Family Feud: Rose Bowl, Recruiting, and Other Ramblings

David ThurmanCorrespondent IDecember 14, 2009

EUGENE,OR - DECEMBER 03:  Brennan Olander #78 of the Oregon State Beavers tackles Jeff Maehl #23 of the Oregon Ducks during the second quarter of the game at Autzen Stadium on December 3, 2009 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)
Tom Hauck/Getty Images

Family Feud is a feature where Dave and Drew throw their opinions in on various Buckeye football subjects, which many times are quite opposite. This edition takes a look at some of the hot topics in Buckeye Nation including Oregon, 2010 recruiting, and a 12th Big Ten team.

1) After watching the Oregon-Oregon State game, what were your thoughts? Did the Ducks impress you as much as you thought they would?

Dave: Absolutely.  Their offense is downright frightening.  Masoli is the key in my mind, and he is smooth at running the spread option and powerful when he tucks the ball and runs it.  But he can also throw the ball (love his tight end), and doesn't turn it over much.  James is explosive out of the backfield and looks like a threat to take it to the house at any time.  And the return of the potent Blount gives them one more threat.  I don't see any major weaknesses on offense.  I'm not sure how well the line pass blocks, so if Ohio State could get a lead that might be the Achilles heel. 

Obviously the Oregon defense is not nearly as good as the offense.   I think the Bucks can score plenty of points if they attack and hang on to the ball.  I don't think Tresselball will put up enough points against an opponent with such a high quality offense.

Drew: I actually was a lot less impressed than I thought I would be. Don't get be wrong, Oregon can flat score points. With that said, I thought Oregon State looked every bit as good, especially considering they were on the road. I also disagree with the statement about Tresselball, because I think it is a good strategy against the Oregon offense. Sure I think the staff has to open things up some, but getting into a shootout will result in a loss for the Buckeyes (just as it did for Oregon State). They instead need to run the ball in sustaining drives to limit the amount of touches the Oregon offense gets. Not only does this have the potential to frustrate Masoli and company into forcing things, but it also keeps the game lower scoring. Tressel and the staff should not be thinking of how to score with Oregon, rather how to keep the game on their terms.  

2) The matchup everyone wants to watch is Oregon's offense against Ohio State's defense. How do you feel the Buckeye defense will handle the spread?

Drew: The "spread" is such a loose term, especially considering all the different types of spread offenses there are. Oregon will spread the Buckeyes out to actually run first rather than throw first, which is not how most fans typically envision the spread. Stopping that is no easy task, as many of the opposing defenses in the Pac-10 have found out, but I think that helps the Buckeyes. The secondary has shown they can be picked apart at times, so a run first offense is actually good. With all that said, stopping it will be a challenge. Oregon will try to isolate defensive lineman with the spread option, especially the defensive tackles (which is rare, most teams try to iso the ends). That means the Buckeye DTs have to be smart and not over pursue. I think the Buckeyes defensive line will be up for the task though, and will challenge the Ducks in a way they haven't been all year.  

Dave:  Stopping the run is the key, no doubt. I think the Silver Bullets are up to the challenge of slowing down James and Blount, but fear that Masoli may be the wild card.  It is tough to stop a running QB as people have found out with Pryor.  I think it is imperative that OSU plays Hines from the get go.  He, Rolle, and Homan have the speed and pursuit ability necessary to keep Masoli from gouging us.  It would seem advantageous to spy the QB and yet that can open more lanes for the running backs.  If OSU sells out against the run, the defensive backs need to do a good job covering, which I think they are capable of doing, with the exception of Anderson Russell.  Tress may have given him the DB award at the banquet but we all know he can't cover his mother!   One more concern: Dickson is a great TE, and it will be tough to stop the run, cover the wideouts, and still find a way to keep him from coming open in the middle of the field.  This is a huge challenge and forcing turnovers seems crucial!

