Ohio State Blog

September 29, 2010

Ohio State—Illinois: Week 5 Preview,
History Lesson, and Prediction

Big Ten conference play begins this week as the No. 2 Buckeyes travel to Champaign to take on the Illinois Fighting Illini.

The Illini are 2-1 (2-0 at home) so far this season—their only loss to unbeaten, 4-0 Missouri—but their two wins have been against in-state directional schools, Northern and Southern Illinois.

Ron Zook's sitting on a white-hot hot seat and with four of Illinois' next six games against top 25 teams, the Zooker might find himself unemployed come early November.

Ohio State (4-0) is coming off a 73-20 domination of Eastern Michigan and are 19-point favorites this weekend.

Ohio State has proven they are loaded with talent on both sides of the football.

Illinois is not on the same level as the Buckeyes on paper, but they too have some talented key players to watch.

Illinois—By the Numbers

Quarterback Nathan Sheelhaase has passed for 380 yards with three touchdowns, three interceptions, and his current QB rating is 117.2. He has also rushed for 204 yards and a score.

Mikel Leshoure has rushed for 100-plus yards in his last four games. He is the leading rusher for the Illini with 398 yards on 58 carries for an average of 6.9 yards per carry and three rushing touchdowns. Stopping Leshoure and forcing Sheelhaase to throw should be the primary focus for the Buckeye defense.

Statistically, A.J. Jenkins is the only wide receiver worth mentioning. He has 12 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. Every other Illini wideout has less than 50 yards receiving.

Overall, Illinois ranks 112th in passing yards per game (130.0), 18th in rushing yards per game (229.00), 70th in points scored per game (25.3), and 27th in points allowed per game (16.0).

Ohio State—By the Numbers

QB Terrelle Pryor has positioned himself at the top of most everyone's Heisman favorites list. Pryor has 939 passing yards, 10 touchdown passes to just two interceptions, 269 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. He also has a 20-yard touchdown reception. His QB rating is 167.2.

Pryor's current projected stats for the entire season are 2,817 passing yards, 807 rushing yards, 42 total touchdowns versus only six interceptions.

Although Pryor is the leading rusher for the Bucks, Dan Herron, Jaamal Berry, and Brandon Saine aren't too far behind.

Herron has gained 192 yards rushing with four touchdowns. He is averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also has seven receptions for 109 yards.

Jaamal Berry has made the most of his limited opportunities. In addition to his kick return duties, he has carried the ball 15 times for 177 yards and has one touchdown. His impressive average of 11.8 yards per carry is definitely the main reason Buckeye fans are at a loss as to why he is not getting more touches out of the backfield.

Saine has 169 yards and two touchdowns. He is averaging 4.7 yards per carry and he also has eight catches for 67 yards with two touchdown receptions.

After his career day last week against the EMU Eagles, Dane Sanzenbacher is now the Buckeyes leading receiver with 20 catches for 316 yards and five touchdowns.

Devier Posey has 15 catches for 242 yards and two touchdowns.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner, who missed last weeks game with an ankle injury, has nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Word is he may not play this week either.

As a team, Ohio State is 29th in passing yards per game (266.5), 14th in rushing yards per game (240.3), 3rd in points per game (49.3), and 19th in points allowed per game (14.5).

Ohio State—Illinois: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• Ohio State leads the all-time head-to-head series 61-30-4.

• Ohio State has won the last seven meetings in Champaign, dating back to 1993.

• Ohio State is 22-2 against unranked conference opponents dating back to 2005.

• Ohio State is 28-8 since 2001 in conference road games under Jim Tressel.

• Ohio State is 5-2 overall and 3-0 on the road vs. Illinois under Jim Tressel.

• Ohio State coach Jim Tressel (98-21) is just two wins shy of his 100th at Ohio State.

• Ohio State's defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 27 games.

• Ohio State boasts an all-time record of 151-22-5 in September games.

• Terrelle Pryor is now 23-3 as Ohio State's starting quarterback.

• The home team is just 2-8 in the last 10 meetings of the series.

• Illinois has scored 10 or less points in seven of the last 13 meetings.

• Illinois' last win over Ohio State was in 2007, a 28-21 win over the then-No. 1 ranked Buckeyes.

• Illinois coach and Ohio native Ron Zook is 23-40 overall at Illinois (2005-2010) and just 1-4 against Ohio State over that span.

• Zook has a 5-4 record vs. top 5 teams, however, he is only 9-28 overall against ranked opponents in his career.

Summary and Prediction

Ohio State should have little or no trouble in this game. Last year, the Buckeyes shutout Illinois 30-0. Ohio State is even better than they were last year.

Illinois, not so much.

Running back Mikel Leshoure is the best player the Illini have.

Contrarily, their passing game poses very little threat, although QB Sheelhasse has had some success running the ball, but, he hasn't faced a defense like OSU's either.

All that being said, let's keep this short and get to the key points.

Stop the run—force Illinois to pass—create turnovers—win the game.

The end.

(Modest) Final Score Prediction
Ohio State 45
Illinois 20


September 16, 2010

Ohio State-Ohio University:
Week 3 Preview, History Lesson, and Prediction

After a week, and really an entire preseason, full of hype leading up to last Saturday's Ohio State-Miami game, the No. 2 Buckeyes have what many consider another "scrimmage" this week as they welcome in the Ohio University Bobcats to Ohio Stadium.

As one of the top grossing football programs in the country, the Buckeyes traditionally play two state schools as part of their four-game, out-of-conference schedule.

This permits Ohio State to play two additional home games in addition to their four annual Big Ten home games, while also allowing their opponent to literally "cash in" as a guest of the Buckeyes. This year for example, Ohio will receive a payment of $850,000 from Ohio State for their visit to Columbus.

In summation, it goes like this pretty much:

Hey Ohio, this is Ohio State calling. We were wondering if you would be interested in coming to Columbus and playing us in 2010. Playing in front of 105,000 fans in The Horseshoe will be an experience your players will never forget. It also provides another home date for us in which we will almost certainly pound your team into the ground in embarrassing fashion, but look at it this way—at least we'll pay you quite handsomely so it's totally worth it...

You may remember the Buckeyes getting caught looking ahead to their upcoming meeting with No.1 USC in Los Angeles back in 2008. The week before when they hosted the Bobcats, they trailed 14-12 with just 14 minutes left in the game. Thanks to a short touchdown run by Brandon Saine and a 69-yard punt return by Ray Small, the Buckeyes escaped with the 26-14 win.

Fast-forward back to 2010.

Ohio State (2-0) is the favorite to win the Big 10 and is considered a legitimate BCS national title contender, while Ohio (1-1) was picked to finish second in the MAC-East behind Temple.

There is really no comparison between these two programs and their 2010 expectations, but they are playing each other, so we'll go ahead do it anyway, just because.

Ohio University—By the Numbers

Quarterback Boo Jackson (no, not Bo) has had a rough start to the 2010 season. So far vs. Wofford and Toledo, he has only thrown for 234 yards with just one touchdown to four interceptions. He does have one rushing touchdown as well.

This is just a guess, but it is a fairly safe bet to assume that Jackson's touchdown total will remain the same, but the number of interceptions he has thrown will almost certainly increase against the very opportunistic Buckeye defense (just ask Jacory Harris).

Running backs Vince Davidson and Ryan Boykin have combined for 153 yards and one rushing touchdown—not exactly setting the world on fire either.

Continuing the trend of under-impressiveness is leading wide receiver Riley Dunlop, who has a whopping 57 yards receiving and one touchdown catch.

Overall, Ohio ranks 111th in passing yards per game (119.0), 79th in rushing yards per game (138.0), 85th in points per game (23.0), and 30th in points allowed per game (15.0).

Ohio State—By the Numbers

After two games, Terrelle Pryor has not been perfect, especially in the short-passing game, but he has amassed 480 passing yards, thrown four touchdown passes, rushed for 130 yards and a touchdown, and most importantly, has not turned the ball over even one time. He may or may not remain on that pace going forward, but just for the record, over 12 games that projects out to 2,880 passing yards, 780 rushing yards, and 30 total touchdowns.

Running backs Brandon Saine and Boom Herron have each gained 110 yards on the ground with Herron scoring once and Saine twice. Herron has 56 yards receiving and Saine has 36 receiving yards and a touchdown catch. Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry each had big returns for the Buckeyes against the Hurricanes in an otherwise dismal special teams effort, and both should continue to return kicks and each should also see some time at tailback in the third or fourth quarters the next couple of weeks.

Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher leads the Buckeyes with 150 yards and a score, followed closely by DeVier Posey with 146 yards and two TD catches. Taurian Washington, who was supposed to be the third receiver, must have fell off the Earth. Outside of being a Spring football Legend the last couple of offseasons, he has not caught one meaningful pass in his entire Buckeye career. Hopefully Corey Brown or Chris Fields can get on the field in the next couple of games and show that they are ready to be the No. 3 man.

As a team, Ohio State is 45th in passing yards per game (241.0), 22nd in rushing yards per game (230.5), 22nd in points per game (40.5), and a very misleading 33rd in points allowed per game (15.5). Marshall scored one special teams touchdown and Miami scored twice on returns. Take away the 21 points the kicking teams allowed and the Buckeyes defense is actually only allowing five points per game.

The three special teams blunders have been the only real weakness this team has shown. Hopefully Coach Tressel and company have dedicated a significant portion of practice time to correcting those issues.

Ohio State—Ohio: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be the seventh meeting between Ohio State and Ohio.

• Ohio State is 6-0 all-time vs. Ohio, having outscored the Bobcats 161-30.

• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 37-8 vs. non-conference opponents.

• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 58-7 at home.

• Ohio State has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in their last 23 games.

• Ohio State is 41-0-1 vs. instate schools since 1922.

• Ohio is coached by former Nebraska head coach Frank Solich, who has a 32-31 record at the school since taking over in 2005.

• Since 2005, Ohio is 0-3 under Solich against top 25 teams and just 2-9 overall vs. schools from a BCS conference.

