Buckeye Commentary Roundtable: Hoosiers

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Buckeye Commentary Roundtable: Hoosiers
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

We are at the quarter pole of the 2009 season, and, while Ohio State is not setting a record pace, the Buckeyes are not far off the lead. We have learned a little, but there is a long way to go.

What are the odds the defense blanks Indiana for their third shutout in a row? Have the Buckeyes ever done that?

Poe McKnoe: They either score points or they don’t, so I’m going 50-50. 

Indiana hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown against Ohio State since 2004.  That’s five years (even though they aren’t on the schedule every year).  They’ve put up three field goals and an interceptions return for a touchdown in 2005 and 2006. 

I, for one, do not respect IU’s offense and expect them to get blown up in the trenches, sending Ben Chappell into a tailspin.  They will probably throw a trick in there, capitalize on a Pryor turnover, or have one good drive and come out with 10 points.

Massey: Not good odds, I imagine. The last time the Buckeyes had three consecutive shutouts was in 1973, when they blanked Northwestern, Illinois, and Michigan State.  

Honestly, I could not care less if they hold the Hoosiers scoreless.  In fact, when Ohio State is involved with accomplishments like that, they only serve as self-perpetuating prophecies for Big Ten haters. 

"The Big Ten totally sucks, bra!  OSU has shut out three straight and we know they suck!  Let’s watch Cincinnati,” resident B10 hater says as he opens another Natty Light.

Despite some big plays against Michigan, Indiana has not been an offensive juggernaut so far.  That was actually the first game in which the Buckeyes amassed 400 or more yards, and their competition has not been stiff.  They will most likely score, but I am not sure I want to predict an offensive touchdown.

 

After four games, which is better: Ohio State’s running or passing game? Has either met your expectations?

P: I’m still waiting for OSU to rush for 200 and pass for 250 each game, per Jim Tressel’s "goals."  The passing game has been better than the rushing game, and that’s scary. 

Terrelle Pryor doesn’t look like a running quarterback and doesn’t look like a passing quarterback, but some unbalanced combo of both.  Hopefully the recent "adaptations" of the offense will help move the ball. 

Posey and Pryor have yet to have a real connections and there's a lot of hands not getting balls.  Boom has been even less effective, rushing for just over three yards per rush.  Now he’s hurt, and Saine looks strong, but the remaining backs are Jordan Hall and Jemil Martin.  Let’s hope the passing game explodes.

M: If either one has impressed someone, they have been watching highlights from 1995.

I think the passing game is closer than the rushing game.  I know that sounds weird considering some of Pryor’s decisions, but he has made some throws that I did not think we would see this season.  

He still does not trust himself all the time, and I do not always think he is put in the best position, but there have been times where I see the potential for a Troy Smith epiphany.  I have yet to see anything from Herron or Saine that makes me excited or that would make a defensive coordinator worry.  

The heavy dose of the read-option looked promising, but I heard Tressel say that was more a reaction to Illinois than an actual game plan (ugh).  I may feel differently if Pryor was allowed to run more than 10 times per game, but he isn’t and he never will be.

 

Now that you have had a chance to watch everyone play, what is the most difficult remaining game on Ohio State’s schedule?

M: Michigan. Seriously.

The Wolverines seem to be the only Big Ten team not afraid to score points.  Their defense looks bad, because it is, but I expect an inspired performance from them on Nov. 21.  

The Game has taken a few years off, but it is going to get back on track sooner rather than later.  Penn State appears to be thin on offense, and another loss before OSU visits would confirm our suspicions.  

Iowa looked good, but you know it will crumble against the Buckeyes.  If the Hawkeyes are undefeated on Nov. 14, I hear the pundits saying “This was the game we were hoping for in 2002!”  No, it’s not.  That team had NFL-caliber players on offense.  

Michigan is the only team that appears capable of coming up with points when it needs them.

P: Iowa.  I’ll buy the hype.  Michigan is No. 2.  Michigan plays two-hand tap on defense but can score on offense.  Iowa beat an overrated Penn State team and now the Big Ten Network has turned on the hype, especially since the Hawkeyes were the only Big Ten team to win a bowl game last year (and an SEC team to boot, woooweee).

Iowa will probably drop its next game, because it is Iowa.  The whole Big Ten is underwhelming, and while the Buckeyes may drop a game, can I say their bowl game?

 

Herron is out against Indiana and Saine will get the start.  Do you think Boom will regain his starting spot?

P: Unless Saine goes all Lydell Ross against IU (check it, Ross’ only good game), I fully expect that the order of things won’t change.  And by order, I mean that they’ll keep splitting carries 45-45 with Jordan Hall taking the rest. 

There’s also no plan to redshirt Jamaal Berry, which means he doesn’t want to be redshirted and wants to be in the NFL Draft in 2011.  It’s a running back by committee, and it’s effective.

M: God, I hope so.  Herron runs to contact.  I don’t care if it is a defender, an Ohio State blocker, or a downs-marker.  He will run directly toward it.  

I simply cannot figure it out.  By any measure, Saine has been the better tailback this season.  He looked far better last week despite Herron’s two scores.  

I don’t have a horse in this race, either.  I just want one of them to step up and play like an Ohio State starting running back.

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