permanently irked at having to watch both scUM and the Goddam Catholics get support annually from millions of Trailer Trash who love them yet never even attended college. Read More

The Buckeyes’ Defense Must Answer the Bell

Written September 27th, 2012 by Tim Shoemaker

MSU: For Whom The Bell Toils

On Saturday, Ohio State will do something it has not done yet in the 2012 season–play a game away from Ohio Stadium.

The No. 14 Buckeyes will travel to East Lansing for a date with the No. 20 Michigan State Spartans and if OSU plays like it has in its previous three games, the Buckeyes will be coming back to Columbus with a 4-1 record.

Before the season, when most looked at this game on the schedule, it was more than likely viewed as a defensive struggle. But, the Buckeyes find themselves in unfamiliar territory this season as they rank dead last in the Big Ten in total defense–allowing 394.8 yards per game.

On the other hand, Michigan State’s defense allows just 233.5 yards and 11.8 points per game–both good for No. 1 in the conference. Sparty also has the No. 1 rushing defense in the conference (69.2 ypg).

OSU averages 229.2 yards per game on the ground, so something must give.

If the Buckeyes want a win on Saturday, they must do it with their defense.

Basically, this means 11 sets of eyes must be on Michigan State running back Le’Veon Bell at all times. Bell, the conference’s leading rusher at 152.5 ypg, is a workhorse runner who is often called upon to carry the team.

Those missed tackles we have been seeing by Ohio State cannot happen on Saturday. Not if the Buckeyes want to win. They must hit Bell early and gang tackle him. But they simply cannot miss tackles.

Bell will no doubt have some added motivation, too. A native of Columbus, Bell wasn’t heavily recruited by Ohio State as the Buckeyes landed running backs Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith in the same class. And it is never a good thing when the conference’s best back has any extra motivation.

Last year, the Buckeyes were almost shut out at home by the Spartans. An Evan Spencer touchdown with ten seconds left saved that embarrassment for the Buckeyes, but OSU still fell 10-7.

Under Urban Meyer, though, expect the Buckeyes to put up more than seven points. It’s limiting the Spartans to just ten that will be the main concern.

We know Michigan State’s defense will show up on Saturday. Will Ohio State’s?

If it does not, the Buckeyes will be in for a long trip back to Columbus and Meyer will have experienced his first loss as Ohio State’s head coach.

Wednesday’s Rumble: Now It’s Real

Written September 26th, 2012 by Jason

Battered But Not Defeated

I wonder what it’s like to play the favorite at home four straight weeks against teams you’re expected to not only beat but beat handily? Does that put pressure on a  young football team learning a new system and at some point make them begin to feel confidently complacent yet nervously unsure at the same time?

This is in no way an attempt to make any excuses for the myriad of problems the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes face nor to defuse the complaints being lobbed at them from its die-hard fan base. It’s just a question of mindset and trying to imagine what goes through the head of a 18-20 year old college athlete playing at the most popular university in the country.

B1G a welcome sight?

For the last 5-6 years we’ve had it shoved in our face weekly just how bad the Big Ten has become. Quite honestly, I’m really tired of hearing about it and beginning to not care. If Michigan can’t beat Notre Dame and Nebraska can’t beat an upstart UCLA team in the Rose Bowl and Wisconsin can’t beat anybody, what’s it matter to us? I’ve said it for a few years now and it needs repeated: Just win the games on your schedule and things will fall out how you deserve. Win them all and If you still can’t get in the BCS title game or upcoming playoff, be honest with yourself, look at your schedule and realize it’s likely you didn’t deserve it anyway. Besides, what is Ohio State going to do, leave the conference? But, more on the B1G overall later…

Coming in to this weeks game against Michigan State in East Lansing (ABC 3:30) all the lingering issues from the games with UAB , California and UCF can be put to rest. It’s time to start fresh. It doesn’t mean those problems don’t still exist (tackling, angles, dropping passes etc) it just puts the focus elsewhere. Instead of pounding it in players heads all week about how poor the tackling was, Coach Meyer’s staff can now use it as a tool to sharpen senses and focus on the task at hand: Beating Sparty. As an example: Instead of spending the week repeating the same fundamental issues over and over until they’re blue in the face, Luke Fickell can simply throw in during practice “And if you think you’re going to tackle Le’Veon Bell the way you tackled Joe Schmo from UAB, we might as well not even get on the plane!” Nothing more needs to be said. The message is clear. Get it together or you will fail. Read More

This… Is… Silver Bullet Points

Written September 26th, 2012 by MaliBuckeye

Gotta have the right ammo

If you’re reading this, you’ve survived Bloody Tuesday… don’t you just hate corporate bonding retreats?  Here’s some happy music to get you through the day.

