As I am sure you have noticed, there has not been much activity here on my blog recently. That’s because I am now focusing my efforts on contributing to Bucknuts. My blogs will appear Tuesday, Thursday and (during the season) postgame on the Front Row message board. I will also be a lot more active on the Front Row than I have been. If you want to talk to me, ask a question or just shoot the bull, the Front Row message board on Bucknuts is where to find me. I won’t be updating this blog anymore.a
Yes, the Front Row is a premium board and much of the stuff on Bucknuts is also premium. If you are not a premium member of Bucknuts already, get on board and join me over there. In fact, if you are registered here at my blog and go sign up for a premium membership at Bucknuts, they will give you three months free after you sign up. All you have to do is email me at OhioHigh@gmail.com to let me know you signed up and they will adjust your account by adding three free months on the end of it.
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I hope you join me over there if you haven’t already. It will be worth your while.
I was fortunate enough to see the GlenOak Golden Eagles twice in the past few weeks. This year was GlenOak's turn to travel to my Youngstown area for their games against both Austintown Fitch and this past Friday at Boardman. I have never wavered in my infatuation with Eagle star running back Bri'onte Dunn, but I got a good look at a few other big time prospects in each of these games.
You all know about Bri'onte by now, and all the hype is well warrented. The Fitch game is where I believe he first suffered from that hip pointer that cost him some time these past few weeks. He was limited to I believe just nine carries, all coming in the first half. Against Boardman he clearly had the attention of the Spartan defense, but was still impressive and physical running the football in his first full game back. He even split out as GlenOak attempted a late comeback and was impressive in the downfield passing game. I believe Duane has made a comparison between Dunn and Shaun Alexander and I would totally agree. He is a complete back.
But the title of this article is referring to the fact that Bri'onte Dunn is not the only name worth mentioning on that team. I'll start with Dunn's classmate, senior outside linebacker DaShawn Hall. Yes, this is the same DaShawn Hall that you remember bursting onto the scene as a safety with his impressive ball skills in his sophomore highlight reel. I wanted that ball-hawking nature to stay at safety, but the word was always that a move down was iminent. Having seen him in person, I see why. Hall's ball skills are still there and he's an excellent wide out at the high school level, but I wouldn't ask him to cover too many guys one on one. GlenOak doesn't ask this of him too much either anymore as he is now playing linebacker. His name belongs on the radar again at his new position. He is more than adequate in zone coverage because of his athleticism, instincts and d-back background. What really caught my attention is that he has stepped up his physical game. He's a linebacker now and he plays like one. Last year I questioned why he wasn't impacting the run game more as a safety. This year he brought that physical nature that I was waiting for. He'll only get better with taking on blockers, but he is now an aggressive tackler at and behind the line of scrimmage. I definitely see a Big Ten caliber player at his new position and I wouldn't be shocked to see a Big 5 offer.
While the Eagle backfield lost Hall to a position change, they gained another good one in junior corner Tyler Lancaster. The undersized Lancaster had the tall task (pun intended) of guarding Boardman's 6-foot-6-inch wide receiver Dayne Hammond on Friday. Even at his listed height of 5-9 which may be generous, that's 9 inches he's giving up in that match-up. I do not recall a catch for Hammond and certainly not an impactful one. Boardman tried to find their tall receiver on a corner fade route in the second half and Lancaster showed excellent closing speed and ball skills as he came up through a slightly underthrown ball for the break up. I would have been impressed if the same play was made by a 6-foot corner. Later in the game he diagnosed a jet sweep, beat his man and cut down the ball carrier for a loss. I saw the same kind of explosive and scrappy player that I see in Najee Murray. There's nothing he can do about his height, but if he hits the weight room hard I still see interest there, even to be on Big Ten recruiting boards.
On the other side of the ball, junior offensive lineman Steve Mathie has already been on the radar. His body is ideal for a BCS level tackle prospect. I think they list him at 285 and there is no floppy belly here. He moves his feet pretty well but can get caught leaning. He looks like someone that you would keep on the right side of the line to me. He's a Big Ten prospect, but not going to solve anyone's quest for a left tackle.
Lastly, I have another junior to mention. Add QB Reid Worstell to the long list of 2013 signal callers that will garner big time attention. If I coached that game on Friday he would have thrown the ball 40+ times. The Spartans were intent on stopping Bri'onte Dunn and Worstell had a lot of success throwing the ball downfield. We know the Buckeyes just offered Malik Zaire from Alter, but I doubt Worstell would have ever ended up on their radar anyway. Still, he's a guy that should get a free education for what he can do with a football.
