Six straight, five titles – party time for Buckeyes – big house style – AP Carlos Osorio
After a few extra special days basking in the sixth straight victory over TSUN and savoring the outright Big Ten Championship it was time to get back to it and blog about the regular season finale with The Game and the upcoming trip to Pasadena. As for this weekend – it did not turn out to be the rout that I (and a lot of the Buckeye Nation) thought it was going to be but that should not be all that surprising. With Tressel content to ride the fumble recovery TD from early in the first quarter and being able to run the ball points just were not going to add up the way they could have. I also have to say that TSUN really showed up and played inspired defense, if it was not for the weenies overall futility at scoring on offense it would have been a much different result. In fact – even though Forcier is undersized – I can see him being a challenge for us in the next couple years. The kid has good football sense and makes plays. If he can figure out that he just needs to quit taking the chances with the ball – it will mean that 21 points may not be enough in years to come. But that is not this year, this year we owned them once again and the O-H-I-O cheer rang out in the primarily scarlet colored Big House as the Buckeye Nation turned a road game into home stands. Pretty sweet.
First and foremost – let’s hear it for the senior class that is the second crop of seniors to only know victory against scUM. The smallest class on the team this year they had to endure what I consider to be one of the stranger tOSU football seasons I can remember with the constant ridicule of the starting QB and relentless attacks on a coach who has shown the Buckeye Nation far more wins than losses. This doesn’t even include what they went through as juniors with the QB controversy and what not. The nineteen of them came through it all and now end up in the Rose Bowl – so you have to be happy for and proud of them. I for one have to say that I will really miss Coleman patrolling the middle of the secondary snatching the ball at will and Denlinger stuffing the middle of the line, I will remember Worthington coming up big against Iowa and TSUN when it counted, I will wonder what it may have looked like for Ballard to see some more balls, I will think back to the two seasons of what could have been for Wilson – hell I will even remember the likes of Cordle, Small, and Russell for a variety of reasons.
Next up I want to give some big love to the offensive line. As the preverbal whipping child over the past couple seasons, albeit the criticism deservedly bestowed upon them, they strung together three dominating performances to end out the season. Considering the shuffling of the starting lineup from suspensions, injuries, flu, and more injuries – it is a good thing to end out the season being able to play the smash mouth game that Tressel loves and grind out 200+ yards against Penn State, Iowa and TSUN. Not too many sacks given up either – I can only remember one from The Game – granted this can be attributed partially to Pryor making better decisions as when to stay in the pocket and take off or throw it away. But nonetheless – Boom and Saine have enjoyed some nice holes and Pryor has stayed upright most of the time. Considering how dysfunctional this unit looked against the likes of Purdue – I am seriously impressed on how they turned it around as a unit. Not impressed enough to give Bollman any credit though. I do have my limits of TSUN euphoria.
Of course what would any blog, article, or discussion about this season be without mentioning Pryor. For the season began with much ballyhoo about how he would explode in an inferno of awesome this season and quickly dissipated into a debate on if he really could even succeed. So how cool was it to see him end up this year with a 10-2 record overall and going 2-0 against TSUN as a starter. So often you have to remind yourself that he still is only a sophomore. His performance in The Game was absolutely less than eye popping spectacular – but he won. The only turnover he committed was off a deflected pass which is nothing more than a football play. He took care of the ball and played within the offense, not forcing anything through the air and making something happen with his legs when he needs to. In other words – he played as Tressel wants a quarterback to play – once he consistently gets the basics down we will start to see more big plays. The two overthrown bombs to Posey will end up completions and was seems to be an inconsistent offense will be wide open again like when Troy steered the boat. One thing about his running though – he seems much more effective when he just goes, instead of juking around – it just doesn’t seem to fit his body type. Also – he could work on his awareness of the field still – I like that he didn’t shy away from contact at times, but a couple times that meant not getting the first down. The goal is not to run over people for the hell of it but instead to get the first down, even if it means running through people.
Similar to the obligatory Pryor speak would be the mentioning of coaching. Ah – where to start. It is the duality of the whole thing which both frustrates and entertains me. Tressel is a great coach, and I love to watch out offensive line dominate the likes of Penn State, Iowa, and TSUN. But damn it makes for some boring shit to watch sometimes. Does it win – you bet. You cannot argue with the philosophy – play strong defense, win field position, stick with low risk power running plays most of the time and take calculated risks toward the sideline through the air and save the deep stuff of your surprise plays. I get it. The only thing that should be questioned is roughly the caliber of opponent that you can dominate with that style. Consider this – in Big Ten play the Buckeyes scored the fewest points against TSUN in 21 – less than any other conference team – sure it is a rivalry game but come on. I have to think that some crossing patterns are open underneath for Sanzenbacher, Ballard or even Small. I mean that screen pass was a thing of beauty even if a student manager called the wrong play and Tressel was trying to get a timeout. It just goes to show what mixing it up can do. It really basically pains me to type the above sentences – after all we did win and are 8-1 against scUM. Having spent most of my formative Buckeye years shackled by Cooper’s futility in the rivalry I am not sure why I am complaining about anything.
So off we go out west. Or I guess in my case the Buckeyes come to me. I cannot be more stoked about the Rose Bowl. At this time given the unpredictability of the Pac 10 this year it is near impossible to guess who we will face. From what I am reading it seems that it will come down to either Oregon or Oregon State as of right now. I have not seen too much from Oregon State this year but I have watched Oregon rack up some serious points on people. Hard to say what will happen against a defense like the Bullets in either case. As usual now the biggest concern for me as it relates to the team is the layoff. I still think we need a bye somewhere in the season to help stretch us past Thanksgiving at least and get us down to a 30ish day layoff – because no matter how useful it would be the Big 10 will not go for a conference championship game. There is no substitute for preparing for a game each week and actual game action. Hopefully the Buckeye team that finished the season doesn’t get any rust on the Silver Bullets – getting a bowl victory would be a mighty nice way to end this season.
Cannot wait for January 1st – GO BUCKS!!
Also special congratulations go out to Coleman, Boren, Homan, Saine, and Heyward for being All Big Ten. Tressel may have won five straight conference titles but still gets the shaft when it comes to the Davey Obrien Coach of the Year award. Pryor got a charity honorable mention- after all you can’t have the pre-season offensive player of the year left completely out.