Buckeye Monday: Wisconsin Postgame

Big House BobSenior Analyst IIOctober 12, 2009

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 10:  Brandon Saine #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes tries to elude the tackle attempt of David Gilbert #11 of the Wisconsin Badgers at Ohio Stadium on October 10, 2009 in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Tresselball strikes again…

Saturday’s game against Wisconsin showcased the very essence of Tresselball. I missed large parts of the game again, but what I did see reminded me very much of how the Buckeyes played the game back in 2002.

The defense continues to dominate, special teams shine, and the offense manages to stay out of its own way. It wasn’t the prettiest of wins, but it was enough to put Ohio State on top of the conference standings. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that this is how each game is going to play out for the remainder of the season. It could be worse…

What worked?

As stated above, the defense is nasty. They passed the first true test of the year with flying colors. Matt Millen stated at the beginning of the game that the Wisconsin O-line was the best in the conference. I was a little worried about their ability to control the game with their running attack. My thought was that grinding away the clock would put more pressure on Pryor to make things happen in the short amount of time the Buckeyes would have the ball. All this played out as anticipated as Wisconsin held the ball for a ridiculous 41+ minutes to Ohio State’s 18+. Pryor could not get it done (save for the scoring drive before the end of the first half). The way the game played out after that was a definite departure from the usual script.

Or was it?…

Welcome back, Ray Small. The kid has had his issues, but it sure was nice seeing him slice through the coverage team on his kick return. For the briefest of moments I thought I was watching Ted Ginn Jr.

Ahhh…those were the days. Here’s to solid play from Small for the rest of the year.

Special recognition goes to Ross Homan. He had two sacks, forced a fumble, and was in on 15 tackles. As the lone returning linebacker this year, he has had to deal with higher expectations that, until now, he has been unable to meet.

The vision of him whiffing on a tackle of Joe McKnight during the last drive of the USC game is still pretty vivid.

I’m hoping this game will give him the confidence that he can play at a higher level for the rest of the year. Kurt Coleman also gets special recognition. His pick six in the first quarter changed the momentum in the game. It was nice to have him back after serving a one game suspension.

What STILL doesn’t work?

I should just cut and paste past critiques of Terelle Pryor into my review each week. He still isn’t comfortable as a passer, and I’m not sure he’s interested or capable of leading the offense a la Tim Tebow or Sam Bradford. To be fair, comparing Pryor to those two may be a bit unreasonable. However, as sophomores, one won the Heisman trophy and the other lead the nation in passing efficiency. More importantly, both had established themselves as the unquestioned leader of not only the offense but of the team in general.

On the plus side, I like putting him in the shotgun instead of under center. This approach seems to give him more time to make decisions…not that that always happens.

Rushed throws were followed by bad decisions running the ball. He still has a lot of growing up to do. He did show nice skills on the lone score by the offense before the half. You’d think he could watch the tape of that drive and do a better job of capturing his decision making to speed up his maturation process. It seems so obvious.

What are Buckeye fans missing? He has three more games until the real season starts. My goal is that he shows incremental improvement in each of these games before ending the season with Iowa, Penn State, and Michigan.

The running game also lacked the consistency found in previous games. We’ll definitely need a healthy Boom Herron to complement Brandon Saine in November.

What’s next?

The Buckeyes go on the road to West Lafayette next week to play Purdue. Tressel always gets the team ready for away games. I think Ohio State can tie the conference record for consecutive road wins this weekend. Consider it done. The defense will continue to dominate, and the offense will find a sliver of rhythm against a bad Purdue defense. I have it Ohio State 38 Purdue 10.

Go Bucks!!!

Buckeye John