Summary and Prediction

The Buckeyes won't overlook the Bobcats this year like they did in 2008. Next week is another "scrimmage" against Eastern Michigan in case you were wondering.

This game should again go the way of the Marshall game, meaning even despite the fact that Coach Tressel never runs up the score on lesser opponents for those so-called all-important style points, it's hard to imagine the Buckeyes won't score at least 40 points, while the "D" either pitches a shutout or only gives up one or two scores (via special teams?) at most.

Assuming the special teams units don't blow it this week, the verdict is in.

Final Score
Ohio State 42
Ohio 0


September 9, 2010

Ohio State-Miami: Week 2 Preview, History Lesson, and Prediction

The much-anticipated Ohio State-Miami (FL) rematch is nearly upon us.

The last meeting came in January, 2003 when the underdog Buckeyes outlasted the heavily favored Hurricanes 31-24 in double-overtime to capture the 2002 BCS title.

Both teams expect to challenge for their respective conference championships this season, but each also have their eye on another trip to Arizona and a BCS championship game berth.

As of right now, the No. 2 Buckeyes are in better position for the latter than are the No. 13 Hurricanes, but an upset win in Columbus this Saturday would legitimately catapult Miami into the top 10 or even the top five.

Of course, coming away with a win is going to be a huge challenge for Miami. Non-conference opponents don't usually fare too well against the Buckeyes in The Shoe.

Miami is a fast team with their fair share of talented players at most every position on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately for the Canes, so too are the Buckeyes—even more so actually..

There are two ways to look at recruiting rankings—quantity vs. quality.

For example, in 2008, Miami signed 33 players compared to Ohio State only signing 20. Both Scout and Rivals ranked the Miami class ahead of the Ohio State class even though the average star rating for Miami players was 3.33, while the average star rating for Ohio State per recruit was 3.9.

In this case, bigger recruiting classes clearly do not equal better recruiting classes.

Here are how the two schools stack up against each other in recruiting when the quality of class is measured as opposed to just the number of recruits that committed to each school.

Each team currently has players on their squads that were members of one of their classes between 2006 and 2010, so those are the years that will be used in the chart below.

Year   OSU Class Rank     Ave. *    MIA Class Rank     Ave. *

2006       7th                  3.60               10th                3.41

2007       5th                  3.73                7th                3.72

2008       2nd                  3.90               17th                3.33

2009       4th                  3.80               15th                3.37

2010       8th                  3.47               30th                3.03

As you can see, Ohio State has out-recruited Miami in all five seasons. 2006 and especially 2007 were comparable, but the last three classes weren't very close, as all were significantly in favor of Ohio State.

Miami fans will want to point out that while recruiting numbers and rankings do matter, they are not everything since not all highly touted recruits live up to expectations, while less-heralded prospects sometimes prove to be diamonds in the rough.

Point taken.

So let's get down to it and look at what does, and will, matter most when these two titans clash this coming Saturday.

Here's a good place to start
Ohio State's Terrelle Pryor and Miami's Jacory Harris

Both Ohio State and Miami opened the 2010 season with decisive victories last Thursday night. The Buckeyes cruised to a 45-7 win over Marshall, while the Hurricanes shutout Florida A&M University, 45-0.

The stats each school has compiled so far are from one game vs. inferior opponents, so while they may or may not indicate what we could expect to see on 9/11, they're still worth mentioning.

Miami—By the Numbers

QB Jacory Harris showed no signs of any lingering issues from off-season thumb surgery. In just two quarters, he completed 12/15 passes (80%) for 210 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 263.6. Harris took care of business and could be poised to lead his team to the ACC title, and maybe more. If he can produce similar results against one of the nation's better defensive units, his name could start moving up closer to the top of the 2010 Heisman watch list.

Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson led Miami with six catches for 115 yards and two touchdowns. Only two other Miami receiver had more than 30 yards, but both had less than 45.

Running back Lamar Miller led the Canes in rushing with 65 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown. Damien Berry caught a 32-yard touchdown pass and had another 45 yards rushing. Mike James had six caries for 36 yards.

As a team, Miami totaled 405 yards, while holding A&M to 110 yards and just eight first downs the entire game. The shutout was the first by a Miami defense since 2006.

For the record, FAMU is a FCS school, so while Miami looked impressive, those individual and overall team statistics might not be very similar to their offensive and defensive totals when they meet the Buckeyes this weekend.

Ohio State—By the Numbers

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor continued to play as he did in the 2010 Rose bowl. In just a tad over three quarters of work, he completed 17/25 pass attempts (68%) for 247 yards and three touchdowns, for a QB rating of 190.59. The majority of his passes were perfectly on target and he seemed very comfortable not scrambling, but rather remaining in the pocket and finding his receivers.

Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher led the Buckeyes with three catches for 113 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown that was perfectly placed in stride by Pryor. Two of DeVier Posey's four receptions for 41 yards went for touchdowns. Tight end Jake Stoneburner caught three balls, also for 41 yards.

In only one half of play, running back Brandon Saine carried the ball nine times for 103 yards and found the endzone twice. Four backs in all averaged more than six yards per carry. Jaamal Berry had seven carries for 80 yards. Dan Herron rushed for 44 yards on seven carries and Jordan Hall added 32 yards on just five carries.

As a team, Ohio State totaled 529 yards, while holding Marshall to 199 yards and 11 first downs the entire game. The OSU defense pitched a shutout as well, but was charged with a special teams touchdown that Marshall scored after returning a blocked 53-yard field goal try.

Ohio State—Miami: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be only the fourth ever meeting between Ohio State and Miami.

• Ohio State is 2-1 all time vs. Miami with the lone defeat, a 23-12 loss coming in 1999, and the two wins coming in 1977, a 10-0 shutout, and in 2003, the classic 31-24 double-overtime thriller for the BCS title.

• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 36-8 vs. non-conference opponents.

• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 57-7 at home.

• Miami is 26-16 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents, but only 1-4 in road openers.

• Miami has improved every season under Randy Shannon, winning five games in 2007, seven games in 2008, and nine games in 2009.

• Since 2007 under Shannon, Miami is 4-6 against top 25 opponents, but only 1-5 against top 25 opponents on the road, having only defeated then-No. 18 FSU in Tallahassee in 2009.

Summary and Prediction

Miami is fast, but so is Ohio State.

Miami has recruited well, but Ohio State has recruited better.

Miami has a very good quarterback, but so does Ohio State and theirs can also hurt you running the ball.

Miami may just have the best group of receivers in the nation, but Ohio State's group isn't far behind, just younger and less experienced.

Miami has one of the best defensive fronts you will find, but Ohio State's might just be the best in the country.

Miami has a pretty good offensive line, but the Ohio State o-line is one of the top five lines in the nation.

Miami has one of the better secondaries in the country. Ohio State's secondary has a couple of new faces, but could still be one of the best when it's all said and done.

Miami finally has a good coach in Randy Shannon who has their program heading in the right direction. Ohio State has Jim Tressel, the best coach in the Big 10, who also happens to be one of the best six or seven coaches in all of college football.

It could be close, and a back-and-forth shootout, but this Buckeye squad will be fired up, and so will 95,000+ Buckeye fans. They will be too much for the Hurricanes in the second half and should win by at least two scores.

Final Score

Ohio State 30
Miami 14

After the ludicrous 9-3 W/L record for Ohio State prediction of yours, suck on that Brian Griese...

August 30, 2010

Game 1- #2 Ohio State Buckeyes vs Marshall Thundering Herd
By Brian Sambecki

Where: Ohio Stadium
When: 7:30 PM (Thursday, Sept. 2nd)
TV: Big Ten Network

The last time that Ohio State met Marshall, it was 2004 and it took Mike Nugent's golden foot to save the day in the final seconds. Let's hope that the same situations doesn't present itself on Thursday night.

How odd does that sound by the way? A Thursday night game! At Ohio State! I never thought I would see the day, yet I am not shocked as it is all about the dollars and cents that are thrown at the universities and athletic departments these days. Still, it will be very odd when I am in the Shoe on a weekday watching Buckeye football. I digress...

Football is finally back in the good graces of the present and for once, ladies and gentleman, optimism in Columbus is back in full force to begin the 2010 season. Not since the season opener of the 2006 season (OSU entered the polls ranked #1 in the nation) has there been this much hype and anticipation for Buckeye football, and it isn't hard to figure out why. Going into the 2006 campaign, the men of the scarlet and gray were coming off a 34-20 Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame. Hmmm... sounds familiar.... oh yeah! The Buckeyes overcame the red-hot Oregon Ducks in the Rose Bowl 26-17 back in January to set up a run at the national championship in 2010 -- correction, in a few days. Thursday will mark the first time in four years that the Bucks will enter a season coming off a bowl victory. Winning bowl games in college football is the ultimate spring board to bigger and better things the following year, and for a team starving for success as much as Ohio State had been in recent years things could be very, very interesting this season.

The Thundering Herd shouldn't present any major obstacles for OSU to hurdle en route to a season opening victory, but there are a few things to watch out for here. Starting defensive end and pass rush specialist Nathan Williams will not play against Marshall, so junior Solomon Thomas will start in place of him. Watch to see if he can make anything happen in season opener, mainly because if he is impressive enough then he could be another piece to the puzzle of an already stacked OSU defense. Speaking of injuries, the secondary has been banged up throughout training camp as evidenced by C.J. Barnett starting at strong safety as projected started Ohrian Johnson was unable to practice for a few weeks. Starting cornerback Chimdi Chekwa has been hampered by a hamstring injury as well (those are tough to shake), so we will just have to see how everyone plays despite some issues there. I expect big things from this secondary despite the early injury issues.

