How the Dinosaurs Went Extinct
I wrote a piece after the USC loss and decided not to publish it because I thought it was overly critical of a young offense and Jim Tressel.
I wrote a piece after the Wisconsin win and decided not to publish it because I thought you couldn’t judge the offense with what little time they had on the field.
The 26-18 loss at Purdue didn’t open eyes, as much as reaffirm beliefs. The game could have and should have been a blowout for Purdue. Luckily, Purdue was confused initially; they thought they needed trick plays to beat the Buckeyes, before realizing it was easier to dominate in all phases of the game.
So how did we get here? It’s not like the recent offensive struggles are an outlier to the Jim Tressel era. Just two years ago, there was a battle to replace Heisman Trophy winning QB named Troy Smith. Todd Boeckman walked away the winner in part because of his conservative play, in stark contrast to the errant Robbie Schoenhoft and young Antonio Henton. In my mind, I imagine Boeckman, Schoenhoft, and Henton at a watch party together, staring in amazement at the current state of the Ohio State offense and thinking that could be them. It’s hard to say that they are envious of the position. Only Todd Boeckman knew what it was like to play behind the blocking schemes and attempt to execute the plays, and at this point, it’s hard to use him as the scapegoat. Robbie Schoenhoft is thinking that the requirements to lead a Tressel offense must have changed. He was the gunslinger with the big arm and all the potential in the world, but lacked the ability to deliver the ball at, near, or around the intended receiver. I’ll take a page from Tony Gerdeman at the Ozone.net and say:
Troy Smith must have been the best damned quarterback in college football history.
The only logical conclusion I can draw from all this is that Troy Smith was actually a Terminator sent back from the future to protect Ohio State fans from Tresselball. Unfortunately, the Troyminator was defeated by the NCAA’s ‘5 to play 4’ rule.
Jim Tressel is like a kid who can’t swim, continuously jumping of the diving board and thinking that getting rescued by the lifeguard each time is swimming. At some point, you have to ask him why he hates offense…yet insists on calling offensive plays. Ohio State did score an offensive touchdown against Purdue, which is actually an improvement over last year’s meeting, the 16-3 cure for insomnia. You can’t expect Ohio State to figure out the Iron Curtain that is the Purdue defense, or at least I didn’t. It’s bad when you get excited by complete passes and first downs.
Now fans can say Ohio State only loses to teams that play in BCS bowls AND Purdue. Congratulate Purdue fans; their team beat a ranked team for the first time since Joe Tiller started growing his mustache. In the past 3 years, Ohio State has managed to score 18, 16, and 23 points against Purdue defenses that routinely get abused by MAC offenses (Toledo, Central Michigan, NIU). We were privileged enough to see the proficient Buckeye passing attack in action in 2007 and 2009, with Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor throwing for a combined 3 TDs and 5 INTs , respectively (0 TDs and 0INTs recorded in 2008).
One thing I’ve always questioned is how it’s so easy for opposing teams to move the ball against the Ohio State defense, yet the Ohio State offense has such a hard time moving the ball against the opposing defense. Maybe it’s a skewed perception, but opposing QB’s rarely have a hard time finding open receivers/running backs/tight ends in holes in the zone, unless the defensive line is dominating. Part of it rests on the offensive line. Take this example: You have ONE person as offensive coordinator, the offensive line coach, and in charge of offensive line recruiting AND it happens that the offense is bad, the offensive line is bad, and recruits never live up to expectations. I have a suggestion on where to start looking for the root cause of the problems. Duane Long agrees with me. Coach Bollman’s had his responsibilities of coaching offensive tackles reduced and they were performing at an average level (up from plain bad), up until last week against Purdue (triumphant return to plain bad). Mike Brewster took the stand this past summer for his position coach, saying “It’s not Bollman”, but him and the rest of the highly touted ‘Block O’ have done nothing to change the perception.
The defense wasn’t exposed against Purdue. You can’t expose something that’s not hidden. The tenacity of Kurt Coleman is still a plus, even if referees choose to rewrite the rules on Saturdays. It’s been common knowledge that if Ohio State can’t get pressure on the QB, the he’ll play pitch and catch. The Cover 2 defense is really hard to beat when the receivers don’t have time to find holes in the zone and really easy to beat when they do. Purdue found holes all over the field and while Chris Leak, errr, Joey Elliot, has to get some credit, the offensive line should have a parade in their honor through the streets of West Lafayette. In fact, Jim Tressel should offer each Purdue lineman a scholarship (forget Big Ten transfer rules) and a Corvette because they put on a clinic for the OSU offensive line. Think bodyguards trying to keep teenage girls away from the Jonas Brothers. The OSU defensive front that admittedly wreaks havoc on the OSU offensive front in practice wasn’t able to get close enough to Elliot to have him sign his autograph.
I won’t even discuss Doug Worthington’s exact opposite of ‘Holy Buckeye’, the ‘Holy Sh*t, Are You Serious? That’s How the Game Ends?’ In fact, his coaches should thank Worthington for putting the offense out of their misery.
Why so many people are so quick to lump ‘pro-offense’ in with being ‘anti-Tressel’; the two aren’t mutually exclusive. If they are mutually exclusive, then there is an even deeper problem. I’ll go as far as saying that it’s nearly impossible for Tressel to call bad plays if the plays he calls are executed. Therein lies the disconnect. In general, fans couldn’t care less if the Buckeyes were running Dave the entire way down the field as long as the players were having fun and executing as a team. It comes down to offensive coaching and execution. With Ohio State’s system, you have to believe that some combination of Jim Tressel, Jim Bollman, and Darrell Hazell are responsible for what is considered an offense. While I appreciate Hazell’s attempt at resuscitating the offense, it really needs a defibrillator and a priest. The Buckeyes need someone who can get the offense on the same page as to what’s happening in the game, not just in the same library. The risk of bringing in a real offensive coordinator is that the offense has trouble adapting and production goes down, much like Michigan last year. There’s basically zero risk involved for Ohio State. How can the offense get much worse when you consider 3 games in 2008 without an offensive touchdown and what we’ve seen so far this year?
If Billy Mays was still around, there would be a 2 for 1 deal; hire an offensive coordinator, he’ll throw in a real QB coach for FREE! I won’t accept anything less than a proven offensive coordinator, and the sooner the better. But what I will or won’t accept has absolutely zero affect on what occurs inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. So above all else,Go Bucks. Let’s make Minnesota pay.
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