With half the season in the books and Wisconsin looming this weekend I thought now was the appropriate time for a little Point – Counterpoint. Participating in this evening’s dialogue are the competing voices in my head. For my sanity they always remain nameless, but in this arena let’s call them Jane and Dan.
Jane: Life is sweet. The Buckeyes are 6-0, throttled their major non-conference opponent, and have the No. 1 ranking. This looks like the pole position to me.
Dan: Do you even tip your hat to reality as you go flying past? Eastern Michigan is winless, of course; Ohio is 3-3 with wins over Wofford and (you guessed it) EMU; and, Marshall is 1-5 with it lone win against … wait for it … Ohio! The Buckeyes best win is over a Miami team that looks just good enough to finish in the middle of the pack of another terrible version of the ACC.
Go ahead, take away those two special teams touchdowns, the Buckeyes still had 40-percent of their plays go for no gain or loss against the Hurricanes (31/77). They have not played a decent team all season; instead they have been feasting on patsies at home. Are you sure they are so tough?
J: Who cares if they played some cupcakes? They destroyed those three teams by a collective score of 161-24! What more do you want? They cannot control the schedule. And, at no point in the Miami game was Ohio State truly threatened. I don’t want to hear about the Illinois game, either.
After gaining about 100 yards on their first three drives, Ohio State shut them down for the remainder of the game. You can talk about stats all you want, but if you watched that game you saw exactly how superior Ohio State was and it was nice to watch Pryor orchestrate multiple scoring drives against a talented defense.
D: Let’s talk about those “scoring drives,” otherwise known as field goals. C
ncidentally, inside the 20 is the only distance from which this team can make a FG. You put this team in the redzone and they fall apart. You know why? No running game because the coaches are unwilling to play the best running backs (paging Jordan Hall!).
The passing game has looked light years better but I truly believe they will lose a game this season because they do not have a reliable running game. Did you see Browning get destroyed on the big 4th and 1 play at Illinois? Thankfully, they ran to the other side (and got a generous spot). They just are not physical and blame the zone blocking they mostly employ. It takes the aggressiveness out of the line. It is making them one-dimensional.
J: But you agree that Pryor and the passing game is lighting it up …
D: Against terrible competition.
J: … and the defense is its usual impenetrable self.
D: The defense looks terrific again albeit against the lesser teams we mentioned. I just have one question: where are the quarterback sacks? They are averaging one per game! That is laughable considering their talent. It drives me crazy how rarely they bring blitz pressure. One or two well-times hits on a QB can make a huge difference. Remember how Ken Dorsey was justifiably afraid to drop back for most of the second half? Plus, the secondary has been thinned by injuries. I think blitzes would help those guys out.
J: Do you realize that the defense has only given up a play of more than 30 yards three times this season?! Only UCF has given up fewer. Who needs blitzes with that kind of defense. By contrast, would you believe that OSU has eight rushing plays that have gone for 30 plus yards? That does not sound as pathetic as you contend.
D: How many of those runs are Terrelle’s magic?
J: Does it matter how they gain yards? I don’t think so. Besides, no team can effectively stop Pryor’s runs without giving up players in coverage. The passing game makes this a dicey proposition for opponents. Speaking of which, Sanzenbacher has emerged as the best WR on the team. I really believe that.
D: I agree, he seems to be open about 90-percent of the time. Do you think he can coach special teams, too? Can someone please explain to me why Ohio State lines up in that punt formation? It certainly isn’t because it works. They are one of the worst punt coverage units in the country.
J: Well, the Badgers are nothing special in the return game. I don’t see them punting that much anyway.