The Braxton Miller Show
Image source: Ohio State Football Facebook page
That pretty much describes the Ohio State Buckeyes so far in 2012.
The special teams have been terrible. Last week they gave up a punt return for a touchdown. This week it was a pathetic blocked punt.
The defense has been disappointing. They’ve had their moments, and the unit has real potential, but we don’t see a dominating unit, at least not yet.
Meanwhile, on offense, the Buckeyes can’t seem to get much going until Miller start cutting a spinning his way to some incredible runs. His passing has improved, so now he’s a legitimate dual threat quarterback, but he excels when he’s running with the ball.
He doesn’t have quite the speed of a Denard Robinson, and he isn’t quite as strong as Terrelle Pryor, but as a runner Miller is just as good as both of them. He has the natural moves and cutting ability of an elite running back as he seems to effortlessly cut through defenses.
We’ll see if this Ohio State team can get better as they work their way through a mediocre Big Ten schedule, but so far they’re being carried by Braxton Miller.
Do the Buckeyes have a chance against Nebraska?
This one could get ugly. The Ohio State offense is so anemic right now that everyone around the country seems to think this game is over before it gets started.
One key will involve the Buckeye defense. This unit has been pretty strong all season. They will have to keep it up this week and probably force some turnovers. Nebraska has it’s own problems with interceptions, so we might see the defense carry the load this week.
On offense, the Buckeyes just need to be competent, and that hasn’t been the case against good teams. Luke Fickell and Jim Bollman need to understand that they don’t have Troy Smith or Terrelle Pryor running this offense. They either need to go with other quarterbacks, or they need to craft a game plan that makes sense for Braxton Miller. They need to wake up.
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Tags: Braxton Miller, Braxton Miller Buckeyes, Braxton Miller development, Braxton Miller growing pains, Braxton Miller Ohio State, Buckeyes, Buckeyes football, Jim Bollman, Luke Fickell, Luke Fickell Buckeyes, Luke Fickell clueless, Luke Fickell development, Luke Fickell inexperienced, Luke Fickell Ohio State, Luke Fickell OSU, Ohio State, Ohio State Buckeyes, Ohio State football, Terrelle Pryor, Troy Smith
5 observations about Ohio State’s opener
Following a brutal off-season dominated by tattoos and the departure of Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor, many people were counting out the Buckeyes for 2011. Others were just a little uncertain about what the Buckeyes had for this season. A few like Kirk Herbstreit and some other experts were willing to go out on a limb and say that the Buckeyes would be a force again in the Big Ten.
You can’t draw too many conclusions from watching one game against a very weak Akron team, but there was plenty to get excited about after one game.
1. The Buckeyes have two good options at quarterback
I was very skeptical about Joe Bauserman but he looked very good yesterday. He played against a weak defense and had open receivers, but he consistently hit them. He also showed some mobility and solid leadership. Meanwhile, Braxton Miller looked very good as well, and you could see why he was a highly touted recruit. He has a great arm with a quick release, and he’s also very athletic. He also has a quiet and clam demeanor about him, which makes him look like a potential leader. At the end of the game, Chris Spielman noted that we didn’t see one bad throw from either quarterback. After watching Terrelle Pryor consistently miss easy throws this was a refreshing change.
I can see them using both quarterbacks for a while and that’s just fine with me. I don’t compare this to the Stanley Jackson/Joe Germaine fiasco where Germaine was clearly the better option. Here, we have a 25-year-old senior who seems to be rising to the challenge and a very talented true freshman who has a ton of upside. I think we’ll need Miller to beat teams like Wisconsin and Nebraska, but Bauserman gives the Buckeyes a security blanket and gives Miller room to grow into the role of team leader.
2. The Buckeyes are loaded at running back
We knew that going in, but this unit was put to the test as only sophomore Carlos Hyde and freshman Rod Smith were available for the game. Frankly these guys reminded me of Beanie Wells and Eddie George as they’re both 235 pounds and they ran with authority. There’s no doubt that Fickell is going to stress the running game this year, and it’s clear he has the horses to do it. The biggest issue will be finding carries for everyone when the rest of the guys return.
3. The receivers will be fine
They’re young an inexperienced, but the receiving corps looks fine. They didn’t drop any passes and Evan Spencer made a spectacular one-handed catch. Meanwhile, tight end Jake Stoneburner looks like a real threat as he pulled down three touchdowns and provided a big target for the QBs.
4. The defense keeps on rolling
We really don’t know how good this defense can be, but again we saw the size and athleticism you would expect from a Buckeye defense. This team is still loaded with athletes and all the off-season BS just doesn’t matter.
