Bucks Going Frog Giggin'
Back when I was a kid, my dad would go frog gigging. I’m sure there are more than a few out there, who do not know what that is. The easy explanation is it’s hunting for frogs with a smaller, pitchfork-like thing; the frog gig. Well, it’s all fun and games until someone puts the frog gig through one of their toes. I’m not going to mention names here of any relatives, who may have done this. So, let’s just hope the Buckeyes don’t stick themselves in the foot when they go frog giggin’ at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Saturday night, when they take on the Horned Frogs of TCU.
With 354 yards passing and “only” 225 rushing, the Buckeyes were a little less balanced on offense last week against Rutgers than they were the opening game. Part of that had to do with Rutgers playing their safeties closer to the line of scrimmage early in the game. The receivers were able to exploit the man-to-man coverage by the corners and Dwayne Haskins delivered perfect throws. That is the great thing about this offense. There is such an abundance of weapons, if you try to take one thing away, they’ll hurt you with something else. Rutgers wanted to play their safeties up to help in run support, so offensive coordinator Ryan Day went to the air and made them pay. You want balance, but you don’t want to force it. The question this week is what will TCU’s defense give them? Their head coach, Gary Patterson, is known as an outstanding defensive coach and the Horned Frogs were the Big XII’s top defense a year ago. I doubt if he is going to sit back and allow the Buckeyes to pound away at his 4-2-5 defense with J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber. I think Patterson tries to stuff the run and, like Rutgers early in the game, dare Ohio State to throw the ball. This puts a lot of pressure on their cornerbacks, who will, most likely, be in man-to-man coverage. Don’t be surprised to see a good bit of play action passes from the Buckeyes. It could be another big day for the receivers and Haskins.
I thought the offensive line played well, but they’ll have to be better this week. Holding penalties on consecutive series will not be a good thing against a team like TCU. Tackles Thayer Munford and Isaiah Prince are going to be challenged in pass protection by the Preseason Big XII Defensive Player of the Year Ben Banogu (pictured). He’s forced three fumbles on sacks over the last two seasons. Guards Malcolm Pridgeon and Demitrius Knox will be dealing with Corey Bethley, one of the better 3-technique defensive tackles (they line up on the outside shoulder of the guard) in the Big XII and a Freshman all-American last year. Bethley has three sacks this season. TCU’s defensive line is easily the best the Buckeyes have faced so far. But, this mammoth Buckeye offensive line is far and away the best the Horned Frogs defense has faced this season.
Defensive coordinator Greg Schiano was much more pleased after the Rutgers game than he was the week before. A lot of issues were corrected and messages were sent as to what is expected when you are a part of the “Silver Bullets.” Everything with this defense begins with its dominating offensive line. Nick Bosa may be the best player in college football and Chase Young is emerging as a force rushing the passer. Dre’Mont Jones is as good as any defensive tackle in college football and Robert Landers showed last week how disruptive he can be. They’ll go against an offensive line which return just two starters from a year ago, but Schiano says is “very, very good.” Some veteran Horned Frog observers think this is the team’s biggest area of concern, because of how good the Buckeye defensive line is. TCU quarterback Shawn Robinson isn’t the pocket-style quarterback OSU has faced the first two games. He’s big (6’2”, 228 pounds) and a good runner, so the defensive line will have to be disciplined in their pass rush. Schiano said it is going to be a “big challenge” and the Buckeyes are going to “have to hold coverage when he moves in the pocket.” The Buckeyes have used Tate Martell and Jaelen Gill to emulate Robinson in practice this week.
Here are a few other random things about the Buckeyes:
Tate Martell was named as Big Ten Co-Freshman of the Week. He was 10 for 10 passing with a touchdown and rushed for 95 yards and another score against Rutgers.
Schiano said Shaun Wade can be used almost anywhere in the secondary and they continue to explore more ways to get him on the field. He, also, said field safety Isaiah Pryor played well against Rutgers, but will continue his battle with Jahsen Wint for that position. Pryor and Wint rotated against Rutgers. Since Wade had worked some at safety in practice and I’m not convinced Schiano is sold on either Pryor or Wint right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Wade make an appearance at that spot. Urban Meyer is big on getting his best players on the field even if that means making a position change.
Middle linebacker Tuf Borland played 21 snaps against Rutgers. A few more than I expected after seeing the field for just ten the opening week. Schiano said he’s been knocking the rust off, but still gets himself around the ball.
Cornerback Jeffrey Okudah is a Texas native and played against Robinson in high school. He, also, played against Browns defensive end Myles Garrett once in high school as well. He said he blocked him on the punt team once, “That didn’t go too well.”
Demitrius Knox, another Texan, went to high school just minutes from TCU’s campus in Ft.Worth. Linebacker Baron Browning is, also, from Ft.Worth, “I’m just excited to go to Whataburger.”
The Buckeyes’ travel roster should give us a good indication of who, among the true freshman, will redshirt. If you’re not included among the 52 players making to trip to Dallas, you’re probably getting redshirted.