Here are the top two things that I am looking for in this game: offensive line play and the true progression of Terrelle Pryor. OSU's offensive line has been average at best in games such as these the past several years, and the time is now for this group to come out and start the year off with a bang against a lesser opponent. If the line is able to impress, then the night will certainly be a success. Then it all comes down to Terrelle Pryor. How much has he progressed since the Rose Bowl, really? It is only one game -- not to mention the first game of the season -- but if he can come out and show maturity, smart decision making and a penchant for making the best play possible when given his opportunities then that will mark the beginning of what should be a continuing developmental process for a guy that has all the potential in the world. With that kind of potential comes the usual Heisman talk, but I will refrain from such talk until near the end of the year.

We all know that OSU will win this game, as the odds are probably around 99%. I don't have much to say strategically or X's and O's-wise, but OSU will win this game. I like Pryor to account for at least two total touchdowns, with the defense pitching a near shutout. A night game atmosphere should kill any chances of a potential upset (ala last year's Navy game, 2008 Ohio U.).

Note to Buckeyes: PLEASE don't look ahead to Miami. Thank you.

Brian Sambecki


Ohio State- 31
Marshall- 7

August 30, 2010

Games of the Week/ Big Ten Rundown
By Brian Sambecki

#3/5 Boise State vs #6/10 Virginia Tech in Landover, MD-
One of the big factors in this game is that while Boise State has to travel all the way from Idaho to the east coast, it is still a neutral site game. If this game were played in Blacksburg then I wouldn't hesitate in giving VT the nod. I expect for Heisman candidate Kellen Moore and the Bronco offense to move the ball consistently against a younger defense, however Bud Foster is one of the best defensive coordinators in the game and won't let his guys give up too many points. I like for the Hokies to keep the high powered Boise State attack below 24 points, while Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Williams and Darren Evans will be potent enough on the ground to sneak out of Landover, Maryland with an "upset" victory. This should be a fun one to watch.

Virginia Tech- 27
Boise State- 24

#16/21 LSU vs #18 North Carolina in Atlanta, GA-
In just another display of how dominant the SEC can be, the juggernaut conference hasn't lost in these kick-off games as of late vs. ACC competition (albeit Alabama was the featured team the past two seasons, which is quite a mismatch). North Carolina brings plenty of NFL talent to the Georgia Dome, however the some of the talent's eligibility is in doubt in the midst of separate NCAA investigations into the football program. Either the players play as if it could be their last game of the season, or they play distracted football. I am going for the latter. LSU wins a defensive slugfest and outlasts Butch Davis and the Tar Heels in Atlanta.

LSU- 18
UNC- 14

#22/24 Oregon State vs #6/7 TCU in Arlington, TX-
I happen to be in the minority that believes TCU will end up being the best non-BCS team by seasons end (not to copy Phil Steele). They are an excellent program that plays in a better conference that gives them more opportunity to make a splash on the national scene. Better competition = better opportunity. Better opportunity = bigger reward in college football. TCU has a chance to get off on the right foot early against a nice Pac 10 team in Oregon State. OSU is my pick to land in the Rose Bowl at seasons end, so I obviously like them. I like them enough to pick them to SHOCK TCU and beat them in Arlington this weekend. TCU will go on to win the rest of their games, though -- in my opinion.

Oregon State- 33
Texas Christian- 27

Big Ten Rundown-

Marshall @ Ohio State- TBA
Indiana over Towson (...why should I pick Towson?)
UConn over Michigan (Too much stability at UConn; Michigan is just the opposite)
Wisconsin over UNLV (Could be an interesting road game for the Badgers)
Notre Dame over Purdue (A shoot out should result in a win for Brian Kelly and ND)
Minnesota over MTSU (If Middle Tenn had Dwight Dasher, I would've picked the Raiders)
Michigan State over Western Michigan (Should be a routine victory for Dantonio)
Penn State over Youngstown State (Really?)
Iowa over Eastern Illinois (Really?)
Missouri over Illinois (I want to pick Illinois, but I know they'll just get beat again)
Northwestern over Vanderbilt (An upset? Not at all in my book)

August 28, 2010

Ohio State-Marshall 2010 Season Opener: Preview, History Lesson, And Prediction

Game Preview

The 2010 Ohio State football season is set to kickoff next Thursday night (9/2/10) at 7:30PM on the Big Ten Network as the Buckeyes host the Thundering Herd from Marshall University.

The Herd are coming off of a disappointing 7-6 season and are now under the direction of new head coach, Doc Holliday.

It could be understating the situation to say that Marshall is not currently a very good football program. Basically, the program has been down ever since Byron Leftwich departed in 2003.

They have several big holes to fill where they had talented players last year, or where they were projected to have them in 2010.

Their top rusher in 2009, Darius Marshall, declared for the NFL after the season and just a little over a week ago, it was announced that QB Willie Korn, a once-highly-regarded transfer from Clemson is now leaving Marshall for DII North Greenville after being told he would be moved from quarterback to safety.

Contrarily, Jim Tressel's Buckeyes are coming off an 11-2 season which culminated with their 26-17 Rose Bowl win over then-No. 7 Oregon, a game which has been billed as Terrelle Pryor's coming out party.

The Buckeyes did lose a handful of very good players from last year's team, but they return 16 starters and many of the projected new starters were used as part of a two-deep rotation so they are not raw and inexperienced.

As (unintentionally) disrespectful as this is going to sound, the fact is that even Ohio State's third or fourth string players could almost certainly defeat the first team squad from this Marshall team.

Since this is the season opener, I will mention a few of the key players from each team and list their respective stats from 2009. This section will be slightly different in future "preview article" editions over the coming weeks as the season progresses.

Marshall—By the Numbers

QB—Brian Anderson (6'3, 213) - Senior

In 13 starts, Anderson had 2,646 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, and a QB rating of 118.96. He was also sacked 24 times.

RB—Martin Ward (5'9, 201) - Sophomore

As a backup in 2009, Ward rushed for 393 yards and three scores, all while averaging 4.8 yards per carry.

WR—Antavious Wilson (6'0, 196) - Sophomore

Wilson led the Herd in receiving last year with 60 receptions for 724 yards and three touchdowns. He played in all 13 games a year ago, and in two of those games he had over 150 yards receiving.

WR—Aaron Dobson (6'3, 203) - Sophomore

Appearing in only six games last season, Dobson caught 15 balls for 358 yards and four touchdowns.

LB—Mario Harvey (6'0, 250) - Senior

Harvey led the Marshall defense in 2009 with 117 tackles and 7.5 sacks and he also had 1.5 tackles for loss.

LB—Kellen Harris (6'3, 232) - Junior

Harris recorded 71 tackles including 5.5 tackles for loss as well as one-half of a sack.

FS—Omar Brown (5'11, 194) - Junior

Brown's 73 tackles are second only to Harvey's 117 among returnees. He also has 10 passed defended ans two interceptions.

Ohio State—By the Numbers

QB—Terrelle Pryor (6'6, 235) - Junior

Pryor led the Buckeyes both through the air and on the ground, passing for 2,094 yards and 18 touchdowns and rushing for 779 yards and 7 touchdowns. He also threw 11 interceptions, a feat that he preferably not repeat or exceed in 2010.

RB—Brandon Saine (6'1, 220) - Senior

Saine is a dual-threat back who rushed for 739 yards and four touchdowns with a 5.1 yards per carry average. He also caught 17 passes for 224 yards and two scores—not bad considering he was part of a running-back-by-committee approach used last season in Columbus.

RB—Dan Herron (5'10, 202) - Junior

In eight full games, Herron rushed for 600 yards and scored seven touchdowns last season, but potentially see his role (and stats) diminished in 2010. With the emergence of a healthy Brandon Saine, as well as talented youngsters Jordan Hall, Jaamal Berry, and Carlos Hyde all looking to earn their share of playing time, Boom could be relegated to just a 3rd down and/or goal line back.

WR—DeVier Posey (6'2, 213) - Junior

Posey led Ohio State in receiving with 60 catches for 828 yards and eight touchdowns. He had over 100 yards receiving twice last year, and he caught the fourth quarter touchdown that sealed the victory over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

WR—Dane Sanzenbacher (5'11, 180) - Senior

Sanzenbacher wasn't that far behind Posey with six touchdown grabs and 570 receiving yards last season. His value and stats could increase this year as OSU is talented, but young and inexperienced, and in at least one case inconsistent, at the wide receiver position after he and Posey.

TE—Jake Stoneburner (6'6, 245) - Sophomore

Stoneburner had just two catches for 30 yards in 2009, but all indications from the Spring game are that he will be used as an extra receiver quite often in addition to his blocking duties.

DT—Cameron Heyward (6'5, 290) - Senior

Heyward came back for his senior year to "be the best" and to hopefully win the Big Ten and a national title. He posted 46 tackles with 3.5 for loss and 6.5 sacks. Although the stats don't tell the full story or include how often he was double-teamed, he will need to nearly double those numbers this year to truly be considered the best ever lineman at Ohio State. I'm not sure that he can, but he might. He's that good.

LB—Ross Homan (6'0, 230) - Senior

Homan quietly led the Buckeyes in tackles with 108 in addition to his two sacks and five interceptions. I see no reason why he won't post similar stats in 2010.

LB—Brian Rolle (5'11, 220) - Senior

Rolle emerged as a star immediately last year when he became the hero against Navy in the too-close-for-comfort 2009 opener. He recorded one sack and was second on the team in tackles just behind Homan with 95, seven of them for loss. Another big year out of Rolle should be on tap.

Ohio State—Marshall: History Lesson and Other Tidbits

• This will be only the second ever meeting between Ohio State and Marshall.

• Ohio State defeated Marshall 24-21 on a last play, 55 yard FG in 2004.

• Ohio State has won 31 straight home openers by an average of 20 ppg.

• Since 2001 under Jim Tressel, Ohio State is 35-8 vs. non-conference opponents.

• Overall since 2001, Ohio State is 56-7 at home.

• Marshall is 0-5 all-time vs. Big Ten opponents.

• Marshall has lost 10 straight road openers by an average of 23 ppg.

• Marshall is 1-13 all-time and has lost 9 straight vs. ranked FBS opponents.

