Buckeye Monday: The Loss to USC

Big House BobSenior Analyst IISeptember 14, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 12:  Terrelle Pryor #2 and head coach Jim Tressel of the Ohio State Buckeyes look on from the sidelines during their game against the USC Trojans at Ohio Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Buckeyes lose another close one in the Shoe...

I really don’t have an idea about where to start this article.

First, a personal commitment made over a year ago prevented me from watching the first half of the game. By all accounts, I didn’t miss much.

Second, the inevitability of the Trojan’s last scoring drive is still really bothering me.

Third, and lastly, it’s just not much fun trying to come up with meaningful content about a game like that...for a Michigan football blog. But I promised Big House Bob I would do it so here goes...

Watching the second half of the game left me with three distinct thoughts.

No. 1: Terrelle Pryor is nowhere close to being able to run the offense as effectively as I thought he was after week one.

As much as I hate to admit it, Tate Forcier looks far more comfortable running the UM offense after two games than Pryor does after 12. Granted the USC defense was better than Navy’s but plays were there to be made that he simply did not make.

His throwing mechanics and footwork in the pocket are terrible, he still can’t read defenses properly (he had to be the only person in the stadium that didn’t see the corner blitz coming on the first play of the last drive), and he still hasn’t become the vocal leader of the offense.

Imagine what things would have been like if the O-line had not played pretty solidly in the first two games. There are no excuses for his lack of progress in these areas. The solutions are obvious. He’s still the best option we have at QB. The potential is still there.

I’m not typing another thought on this matter for the rest of the year.

No. 2: The defense has reloaded...again.

As hard as it was to watch them give up late scoring drives to Texas last year and again on Saturday, there can be no denying that Coach Heacock is piecing together another dominant defense.

Starting Jermale Hines over Anderson Russell was a great move and helped to keep the USC offense in check for most of the night. Kudos to Brian Rolle (again) and Nathan Williams. Both made several nice plays in the second half.

I want to see more Etienne Sabino instead of Ross Homan and Austin Spittler. Not many defenses can run with Joe McKnight but the image of him juking Homan out of his shoes on the 2nd-and-19 play early in the last drive is still fresh in my mind. I’m excited about watching this unit becoming more dominant as the year progresses.

No. 3: Once again, the coaching staff did not put the team in the best position to win the game.

How many times can Tressel and the rest of the coaches make the same mistakes in big games?

I was blind to this fact in reviewing the Florida and LSU games. We were outplayed and outcoached in both of those games and deserved to lose. Same thing for the USC game last year. However, the teams were evenly matched in close losses to Penn State, Texas, and on Saturday night.

Great coaching (hell…even decent coaching) should have made the difference in those games. Big House Bob suggested last week that Ohio State and Jim Tressel are starting to play/coach like Michigan at the end of the Lloyd Carr era.

I’m not quite there yet...but I see the point he makes and I’m starting to drift in the general direction of that logic. Man...that’s pretty depressing to write. I’m sure there will be more opportunities for this point to be discussed in more detail. I hope I’m wrong.

What’s next?

The Buckeyes travel to Cleveland to play an intrastate game against Toledo. Not even the results of the Toledo—UM game last year gave me reason to worry about this game. However, Toledo is off to a very fast start putting up huge offensive numbers in its first two games.

OSU has rebounded with decent games after other in-season losses. Nothing changes this weekend. We still don’t like the offense; the defense plays great...Buckeyes win 38-17.

Buckeye John


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