Although Gavin Cupp got virtually all of the reps at left guard with the second team, instead of Brady Taylor, there are no changes to the depth chart.
TCU went 11-3 last year. They lost to Oklahoma twice, one of those in the Big XII championship game. Quarterback Shawn Robinson is 33 of 53 for 336 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception, so far. He’s rushed for 112 yards and 3 touchdowns on just 10 carries. But, his arm tends to be inaccurate. They’ll run the spread option with running backs Darius Anderson (5’11”, 212 pounds) and Sewo Olonilua (6’3”, 231 pounds). Each averages over six yards per carry. Their longest scoring drive is 4:31. None of the others are longer than 2:46. Considering they played Southern and SMU in their first two games, I don’t put a lot of stock in these numbers.
The defense is small, their two linebackers (remember, they run a 4-2-5) are just 206 and 212 pounds a piece. But, as Day pointed out, they are fast and “play with an edge.” He, also, said they are quick to adjust and are used to going against offenses with the tempo the Buckeyes play with. Ty Summers is a two-time All-Big XII linebacker, who has moved to defensive end. The secondary is a veteran group overall. Three members have over twenty starts each. Strong safety Innis Gaines has been their best defensive back, so far this season.
KaVontae Turpin is a dangerous punt returner. He took one back for a touchdown last week against SMU and has four for his career.
What Do I Think?
I think TCU is a good, well-coached football team, but there is one thing that nags at me about them. Against SMU last week, the offense scored just 21 points. The final score was 42-12, but the defense returned two fumbles for touchdowns and they returned a punt for another score. I know the beginning of the game was delayed for two hours because of weather and will accept, to a point, they may have been looking ahead to the Buckeyes. But, if this offense is really THAT good, they should have put up more points against a team that has given up an average of 37 points over their previous 14 games as SMU has.
Defensively I think TCU is very good and will cause some problems early for OSU. But, once adjustments are made and the game settles down, I think that big offensive line of the Buckeyes will eventually wear down the smaller Horned Frog defense. I see Dobbins and Weber taking over as the second half progresses. As good as their defense is, they’ve given up some big plays in each of their first two games. That’s not a good sign for TCU when you’re going against a team with more weapons than both of your first two opponents combined. I look for the Buckeyes to hit a couple of big ones. OSU’s defense can’t let Robinson run all over the place. Make him stay in the pocket and harass him into bad throws. He makes enough on his own, I’m sure pressure will cause even more.
TCU thinks they’re pretty good. It’s put up or shut up time for them. Most of the time in college football, it comes down to who has better players. Ohio State has more talented players and better depth. The Buckeyes should gradually pull away for a comfortable win.
When Last They Met
The last time Ohio State and Texas Christian got together on a football field, the landscape of college football was far different than it is today. The year 1973 was the first time the NCAA placed scholarship limits on football programs. Each school was allowed 105 players on scholarship. Over the years, that number was gradually whittled down to the 85 we have today. There was not a playoff or even a BCS to decide the national championship. The Associated Press (AP) and United Press International (UPI) polls determined who was number one. UPI crowned their champion after the regular season. They did not conduct a poll after the bowl games until 1974. It was not unusual for their champion to lose their bowl game. Speaking of bowls, there were only eleven, instead of the endless string of them we have now.
The Buckeyes were coming off of a Big Ten co-championship with Michigan the previous season. Those two programs dominated the conference throughout the decade of the 70’s. The Buckeyes were pounded by eventual national champion USC in the Rose Bowl, 42-17. In 1973, the Buckeyes didn’t just return a lot of players; they returned a lot of talented players, who were hungry to get back to Pasadena.
Entering the ’73 season, things had not been too bad for TCU. They were 11-10-1 over the past two seasons, while playing in the rugged Southwest Conference. Texas dominated the now defunct league from the late 60’s through the 70’s. After a twelve game stretch, over the 1971 and ’72 seasons, where the Horned Frogs went 9-3, they dropped their last three games of 1972. That was a portent of things to come.
Their 1973 meeting took place on September 29th. It was the second game of the season for both. The Buckeyes hammered Minnesota in their opener, while TCU defeated Texas-Arlington. After a three-and-out by the Horned Frogs on the opening series of the game, if didn’t take long for the Buckeyes to seize control. Archie Griffin broke loose on a 68-yard touchdown run to put OSU up 7-0 early. Fullback Champ Henson, who led the country in scoring in 1972, added another first quarter touchdown, before injuring his knee. Henson was lost for the season with that injury. In the second quarter, quarterback Cornelius Greene added touchdown runs of 72 and 8 yards for the Buckeyes. A Blair Conway field goal gave the Buckeyes a 31-3 lead at the half. Tight end Fred Pagac caught a touchdown pass from backup quarterback Greg Hare in the fourth quarter as Ohio State cruised to a 37-3 win. Griffin ran for 119 yards, Greene for 113 as the team piled up 352 rushing yards. The Buckeye defense held TCU to just 151 total yards.