5. Luke Fickell is ready
Again, one game means nothing. But Luke Fickell had the Buckeyes ready to play, and he’s pushing this team to excel. He’s focusing on the running game, yet he’s smart enough to let the run set up the pass. I want him to succeed, because we don’t need to be that program that looks to the big-name coach as a savior. We have the recruits, and Fickell bleeds scarlet & gray, so he should be given every opportunity to lead this program for years to come.
I think many people around the country took notice yesterday. Even though it was an Akron game, the Buckeyes served notice that they are still loaded with talent. Hopefully the NCAA won’t rain on this party with idiotic sanctions.
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Tags: Beanie Wells, Braxton Miller, Braxton Miller Buckeyes, Braxton Miller Ohio State, Buckeyes, Buckeyes football, Carlos Hyde, Chris Spielman, college football memorabilia, college football scandals, Eddie George, Evan Spencer, Jake Stoneburner, Jim Tressel, Joe Bauserman, Joe Bauserman Ohio State, Joe Bauserman OSU, Kirk Herbstreit, Luke Fickell, Luke Fickell Buckeyes, Luke Fickell Ohio State, Luke Fickell OSU, NCAA, NCAA sanctions, Ohio State, Ohio State Buckeyes, Ohio State football, Ohio State memorabilia, Ohio State scandal, Ohio State tattoo scandal, Ohio State tattoos, Rod Smith, Terrelle Pryor, Terrelle Pryor cars, Terrelle Pryor investigation, Terrelle Pryor scandal
Terrelle Pryor makes a statement
What a difference a year makes. Last season, following the embarrassing loss to Purdue, many of us wondered whether it was time to bench Terrelle Pryor. As time went by following that terrible performance, we learned that Pryor really wasn’t putting in the kind of work necessary to succeed at the highest level, and he took the Purdue game for granted. Fortunately, Tressel stuck with him. He simplified the offense, and in a sense let Pryor start over.
Then, Tressel turned Pryor loose in the Rose Bowl, and we saw a preview of what Pryor could become if he continued to work on his game. During the off-season, we continued to hear reports of how Pryor had dedicated himself to improving his game and being a leader on the team. Translation – Pryor was putting in time beyond what the coaches could require of him according to NCAA rules.
On Thursday night against Marshall, we saw just how good Pryor could be. He had command of the offense and he made beautiful throws. He’s learned to step up in the pocket, and he doesn’t take off and run when he senses trouble. Sure, he’ll have to repeat this performance against tougher defenses like Miami, but Terrelle Pryor made a statement on Thursday night. He’s here to live up to his promise. He may or may not lead the Buckeyes to a National Championship, but he’s reset the bar of expectations again.
Ohio State Buckeyes are #2 in first coaches’ poll
Coming off their huge win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl, the Buckeyes start the season with the #2 ranking in the first USA Today coaches’ poll.
The Big Ten also gets some recognition to open the season.
With four teams in the top 15, the Big Ten had more than any other conference. Iowa is No. 10, Wisconsin No. 12 and Penn State No. 14. The Buckeyes play all those teams, as well as playing host to No. 13 Miami in the second week of the season.
I thought that the Buckeyes would have to go undefeated to earn a shot at the National Championship, but the schedule might give them a shot even if they suffer a close loss in one of the Big Ten games, though I still think that’s a long shot.
The key is beating Miami. The Buckeyes have no chance at a title shot without beating a respected non-conference opponent.
Braxton Miller, top-ranked quarterback recruit, picks Ohio State
The Buckeyes have landed another stud quarterback who should be ready to take the reins after Terrelle Pryor graduates.
Braxton Miller, ranked by every major recruiting service as the No. 1 or No. 2 quarterback in the Class of 2011, gave an oral commitment to Ohio State just after noon today during a press conference at his high school.
Miller, a 6-3, 195-pounder, made his announcement at Huber Heights Wayne High School in the Dayton suburbs. He is the 12th high school junior to give a pledge to Ohio State.
Miller is a quarterback in the same mold as the Buckeyes’ Terrelle Pryor, and he is the leading candidate to take over when Pryor’s time in Columbus ends. CBS College Sports recruiting analyst Tom Lemming said Miller would be best served by redshirting in 2011 in his first year with the Buckeyes and learning for a year while Pryor is a senior, assuming that Pryor returns for his last season at Ohio State.
The word on Miller is that he’s not quite as great an athlete as Pryor, but he has a better arm and he’s a much more natural passer. That should make Buckeye fans happy.
