Catching Our Breath
The Buckeyes have the week off, and most certainly need it. But, I think us fans need a break as well. Let’s face it, our favorite college football team has been difficult to watch over their last few games. There were very high expectations for this team, and they haven’t been met lately. That’s frustrating for fans, and I don’t doubt for players and coaches also. So, let’s talk about a few things going on around the program so far this week, and then move on to some other things. I think we all need to catch our breath.
While most of his assistants fanned out across the country on recruiting trips, Urban Meyer kept his coordinators home to work on solutions to the team’s glaring problems. During the Big Ten’s weekly teleconference, Meyer said the three biggest issues for the Buckeyes are not being able to run the ball, red zone offense, and giving up big plays on defense. He spent all day Monday with the offensive and defensive coordinators trying to fix things. He pointed out it is hard to change much schematically during the season because there isn’t a lot of time to make large scale adjustments like that.
After listening to the comments of offensive coordinator Ryan Day, and his defensive counterpart Greg Schiano when they met with the media on Wednesday, I wouldn’t be holding my breath waiting for big changes. Day said the coaches are trying to figure out if the problems in the run game are with the players, execution, or scheme. He said they are planning no personnel changes along the offensive line at this time, and believes that group should be imposing its will on other teams. When asked if that is happening, he said, “We’re evaluating that right now.” Wait….what? I don’t even know what to say to that. Schiano made a statement to top the one by Day when he said the defense is making progress in all areas. I nearly fell over at that one, but he does make a good point when he says there are a lot of zero yardage plays, negative gains, and sacks. He’s very correct, but it is those chunk plays they continually give up that wipes out those very good plays. He went on to say there won’t be any large changes to the scheme, but they are looking at ways to put players in better position to make plays. So, here’s what I’m reading into all of this folks: don’t expect much to change on offense or defense. I’m going to wait until I actually see what, if any, changes are made when they play Nebraska next week. Until then I’ll refrain from commenting too much.
Numerous reports began to surface in the wake of the Purdue loss of friction between Meyer and OSU athletic director Gene Smith. Meyer assured there are no problems, and they work closely almost every day. Another report Meyer addressed has to do with tension among the assistant coaches. He didn’t exactly say that’s not the case, “There are some things that need to be fixed. I wouldn't call it tension. I'd call it day-to-day going to work and working on your weaknesses and getting them fixed. So no, there is no tension. Urgency, I'd call it." I’m going to take this to mean there is a bit of tension among some of the coaches, and I still believe changes will be made after the season if the Buckeyes’ performance doesn’t improve over the final four games of the regular season.
A Big Loss
After foot surgery to repair an injury suffered against Purdue, wide receiver Austin Mack is finished for the regular season. He should be back for the bowl/playoff game, but this is a big blow to the OSU offense. The junior from Fort Wayne, IN has 26 receptions for 331 yards and one touchdown. Mack is the type of receiver every team needs. He’s that strong, physical, possession-type who makes tough catches in traffic to keep the chains moving. Binjimen Victor is Mack’s backup at the X position. He has improved greatly from last year, but there is still a drop off from Mack to him. It’s now time for Victor to live up to the potential and expectations the coaching staff has had for him since he joined the program. He has 14 catches for 236 yards and three touchdowns this season. The question is who will back up Victor? Seldom used Jaylen Harris appears to be next in line. He’s played sparingly this season, and did see some time after Mack left the game Saturday. Ryan Day said Johnnie Dixon or Terry McLaurin could slide over to add some depth at the X if needed.
No updates yet on any of the other injured players, but I didn’t really expect any. I’ll be honest and say Damon Arnette’s status concerns me. We’re over a week away from their next game, so I’m not going to worry too much just yet.
Defensive lineman Malik Barrow has announced his retirement. He tore his ACL last season against UNLV, and missed the remainder of the year. He redshirted his freshman season while rehabbing a torn ACL from his senior year of high school. Barrow’s career at OSU saw him get action in just two games. In announcing his retirement, he also said he is remaining in school to complete his degree.
It amazes me how quickly fans turn on coaches and players. There are people out there calling for Urban Meyer to be fired. Demanding the head of a coach with a record like Meyer’s after one loss, makes you look like a moron. This team has hit a rough stretch this season, and it is frustrating as hell to be blown out two years in a row by an unranked opponent. But, let’s remember they beat Penn State and Michigan last season, won the Big Ten title, and destroyed the Pac 12 champion in a bowl game. Urban Meyer hasn’t all of a sudden lost the ability to coach. If he’s guilty of anything it is stubbornly believing what has worked in the past will work with this group, although it is painfully obvious that is not the case. Sorry, but that’s not a reason to fire the guy.