After dispatching the Horned Frogs, Ohio State took over the top spot in the AP poll and cruised through the remainder of their Big Ten schedule until a 10-10 tie with Michigan. In the Rose Bowl, they gained a measure of revenge by bashing USC 42-21. The defense may have been the school’s best ever. They gave up just 64 points for the entire season, including the Rose Bowl. Offensive tackle John Hicks finished second in the Heisman balloting; still the highest ever by a lineman. Archie Griffin and linebacker Randy Gradishar finished fifth and sixth respectively.
As for TCU, they limped to a 3-8 record and a next-to-last finish in the SWC. They became one of the worst programs in college football over the next few seasons. From 1974 through ’76, they won just two of 31 games and only fifteen over a ten year stretch. The Horned Frogs would have just one winning season in eighteen years.
The video of the game is 27 minutes long. If you don’t have time to watch all of it, please try to watch some. It is a great look at how college football was played in a bygone era and one that I miss. The 70’s are one of my favorite decades for college football.
A few members of the 2014 national champions were in the news this week, but for different reasons. Linebacker Darron Lee had two interceptions for the Jets Monday night against the Lions. He returned one of those for a touchdown. Jacksonville released defensive tackle Michael Bennett. He played in thirteen games as a rookie, but missed all of 2016 and played just one game in 2017 because of injuries. Also, the Bills released defensive lineman Adolphus Washington. This one is a little surprising since he has started 31 games for them over the last two seasons. Washington had 3 ½ sacks and 56 tackles in his Bills’ career.
Defensive tackle Johathan Hankins has been signed by the Raiders. He spent the first four years of his career with the Giants, before moving on to the Colts for 2017. Indianapolis cut him this past spring. Also, DeVier Posey is back in the CFL with the British Columbia Lions, after being cut by the Ravens at the end of training camp.
Last night in Cincinatti, Sam Hubbard had five tackles and a sack in the Bengals win over the Ravens. I’m still laughing about him not being drafted until the third round. The guy is a player. But, unfortunately center Billy Price left the game, in the first half, with an ankle injury. No word yet on his status for next week.
According to Ohio State Sports Information Director Jerry Emig, Ohio State had more players on opening day NFL rosters than any other Big Ten school, with 36. Iowa was a distant second with 26.
Every year there is the eternal argument over which conference plays the weakest non-conference schedules. I even did a blog a while back detailing the scheduling practices of the Power 5 conferences last season. Fans of one conference love to tell anyone who will listen the teams in that particular conference MUST play a weak non-conference schedule because the conference games are just sooooooooooo brutal. Sure guys, you keep on believin’ that.
So, which of the Power 5 conferences have the most icing on their faces from feasting on cupcake teams? The ACC has played 26 non-conference games so far, with twelve of those being against FCS teams. The SEC has played 24 non-conference games, with ten coming against FCS opponents. The other three Power 5 conferences COMBINED have only played twelve FCS schools. While the SEC is a difficult conference to play in, that’s still not an excuse for this kind of scheduling. But, despite what the media wants you to believe, the ACC is vastly overrated and too many teams pad their records with FCS opponents.
Clemson had Texas A&M on the road last week sandwiched in between Furman (FCS) and Georgia Southern, who plays in the Sun Belt conference, the second weakest in college football. But, their head coach, Dabo Swinney, thinks he should be patted on the back for taking on the UNRANKED Aggies. “We could have played Mary Poppins, but we went to College Station and played a team that had more 4- and 5-stars than us…,” said Dabo. He actually said that with a straight face. By the way, just so ya know, Bama announced they scheduled Tennessee-Martin for the 2020 season. The war for cupcake supremacy continues.
Media Meathead Update
If you recall, Jonny Miller, of WBZ radio in Boston, dropped the Buckeyes from fourth to 25th on his AP ballot after they blasted Oregon State. Well, after the backlash and I’m sure some not-so-subtle hints about losing his voting privilege, it seems Jonny has changed his mind. He has the Buckeyes fourth this week.
The Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation put out their “Super 16” poll each week. When I get the email, it not only has the rankings, but it, also, includes how each person voted. Someone actually has Ohio State tenth on their ballot this week. TENTH. They have them BEHIND Penn State, who barely escaped with an overtime win over Appalachian State two weeks ago. I don’t spend much time looking at polls and it is because of people like these two.
The Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey league played their first game Wednesday night since the horrific bus crash that killed sixteen players and coaches in early April. Two of the survivors took the ice for them and the game was carried on NHL Network. I can not imagine what it was like for the people of Humboldt to see their team return to the ice. Canadian “Junior A” teams are as big a part of those communities as high school teams are in the U.S. I know this firsthand because my son spent some time playing Junior A. I, also, think of how many bus trips he made in his four years of juniors.
Horned Frog fans are still hoppin’ mad (get it? frogs? hoppin’?) the Buckeyes were chosen for a playoff spot in 2014 rather than their beloved team. They’re talking a ton of smack on the message boards, from what I hear and think the Buckeyes are nothing more than a fatted calf being led to slaughter. I’m going to enjoy their silence come late Saturday night. Enjoy the game everyone.