Buckeye 411

  • Seeking Hyde- Tuesday, Coach Meyer indicated that all signs pointed to Carlos Hyde being cleared to play this weekend against Michigan State, but admitted that they’d know more after Tuesday/Wednesday’s practices.  We’ll keep you updated, but I’m excited to see some of the personnel groupings if Carlos can go- Hall at “Flex” back? Multiple TEs?  The mind, it is boggled.
  • Things That Go Bump In The Night- I’m not the only one excited about what weapons abound for the Buckeyes; in Tuesday’s B1G teleconference, Coach Dantonio stated that the weapons and playmakers that Ohio State had frightened him.
  • Getting Defensive- Also in the teleconference, Coach Meyer said that Ohio State’s distinction as the last team in the conference defensively was something that needed to change in a hurry.  If you would have told me in August that OSU would be last in defense at the beginning of conference play and that Wisconsin would be at the bottom offensively, I would have asked you to reevaluate your medicinal regimen.
  • Running Silent-  As they did last year prior to the OSU game, Michigan State’s assistant coaches and players have been declared “off limits” for the media this week. Interestingly, though, this is also the week that Gameday will be on campus, doing pre-game interviews and all that.  You’ve got to wonder, given what Ohio State’s local media experienced this summer, if ESPN has asked the school to give them an “exclusive” of sorts.
  • Saying Goodbye- There’s a great article at NJ.Com about our friend Jason Winrow- well worth the read. Also, the memorial service is Thursday at 4:00 pm in the Fawcett Center on campus.  Additionally, Dom Tiberi reported this evening that a fund has been established in Jason’s honor in order to assist his wife and kids; donations can be made to the Jason Winrow Memorial Fund at any Chase Bank.
  • The Dark Meyer Rises: Tuesday’s “What in the heck just happened?” internet moment that I’ve watched waaay too many times now: Read More

B1G Life, B1G Stage: B1G Review-Week 4

Written September 25th, 2012 by Tim Shoemaker

Yup.

Well, at least it is over.

The embarrassing results to nonconference opponents that is.

Most of the nonconference games for Big Ten teams have been played as we head into week five, and the results were not pretty.

We continued to wait for the Big Ten teams to make a statement together as a conference, and it never came. And now, we may have to wait for bowl season to get another opportunity.

In the marquee game for the conference in week four, Michigan had as many turnovers as it did points. For the second time this season, the Wolverines looked terrible in the national spotlight, falling to Notre Dame 13-6.

Along with Ohio State, both Northwestern and Minnesota also improved to 4-0. The Wildcats easily defeated South Dakota 38-7 and the Gophers knocked off Syracuse 17-10.

Nebraska did what a team should do when playing a cupcake. The Huskers blew out Idaho State, 73-7.

Wisconsin struggled. Again. The Badgers had to fight hard against UTEP–now 1-3 on the year. The Badgers held on to win 37-26.

Penn State won its second consecutive game, defeating Temple 24-13. After losing its first two games of the season, Penn state has rebounded nicely to get to 2-2 on the season, one which will be very difficult for them as a program.

Ohio State’s next opponent, Michigan State, struggled a bit early against Eastern Michigan. Sparty scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, though, to pull away to the 23-7 win.

Then there is Iowa and Illinois. Both teams fell to 2-2 on Saturday with brutal losses. The Hawkeyes lost at home on a game-winning field goal to Central Michigan, 32-31. Illinois was blown out at home…by Louisiana Tech, 52-24. Really, Illinois? Really?

This week’s contest between Michigan State and Ohio State will get national attention. The winner will likely be declared the best team in the conference, but what exactly does that mean? I will have more on the Buckeyes and Spartans in my Thursday column.

Wisconsin will travel to Lincoln to take on Nebraska this week too. Four weeks ago, I was really pumped about this game. But as of today, I am not even sure I am going to watch. Right now I can only take one Big Ten football game a week.

But, I guess there is some good news in all of this. The Big Ten can’t do worse than 6-6 in a week from here on out, right?

Across the Board Criticism of the Buckeyes

Written September 24th, 2012 by Jim

Luke Fickell and the defense have some serious soul searching to do before starting the conference schedule.

Across the board criticism for an undefeated team? only at Ohio State!

I had a long discussion with my friends on Saturday about whether I was being overly critical of this team or not.

I don’t believe so, but the Ohio State faithful have a long and storied history of being scathingly critical of everything short of perfection from the Buckeyes.

I have always been annoyed by Monday (Sunday?) morning quarterbacks that step in and nit pick every little thing the team does.

A fan who is full of negativity (and every Ohio State fan knows plenty of them) is generally right eventually.

A perfect season has happened exactly five times since Ohio State started playing football over 100 years ago; so unbridled optimism doesn’t win very often.

If you were a betting man or woman, betting on negativity to eventually be right would definitely be the smart play.

