Scarlet Assassins Reloaded: Quarterbacks

Written September 1st, 2011 by Jim

Braxton Miller and Joe Bauserman are listed as co-starters on the Akron depth chart.

It has been reported that Joe Bauserman will be on the field for the first snap on offense (which I predicted in January), but clearly both players will have their chance to drive, drive on down the field with the men of the scarlet and gray (see what I did there?).

On the surface, it appears that neither quarterback separated themselves during practice, but when you look a bit deeper, the “or” listing is a clear indication of who the best quarterback was during camp. Read More

 

Freshmen phenoms Evan Spencer and Devin Smith. The future.

The receivers are one of the least experienced groups on the entire team. The suspension of Devier Posey compounds the issue significantly.

As young and inexperienced as they may be (and let me reiterate, they are), they are also extremely talented- as you would expect from any group at Ohio State.

It may take a few games to work out the kinks, but if the passing attack starts rolling, these players are fully capable of taking over a game.

The good news is that they don’t need to take over games; they only need to take some pressure off the running backs by giving the defense something to worry about.

At this, they should be more than capable, no matter who the quarterback ends up being.

Read More

By way of explanation…

Written October 29th, 2009 by MaliBuckeye

You are aware of my beef with our O Line this year: Lack of focus, particularly on the one thing that they should always be aware of. The snap count.

Ever since the Buckeyes squared off against the Gators in “The Game That We Don’t Talk About”, it seems that we can’t go a match without at least one false start penalty. In some cases, it’s been a drive stopper that has ended up really hurting them on the scoreboard.

In Brandon Castel’s piece on the OZone, we may have some answers, at least to the current incarnations of this madness-

After the (Purdue) game, center Michael Brewster made some interesting comments that may help pinpoint exactly why the Buckeyes had so much trouble moving the ball against a team that came into the game with a 1-5 record.

“They were running some blitzes and I was trying to make some calls but they were expecting the snap count when I popped my head back up.”

By “they,” Brewster was actually not referring to the Purdue defensive line, but to his own teammates on the offensive line. Even with a bipartisan crowd at Ross-Ade Stadium – one that had more Purdue fans in the second half than in the first – it became exceedingly difficult for the other four or five guys up front to know when they were supposed to fire off the ball.

That might not sound like a doomsday scenario to the average sports fan, but it can disrupt an offense in ways few other things can. Whether it means guys jumping early or late, it has the potential to change the course of entire game.

The snap count is designed to be an advantage for the offense, to help players, especially offensive linemen, get a split-second jump on the defender.

Instead, it worked the opposite way against Purdue.

Interesting. But, just when I thought they had identified the issue and were able to address it, we read this:

“It was a big issue. We didn’t know when Mike was snapping the ball or when he was making calls. A couple guys on the line would be late, including myself,” tight end Jake Ballard said.

Late. Not early (as in “false start”). Late.

Oh well, back to the drawing board.

5 reasons Ohio State will beat USC

Written September 10th, 2009 by Jim

#5 USC’s new defense.

Taylor Mays is a beast, but who else is going to step up defense for the Trojans?

Taylor Mays is a beast, but who else is going to step up on defense for the Trojans?

I don’t know if anyone has noticed this amidst the gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair in the aftermath of the Navy game, but USC only has three returning starters on defense this year.

This isn’t the same defense that throttled the Buckeyes last year.

I am not saying that USC can’t be good, or even great, on defense this year, but there will be a lot of new faces, and they will be playing in a high pressure environment on the road (some for the first time) in the second game of the year, and they will be trying to tackle Terrelle Pryor.

USC recruits better than anyone in the country, so you know that all of the new faces are going to be good, and they do have quite a few players who have started some games, but you can’t teach athletes to handle the immense levels of pressure that they are going to face in this game.

This defense has not proven itself in the type of environment or under the pressure that they are going to see on Saturday night and that is a good thing for Ohio State.

#4 Matt Barkley is a true freshman.

I don’t care how good this kid is, if Ohio State pressures him he will make mistakes.

*begin scene*

you break the huddle, run up to the line and get under center, it is 3rd and long, the crowd is so loud you can’t hear yourself think, your ears are ringing and your shoulder is still stiff from the hit you took from Thaddeus Gibson on the last play (a screen pass which Brian Rolle blew up for a two yard loss), you scan the line, is the middle linebacker showing blitz? are the corners in press coverage or zone? oh god, Gibson knows we are passing, here he comes again *oh wait* I am supposed to be reading the coverage right now, shit, are they showing man coverage? wait, they are dropping back, this must be zone, am I supposed to call an audible when that happens? damnit, I wish this crowd would quiet down, jesus, my receivers can’t hear the audible anyway even if I did call one…oh well… HIKE!

