Breaking Down the Rose Bowl: Oregon and Ohio State's Battle of the Tight Ends

Keith Becker uosportsdude.comCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

Continuing with position breakdowns, today I’ll go over the tight ends. If you missed yesterday’s, click here to read about the wide receivers.

Every fall, stories in Columbus start sprouting about how Jim Tressel will start featuring the tight ends more in the Ohio State offense. It’s blind faith, fanciful optimism.

This matchup is a about as close as any Pac-10 game involving Washington State since 2007, a sprint between LaMichael James and Jim Tressel, or the "I Love My Ducks" video compared to what Oregon State and Iowa pathetically attempted. You get the point.

Although I guess the keyword there is “more.”
It’s like saying you’ll take out the trash but never do it. Passing to the tight end for Ohio State has become the equivalent of a defiant teenager who won’t do his chores.
When their tight ends combined for 11 catches last year—fewer than one reception per game—I guess “more” isn’t necessarily that far out of the question.
And, hey—what do ya know?—the Ohio State media nailed it: The Buckeyes jumped from their total of 11 all the way up to 15.
That’s about as impressive as predicting that the Love Guru or any movie with Larry the Cable Guy would strike out at the box office.
Somebody find their tarot cards!
OK, so the Ohio State offense isn’t exactly built around throwing to the tight ends. But senior Jake Ballard and redshirt freshman Jake Stoneburner (what’s with the Buckeyes having players with the same first name at the same position?) are both talented players.
Ballard is a great leader, a team spokesman, and, more importantly, a terrific blocker—he even won the Jim Parker Award for best Ohio State offensive lineman.
Stoneburner brings a receiver’s athleticism to the position, even if he’s still learning how to block. The former four-star and No. 4 overall tight end recruit has two catches for 30 yards on the season—but I bet they were both dandies.
If the Jakes can adequately pick up the blitz and give Terrelle Pryor enough time to find DeVier Posey or Dane Sanzenbacher, and maybe sneak out for a first down catch or two, they will have done their job.
Gotta love high expectations.
Meanwhile, the Ducks have two legitimate pass-catching tight ends.
Everyone knows about Ed Dickson, but sophomore David Paulson has come out of nowhere to become an excellent complement the two-time All-Pac-10 honoree.
Neither is used much for blocking, as Dickson usually lines up split out like a slot receiver, but why relegate them to blocking duty when they put up a combined 54 catches and 730 yards receiving?
And that’s even more impressive when you factor in that throwing the ball is Masoli’s third option.
But when Masoli focused on finding Dickson, the results were impressive. Against Cal and Washington State, Dickson combined for 251 yards and four touchdowns on 18 catches. Not too shabby.
Dickson provides a matchup nightmare for any team, and even if he has to resort to playing decoy, it allows for James, Masoli, or Jeff Maehl to beat the Buckeyes in other ways.
So let’s see, tOSU has 15 catches for 156 yards and zero touchdowns from the position and the Ducks have, well, a lot more than that.
I’ll take Oregon.

TE: Oregon 8.5, Ohio State 6.
Total: Oregon 33.5, Ohio State 28.

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