Two-Man Roundtable: What If Edition

Buckeye CommentarySenior Analyst INovember 1, 2008

1. If you could script the remainder of Ohio State's season, what would it look like?

Poe McNoe: Beat Michigan and win a bowl game. Northwestern isn’t in Ohio State’s league and this isn’t 2004. Illinois is a toss up for me because bad Juice Williams torched us last year and good Juice Williams has been shining this year. Sure, Illinois isn’t a complete team, but they are athletic and dangerous and could very well beat Ohio State (see 2006 and 2007).

Michigan blows. Their fans know it, our fans know it, and even Toledo fans know it. They should have a singular win, over the MAC’s Miami. Let’s face it. Michigan should be able to line up and gain 3.5 yards every down and beat Toledo.

If Ohio State were to lose to Michigan this year, it would be gloom and doom for Ohio State’s 2008 season. Mass casualties all around. Grey skies and we wouldn’t even be able to remember the seniors’ names. I’m not kidding.

Unfortunately, it could happen unless OSU shows offensive life and learns how to stop the spread-lite. Michigan doesn’t have a bad defensive line (thus greater than Ohio State’s offensive line). Our defense played lights out against Penn State, but everyone forgets how to tackle in big games.

Win the bowl. I don’t care which bowl it is. It doesn’t matter. If you win a bowl game, things are already looking up for next year. You could win the Meinike Car Care Bowl and that earns you respect in this day in age.

Not only does it help the team, but it helps the Big Ten. Michigan’s Capital One Bowl victory over a 4 loss Florida team helped. But then again, hope Penn State doesn’t get blown out in the championship.

Massey: Finish 10-2 and beat an SEC team in a bowl game. The traditional part of me wants to see the Buckeyes travel to Pasadena and win the Rose Bowl, but I also have a strong desire to excise the SEC demons. In some ways, my script would be written for this season, but designe for the future.

I would also script the extra practices during bowl preparations to include convincing Beanie to return for his senior season, searching for new coordinators, and learning to run the read-option offense. There is so much for the OSU offense to work on that they need to run two-a-days for all of December.

Finally, I would leave the recruiting exactly as it stands, which is to say no one de-commits.

2. If you could change one thing about the entire OSU program, what would it be?

M: Coordinators is very close to the top of my list, but what I really want is the swagger to return. My favorite player in the last 20 years is David Boston. Why? Because he talked a good game and played a better one.

Sure, he received taunting penalties and was probably using steroids the entire time, but he made Ohio State mean. With the exception of 2006, I cannot think of one Tressel offense the struck fear in an above-average defense.

I really think Pryor can bring that swagger back. Beanie could not do it, partly because he is always getting injured or sick. Even the wide receivers have lacked it with the exception of Holmes.

The defense held onto the swagger for a longer period but it disappeared after 2005. Do you remember the Texas game in 2005? The defense was totally badass. Take away Young’s big first quarter run and he had about 40 yards rushing! The Ohio State defense hit him so hard that the Longhorns called timeout in the fourth quarter to let Young get his wits together. Now, that was a defense.

The Buckeyes looked great against Penn State last week, but Vince was not in blue and white.

PM: Offensive and Defensive Coordinators. There, I said it. I still hate Jim Heacock even though he’s obviously kicked some ass, made some changes, and woke up the defense.

Call it his swan song and maybe it can continue until after the bowl game, but Heacock is still partially responsible for Michigan’s 39 points, Florida’s 41, Illinois’ 28, LSU’s 38, and USC’s 35.

How do you fire a guy that’s had one of the top statistical defenses over the past several years? Very carefully. You go hire someone better.

Offensively, Jim Bollman needs to go. How do you fire a guy that doesn’t even call the plays? Well, Jim Tressel calls the plays and no one would dare touch him with a 40 foot pole. That leaves Bollman. It’s not that you’ve been bad, it’s just that we’re not sure what it is that you do.

The offense is forgettable, the offensive line is amongst the worst in the country, and you only offer up plays that Tressel might call. If you get the sense you are expendable, it’s because you are. Ohio State needs an offensive coordinator that doesn’t necessarily need to have the final say in playcalling, but can make Tressel better.

Jim Tressel loves calling plays. It’s what he does. But someone needs to come in and kick the offense’s ass. Fans (and especially fans with money called boosters) don’t like not scoring offensive touchdowns in big games. Tressel is best in close games. He should have a ‘close game’ clause that allows him to assume play calling duties in 10-9 games.

3. If you were Beanie's personal advisor, what would you tell him?

PM: Take the money and run. Beanie, I wish I could tell you to stay, and maybe you should if a new coordinator comes in. But as it stands with the offense (and the offensive line) and the lucrative rookie contracts that could go away after this year,

Beanie has to cash in and hope he’s ready. It’s all about the money. Sure he’d love to leave Ohio State equal to Archie Griffin, but injuries and poor offensive play have changed that.

Beanie may or may not be ready for the NFL. Adrian Peterson was NFL ready when he left college after an injury. I won’t debate who is better at doing what. Beanie might rumble into the NFL and put up 2000 yards, but he’s going to have to learn to fight harder at the line of scrimmage.

There are a lot of 3.0 YPC backs in the NFL that can’t get through a defensive line or linebackers. When Beanie has holes, he is golden, but he will need to run stronger and harder in the NFL every play, all the time.

But what if Beanie comes back? Beanie was out a few games this year. Then his backup, Boom Herron, was out a few games while Maurice Wells and Brandon Saine cause fans’ hopes to fall through the floor.

If Beanie comes back, it will be those mentioned (minus Mo Wells), Jamaal Berry, Carlos Hyde, and Jordan Hall. I know the term ‘Thunder and Lightning’ will be used for Berry and Hyde, but a backfield with Berry, Terrelle Pryor, and Beanie Wells is a Class 5 Hurricane.

Even Jim Tressel couldn’t stop them. Beanie’s touches might go down, but he production might go up. It’s an interesting proposal.

M: Go pro, young man. This is Pryor’s team and as talented as Wells is he is not built for the shotgun/pony/option offense. It’s the I-formation or bust.

Plus, he is injured far too often to insure that his stock will actually rise during his senior season. He was the top rated running back coming into the season, but I am not sure he still holds that distinction with NFL scouts. He will be one of the top-rated rushers in either the ’09 or ’10 draft so his wisest financial decision is to bolt for the League while the money is still big.

From Ohio State’s perspective, it is hard to argue that they would improve with the loss of Beanie but it may allow the new offensive coordinator to open up the playbook. After all, when you have a player as talented as Wells, you tend to play to his strengths.

Unfortunately, Beanie’s strengths are not completely commensurate with Ohio State’s offensive focus. The 2009 offense now needs to be build around Pryor’s abilities—QB draws, rollout passes, and spread rushing plays—and that will not benefit Beanie’s stats or draft stock.

Herron, Saine, Berry, and Hyde can fill the stat sheet (assuming there is an offensive line) and replicate Beanie’s limited production this season.


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