The Buckeyes’ game with Nebraska will be a noon start and televised by FOX. News came out a few weeks ago that they will be wearing black uniforms for this game.
This crap of pregame altercations has to stop. Miami and Florida State had their annual pregame, midfield yapfest earlier in the season. Michigan created one with Michigan State, and Purdue did the same with Ohio State on Saturday. When the Buckeyes entered the field to warm up, they started to go around the Boilermakers, who were already on the field. Linebacker Cornell Jones made a beeline for the Buckeyes, and was immediately in their faces running his mouth. Jones is from Miami, go figure. This kind of garbage needs to stop before something happens, and gets out of control. Is it time to have officials on the field for pregame? It just might be.
I know we all get tired of listening to fans of other Big Ten teams bring up that one or two times they beat the Buckeyes. But, when you think about it, that’s all they have. The last time Purdue was a national championship contender was the late 60’s. Wins like they got last Saturday, and a bowl win every now and then are all they have to get excited about. Same with Iowa. Yes, they were undefeated entering the Big Ten Championship game a few years ago, but we all knew they were not a serious national championship contender. Buckeye fans have national championships, playoff appearances, and major bowl wins to celebrate. Other schools just plain don’t have much else. Well, Iowa does have the Floyd of Rosedale trophy to play for. Every school should have a bronze pig trophy to covet.
Just Go, Please?
Nick Bosa’s dad, John, spoke out recently against some of the criticism he and his family have been subjected to since he pulled his son out of school, and walked away from the Ohio State football program. In speaking with Sports Illustrated, he said it is ridiculous for people to think the entire family shares in older son Joey’s money. I couldn’t agree more. There are dumb accusations, and then there are dumb accusations that are way up on the dumb scale. That’s one of them.
I still stand by what I said about John being disingenuous in his comments about the decision to have Nick leave the program. What he told SI about Joey being ejected for targeting in the Fiesta Bowl, his last game as a Buckeye, confirm my feelings even more. If you recall, Notre Dame linebacker Jaylon Smith severely injured his knee in that game. He went from what many felt was a sure first round pick to being drafted in the second round (34th overall by the Cowboys). John said when Joey was ejected, he (Joey) was very disappointed. But, not John. Oh no, dad was “110% relieved.” He considered it a blessing Joey got tossed for that ridiculous call. In referring to Smith’s injury he said, “That was a horrible thing for that kid, money he’ll never make up.” John Bosa is about money, and how much his son’s can make. In the time since the decision was made for Nick to leave the program, John has profusely thanked Urban Meyer and defensive line coach Larry Johnson. I’m sure he’s extremely grateful for the way both of his sons developed while with the Buckeyes, because Meyer and Johnson are a big part of why Nick is going to make a ton of money. But, let’s make no mistake here. Ohio State was merely a means to an end for John Bosa, and nothing more. He felt the Buckeyes were going to give his son’s the best opportunity to earn a lot money in the not-to-distant future. When the program was of no more use to him, he couldn’t get Nick away from it fast enough. As I said last week, just go..please. Go count your son’s money because that is what’s most important.
Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Just The Guy With A Calculator
The initial College Football Playoff committee rankings will be released early next week. You’ll hear a ton of speculation, and then a ton of opinions on the top four. So, I got to thinking instead of a committee, how about a standardized rating system? One which takes into account which opponents a team has defeated, and who has that opponent defeated. Under my system you get more consideration for defeating Power 5 teams than those from the MAC or Sun Belt, and you get little credit for a win over FCS opponents. For those familiar with the Harbin system used by the Ohio High School Athletic Association to determine playoff qualifiers, my system is based directly on it. My rankings are not a beauty contest; they're strictly by the numbers. So,here they are:
1. Notre Dame
8. Ohio State
Now, before you start screaming at your computer, keep in mind this is based solely on who these teams have beaten, and who their defeated opponents have beaten. Not surprised Notre Dame is at the top of the list, but I’m a bit surprised Michigan is second. The Buckeyes are eighth largely because Oregon State and Rutgers have just one win each. These will change a great deal over the next month. I don’t plan on updating them each week, but I’ll try to calculate them a few more times by the end of the regular season. If nothing else, this is food for thought and discussion.
The Buckeyes have Saturday off, so I’m taking it off as well. I think we all need a break. I won’t be posting my usual Monday blog. My next one will be on November 2nd when I’ll preview the Buckeyes’ matchup with Nebraska.