Summary and Prediction

We know No. 2 Ohio State is highly regarded and should have a very potent offense to compliment one of the stingiest and best defensive units in the nation.

We also know that no matter how you slice it, Marshall is clearly considered a cupcake in anyone's opinion unless if you are asking a coach, player, or fan of the Herd.

Like I said before, I am not trying to be overly disrespectful to the Marshall program, but it has seen its' better days.

The 2004 game was a fluke, so with all that being said, it is time for my not-so-surprising final score prediction.

Let it be known that I wouldn't be shocked by a shutout, and even though Ohio State could easily break 50+ points, Tressel is a classy coach that tends not to run it up just for "style points" like the Urban Meyer's of the world.

Ohio State 45
Marshall 3

August 25, 2010

Projected Big Ten Standings
By Brian Sambecki

I believe that this will be the best year that the Big Ten has seen since 2003, as there are three legitimate national championship contenders in the league to complement an array of teams with high potential and enough tradition to believe that 2010 can be a special season.

Here are my projections for the 2010 Big Ten season:

1. Ohio State Buckeyes (12-0, 8-0)
2. Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 6-2)
3. Wisconsin Badgers (10-2, 6-2)
4. Penn State Nittany Lions (9-3, 6-2)
5. Michigan State Spartans (9-3, 5-3)
6. Northwestern Wildcats (8-4, 4-4)
7. Purdue Boilermakers (6-6, 3-5)
8. Michigan Wolverines (5-7, 3-5)
9. Illinois Fighting Illini (5-7, 3-5)
10. Indiana Hoosiers (4-8, 1-7)
11. Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-9, 0-8)

Yes, I'm aware that me picking OSU to go undefeated comes across as a product of Buckeye bias, but just wait and see. Eleven wins or more is the vibe that I am getting from this team.

Iowa and Wisconsin are fairly equal to me, and in many respects I give the edge to Wisconsin as being the better overall team. Unfortunately for Wisconsin, they have to travel to Iowa City a week after playing OSU. That is why Iowa gets the nod for me.

Penn State should lose to Alabama and then have some time to find their true identity as a team. Joe Pa will get things under control in time to send his team packing for a New Year's bowl game.

Michigan State tends to be a lot of people's "sleeper" team, and always seems to let the masses down. I generally have mediocre expectations for them, but this season I really like this team. Greg Jones may be the best linebacker in the nation, and he will lead a stingy defense and the offense will be much improved from 2009.

Northwestern, in all honesty, should've won the Outback Bowl. If they did, then they would be getting a lot more hype for 2010. I know that they will never be able to match up athletically with the best teams in the conference, but 8 wins and another shot at a good team in a New Year's Day bowl game should be just what the doctor ordered for a team that hasn't won a bowl game since 1948.

Purdue is a hard team for me to figure out. I like what Coach Hope is doing in West Lafayette, but I think they may be another year away from seriously challenging for the upper echelon of the conference. QB Robert Marve, a Miami transfer, will be a household name in Big Ten country by seasons end and should lead Purdue to a bowl appearance and keep the fans buzzing for the next season.

Illinois and Michigan are the same team to me: vast offensive potential, little to no defense. All hatred for the maize and blue aside, Illinois has a better chance of putting together a good defense and making it to a bowl game. The Wolverines don't even know who their quarterback is going to be (not a good sign... trust me) and have sustained heavy losses on the defensive side of the ball. Illinois has a shot at the postseason, but I am calling for both teams to stay home for the holidays and FINALLY can both of their head coaches.

Indiana has a lot of promise but they will probably fall short of getting to a bowl game. Minnesota....well, Minnesota is not good. I hate counting out the Gophers, but they are my pick to be in the cellar by the end of the season -- bye, bye Coach Brewster.

Hopefully my expectations for OSU are matched by season's end.


August 23, 2010

Breaking Down the Preseason Polls:
What it Means for the Buckeyes

By Brian Sambecki

Whether or not you believe in the validity -- or in essence the necessity -- of preseason college football polls, they are here once again to kick off the upcoming season.

The AP poll, just like the USA Today poll, features the same collection of teams in their respective top five rankings however in a different order.

Alabama and Ohio State appear as the top two teams in both polls, with Boise State, Texas and Florida rounding out the top portion of the poll.

What does this all mean if you are an Ohio State fan, other than the fact that you are a favorite to play for the national championship?

Let’s dissect the preseason polls to answer that pressing question.

Average Preseason Poll Team Rankings (Top Ten):
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
2. Ohio State Buckeyes
3. Florida Gators
4. Boise State Broncos
5. Texas Longhorns
6. TCU Horned Frogs
7. Oklahoma Sooners
8. Virginia Tech Hokies
9. Nebraska Cornhuskers
10. Iowa Hawkeyes

For starters, starting at #2 historically speaking is a better start than sitting atop the first poll of the season (only five teams since 1976 who began the year #1 finished as such in the AP poll).

What also bodes well for the Buckeyes is that their primary competitor in the polls is in the same conference as #1 Alabama, while top ten teams Texas and Oklahoma - also in the same conference – would have serious ground to make up even if one were to win the Big 12.

While this all sounds like good news for OSU, there are actually a couple major hurdles for this team to overcome in order to fulfill the prophecy of a fourth national title appearance in the past nine seasons.

First of all there is the Big Ten road competition factor, which features top ten team Iowa and 12th ranked Wisconsin.

Both of those teams feel as if they should have beaten the five-time defending Big Ten champion last season, which adds significant meaning to when OSU travels to Iowa City and Madison to take on two extremely energized and confident football teams.

Don’t be surprised if either Wisconsin or Iowa trips up the Buckeyes on their quest for the national championship (my bet would be on Wisconsin, who owns a much better track record vs. the Buckeyes).

Outside of their own conference, though, the biggest hurdle Ohio State might have to face in 2010 will not come in a contest on the field, but rather in a debate that will be out of their hands if OSU loses in the regular season: the Boise State Broncos.

Boise State enters the year as a consensus top five team, and faces top ten opponent Virginia Tech on Labor Day followed up by another top 25 team in Oregon State later in the month.

If the Broncos are victorious on national television against Virginia Tech, and go on to beat Oregon State as well en route to an undefeated year, they will be the gorilla in the room for every poll voter to live with when it comes time to vote for who should be in the top two at season’s end.

Given the momentum that non-BCS schools have been gaining in recent years in terms of national respect, I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked to see undefeated Boise State surpass a one loss and preseason ranked #2 Buckeye team.

How can all of this be avoided, Ohio State?

It’s simple: do not lose.

Eh… easier said than done.

August 20, 2010

Vlogging and Blogging The Buckeyes: A Top to Bottom Preview of Ohio State's 2010 Running Back Stable


Every Buckeye fan knows that Ohio State has a lot of depth at the running back position, but others outside of the Buckeye Nation don't know about these young men as we do.

As Fall camp is soon to be nearing completion, and with the start of the season just two weeks away, it seemed like a fitting time to let everyone know just how deep and talented (albeit raw in some cases) the 2010 Buckeyes will be by taking a look at each of our backs that will have a chance to contribute on the field this season.

Brandon Saine1

Not staying healthy has always been the knock on Saine, but entering this season, all systems are go for Zoom.

There is still likely to be somewhat of a running back by committee approach, but Saine is expected to get the lion's share of the workload.

A year ago, a relatively healthy Saine posted 963 rushing and receiving yards combined, scoring four touchdowns on the ground and two through the air.

This season, not only will he carry the ball, but as evidenced by the Oregon game, he will also be used as a receiver out of the backfield and from the slot at times.

For Saine, plays like the one at 1:25 of this video should become a regular occurrence this season.

If (big if) he can remain healthy, Saine is going to be used a lot like Reggie Bush was at USC, (sans the free house and cash in return) so don't be surprised when he has a big year for the Bucks.

Dan Herron2

Two words come to mind when thinking of Boom—very dependable.

By all accounts, Boom is a very hard worker and a great team mate. In 2009, Herron gained 600 yards on the ground for a 3.9 yards per carry average and scored eight total touchdowns (seven rushing, one receiving).

On occasion, he has shown the ability to break a big run, but he's also been somewhat inconsistent at times. One minute he's breaking through for a big gain, then the next it's as if he trips over a blade of grass with nothing but wide open space ahead of him.

Hopefully we see more of what we saw against Michigan in 2008 from Boom this season and the next.

He needs to be more patient and let the play develop instead of running straight into a pile of bodies before the hole opens up. His field vision could also use some fine-tuning.

Doing those things should hopefully (for his sake as far as playing time goes) help him move his game to the next level.

Jordan Hall3

The former HS teammate of QB Terrelle Pryor out of Jeannette, Pennsylvania filled in for the then-injured Saine and Herron and showed that he is strong, fast, and explosive out of the backfield.

Somewhat of an afterthought in the class of 2009, the undervalued Hall proved his worth when he had his opportunity and at least for now has been rewarded accordingly as the third running back in the pecking order.

In the six games he saw action in last season, Hall gained 248 yards on 48 carries for an average of 5.2 yards per carry, which was a higher ypc average than both Saine and Herron.

Unfortunately, I couldn't find a video specifically of Hall from last year at Ohio State, but he played very similarly for the Buckeyes as he did for his HS team, the Jayhawks.

He was pretty solid on defense too as you'll see. It probably won't happen, but I wonder if a position change could be in his future given our depth at running back?

Here are a few highlights from his Jeannette days.

If Hall can hold off the surging and highly-touted Jaamal Berry for the No. 3 back behind the oft-injured Saine and Herron, he could find himself playing a key role for the Buckeyes in 2010 and could emerge as an unlikely star.

Jaamal Berry4

Miami Palmetto's Jaamal Berry was the most prized recruit in the Ohio State 2009 recruiting class. Saying he was/is considered a can't miss star-to-be is almost an understatement.

But not every highly-regarded prospect lives up to the sometimes ridiculous hype and expectations. The jury is still out on Berry as he took a redshirt in 2009 after battling a nagging leg injury all season.