*end scene*

Yeah, welcome to The Shoe Matt Barkley, I think you will find it a little tougher than running up a ramp, ass.

#3 The Shoe

Welcome to The Shoe (at night).

Welcome to The Shoe (at night).

The Shoe can be a pretty intimidating place (see my awesome reenactment above and the pretty photo). It is one of the top 5 most intimidating atmospheres in college football and if the crowd is fired up and into the game, the home field advantage that is experienced by Ohio State is going to be huge.

#2 Terrelle Pryor

*shimmer* *shimmer*

*shimmer* *shimmer*

Last year, Terrelle Pryor was thrown into the fire and he performed remarkably well for a true freshman. What makes Pryor’s performance last year even more remarkable is the fact that he did it in an offense that had practiced for the entire offseason (not to mention the entire 2007 season) handing the ball off to Beanie Wells.

A lot of people have criticized Jim Bollman and Jim Tressel for a lack of creativity on offense. Well, when you have Beanie in the backfield (not to mention Todd Boeckman at QB) who can blame them for pounding the ball between the tackles.

This year, the handcuffs come off. It may seem like a long time ago, but if you will recall the 2006 offense was quite dynamic. Bollman and Tressel can get creative if they have the right personnel. If Terrelle Pryor isn’t the right personnel for some creativity on offense I don’t know what is.

So, with an entire offseason to mold the offense to take advantage of Terrelle Pryor’s skill set (last year it was a work in progress/hybrid between taking advantage of Beanie and Pryor the entire year, which partially explains the lack of production in my opinion) I expect some creativity a la 2006 and a much more dynamic offense this season.

Think about how much defenses struggled to stop Pryor last year in an offense designed for Todd Boeckman and Beanie. Think about an off season of work molding the offense for Pryor. Think about Pryor’s improvement as a passer. Smile.

#1  USC struggles on the road.

You read that  right (gasp!), USC struggles at something. In fact, I went back and looked at USC’s road games over the last two years and found some interesting results.

Behold the mighty Reser Stadium.

Behold the mighty Reser Stadium.

In 2008 USC lost on the road (at night) against a 9-4 Oregon State team in front of 46,000 fans. They also won a close game (17-10) on the road against an 8-5 Arizona team in front of a whopping 56,000 fans.

The rest of their road games last year were against 5-7 Virginia, 2-11 Washington State, 5-7 Stanford, and 4-8 UCLA. If you see any challenges in there let me know.

In 2007 USC lost on the road to a 9-4 Oregon team at Autzen Stadium. While Auzten is known to be one of the louder venues in college football, it still only holds 54,000 fans.

They had trouble with a 4-9 Washington team (you know, that awful team that we took so much heat for having the audacity to schedule) pulling out the close victory 27-24 at Washington in front of a crowd of 72,500.  

They also struggled to put away a 7-6 California team on the road in front of 76,000 fans, eventually pulling out the victory 24-17.

The rest of their road games in 2007 were against 5-7 Nebraska, 3-9 Notre Dame (haha), and a 10-3 Arizona State team that they beat 44-24 (wow, that seems like it might be a quality road win!).

So, uhhh, notice a pattern here.

First of all, they haven’t played in front of nearly as many people or experienced nearly the crowd noise that they will on Saturday (see #3).

Second of all, USC has clearly struggled on the road over the past two seasons. Combine that with #5 and # 4 and you will have to excuse me, but can someone please remind me why we are the underdogs again?

I don’t know what is getting into me, but as this game approaches I am starting to feel pretty damn confident.

GO BUCKS!

Diaries from the Trenches: Offense

Written August 20th, 2009 by Jim

After thinking it over for a bit, I have decided to break down the interior offensive line (the guards and center) next in what is becoming an ongoing series of posts for me. I truly believe that improved play along the entire offensive line (in particular at tackle, as I mentioned in my last post) is one of the top three things to look for as an indicator of how the 2009 season will go.

As a brief side bar here, I think the top three indicators of how the season will go are: play along the offensive line, play along the defensive line (games are won in the trenches and all of that) and Pryor’s progression as a passer. If the Buckeyes can improve in these three areas I expect big things. But anyways…

Where improved play at the tackle position is still somewhat of a question mark, I think it is pretty safe to say that play along the interior of the offensive line will be improved from last year. The reasons I think this will become pretty clear as I go through the two deep, but first I would like to talk about Jim Bollman for a little bit.