Jim Tressel sticks by Terrelle Pryor
Not surprisingly, Jim Tressel has indicated he is not planning on benching Terrelle Pryor or giving backup Joe Bauserman any playing time. As I mentioned the other day, Tressel has to consider benching Pryor at some point given the way he’s playing, but that none of us should hold our breath.
Tressel did what he had to do. If he still has any hope of Pryor emerging as a good quarterback for Ohio State, he needs to publicly support the kid when he’s down.
That said, there’s no doubt in my mind that Tressel in running various scenarios in his head. Pryor seems to be getting worse, and at some point Tressel’s hand will be forced if Pryor doesn’t improve. Naturally, Tressel will do all in his control to prevent that scenario, but he’s certainly thought it through.
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Tags: Jim Tressel, Jim Tressel photo, Jim Tressel pic, Jim Tressel Terrelle Pryor, Joe Bauserman, Terrelle Pryor, Terrelle Pryor bench, Terrelle Pryor maturity, Terrelle Pryor mistakes, Terrelle Pryor overrated, Terrelle Pryor pocket presence, Terrelle Pryor temperament
Is it time for Ohio State to bench Terrelle Pryor?
When he arrived at Ohio State as the biggest recruiting prize in the country, Buckeye fans were hopeful that Terrelle Pryor would be the second coming of Vince Young. Instead, Pryor looks more like the next Juice Williams.
Terrelle Pryor’s performance in yesterday’s loss to Purdue was a disaster. It wasn’t simply a bad game from a young quarterback. Pryor has been getting progressively worse throughout the season. Rather, it was a performance that raised the question of whether Terrelle Pryor can ever be a good college quarterback, let alone the NFL quarterback he dreams of becoming.
Pryor had two fumbles and two interceptions. But his stats don’t tell the story here. When you watch Pryor play, you wonder why anyone ever thought this kid could be a good college quarterback. Pryor looked like a track star thrown into the game who had never played the position before. He lacks practically all the tools one would need to play quarterback, apart from his size and speed.
* Arm strength – Pryor can throw the ball, but he hardly has a gun. Most of his long throws look like heaves rather than smooth throws.
* Accuracy – Pryor rarely makes accurate throws. Even short throws seem to be a challenge.
* Mechanics – Pryor’s footwork and throwing mechanics are a mess. He’s not a natural at all with the ball in his hands. Sure, coaching can help, but the coaches aren’t developing a natural passing talent.
* Pocket presence – The Buckeyes have a weak offensive line this season, so that makes it more difficult to develop a young quarterback. But Pryor consistently panics in the pocket. He doesn’t seem to have any sense of how much time he really has to make a throw. Not surprisingly, he often relies in his incredible athleticism to buy some time for a possible pass or run, but he often seems to make the wrong choice.
* Decision-making – He rarely seems to do the right thing. How many times have we seen him run out of bounds under pressure and take a loss of five or more yards when he easily could have just tossed the ball out of bounds? He seems to throw when he should run, and run when he has an open receiver. On blitzes, he rarely gets the ball to the hot receiver.
* Leadership and temperament – Pryor often acts like an immature kid who can’t control his emotions. He’s only nineteen years old, so we need to cut him some slack here, but compare him to freshmen like Tate Forcier at Michigan and the surfer dude playing quarterback at USC. They seem to thrive under pressure, while Pryor seems to come unglued under pressure.
Jim Tressel made a good point early in the season when some were questioning Pryor’s play – Vince Young didn’t become Vince Young until his senior season. The message was clear – young players need to develop, and it’s unrealistic to expect them to come in a perform consistently this early in a college career. Tressel prides himself on his ability to develop young players and young men. He knows players and teams will face adversity, and he wants to help them face it and overcome it.
For this reason, we shouldn’t be surprised that Tressel didn’t pull Pryor against Purdue. He should have been pulled, but Tressel doesn’t have a great option sitting on the bench, and he probably wanted to see how Pryor would react in that situation.
As an Ohio State fan, it’s hard to imagine watching Pryor play quarterback for two more seasons. The Buckeyes are loaded on defense, and they have a solid offense as well, even with a mediocre offensive line. All they need right now to compete is a quarterback who can hit open receivers and avoid turnovers. They don’t need a Vince Young or even a Troy Smith. Put Craig Krenzel on this team and the Buckeyes are competing for a national championship. Instead, we have the Terrelle Pryor train wreck, and an excellent defense is being wasted.
