Each week after re-watching the Ohio State game I bring you my take-aways from the game in a little something I call the Buckeye 12-Pack…
This week I will be doing a season-ending 12 pack, rather than just focusing on the Michigan game.
No. 1- Let’s start by giving some credit where it is due. The offensive gameplan against the Wolverines was great. The Buckeyes went against trends and were very aggressive in the passing game. Braxton Miller attempted 25 passes, completing 14. Both were season highs for the freshman. The volume of throws was a bit unexpected, but perhaps more so were the attempts themselves. Miller didn’t hesitate to stretch the field and swing for the fences a bit.
If Jim Bollman knew this was his last game as Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, he went down swinging. You have to credit him for that. Now, the question many will want to ask is where has this aggressiveness been all season? Fair question, however there are a lot of circumstances playing into OSU’s conservative (if not non-existent) passing game. Having Posey and Corey Brown in the line-up at the same time sure helped.
No. 2- If I’m being honest, I expected this to be somewhat of a blowout. Credit the players for getting the importance of the rivalry and going after it hard. A one score game, with a chance to win it at the end is really the best we should have expected. The Buckeyes were really just a yard away from pulling the game out when you think about it. If Miller’s pass to Posey at the end would have been a yard shorter, I believe he hauls it in and streaks to the end zone.
No. 3- Luke Fickell. He handled himself with class and dignity in a very unstable and impossible environment. Is he ready to be a head coach at the highest level of college football? I don’t think so. But I also would HATE to see him leave the University. I really hope he stays and gets rewarded down the line for being the good soldier in this mess of a season. That reward may be another shot eventually at the job, or maybe just a few more rings for the collection.
No. 4- Which of course brings us to Urban Meyer. There are so many questions and uncertainties with this hire. Is he really ready to jump into the 24/7 nature of coaching again? What about his health issues? Can he still recruit like he did at Florida? Will he take the high road when it comes to NCAA regulations? Have we seen the end of the scandals involving Buckeye players?
What we shouldn’t question is his ability to coach. He is proven. I believe he will assemble the best staff available. (I for one do not believe some of the rumors about his broadcast partners at ESPN joining his staff, namely Herbstreit.)
No. 5- The team. Let’s start with those not returning. Seniors like Mike Brewster, Boom Herron, Devier Posey, Mike Adams, J.B. Shugarts, Andrew Sweat and Tyler Moeller. The class graduates with 3 wins over Michigan, 3 BCS Bowl games and the distinction of being the class that ran Tressel out of town. Some obviously had nothing to do with free tattoos or selling their awards. It is unfortunate that they will have that hanging over them.
It’s also unfortunate that their performances on the field didn’t meet up to expectations this season. Mike Brewster had a rough season snapping the ball. Andrew Sweat, while being the most consistent of the line-backers, was part of the worst unit in some time at OSU. Mike Adams struggled a bit down the stretch, and obviously missed games with his suspension. Tyler Moeller was given an extra year by the NCAA and you would think could have turned that opportunity into something special, but wasn’t that much of a factor in big games. Please don’t get me started on Shugarts.
Herron is going to be a decent third down back in the NFL. That’s the role I think he is best suited for. Posey has a shot in the NFL as well. Neither will go in the first three rounds. Adams and Brewster would have been potential first or second round picks at the beginning of the season. Adams will still be selected by the end of the second. Brewster is a question mark in my mind.
No. 6- Who’s left? What kind of team is Urban Meyer inheriting? Well, it will be one with a solid defensive line. Assuming John Simon stays, he will have Hankins, Simon, Goebel, Bellamy and the best DL recruit in the state of Ohio to work with. He has a returning secondary that will be a year older and hopefully a year better. He will have Jordan Hall, Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith in the backfield. Those will be the strengths.
No. 7- The weaknesses. It has to start with the LB unit. Good night was this group awful (by Buckeye standards) this year. Ryan Shazier was your ray of light at the end of the season. He should start on the outside next year and have a good career. After him? Ugh. Storm Klein returns. Sabino returns. We could possibly see highly touted, but seldom used Curtis Grant (he of the one special teams tackle all season) as well.
The offensive line will get a lot younger next season. Norwell, Hall, Linsley and Mewhort all played this season, but had struggles at times. I’m not sure who will snap the ball next year. The depth chart says Brian Bobeck is next up. This unit may end up to be a decent group, but they will have to learn and grow as the season progresses.
The receiving corps is what I am most concerned about. Jake Stoneburner returns, but unless we have a coordinator that is willing to feature the tight end I’m not sure what good that is. Corey Brown is your best WR. At 5’11″ he isn’t exactly the ideal size for an that X wide-out spot. He would be better suited for the slot. Chris Fields and Devin Smith return. Verlon Reed should be back from injury as well. Of that group, Devin Smith had the most success this season. He caught 4 touchdown passes, including the Wisconsin game winner. The group is the weak link at the moment, but could make the biggest jump as well.
No. 8- The streak is over. Watching Michigan fans pour onto the field after a ranked Michigan team beat a 5 loss OSU team should tell us all we need to know about the importance of the rivalry in Ann Arbor. Congrats UM.
Can you imagine for a moment how bad it would have been if Posey and Miller connected at the end of the game?
No. 9- Sanctions? It seems a bit ridiculous to me that we still don’t know what the NCAA penalties are going to end up being. If I were in charge at OSU, right after announcing the Urban Meyer hire, I would let the world know that the Buckeyes will not be accepting any bowl invites this season. Yes, the team could use the extra practices. Yes, the bowl experience would be beneficial to the young players. No way that it would be worth the circus surrounding Meyer and a lame duck coaching staff.
No. 10- I’m cutting the 12-pack short. Just like this season. It has been one ugly year. The sooner the Buckeyes and their fans can put 2011 behind them the better. It is amazing that as bad as things have gotten, the future still looks bright in Columbus. Meyer will have pressure on him to win, and win quickly. There is no reason to think that they can’t compete for the Big Ten title starting next year. By 2013? I expect the Buckeyes to be in that Big Ten title game.