Is Jim Tressel the New Lloyd Carr?

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst ISeptember 22, 2008

Tim from Varsity Blue is back for his weekly critique of the Buckeyes. This week he has an interesting take on the Sweatervest. Should we be worried? He thinks so.

What I Saw

Terrelle Pryor's first collegiate start was decent, but not necessarily the earth-shattering change that Buckeye fans were hoping it might bring. He made your standard rookie mistakes, so he can expect to get better over the course of the year.

For the first time this season, he didn't have the luxury of only being put into the game to run schemes that put him in a position to succeed, and he performed as can be expected. A couple of his touchdowns were throws I could make, but he was certainly impressive at other times.

Ohio State generally used the Lloyd Carr gameplan when playing an opponent that has significantly less talent: Keep it vanilla all the way around, even if they manage to keep the game close. Eventually, it came back to bite Carr, and though I think Tressel is a better coach, you have to think that he is heading down a similar path.

What I Didn't See

Much improvement from the Ohio State offensive line: A shakeup in the starting five didn't change much for the Buckeyes. Of course, they didn't give up many sacks, but that had much more to do with the enhanced mobility of Terrelle Pryor over Todd Boeckman than anything else.

The rushing yardage didn't suffer either, but you can account that to the skill of the RBs rather than the OL, and a Troy defense that is traditionally awful against the run.

I didn't see much physical play from the Ohio State defense either. I thought they actually did a better job putting pressure on the QB last week (against a much better line, though that's probably a matter of scheme). I also saw Troy slotbacks dragging four or five Ohio State players for extra yardage on more than a couple occasions.

This would normally not even be worth noting, but considered the Buckeyes specifically got called out by USC for their lack of physical play, you'd think they might want to go out and make a statement in their next game.

Who I Watched

Every game for the rest of the season, "Terrelle Pryor" and "The Offensive Line" are going to be default answers here. However, I also watched Brian Robiskie drop a sure touchdown (of 90-some yards) because he was showing off. When the Big Ten schedule rolls around, he had better get a little more serious.

You'd think Buckeyes would have started focusing and acting a little more businesslike ever since USC took them behind the woodshed.

What I expect to see next week

A game that unfolds almost exactly as the Troy contest did. Minnesota will stick around for the first half or so, but the Buckeyes' superior skill and depth will take over later in the game, and they will cruise to a comfortable victory.

I think we'll see one more week without Beanie Wells (assuming he is able to return at all this year) because the Bucks should be able to take care of Minnesota without him, and they'll want to give him as much rest as possible now that a Heisman campaign for Beanie has no hope.

What this can tell us about The Game

There are a few key notes that Michigan fans should have taken from this game.

1. Terrelle Pryor is likely to be OSU's starter for the remainder of the year. The Wolverines had better get some practice stopping a running quarterback.

2. The Ohio State offensive line's struggles early in the year might speak to an actual problem with the unit, rather than shaking out some early season cobwebs.

I'm not willing to say that Michigan is likely to beat Ohio State this year, but it is starting to seem like Jim Tressel is the new Lloyd Carr: letting clearly overmatched opponents stay in a game much longer than they should be, laying an egg on national TV last week with arguably his most talented team ever.

Of course, some of these problems will be solved with the return of Beanie Wells, but the trajectory isn't favorable for The Senator.