Although by most accounts coming out of camp, Berry sits at No. 4 behind two upperclassmen and fellow 2009 recruit Jordan Hall on the depth chart, many believe he also won't be down there for long.

He is a game breaker, possessing moves that have been compared to those of Barry Sanders and also is a literal speed-burner with another gear, allowing him to blow past defenders.

Obviously he has not seen any on-the-field action in the Scarlet and Gray as of yet, but take a look at this impressive highlight reel of him from his HS days.

After watching the video, I think it is easy to see why Buckeye fans are chomping at the bit to see Berry on the field this season and for the next three to four years.

He may have to bide his time as the third or fourth option in the crowded Buckeye backfield this season, but he won't be held down for long if he even comes close to performing near the level of expectation we have for him.

Carlos Hyde5

Originally a member of the 2009 recruiting class, Carlos was one point shy on the A.C.T. of meeting the academic standard for admission to OSU.

So instead, he followed the path former Buckeye great and 1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George took to Columbus by spending a year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. With the plethora of backs already on campus and in the class of 2009, that might have been the best situation for Hyde.

At 6-1, 230, the former Cincinnati, Ohio native is a big, powerful back who has been compared to both Eddie George (6-3, 235) and Beanie Wells (6-1, 235). He clearly has the physical tools just as they did and if he can carry the rock like those two did, look out!

Like Berry, Hyde has not seen any live game action for the Buckeyes, but he too has a very impressive highlight reel from his days at Naples HS in Florida—take a look.

As you can see from the highlights, Hyde is big, strong, and fast for his and Buckeye fans are very excited to see him on the field as sokn as possible.

Others worth noting

Roderick Smith out of Fort Wayne, Indiana is considered the top recruit from the 2010 class but he is yet to make it on campus. He might be wise to take a similar path as Hyde did and save a redshirt year and a year of eligibility by working out his academic issues then joining the Buckeyes in 2011.

Now-former Buckeye Jermil Martin officially transferred to Ashland University recently because of the abundance of backs ahead of him at OSU. He decided on AU so that he can play right away instead of sitting out a season per NCAA rules.

Also worth mentioning are fullbacks Zach Boren and Adam Homan. Both are great blocking backs, but Boren has also been making his case to actually carry and catch the ball on occasion as well so keep an eye out for that.

There is no shortage of depth, talent, or speed at the running back position in Columbus and it is easy to see why we Buckeye fans feel that we (not USC or Alabama or Florida) have the best stable of backs top to bottom in the nation.

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August 17, 2010

College Football's Top Five Running Back Duos for 2010

There is always a lot of talk, conjecture, and debate when it comes to individually ranking the top running backs in the nation.

But what about the top running back duos—that is, the best backs who are teammates.

Here are my top five. I encourage everyone to post your comments on which of my rankings you agree or disagree with.

Duo Number Five

Brandon Saine and Dan Herron - Ohio State

In 2008, Herron sainereplaced the injured Beanie Wells and impressed the coaches so much that he entered 2009 as the starter.

Saine came back healthy in 2009 and led the Buckeyes in rushing yards by a running back with 739. He also had 224 receiving yards and scored six total touchdowns.

Herron added 600 yards on the ground and seven touchdown runs.

Entering 2010, it appears that Saine is the No. 1 back with Herron a very close second.

With the O-line expected to be one of the best in the country, another huge year from the Buckeye backfield should be on tap.

Duo Number Four

Adam Robinson and Jewell Hampton or Adam Wegher - Iowa

With Hampton out for the season due to injury, Robinson led the Hawkeyes rushing attack in 2009 with 834 yards and five touchdowns, and Wegher added another 641 yards and eight scores.

Before being injured, Hampton was considered to be the guy who would take over for NFL-departed Shonn Greene.

In 2008, Hampton rushed for 463 yards and scored seven times as Greene's backup.

I'm sure Robinson did enough in 2009 to be Iowa's No. 1 or No. 2 in 2010, so the only question is who will be his main sidekick, Hampton or Wegher?

I'm still leaning towards Hampton, but no matter who it ends up being, expect plenty of production behind their big line and the reduction of pressure on turnover-prone quarterback Ricky Stanzi.

Duo Number Three

Christine Michael and Cyrus Gray - Texas A & M

A year ago, Michael just edged Gray to lead the Aggies in rushing with 844 yards and 10 touchdowns. Gray added 757 rushing yards, 226 receiving yards, and seven total touchdowns (five rushing, two receiving).

QB Jerrod Johnson, who is also a pretty decent ball carrier himself, is one of the best passers in the Big 12 and is expected to pass more than scramble this season.

That should allow Michael and Gray even more running room in 2010.

1,000 yards seasons could be possible for both.

Duo Number Two

Mark Ingram and Trent Richardson - Alabama

Everyone knows about Ingram, the 2009 Heisman winner. He gained 1658 yards on the ground and had 334 receiving yards. In total, he scored 20 touchdowns (17 rushing, three receiving).

Not everyone knows about Ricahrdson, but they soon will. He is considered by many experts and fans alike as one of the best non-starters in college football.

Last season, he averaged nearly 5.2 yards per carry, as he rushed for 751 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Only a sophomore in 2010, he's tough,fast, and just might someday be Alabama's second Heisman winner.

He was twice named the SEC freshman of the week in 2009 and was also tabbed as a member of the SEC All-Freshmen team.

QB Greg McElroy seems more of a game manager type to me, so it's not hard to imagine another huge year rushing for the Tide with both Ingram and Richardson carrying the rock.

Duo Number Onewilliams

Ryan Williams and Darren Evans - Virginia Tech

Coach Frank Beamer has a huge problem on his hands heading into 2010.

However, it's not a problem he minds having.

How will he decide which one of his star running backs will be 1A and 1B?

In 2008, freshman Darren Evans rushed for 1,265 yards and scored 11 touchdowns. Prior to the 2009 season, Evans tore the ACL in his left knee and was lost for the entire season.

evansHokie fans were at a loss and many thought the season would be a disaster.

But for the second straight season, a freshman, this time Ryan Williams, ran wild.

Williams unexpectedly had one of the best statistical seasons of any back in the nation, gaining 1,655 yards and finding the end zone 21 times.

Expectations are sky high for the 2010 Hokies, and Williams and Evans are two of the biggest reasons, justifiably so.

That's it. That's the list. Now let's hear from my fans and haters alike.

Let the debating begin.

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August 12, 2010

The Buckeyes Start Here: Six Ohio State Players Who Will Lead the Team to the BCS Title

Despite the title of my article, I am certainly not a blind homer, nor am I an out-of-touch fool.

In order for the Ohio State Buckeyes to win the 2010 BCS title, all 22 starters, the majority of the second-team players that add depth to each unit, and the players that help to comprise the special teams units (kicker and punter included) will all have to contribute significantly.

That being said, there are three players from the defense and three players from the offense who will individually have the biggest roles in making sure their respective units succeed in ultimately giving the Buckeyes the best chance to win every game up to and including the BCS championship game.

I will now reveal them one at a time for your viewing and reading pleasure.

# 36 Brian Rolle: Linebacker

A year ago, the Buckeyes had to replace three-time All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Enter Brian Rolle.

Rolle, a senior from Immokalee, Fla., is entering his second season as a starter and a solid middle anchor for the Ohio State defense.

Prior to last season, Rolle was a special teams veteran, having seen significant playing time in that role in both 2007 and 2008.

At just 5'11'' and 220 pounds, Rolle is fast, compact, yet deceivingly powerful when it comes to separating a receiver from the ball.

Rolle was the hero for the Buckeyes last year when he intercepted Navy QB Ricky Dobbs' pass attempt on a two-point conversion and returned it 98 yards for the defensive PAT with just 2:23 remaining to seal the win in the season opener.
For the season, he was the second leading tackler for Ohio State with 94 solo take downs.
He is expected to make key contributions and will bring invaluable senior leadership to a defensive unit once again expected to be the best in the Big 10 and one of the best in the nation.

# 51 Ross Homan: Linebacker

Homan returns for his senior season and his third as a starter at LB.

If experience truly is priceless, Homan is worth his weight in gold.

In 2006 as a freshman, he was not a starter, but saw action in all 13 games that season and recorded 28 tackles.

He missed the 2007 season due to injury and took a medical redshirt.

When he returned in 2008, he earned a starting role and was fourth in solo tackles that season with 67.

In 2009, Homan assumed the role of the top LB at Ohio State and led the team in tackles with 108.

All signs point to him once again leading the team in tackles and will likely continue the tradition of linebackers from Ohio State finding themselves heading to the NFL.

At 6'0 and 225 pounds, Homan has excellent speed and big-play ability.

All Homan has done is work hard, improve every year, and become the quiet leader of a great defense.

He may not be flashy or have the household name of some of his predecessors, but he's silently as good, if not better.

He is yet another star linebacker in-the-making at Ohio State, the real linebacker U, and opposing QBs and WRs would do well to take note.

# 97 Cameron Heyward: Defensive End

The son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward, Cameron Heyward is a 6'5, 290-pound defensive lineman for the Buckeyes.

To the pleasant surprise of many Buckeyes fans, Cam decided to skip the NFL for one more season and return for his senior year—one he intends on making his best season yet.

Heyward has had starting experience since his freshman year of 2007, but he seized that role permanently in 2009.

A year ago, he had 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 QB sacks. With the talent along the defensive line, Heyward will look to post double digits in each of those categories this coming season.

Recently named to the 2010 Nagurski and Lombardi watch lists, Heyward is blessed with size, agility, and excellent speed for his size.

Clearly, he has all the physical tools to be one of the best defensive lineman in the country in 2010.

# 3 Brandon Saine: Running Back

Saine, now a senior tailback, played high school football and ran track for the Piqua, Ohio Indians.
He was compared favorably to Reggie Bush while entering his freshman year at Ohio State due to his ability to be a jack of all trades—running, blocking and even spending time in the slot as a WR, which he may also do this season in Columbus due to the depth behind him in the Ohio State backfield.