Pryor chose Ohio State because he wanted a program that could help him develop as a future NFL quarterback. That seems like a pipe dream now. The kid needs to focus on just being a competent college quarterback.
What should Tressel do? Would sitting Pryor help? Tressel needs to consider this if Pryor continues to turn over the football. He owes it to the other players on the team.
In the meantime, short of benching Pryor, Tressel needs to rethink what he’s trying to do on offense (the issue of Tressel calling the plays will be addressed another time). We can see he’s already tried to incorporate the option more into the offense, but we’re seeing that Pryor’s instincts aren’t much better there. Perhaps with practice he’ll get better, as the option at least plays to his running ability. Tressel should toss aside a good chunk of the playbook and go to a much simpler offense. Focus on running the football, the option, and other Wildcat-type plays, and have Pryor make much simpler throws that play off the running game. Dig up old tape from Oklahoma and Nebraska from the 1970′s, or even most of the Woody Hayes years. Keep it simple until the kid shows he can handle more.
Buckeye fans often get frustrated with Tressel’s conservative play-calling, but opening up the offense is not the solution here. He has to pull things back and start over. And, if Pryor can’t cut it in a simpler offense, then Tressel will have to make a change.
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Tags: bench Terrelle Pryor, Jim Tressel, Juice Williams, Tate Forcier, Terrelle Pryor, Terrelle Pryor accuracy, Terrelle Pryor arm strength, Terrelle Pryor bench, Terrelle Pryor decision-making, Terrelle Pryor decisions, Terrelle Pryor Jim Tressel, Terrelle Pryor Juice Williams, Terrelle Pryor leadership, Terrelle Pryor maturity, Terrelle Pryor mechanics, Terrelle Pryor pocket presence, Terrelle Pryor temperament, Terrelle Pryor train wreck, Terrelle Pryor Vince Young, Vince Young
Observations from the Ohio State – USC game
That was a tough loss for the Buckeyes on Saturday night. They had the game, but basically handed it to USC at the end. The defense played great all night, so you can’t blame them for the game, though the last drive was very disappointing.
-Tressel needs to give up the play calling. We’ve said this over and over again. Tressel can’t seem to manage the game properly. He’s been out-coached in big games that have turned into blowouts, and he’s also watched as his team’s have blown leads on the final drive. He needs to make a change.
-Terrelle Pryor has a long way to go. He’s a physical specimen, but his decision-making sucks. While we can criticize Tressel for his calls, Pryor had real trouble executing the game plan. He took way to many losses in the backfield. He never seems to know when he should throw the ball away. His accuracy also sucks. Based on what we saw on Saturday, this kid will never be an NFL QB. He needs to focus on being a good college QB first, and that means using his head AND his legs to move the ball.
-The D-line is awesome. We heard plenty of talk about the USC o-line, and how they had a bunch of NFL forst-rounders. Well, either their stock fell or the stock of the Buckeye d-linemen shot up as they made big plays all night.
-The o-line is pretty bad. This is a huge disappointment for the Buckeyes. They need to take a long look at their recruiting. They seem to find plenty of big white guys from Ohio, but few of them have real athleticism. Size isn’t everything, so they need to figure out how to narrow their focus on guys that can play the game.
This game was a tough one to take. Jim Tressel has been a great head coach, and it’s great to see the Buckeyes competing every year, but he needs to step up his game and adopt to the new reality. Find the best young coach out there and make him your offensive coordinator.
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Tags: beat USC, Jim Tressel, Jim Tressel game management, Ohio Sate vs USC, Ohio State o-line, Ohio State USC 2009, OSU vs. USC, Terrelle Pryor, Terrelle Pryor accuracy, Terrelle Pryor decisions, Terrelle Pryor mistakes, Terrelle Pryor overrated, Terrelle Pryor passing, Terrelle Pryor running
Few people give Ohio State a chance tonight
This is understandable in one sense given recent history, but it’s also ridiculous when you consider that Terrelle Pryor has the ability to carry a team on his back. If Tressel sticks with the option and the QB running plays we saw against Navy, then they should be able to move the ball and neutralize the problems they have on the offensive line. Pryor will need to make some big plays and avoid turnovers for the Buckeyes to win, but he’s certainly capable of doing just that.
Also, USC will be relying on their running game. While that is a real threat, this should make for a closer game as long as Ohio State avoids giving up the big run. The key here is the Buckeye d-line. If they can step up like they did last year in Texas, then the Bucks have a real chance.
Finally, we have the issue of USC’s freshman QB. He may play great – he may not. Nobody really knows what will happen. But a poor performance gives the Buckeyes a real chance of winning this game.