The worst part, though, is once that bad game does occur, Mr. or Ms. Negativity can come back and say “I told you so!” which is unbelievably obnoxious to me.

So, am I turning into that obnoxiously negative fan by making a list of criticisms of a 4-0 team? Once again, I say no, but I guess that is up to you to decide. Read More

Shots from the Shoe – UAB

Written September 23rd, 2012 by WVaBuckeye

The day started off great getting an opportunity to meet up with Roy Hall again and bringing Gary Russell with me. This time I made sure that we got a picture worth displaying as my Twitter AVI. Big thank you to Roy for humoring us and taking part in O-H-I-O. Gary, Rob, and I have taken opps to get some neat ones and this might be our favorite.

Robby - Roy Hall - myself and Gary Russell

Spent the bigger part of the morning watching videos and talking with some fans and ultimately getting chastised by tBBC’s own Eric for saying the videos were the best part of pregame. He said it was a fail because everyone knows that TBDBITL is the best part of pregame and I recovered nicely by pointing out the videos were the best part before the Alumni version of TBDBITL hit the field. I jokingly said 1,000 strong and it appeared I wasn’t far off.

500 plus of TBDBITL and Alumni

There isn’t a whole lot more that I can say about the days events that hasn’t been said by the experts” but here I go. Each of the first four teams that we have played spent an obvious large amount of time preparing for the Buckeyes. At one point and time I tweeted a pic of the strange defense the Blazers were running.

It appears they were running a wide spread three man front and at times the ends were standing up . They pretty much brought the house each time to try and get the Buckeyes into throwing the ball more. As fate would have it the Buckeyes needed a great drive to go up by two scores and win the game.

Funky three man front D by the Blazers

Not that my opinion is of any great value, but it appears to me that Coach Meyer has kept his offense and defense very vanilla in an attempt to challenge his team even more before the B1G starts. In three straight games now we have seen the team just flip a switch (Braxton) and move right down the field and score. Today they made the one series look very effortless and undefendable.

I for one and pleased with the results thus far and am excited for the start of the conference slate. For a couple weeks I don’t have to worry about getting to bed late from officiating on Friday and getting up at 5 a.m. to get to Columbus. The Buckeyes are on the road against Sparty next week in a 3:30 affair and the following week the Cornhuskers come to town in a nighttime match-up.

Have a great week! Go Bucks!

Buckeyes Less Than Impressive in 29-15 Win Against UAB

Written September 22nd, 2012 by Tim Shoemaker

Ohio State’s defense has serious problems.

The Buckeyes got off to another slow start against an inferior opponent, but Buckeyes’ quarterback Braxton Miller ignited the offense in the second quarter as OSU narrowly defeated UAB 29-15.

Despite falling behind 9-0 in the first quarter, Miller rallied the Buckeyes’ offense with a couple of electric runs, leading to three Buckeye touchdowns scored in a 5:29 span in the second quarter. Ohio State led 21-12 at halftime.

Like the game against Miami, the first quarter was ugly for the Buckeyes. Ben Buchanan’s punt was blocked by about seven UAB defenders and was picked up by Nick Adams for a touchdown to give the Blazers an early 6-0 lead.

Then, trailing 9-0, Miller led the Buckeyes on a 10 play drive in 4:23 which saw Rod Smith find the end zone. It was good to see Smith get a touchdown. He’s a running back that has a lot of talent, but has had problems in his career with ball security.

Miller was the leader on offense for the Buckeyes. He completed 12 of his 20 pass attempts for 123 yards. Miller also carried the ball 11 times for 64 yards and two touchdowns. Jordan Hall chipped in 105 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Despite the win, the story of the game was the inability of the OSU defense to make any sort of plays against a bad UAB team. According to head coach Urban Meyer, missed tackles were a point of emphasis in practice this week, but I honestly couldn’t tell from watching the game. It seemed like UAB players were breaking tackles left and right. Next week against Michigan State, this needs to be cleaned up or OSU is in trouble.

Four players really stood out to me on defense–three of which play of the defensive line. Jonathan Hankins is my defensive player of the game as he recorded nine tackles and blew a bunch of plays up in the backfield. Nathan Williams finally got to start a football game and he was flying all over the field. He had a few missed tackles (but who didn’t), but overall I felt he played a very solid game for the Buckeyes. And John Simon didn’t have a huge statistical impact on the game, but his constant pressure on UAB quarterbacks Austin Brown and Jonathan Perry was felt.

Doran Grant also earned the start at corner for the injured Bradley Roby. His stat line: 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception and 1 sack. Not too bad for the first start of his career.

The Buckeyes still have a lot of work to do. The defense needs serious work and the offense needs to become much more consistent.

But, at the end of the day, the Buckeyes improved to 4-0 and will travel to East Lansing next week for a date with Michigan State.

If the Buckeyes don’t improve in practice this week, though, they could be in for a long afternoon.