Saine has been officially timed at 4.40 seconds in the 40-yard dash, although he has been unofficially timed at 4.25 seconds.

After being stuck in the shadow of Beanie Wells in 2007 and being injured in 2008, Saine was finally healthy for most of the 2009 season. He split carries with Dan Herron, who had impressed coaches in 2008 when Beanie Wells went down with injury, but is expected to be featured more as the top back in 2010.

Last season, Saine finally showed flashes of brilliance and the potential greatness Buckeye fans expected from him when he committed to OSU in 2007.

For those who doubt Saine is a potential top RB, consider that as a healthy featured back during his senior year of high school, he ran for 1,895 yards and scored 27 touchdowns on 259 carries, while recording 30 receptions for 412 yards.

Last year, Saine averaged 5.1 yards per carry while rushing for 739 yards and scoring four touchdowns. He also had 224 yards receiving and caught two touchdown passes.

He will definitely be a featured option for OSU this year and if he stays healthy, he will be one of the top backs in the Big 10.

# 8 DeVier Posey: Wide Receiver

Not a newsflash: Junior wide receiver DeVier Posey will be the top WR target for Ohio State in 2010.

Posey wasn't always great in 2009, but he was almost always good, improving his game from week to week, culminating in the Rose Bowl with his eight catches and 101 yards receiving, including a picture-perfect touchdown pass and catch to help seal the victory.

Overall, Posey caught 60 balls for 828 yards in 2009. What is best for the team is what matters most, but anything less than 80 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving in 2010 for Posey will be somewhat of an individual disappointment.

I believe the running game will open up the passing lanes for Posey and those numbers should be attainable.

Dane Sanzenbacher, Taurian Washington, and Chris Fields are also other talented receivers that should help prevent defenses from doubling up on Posey.

Of course, Posey's overall success will also depend heavily on the play of the quarterback...

# 2 Terrelle Pryor: Quarterback

Junior QB Terrelle Pryor is clearly the centerpiece of the Ohio State offense and the face of the program.

I wonder if any other quarterback that boasts a 19-3 record as a starter has ever had to face the level of criticism that Pryor has had to endure since taking over for the Buckeyes in week four of his freshmen season.

It's not all negative, though. Pryor is considered by several notable sources as the preseason 2010 Heisman Trophy favorite.

It hasn't always been perfect or pretty, especially when it comes to mechanics and footwork, but this kid is a winner, pure and simple.

As advertised when he was the No. 1 overall recruit in the entire 2008 recruiting class, he's also an amazing freak of an athlete.

It's not often that a 6'6, 240 pound quarterback can run a sub 4.4 40-yard-dash and shove countless would-be-tacklers to the ground.

Defensive coordinators may want to pull their hair out when defending against Pryor and the Buckeyes as 2010 unfolds.
In his 22 career starts, Pryor has amassed 3,405 passing yards, 30 touchdown passes, 1,410 rushing yards, and 13 rushing touchdowns.

With his improved footwork and mechanics, it's safe to expect a similar path for Pryor that Troy Smith took from 2005 to 2006 as Coach Tressel gains more and more confidence in him, just he did Smith.

Pryor came to Ohio State because he wanted to become a pro-style QB and he should take significant steps towards that goal this year. His passing stats are sure to increase and his rushing numbers should decline somewhat.

One thing that is for sure...

He still has the ability to scramble away from pressure and keep a drive alive if need-be, but he is improved and will continue to improve as a passing QB with each passing week. Opposing defenses are going to have few options when it comes to game planning against him.



In closing, I just want to add that I am not guaranteeing or predicting that the Buckeyes are going to win, or even play for the BCS title.

I am only suggesting that they have a very high probability of accomplishing that goal if they remain healthy and the six players I mentioned live up to the hype.

I know I will enjoy the journey no matter what. It's going to be a great season and hopefully expectations meet reality and it culminates in another national title for the Buckeyes.

I just found this Sports Illustrated cover that features Ohio State. I had not seen it until just now. I must be on to something seeing as how SI used the same players for the cover that I mentioned in the story.

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July 15, 2010

OSU Faced with High Expectations…Yet Again
By Brian Sambecki

This is far too familiar, and I am hesitant to crown them just yet.

For the fourth time since 2003 the Ohio State football team is likely to be ranked in the top two in the preseason polls, which history has shown has not been an indication of how the Buckeyes will fare at season’s end.

In 2003, OSU was ranked second coming off the school’s seventh national championship season, and failed to reach their high expectations with an 11-2 season (thanks, Maurice).

Three seasons later, the eventual Heisman winner Troy Smith led the Bucks into the 2006 campaign with the preseason #1 target on their backs. They went wire to wire – in the regular season. The BCS championship game failed to provide Columbus with an eighth national title.

2008 saw the most players ever to play in a BCS national championship game return to attempt to win the ever-elusive national championship and began the season ranked second, only to lose three games en route to a “disappointing” 10 win season.

Now, as we are in the midst of the doldrums of July in a time where football is closer to coming into focus, the expectations for the Buckeyes are more than crystal clear from a fan base that has witnessed many talented teams falls short of the team’s ultimate goal: win the Big Ten for a record sixth straight season, and win the national championship.

Led by Heisman contender and 2010 Rose Bowl MVP Terrelle Pryor, OSU will likely be ranked second in the first AP and Coaches poll set to be released at the end of the month and the beginning of August.

By my count, nine starters on offense and seven on defense return (Phil Steele lists six, but Dexter Larimore started over four year letterman Todd Denlinger for the majority of the season), which bodes to produce a more consistent, experienced and focused group heading into 2010 than the previous season that featured losses to both USC and Purdue early in the year.

One fact to not discount is how confident this team will be heading into this season after a 26-17 Rose Bowl victory over the Oregon Ducks in January, which was the first major bowl victory for Ohio State since the 2006 Fiesta Bowl over Notre Dame.

If you were to ask me if I think that this team is ready to shake off the trend of failing to win a national championship after being ranked in the top two in the preseason, I would take a deep breath and be forced to say yes.

All the pieces are in place for a fast, no-name tenacious defense to fly around the field (what else is new?), and for the offense to take flight after a brilliant showing in the Rose Bowl.

Ohio State should be in the national championship game for the third time in five seasons with a legitimate shot at taking home the trophy, and Phil Steele agrees with me.

Still…I am hesitant to crown them just yet.

Only 50 days until college football begins in 2010.

Check out my blog at http://buckeyefootballmadness.blogspot.com

September 28, 2009

By HD Handshoe Founder—BlockONation

The Buckeyes are now (3-1) and probably should be (4-0) but we won't dwell on the past mistakes that led to the loss vs. USC, but rather, we will look ahead.

Ohio State won easily vs. Illinois as I predicted. I specifically said I was not expecting another shutout, but definitely a win. My prediction was 38-13. The actual final score was 30-0.

Meh, close enough.

This Buckeye "D" is much better than I thought, and I already thought they were very good.

This week, Ohio State will play their first true road game of the season as they will travel to Bloomington, Indiana to take on the (3-1) Hoosiers.

Last week, Indiana nearly pulled out a win vs. Michigan in the Big House.

Unfortunately for them, the officials gave the game away on a terrible call when there clearly appeared to be a simultaneous catch and possession by an IU receiver and a UM defensive back, but the officials ruled it an interception.

After a home cooked booth review, the call was upheld (how convenient) and UM escaped with a shady win.

IU coach Bill Lynch was livid, and rightfully so.

While I don't mean to totally disrespect Indiana, they really aren't a good football program (their three wins were all pretty close over FCS or small FBS foes Eastern Kentucky, Western Michigan, and Akron), the closeness of this game shows me UM is vastly overrated, and that Ohio State "should" win by a minimum of three to four scores this week.

10/03/2009—Game Five—7PM
TV: Big Ten Network


Here is the recent and all-time history between OSU and IU.

Ohio State leads the all-time head-to-head series (65-12-5)

Ohio State is 17-2-1 vs. IU last 20 meetings (dating back to 1985).

Last Ohio State loss at IU was in 1988 by a score of 41-7 (That year, IU was 8-3-1 and OSU was 4-6-1).

Since 1991, Ohio State is 16-0 vs. IU.

Tressel is 6-0 vs. IU, outscoring them 222-57, or an average game score of 37-10.

A third straight shutout win could become a reality, but either way, I fully expect the Buckeyes to win, and win big.

Final score prediction:

Ohio State 44
Indiana 16

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September 25, 2009

By HD Handshoe

Last week, Ohio State traveled to Cleveland to take on the Toledo Rockets and there were concerns the Buckeyes may suffer from a hangover, due to their close heartbreaking loss in week two vs. USC.

No such luck for Toledo, as the Buckeyes came out firing en route to a 38-0 thrashing.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor had a career day, passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns, as well as rushing for 110 yards and a score.

Wideout Dane Sanzenbacher also had a career day, catching five balls for 125 yards and two scores.

Toledo, and QB Aaron Opelt, who had individually led the nation in total yardage, could never get in rhythm against an overbearing Buckeye defense that continues to gel and improve week to week.

That was then—This is now.


The Buckeyes (2-1) are set to open Big Ten Conference play this week as they play host to the Fighting Illini (1-1) from Illinois. The game is on ABC at 3:30 EST.

Starting at 3:00PM, there will be a LIVE, in-game chat over on my Blog, BlockONation, so come join us, just before and during the game!

Illinois began the season losing in an unexpected blowout to rebuilding Missouri, before bouncing back vs. FCS foe Illinois State.

Star QB Juice Williams has zero touchdown passes, an interception, and only 179 yards thus far and star receiver Arrelious Benn has been injured and only has one catch for nine yards. To say the least, Illinois has been a major dissapointment so far.

That being said, the Buckeye know they cannot take any conference opponent for granted (see USC vs. Washington last week), especially Illinois in Columbus. Under Tressel, the Buckeyes have averaged 25.5 points per game and given up 18.3 points per game in the series.