3) The focus until Jan. 1 is obviously on the recruiting trail for Buckeye fans. Now that Joyner is off the board, how do you honestly see the 2010 class closing out?

Dave: I guess I am a little skeptical at this point.  There have too many times that Ohio State has closed poorly.  Don't get me wrong, Tress and company are great recruiters, but late in the game we seem to lose a lot more than we win.  Everyone expects the two Tarblooders (Bryant and Anderson) to sign which should ease the pain of losing Joyner and Shaw.  Beyond that here are my off the cuff thoughts: James—ND; Hicks—Texas; Hankins—? (Could be OSU but watch Florida...may not qualify anyway); Henderson—? (Wide open but watch out for Kelly and ND).  I do believe we get Shariff Floyd and Verlon Reed. Sure hope it's not a February meltdown!

Drew: Well I think fans have to be realistic. Getting on the message boards sometimes is like watching guys live in a dream world. Anyone who thought the Buckeyes were going to pull in Henderson, Joyner, Floyd, and Hicks had unrealistic expectations. I still think the staff closes this class out well, maybe just not in the way some fans had hoped. Bryant and Anderson would both be huge pickups in the secondary, and I think we get both. Also, Hankins seems to be all about the Buckeyes fresh off of his visit this weekend. Grabbing him along with the chance of getting Floyd would be amazing. Add the possibility of getting guys like Jordan Hicks, Verlon Reed, and Braylon Heard and the 2010 class looks just fine. This class will finish nicely.

4) Barry Alvarez has made the statement that the Big Ten will pursue a 12th team. Are you a fan? Who do think that 12th team needs to be?

Drew: I am huge fan of adding a 12th team. I was so discouraged when Jim Delany acted like he wasn't interested in doing so earlier this year. Not only will it create more buzz for the conference (thanks to a conference championship), but it also will make the BCS bound Big Ten teams more prepared for the battle. As for who the team it should be, I personally think someone like West Virginia or Pittsburgh would be the best options. I know the conference will look for a team in another state (or large market) to try to expand the market of the Big Ten Network, but teams like Syracuse and Rutgers just don't fit the Big Ten mold.   

Dave: I hate to have to agree with you but on this one I do!  I would love to see a conference championship game, although it would take away from some of the mystique of the OSU-Michigan game.  In fact it is possible the bitter rivals could wind up playing each other two games in a row which would be strange.  Personally I like Pittsburgh the most, although West Virginia wouldn't be a bad choice either.  I imagine Cincinnati would like to be considered, but it would be better to get a team with a little more east coast clout in my opinion.  Someone like Pittsburgh could help out in basketball, too.  

5) The big news this week in college football was the Kelly hiring for Notre Dame. ESPN is already promising he is going to turn things around, just as they did with Weis. Are you jumping on the bandwagon?

Dave: To a certain extent I am buying into this one.  I never thought Weis was going to be hugely successful because of his surly personality that turned people off.  Kelly will woo the recruits and is a major threat to invade Ohio and the fence Tressel has built around the state.  He is a fiery competitor that kids want to play hard for.  However, he has not dealt with heavy pressure before and he is moving into the eye of the storm.  Can he handle the heat?  To me that is the biggest question.  He also has to prove that he can build a championship level defense.  But regardless, he will get the Irish back to eight and nine win seasons, and maybe more. 

Drew: I agree that Kelly has to prove he can coach a big time team in the media spotlight. Many good coaches have melted at storied programs because of all that the job encompasses, and Kelly has to show he can handle it. I definitely think Kelly will have the Irish putting up points, but then again so did Weis. So, he has to hire a big time defensive coordinator to really turn things around.

I think Kelly has great potential, but I am not going to just hand Notre Dame 9-10 wins every year now. I know ESPN acted like everything is fixed for the Irish, but if I have learned anything from their last three hires, it is to not jump on the bandwagon early. Especially when the new coach hasn't consistently won on a national stage or in a reliable conference!


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