Just kidding, here’s the two deep.

C

It all starts in the middle. If that isn’t a saying for the offensive line I am making it one now. Ohio State has had a remarkable steak of tremendous play at center, from LeCharles Bentley (consensus All-American, Rimington Award winner in 2001)  to Nick Mangold (All-American and Rimington Award finalist in 2005) to Doug Datish (Rimington Award finalist in 2006), the Buckeyes have consistently had one of the best players in the country snapping the ball.

Looking to continue the tradition of excellence is true Sophomore Mike Brewster (#50).

The future of the line.

The future of the line.

Brewster took over at center last year as a true freshman when the line was reshuffled following an injury to starting LG Steve Rehring. After breaking into the starting lineup, Brewster never looked back, ultimately starting in 10 games and earning first team freshman All-American honors from several publications.

While Brewster performed admirably as a true freshman starter, he admits that he relied heavily on his athleticism and made quite a few mistakes last year. With almost an entire year of experience under his belt and a better understanding of the playbook and audibles, considerable improvement from Brewster in year two is not hard to imagine. I am not sure if you can call Brewster an improvement over Jim Cordle (Cordle started at center in 2007 and the beginning of last year) at this point, however. Brewster certainly has a higher ceiling and has the potential to be better than Cordle, and I think that potential is ultimately why Brewster is staying at center and Cordle is being moved around.

The master and the apprentice.

The master and the apprentice.

Another factor to consider if you are still wondering why Brewster is replacing a returning starter at center is the leadership role that the center plays along the offensive line. The center is responsible for calling the audibles for the entire line and is the natural leader along the line. Brewster has a knack for leadership that has been on display even before he put on a scarlet and gray uniform. The much heralded class of 2008 (possibly Tressel’s best recruiting class to date) was spearheaded by Brewster committing early and personally contacting and befriending many of the top players in the country that would eventually become Buckeyes (Terrelle Pryor was one of them). For this reason, some people affectionately refer to the 2008 class as the “Brew Crew”. Recruiting stories aside, the point is, Brewster is a leader and has an established chemistry with the starting QB as well as several of the other players looking to start along the line this year (namely, Adams and Shugarts).

Given his obvious physical abilities as well as his natural gift of leadership, Michael Brewster looks to be the perfect anchor for an improved offensive line in 2009.

Providing depth at center is fifth year senior Andrew Moses (#66), who brings solid experience at the very least. Also providing depth is Jim Cordle (#64) who is a pretty obvious choice to move back to center if the need arises.

LG

Gone is long time starter at LG Steve Rehring (31 career starts), and that may not be such a bad thing. While no one will ever say that Rehring wasn’t a bruiser (he checked in at 6’8″ and 335 lbs. at least) his conditioning was always an issue and injuries limited his affectiveness for most of last year. For these reasons, improvement at LG is a strong possibility, especially given who the replacement is.

That replacement goes by the name Justin Boren (#65).

If Justin Boren smiles and angel loses its wings.

If Justin Boren smiles an angel loses its wings.

Even though Boren suffered a knee injury last week and will miss some practice time, he is expected back in plenty of time for the first game, and when healthy, he is still the unquestioned starter at LG. Boren has probably recieved the second most pubilcity this offseason behind only Terrelle Pryor. The reason for this is twofold. First, the whole transferring from TSUN issue (have you seen this? have you heard about this?) which I won’t go over here. The second reason is that from all accounts Boren has been absolutely tearing it up during practice and has recieved rave reviews from just about everyone on the team.

While this may surprise our friends up north, who reasoned that Boren transfered due to laziness and an inability to handle the new super intense workouts (you know, the ones that produced a 3-9 season) of the Rodriquez regime, it now appears that a side effect of consuming too many sour grapes is an inability to recognize talent (obligatory swipe status: complete).

What many (including myself) are most excited about Boren is that he brings an intensity and nastiness (if there is a picture of him smiling, I have yet to find it) to the line that has seemingly been lacking for some time now. In the fall media guide, Boren claims that if he had a superpower, it would be to knock down walls. While I am not sure if that is actually a super power or not, here’s hoping that Boren knocks down any defender that gets in his way this year.

Providing depth at LG is redshirt junior Connor Smith (#77).

Guess which one is the offensive lineman (and pretend like I didnt already tell you his #).

Guess which one is the offensive lineman (and pretend like I didn't already tell you his #).