Since Tressel took over in 2001, Ohio State is 4-2 vs. the Illini, but only 1-2 in games played in Ohio Stadium. In 2007, Illinois defeated the Buckeyes 28-21 in Columbus, nearly derailing then No. 1 Ohio State's BCS title game hopes.

Ultimately, a series of late-season upsets allowed the Buckeyes to move back up to No. 1 in the final BCS standings, only to lose in New Orleans (a "neutral" site) to LSU anyway.

Overall, Ohio State leads the all-time head-to-head series 61-30-4, and since 1967, OSU is 13-7 vs. Illinois at home.

I expect the Buckeyes to play much like they did last week against Toledo on both sides of the ball vs. Ron Zook and his Illini team. I am not expecting a shutout, but I am going to call for a Buckeye victory.

My final score prediction:

Ohio State 38
Illinois 13

On a side note, I just have to ask—Is it just me or does anyone else think Ron Zook is really Ricky Bobby's Dad, Reece, from Talladega Nights?

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BlockONation ::: Buckeye Football Lives Here

Terrelle Pryor / Illinois photo Copyright Dan Harker - www.TheOzone.net  

September 21, 2009

Early Season Report
By: Jason Nafzinger

Recap: After some offensive woes in a close win over Navy and a heartbreaking loss to USC, Ohio State exploded in a shutout win over Toledo in Cleveland Browns Stadium. The Buckeyes will be looking to carry this new offensive firepower into Big Ten play.

Stats so far: Ohio State is 51st with 4.28 yards per rushing attempt and 34th with 8 yards per passing attempt. Overall, they have averaged 28 points and 383.3 yards in their first three games. Defensively, they are 43rd with 3.27 yards allowed per rushing attempt and 47th with 6.1 yards allowed per passing attempt. Overall, they have given up 15 points and 288.3 yards a game.

Coming up: The Buckeyes should shine in home games against Illinois and Wisconsin, which sandwich a night road trip at Indiana. Anything short of winning all three of these would be a disappointment.

Jason Nafziger writes about Pro and College Football at http://onfootball.wordpress.com/


September 8, 2009

Pryor vs. Barkley in Week One
By: Jason Nafziger

Terrelle Pryor's first pass against Navy was an incompletion, but it was still better than Matt Barkley's first pass against San Jose State-a completion that went for negative two yards. I'm sure it comes as no surprise that I think the SC/Ohio State game will come down to the play of these two QBs. Yeah, USC's running backs destroyed SJSU and Navy racked up
plenty of ground yards on the Buckeyes. But the two offenses are completely incomparable. Navy's undersized O-line uses a chop-blocking technique to negate their physical disadvantages. It's a style that virtually no other team uses and makes it extremely difficult to generate backfield pressure. Meanwhile, SJSU was simply overmatched talent-wise and could not be expected to hang with USC's stable of backs for an entire game (although they did quite well for the first quarter).

So, let's look at those QBs:

First Half:

First Drive
Pryor, 2-4, 47 yds, TD
Barkley, 1-2, -2 yds, punt

On USC's second drive, Joe McKnight fumbled on the first play.

Second Drive
Pryor, 3-4, 32 yds, FG
Barkley, 0-0, sacked, punt

Third Drive
Pryor, 1-1, 0 yds, punt
Barkley, 1-1, 22 yds, fumble

Fourth Drive
Pryor, 4-4, 48 yds, rushing TD by Pryor
Barkley, 0-1, 0 yds, punt

Pryor did not play for the remainder of the first half, as Joe Bauserman was inserted as part of Tressel's predetermined gameplan.

Fifth Drive:
Barkley, 2-2, 23 yds, rushing TD by Johnson

Sixth Drive:
Barkley, 2-2, 50 yds, rushing TD by Johnson

On the next drive, Barkley ran the ball for 1 yard, then Bradford ran for a TD on the second play

Seventh Drive:
Barkley, 2-3, 45 yds, rushing TD by McKnight

In just four first-half drives, Pryor went 10-13 (77%) for 127 yards and a TD. He threw no interceptions and also scored a rushing TD. Pryor attempted an average of 3.25 passes per drive.

In seven first-half drives, Barkley went 8-11 (73%) for 138 yards and no TDs. Barkley attempted an average of 1.5 passes per drive.

Second Half:

Pryor threw just 8 passes in the second half, completing 4 of them for 47 yards. He also had an interception on a tipped pass.

On the second drive of the half, with his team up 35-3, Barkley completed 6 consecutive passes for 93 yards and a TD. The Trojans did not rush the ball during the drive. Barkley did not play in the fourth quarter.

To me, the question is whether Barkley started shaky and then found a groove or just found himself with no pressure once the running game had built a solid lead. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a hostile environment if Ohio State can slow down USC's backs, or at least force some fumbles like SJSU managed to do. I expect a lot more backfield pressure against USC's more typical pro-style offense.

Jason Nafziger writes about Pro and College Football at

September 2, 2009

By HD Handshoe

From the moment he arrived at the Naval Academy, Ricky Dobbs was touted as a potential star in the football team's triple-option attack.

This year, he will have the opportunity to live up to those expectations.

After providing a glimpse of his potential last year, Dobbs will be the primary weapon in the Middies attack, as he will be counted on to run the offense and lead the Midshipmen to their seventh consecutive winning season—and their seventh straight bowl game appearance.

Last season, Dobbs finished third on the team with 495 yards rushing and second in scoring with eight touchdowns despite only playing occasionally in relief and starting only one game.

In that spectacular debut as a starter, Dobbs (who replaced injured starter Jarod Bryant) ran for 224 yards and four touchdowns versus SMU.

"There is something special about Ricky. Players, coaches, fans, they just love this kid," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "I think our team will rally around Ricky as our leader."

Dobbs is a fast and powerful runner, and his strong arm makes him a legitimate double threat. Navy has led the nation in rushing for four straight years, but hasn't had a decent passing attack in quite some time. This season could be different.

Offensive coordinator Ivin Jasper wants his quarterback to throw the ball downfield more often to prevent opponents from loading up to stop the run, an idea that Dobbs has readily embraced.

"I would love to throw the ball on every down," Dobbs said.

That might also have more to do with necessity with the personnel losses Navy suffered from last season.

Gone are seven offensive starters including fullback Eric Kettani, who rushed for 1,862 yards and 14 touchdowns, and slot back Shun White, who ran for 1,092 yards.

Many thought that the Navy rushing attack and effectiveness might slip after head coach Paul Johnson departed for Georgia Tech, but that didn't happen.

Niumatalolo, Johnson's longtime assistant and triple-option disciple, guided the Midshipmen to their sixth straight bowl berth, while his team averaged just under 300 rushing yards per game.

The Navy triple-option offense has obviously given many teams a major headache over the past four seasons, but Navy has not seen a defense the caliber of Ohio State's during that span.

This 2009 "no-name" Ohio State defense, as some of the Buckeye players are referring to themselves, has drawn some comparisons to that of the 2002 OSU defense that helped secure the BCS National Championship win over the Miami Hurricanes in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

The game may be close in the early going as the Buckeyes adjust their defense, but ultimately, the Ohio State offense should be able to move the ball and score without too much difficulty.

Then again, the week before the USC game last year, Ohio State nearly overlooked Ohio University in a too-close-for-comfort, come-from-behind-win so never count your chickens before they hatch, as the saying goes.

I'm going with a semi-conservative prediction here and saying the Bucks win 38-20.

With the game just three days away, I'd like to remind everyone about the Take the Field Tribute, and ask everyone attending the game to show these young men their due respect during their pregame entrance.

After the kickoff, anything goes!

Good luck Navy, but go Buckeyes!

HD Handshoe is the founder and publisher of

BlockONation ::: Buckeye Football Lives Here


August 21, 2009

Using the Schedule to Improve National Perception
(Or... What Would Zooker Do?)
By: Jason Nafziger

This year, Illinois defies standard Big Ten scheduling practices and will take two off-weeks during the season and play games both of the last two weeks. While almost every other conference team will be accumulating bowl-season rust like usual (Wisconsin plays @Hawaii on December 5), the Illini will still be active. Whether it works to their advantage or not
remains to be seen, but it makes me wonder if the Buckeyes should give this a try.

The first benefit would be that while the SEC and Big 12 (and the less-stellar ACC) are playing their conference championship games, we would have The Game, which should eventually return to being the effective Big Ten title game it once was. Ohio State-Michigan could kick off a huge day of college football around the nation and the winner would certainly reap the poll rewards.

Another plus would be the ability to move the annual Ohio State-Penn State tilt (quickly becoming a top rivalry in its own right) to the traditional ESPN-hyped "Rivalry Saturday" that The Game used to occupy. One of our off-weeks could be used prior to this game for extra preparation, more injury recovery time, and to build up national hype. Similarly, we could use the other off-week before our big early-season non-conference matchups.

I think extending the season with multiple strategically-placed off-weeks and using the final week for big-time rivalry games like Ohio State-Michigan would help the conference immensely in terms of performance and national perception. And we don't even have to add a team or a championship game.

Jason Nafziger writes about Pro and College Football at


August 14, 2009

2009 Big Ten Conference Breakdown: Team-by-Team Projections

Big Ten football fans, as you know, the 2009 season is almost upon us.

Fall camps have begun and coaches, players, and fans alike are excited and optimistic about how this year will unfold over the next four months.

But seriously, who wants to wait that long?

It's true, the season is too short and that's why we love it, but if you're interested at all in knowing how your favorite Big Ten team is going to fare, read on.