This was the nail in the coffin for Fickell. You blow a 21 point lead in the 4th quarter, I look to the sideline for the blame, not on the field. Nebraska made a running game adjustment at halftime. This staff did nothing to counter that. The decision to put Bauserman in the game when Miller went down falls on Fickell too. I refuse to believe that Guiton or Graham are not better than Bauserman. We cannot possibly be a worse offense with either of them in the game. It has to be the Tressel influence. Put the veteran in. He won't make mistakes. Playing not to lose. Same with the decision not to try the field goal when the Buckeyes were up 7. Getting a score there could have changed the game. The defense knows it has a two score lead. It sees the offense has put some points on the board. Nebraska knows it needs two scores if we get a field goal there. Can't do that. Can't take the chance. Punt.
Maybe there was nothing the coaching staff could do to adjust to what Nebraska was doing in the running game. With this set of linebackers to work with that may be true. We have been so used to great linebacker play. We just expect it. We need to face reality about Moeller. He is not the same player. We are to the halfway point in the season and I cannot remember a play out of him. He is making fewer mistakes than any of the no comments
I like to take a look at all things Ohio State sometimes.
There are some names banging around out there when it comes to the
next Ohio State coach. Since the season started, really since fall
camp started, I have heard Urban Meyers name come up again. I still do
not think he comes back to coaching next year. The name that keeps
coming up consistently is Bo Pelini. He has the same pedigree as Luke
Fickell and has done wonders with a program many thought would never
be a good one again with no recruiting base and its best years too far
in rear view mirror to appeal to top out of state recruits. Like some
others I could do without his sideline tirades but Peilini would
otherwise be a great hire.
Mike Adams return will help an offensive line that is reeling after
getting abused last Saturday. Adams has been a headache off the field
I would like to start by distracting myself from the generally disgusting display that we saw from the Buckeye offense on Saturday and rather focus on the good. Jack Mewhort is really good. Jerel Worthy abused Marcus Hall so badly that I'm not sure that's not the real reason Hall is suspended for next week. Hall is a powerful dude that would be one heck of a lineman in a phone booth, unfortunately Worthy was allowed more wiggle room than said phone booth. Wiggle he did, right into the faces of anyone who looked like they might have the ball. Corey Linsley did better, but not very much. When Worthy lined up over number 74, however, his success rate drastically decreased. I saw Jerel get one of the best jumps on one particular passing snap and was shocked that Jack was able to even slow him down let alone stop him in his tracks like he did. Mewhort continues to prove worthy of the NFL chatter we've heard with him. That was an NFL defensive tackle the Spartans threw at us and Jack was the best counter punch we had for him.
The rest of the line did their best to hide Jack's performance with their best collective impression of a revolving door. Duane's game review singled out JB Shugarts, and I truly do hate to say it, but I'm not sure that he's one of our best five when Big Mike Adams comes back this week. Norwell wasn't stellar at left tackle but he outplayed Shugarts and you would assume he would only look better at his more natural position on the right side. I would vote for Shugarts to rotate with Corey Linsley at guard this week and see how it goes. I think we'll see some combination of 78, 76 and 71 on the right side, just a matter of which tackle, if either, helps Linsley at guard. Brewster is still Brewster. It's nice to have a borderline first rounder anchoring it all.
Moving on to the defense. At least they're good. Duane mentioned his frustrations with the soft coverage and lack of a pass rush, but they still only gave up 10. They're doing things they shouldn't be capable of. John Simon continues to be a freak. There isn't a game, a series and rarely a down that he doesn't make an impact in. I believe it was the play directly before Barnett's INT that Simon completely blew up the left side of MSU's offense and left an easy clean up for the guys behind him. It looked like someone squeezed a wrecking ball into a cannon and fired it. Simon is also clearly our best pass rusher including Williams and Thomas. Dude's incredible.
The linebackers did not play well by their standards. I was really surprised that we didn't see more of Ryan Shazier. But Andrew Sweat is still a leader and Sabino is still playing with a lot of energy. Sabino is one of those guys that brings some swagger with him. Storm Klein is close to being good. He needs to step up his recognition game. He's a step late way too often right now.
Lastly, I come to the quarterbacks. I was the guy screaming at the TV the loudest against Miami. I couldn't see Bauserman benched quickly enough. He might not turn the ball over, but he simply wasn't giving us a chance to score. You can't win if you don't score. I believe I tweeted the term "stupid mustache". We had to go with the kid. He would at least try to make something happen. Saturday we saw the flip side of that coin. We saw Braxton as a deer in the headlights who just couldn't process what was happening around him nearly quick enough. He couldn't even decide when to be an athlete fast enough to get back to the line of scrimmage. So I've developed a new theory. We beg Joe B to make plays. The kid that was supposed to be our playmaker just isn't seeing it fast enough. If we're going to develop any kind of offense with this team, Joe has to embrace this role. Make throws, Joe! This doesn't mean going all Scott McMullen gunslinger on us. Just throw it towards someone that's actually between the white lines. Guys aren't going to be wide open on every play. He's got to give the guy with one step a chance. Take Braxton's pick on Saturday for example. That ball gave Devin Smith a chance to make a play and gave us a chance to win. The defender made a great play, it happens. I don't regret the throw. Joe needs to step up in that role.