Smith was a five star recruit out of high school and billed as one of the top lineman in the midwest. To say that he has failed to live up to expectations would be a bit of an understatement. He has earned letters in each of the past two years (2007, 2008) after redshirting in 2006, so he does have game day experience.

It is my personal opinion that Smith lacks the killer instinct needed to excel along the line in college (by all accounts he is a nice guy, which is great anywhere outside of the gridiron), so hopefully Boren can inspire Smith to play with a bit of nastiness so that he can finally live up to the lofty expectations that accompanied him when he came to Ohio State.

RG

Gone is Ben Person, a two year starter at RG (22 career starts) who was consistantly unspectacular and is perhaps best remembered for his habit of jumping offsides. So once again, improvement here should not be too hard to accomplish.

Leading the charge to improve the play at RG is redshirt junior Bryant Browning (#70).

Bryant Browning

Bryant Browning

You may remember Browning from his time at RT last year, where he started in all 13 games. Browning is described in the media guide as a ‘powerful run blocker’ but as last year made pretty clear, pass blocking is an area that needs improvement. Fortunately for Browning, the fans, and Pryor, pass blocking from the guard position is not nearly as difficult as pass blocking on the edge as a tackle (you don’t have to look much further than this fact to understand why Browning was moved over).

I look for Browning to benefit greatly from his move inside and to utilize his just-a-touch-too-slow-for-the-edge speed to become a very affective pulling guard. With the pass blocking problems minimized on the inside, I expect Browning to be a moderate to significant improvement at RG.

Providing depth at RG is (according the the media guide depth chart) redshirt junior Evan Blankenship (#68) who’s career thus far has been unremarkable to the extent that I can’t really say anything about him. He is a good singer though, so that has to count for something, right?

Also looking to get in the mix and provide depth at guard are several incoming freshman that I have previously covered in my tackle breakdown. Jack Mewhort is actually listed at guard on the media guide depth chart which I attribute mostly to the fact that he enrolled early for spring practice. I also expect Marcus Hall to get a look at one or both of the guard positions.

That wraps it up for my look at the interior offensive line. Like I said up top, I think the play at guard will be improved from a year ago, and the play at center will almost certainly be better than last year as well (better than 2007 is still up in the air) given that Brewster will get better in his second year as the starter.

While tackle is an area of the offensive line that has me slightly nervous going into the year, the interior line is an area that I am fairly certain will be a strength (at the very least it will be improved over last year). I will be looking with anticipation for the line to flatten defenders rather than just getting in their way.

Spirit of the pankake block, I call upon thee.

Spirit of the pancake block, I call upon thee.

Big Ten rankings, four weeks in

Written September 27th, 2006 by Jeff

Personally, I LOVE looking over statistics, doing a little analyzing, and seeing what comes as a pleasant surprise. Since I’ve had a little extra time this week, I looked over the Big Ten rankings and found a few facts about where the Buckeyes stand through 4 games against the rest of the conference.

Things that WON’T surprise you;
- Ohio State is ranked #1 in passing efficency
- Ohio State is ranked #2 in passing offense
- Ohio State is ranked #2 in net punting
- Ohio State is ranked #1 in scoring defense

Things that WILL surprise you;
- Ohio State is ranked 10th in rushing offense
- Ohio State is ranked 5th in scoring offense
- Ohio State is ranked 6th in both punt/kick returns

The punt returns and kick returns will get better. But that had better start happening soon, because we need that stage of the game to be a force. The scoring offense will go up, because we will continue to grab 32+ points per game, while teams who have feasted on lesser opponents will have a hard time keeping pace in the B10.

Most everybody expected our offense to be in high gear throughout 2006, and it has so far….but 10th in the Big Ten in rushing offense? I know it’s not Pittman’s fault, because he is the 11th-ranked rusher in the NCAA.

So where do I place the fault at having such a low Big Ten ranking in the ground game???

Jim Tressel.

Jimmy, please….LET TROY USE HIS FEET! I’m hoping that you have been saving such a weapon while we fine-tune the rest of the game, and that you’ll open it up against Iowa. Iowa’s got a weak front-four on defense and it should get softened up by Pittman, leaving the option play wide open in the second half. And I know that Tress has been pushing Troy to stay with his passing game. But we are a MUCH bigger threat when teams don’t know whether or not he’ll take off or pass. ask Michigan or Notre Dame. But right now, they KNOW he’s only looking to run. Confuse them. Make them play on their heels. Now is the time.

Please?

But if you don’t heed my advice, I’ll understand. After all, between me and Jim Tressel, only one of us averages 10 wins a season and has a National Championship ring for each day of the work week.