26 December 2010
The debate rages on. I don't know if is it going to go away anytime soon. I want to step away from the emotional debate and talk about what happens on the football field.
I touched on it in my last blog. I have been asked about it repeatedly since then. Do I really think we will better without these outstanding seniors? My answer is we need to try to be. I can't see the Buckeyes being better at left tackle. I have hopes for Andrew Norwell coming over and being able to play left tackle. I don't expect a player to be as good as Adams was last year. I can count the number of bad plays by Adams in the second half of the year on one hand. The odds we are going to be as good with a true sophmore who may be playing out of position are not in our favor. We have no other choice right now but to try for the first half of the year.
On the other extreme we have Solomon Thomas. He was going to be a fifth year senior who has had little impact here. Whether he was suspended or not he was going to losing reps to a very talented bunch of redshirt freshmen and incoming freshman.
With Pryor, Herron and Posey we have a different set of circumstances. At running back Herron is coming off a great junior year but we have an embarrassment of riches who are just waiting their turn. Hall, Berry and Hyde have a nice dose of game experience. On the other hand at wide receiver Posey is coming off a forgettable junior year but there are questions about the depth in the receiver corps. The number of reps with returning players is minimal after Philly Brown who will be stepping into the starting lineup in Dane Sanzenbachers role. The most problematic is quarterback. I really like the talent level alot but the game experience is slim to none.
The on the field question in front of us is what benefits are there in bringing back the suspended players? The argument being put forth is Jim Tressel would not abandon the other seniors for the long term interest of the program. That staying with the young players is in the best long term interest of the program is not in dispute. You put Taylor Graham or Braxton Miller, or even Kenny Guiton in there with a veteran All-American center in Mike Brewster and a three year starter at right tackle in J.B. Shugarts, you give him a safety net to work behind. The Buckeyes will have talent at running back no matter which one gets the nod and lets not forget that the best fullback to play at Ohio State in better than ten years returns in Zack Boren, so the running attack should be able to keep defenses from teeing off on whichever young quarterback is lined up under center.
There is an assumption that bringing back the suspended players will benefit the seniors and increase the chances of a successful 2011 campaign. The devil is in the details. The Buckeye staff cannot worry about game six. There are five games to win before they return. This team has to be prepared. That means the players who will be playing those first five games need to be seeing the bulk of the practice reps. That they are young means they need to preseason reps that much more. Once the season starts the starters have to soak up all the reps. The suspended players are going to have so much rust that you can't convince me that the team will be better off bringing them back. They are talented players. They have lots of experience. I just don't see a scenario where they are going to be game ready. A few fans questioned my assumption that we could be a better team without them. The rust of the suspended players and the experience that they youngsters will have by that time, nearly a half a season, leaves me believing that we could be as good for 2011 by sticking with the game one starters.
The other question is whether the suspended players should go ahead and go pro. They should. There is no guarantee they will regain their starting jobs. Thomas was not a starter and will not find his way back into the two-deep. The talent level at running back will keep Herron from regaining the starting job there. Loved what he brought to the table. He was a brutally effective back but he was the least gifted back in the stable. He held the starting job because he was an upper classman who did the little things right. Six games into the season a more talented back will be doing the little things right. The good news for Herron is the senior running back class is mediocre at best. He is coming off a fine junior year. Sitting for a year is not going to be in his best interest. There is much chatter that he has already made the decision not to return.
Mike Adams is in a similar boat. I watch line play. The draft guys are talking about this being a solid but not outstanding draft. I saw all of the top rated tackles. Adams was as good as Nate Solder, Gabe Carimi and Anthony Castonzo, and he is younger. That he was just coming into his own will be something the pros will like. Since there was no reason to think he was coming out the scouts have not looked at him hard yet so I think his stock will go up once they do. I only hope Norwell is good enough that Adams would have to sit. If I were advising him I would say go. Don't take the chance that you will sit for a year. You are a talent and have experience but you also have rust. Your stock will go down if you sit for an entire year.
With Pryor and Posey, who knows? If we were deeper at split end I do not believe Posey would have been a starter by seasons end. T.Y. WiIliams is looking really good in bowl practices. I believe Pryor got better this season. I don't know if he got NFL better. I don't think so. I think he needed his senior year. Quarterback is the hardest position on the field to learn. The more reps a player has the better. Pryor is proof of that. If any of the young quarterbacks are coming along I just don't know if JT pulls him. Any other coach I would say no way but Jim Tressel is always going to do right by every single player. A clear majority of Buckeye Nation is still upset about the selling of Gold Pants and Championship rings. Former players are starting to chime in with Nick Mangold and Santonio Holmes the most recent to voice their dismay at what these players did. I am sure Jim Tressel is just as disappointed. His is the only opinion that matters in this. Is he ready to let either of these players come back, try to right things with Buckeye Nation and improve their draft status for next year? If I am either Pryor or Posey I have a sit down with the boss and try to find out before I decide. In the end I think it is risky business going to the NFL when they are not ready but even more risky to return to a lineup that may not have a place for you.
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