I have not been affected by a loss to this degree since USC out at their place. Maybe I have to go back to Florida to find a loss that I am more disappointed about.
People have been telling me for weeks that this team is not as good as I thought it was. I have been adamant that it is a really good team. I have been telling them that they are underestimating this team. Coming to the realization that this team is too young, that we were not going to be able to be a good team due to inexperience, was something I dismissed. I think we could have been a better team with a better offensive brain trust but that part of this is what it is.
Back when the decision was made to fire Jim Tressel my first thought was to the rest of the staff. It was the worst possible time to fire a coach. Staffs are set. There was no chance to add coaches to the staff. That meant Jim Bollman was going to be the offensive coordinator. Mark Dantonio knew what Bollman was going to do. He was going to play it safe and more importantly Bollman was not going to change. He would continue to do the same things over and over again no
My last blog was about the big time recruits who did not make it. That blog was actually the second part of a pair of blog posts that started with this one, a look at some of the players I never expected to see in scarlet and gray let alone be stars.
11 - RB Matt Keller, Cincinnati (Oh.) Moeller
A reach if there ever was one. Keller was a tweener who did not really fit in anywhere. He was not fast enough or elusive enough to be a running back but not big enough to be a fullback, or so we thought. By the time his career was over Matt Keller was one of the best fullbacks to wear scarlet and gray in the last 20-25 years.
10 - OL Kirk Barton, Massillon (Oh.) Perry
I remember when Barton committed. I received a couple of calls from other players who could not believe it. Both noted that Barton was not even the best lineman on his team, that title going to Zack Slates, a Pitt verbal. At the time he was offered and committed to the Buckeyes most had him tabbed for a MAC player. He was a three-star and some said a two-star recruit. The best offer at the time was from Ohio U. He turned into a solid right tackle for the Buckeyes and even had a cup of coffee in the NFL.
9 - CB Chimdi Chekwa, Clermont (Fla.) East Ridge
Chekwa had a decent offer list but he was a three-star corner from a school in Florida that no comments
Can't miss recruits. That is what everyone wants. That is what all this fuss is about. They are the rarest of the rare. The players that you don't even think about not panning out. Orlando Pace, Korey Stringer, Ted Ginn jr, Andy Katzenmoyer, Chris Wells, Terrelle Pryor, the list goes on and on at a school like Ohio State.
The fact is, some can't miss players do just that. They miss. I was looking at the 2007 top 25 of one of the national sites. That class is now through with their eligibility. 10 of the players on that top 25 were never heard from again. What got me thinking about this was the recent verbal by can't miss prospect Chris Wormley to Michigan. I looked at the stacked list of elite defensive linemen in Ohio for 2012 and it took my back to can't miss Buckeye recruits in the past.
My list does not include players whose lack of development had everything to do with the fact that injury kept them out of the weightroom and off the practice field like with Mike Dandrea, Robert Rose and a handful of others. It does not include the lengthy list of players like Brandon Maupin, Che Bryant, Roedell Dupree, Curtis Crosby and Alphonso no comments
Luke Fickell just improved his resume in my mind. When you look back at Miami you have to think this team was just not prepared. Miami gets handled by Maryland in their opening game. They come back after the Ohio State game and get beat on their home field by Kansas State. Last week I saw the poorest tackling performance that I can remember from an Ohio State football team. This week it was back to its old self. Missed tackles were few and far between. Hitting and wrapping was the order of the day. That is a coaching staff getting its ship righted.
Overall this was the best performance of the year. In all phases of the game the Buckeyes clicked. This was the best special teams performance we have seen since 2009. We used to see the Buckeyes have a weapon in the punter. We are seeing that again with Ben Buchanan. How many punts does he have already this year where he pinned the opponent inside the 10? Basil seems to have found his line. The best part was seeing the coverage teams finally playing disciplined, staying in their lanes and shutting down kick returners. The kicking game is so much about field position, and playing field position can win you games. I don't care how well your kicker is kicking the ball, if you are not getting no comments
There is so much focus on the quarterback position at Ohio State right now. After the worst performance by a Buckeye starting quarterback that I can remember in the Miami game, the weeks Buckeye news has been dominated by that one topic.
The good news, I would call it great news, is that Braxton Miller has been officially named the starter by head coach Luke Fickell. After I suppressed my elation the first thought that came to my mind is, who is the backup? I think everyone assumes that it would be Bauserman. My question is why?
There is simply no reason to put Bauserman back in the lineup. He gave the offense nothing. That is not going to change as he comes in as a back-up. That is where most of us formulated the opinion that Bauserman was not the man for the starting job. His performances in relief of T no comments