I'll begin at the top and work my way down through all 11 teams.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Toughest home game: vs. USC on September 12th

Toughest road game: at Penn State on November 7th

Best case regular season record: (12-0)

Worst case regular season record: (8-4)

Teams that might beat them: USC, Penn State, Illinois, Iowa

Penn State Nittany Lions

Toughest home game: vs. Ohio State on November 7th

Toughest road game: at Illinois on October 3rd

Best case regular season record: (11-1)

Worst case regular season record: (8-4)

Teams that might beat them: Iowa, Illinois, Ohio State, Michigan State

Iowa Hawkeyes

Toughest home game: vs. Northwestern on November 7th

Toughest road game: at Ohio State on November 14th

Best case regular season record: (10-2)

Worst case regular season record: (8-4)

Teams that might beat them: Arizona, Penn State, Michigan State, Ohio State

Michigan State Spartans

Toughest home game: vs. Iowa on October 24th

Toughest road game: at Notre Dame on September 19th

Best case regular season record: (9-3)

Worst case regular season record: (6-6)

Teams that might beat them: Notre Dame, Michigan, Illinois, Northwestern, Iowa, Penn State

Northwestern Wildcats

Toughest home game: vs. Penn State on October 31st

Toughest road game: at Iowa on November 7th

Best case regular season record: (9-3)

Worst case regular season record: (7-5)

Teams that might beat them: Minnesota, Michigan State, Penn State, Iowa, Illinois

Illinois Fighting Illini

Toughest home game: vs. Penn State on October 3rd

Toughest road game: at Ohio State on September 26th

Best case regular season record: (9-3)

Worst case regular season record: (6-6)

Teams that might beat them: Missouri, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Northwestern

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Toughest home game: vs. California on September 19th

Toughest road game: at Ohio State on October 24th

Best case regular season record: (8-4)

Worst case regular season record: (5-7)

Teams that might beat them: California, Northwestern, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan State, Illinois, Iowa

Wisconsin Badgers

Toughest home game: vs. Iowa on October 17th

Toughest road game: at Ohio State on October 10th

Best case regular season record: (7-5)

Worst case regular season record: (5-7)

Teams that might beat them: Fresno State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Ohio State, Iowa, Michigan, Northwestern

Michigan Wolverines

Toughest home game: vs. Ohio State on November 21st

Toughest road game: at Iowa on October 10th

Best case regular season record: (7-5)

Worst case regular season record: (4-8)

Teams that might beat them: Western Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Iowa, Penn State, Illinois, Ohio State

Purdue Boilermakers

Toughest home game: vs. Ohio State on October 17th

Toughest road game: at Oregon on September 12th

Best case regular season record: (4-8)

Worst case regular season record: (2-10)

Teams that might beat them: Toledo, Oregon, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Minnesota, Ohio State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State

Indiana Hoosiers

Toughest home game: vs. Ohio State on October 3rd

Toughest road game: at Penn State on November 14th

Best case regular season record: (3-9)

Worst case regular season record: (1-11)

Teams that might beat them: Everyone except for MAYBE Eastern Kentucky. That is the only team I think they are almost guaranteed to beat.

Enjoy the 2009 season everyone!

HD Handshoe is the blog publisher and founder of BlockONation ::: Buckeye Football Lives Here


July 29, 2009

Translating Tressel
By: Jason

Senator Jim Tressel Tressel is a locked vault to the media

With Big Ten Media Days wrapped up and shut down it's time to take a look back at Jim Tressel's time in the Windy City with a little segment we would like to call "Translating Tressel".

If you have watched Ohio State football the last eight years you know by now that The Vest's long, well-spoken answers to the media's questions say a lot without saying anything at all, giving writers, reporters, and bloggers like us headaches when trying to figure out anything going on behind the scenes in Columbus. This prompted me to take a deeper look into Tressel's quotes from the Big Ten Media Days and attempt to "translate" Tressel-Speak, to help Buckeye Nation possibly get a glimpse of what is going on inside the walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center this summer as the 2009 season approaches.

So, without further twiddling of the thumbs, here is your translation from Tressel-Speak to English of The Senator's Big Ten Media Days quotes:

On Pryor

What Tress Said: "He has a real passion to do well. He wants to make sure he can do all that the team needs, and I thought for a freshman he was pretty careful with the football and grew to learn from every experience he had. There were some tough experiences along the way."

Translated: Terrelle Pryor came in here and had his eyes on the starting job from day one. I really wanted him to put the team first and go up the middle for the first down against Penn State, but other than that and the interception at the end of the game he pretty much played mistake free football for us. Hey he saved us from having to play USC in the Rose Bowl right? You see how valuable he can be to this team and the growing pains last year will be worth it this year as he is much wiser to go along with his freakish talent.

On Playing A Later Schedule In The Big Ten

What Tress Said: "As far as playing later and those kinds of things, you know, part of me is an old traditionalist that I always enjoyed Thanksgiving weekend because my dad was a football coach, and typically his season had just ended. We got to see him for the first time since the massive Ohio Conference media day that he would head out to, so that was a special time. I also have an affinity for the fact that our players who really train all year-round in our conference setup, they have a chance to be home for an extended Thanksgiving weekend, which really there's nothing more important in any of our lives than our family and having the chance to be with them."

Translated: This playing late stuff is absolutely stupid. Who thought moving the Michigan game to Thanksgiving Weekend was a good idea anyway? It just delays the beat down Rich Rod and the boys will be getting by another week and inconveniences the students and their plans to jump in Mirror Lake. On another note, playing later would also take us out of the running of being the first into the clubhouse like we were in 2007 when we backed into the National Championship Game while our foes choked. Oh, and I love family time too so it's nice to have that time as well.

On the Running Backs

What Tress said: "Well, it's difficult to replace a Beanie Wells. Beanie was an outstanding player, and he was the kind of guy that as the season went on or as the game went on, he got stronger and stronger. We used to talk about there was a cumulative effect when he carried the ball through the course of a game or through a season. So you can't replace exactly what he does or what he did."

Translated: I mean I like Herron and Saine, but WHY DID YOU HAVE TO LEAVE BEANIE? Arizona is not that great. Look how it's treated us our last two visits! You could be stiff-arming the likes of Navarro Bowman and Sean Lee and you opt to split carries with Tim Hightower? How am I going to give the ball 40 times to these guys I got coming back---especially with those two freshmen making trouble?

On The Inferiority Complex in the Big Ten

What Tress said: "I don't know that anyone in this conference has an inferiority complex. If you watch ball games, our guys will play toe to toe with anyone. If you watch the NFL draft, they'll get selected at the regularity of almost every conference."

Translated: Well 41-14, 38-24, and 35-3 were pretty darn bad. But, hey, how about the names of Ted Ginn, Anthony Gonzalez, Troy Smith, Roy Hall, Doug Datish, Jay Richardson, Antonio Pittman, Quinn Pitcock, Kirk Barton, Larry Grant, Vernon Gholston, Marcus Freeman, Donald Washington, Chris Wells, Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline, James Laurinaitis, and Malcolm Jenkins? Take that Urban and Les! You may beat us but we provide a life after college!

On the coaching staff

What Tress said: Yeah, I think if you can keep you staff together, it helps your efficiency in everything you do, he said. Whether its expectations of the players or expectations of the coaches or the recruiting relationships and the position coach relationships. Sometimes if you have a new position coach year after year youre just in the getting-to-know-you phase and that slows your growth."

Translated: Alright are you guys happy? Here is your answer about why I have kept Bollman on staff so long. He's a good recruiter and gets the linemen to come here and buy into what he's teaching. I can't fire him because players might not like a guy getting fired who recruited them. Take note Rich Rod, maybe you can keep some of those guys up North.

July 28, 2009

Ohio St Season Preview
By: Jason Nafziger

To kick off the Ohio State blog here at PhilSteele.com, I thought I’d take a look at the Buckeyes’ first three opponents of the season, what we should expect from them, and what we might be able to do to hurt them. I’ll dig more into the schedule as the season progresses and we start to see how teams are shaping up.

Navy (September 5)

Despite losing flexbone guru Paul Johnson to Georgia Tech in 2007, Navy continues to lead the nation in rushing yards per game. Last year, the Midshipmen put up 292 yards an outing. This season, they lose 4 of their top 5 rushers from last year, and that includes their top 2 passers as well. They also lose their top 3 receivers, so expect an even bigger focus on running than usual, especially early. Getting Navy in the first game is a big plus for the Buckeyes, as they will still be working out their kinks and trying to gel on the field with very little offensive experience returning. This will take a little pressure off of Ohio State’s inexperienced linebackers, the key group in stopping Navy’s unique attack.
Navy’s defense has never been spectacular, as they rely more on their clock-draining offense to keep the ball out of opponents’ hands. They do return 6 of their front 7 on defense this year, so they will be at least be experienced. With only one returning starter in the secondary, this is a good opportunity to let Terrelle Pryor work long and develop some downfield chemistry with his speedy young receivers.

USC (September 12)

QBs Aaron Corp and Matt Barkley will enter this game with only a home blowout against San Jose State under their belts. I expect them to split a lot of time in that game, and would be surprised if Pete Carroll didn’t use them both against Ohio State. Each is more mobile than typical USC signal-callers, but not as athletic and fast as Pryor. Whoever is under center for the Trojans will have a very experienced offense around him, with only receiver Patrick Turner departing from last year’s starting squad. Ohio State’s defensive line will have to live up to their hype and put some serious pressure on the young QBs to give the Buckeyes a chance in this one.
On the flip side, the defense returns only 3 starters and could still be going through some growing pains in week two. The only time the defense seemed even a little confused in last year’s game was when Pryor was on the field, so expect Carroll to focus on containing him and forcing him to throw the ball. However, if Pryor can build on the progression he showed in the spring, forcing him to throw may not be the best thing for USC either.

Toledo (September 19)

Technically a home game for the Rockets, this game will be played in Cleveland Browns stadium and the crowd is certain to be predominantly Buckeye. Toledo returns a lot of talent from last year’s team that went 3-9 despite beating a down Michigan team. QB Aaron Opelt could be dangerous, especially if Ohio State is not focused following the big game against USC. The Rockets bring back their entire offensive line and rushing attack from last year, so it will be extremely important to take advantage of all pressure opportunities for the Buckeyes.


Ohio St Preseason Breakdown
By: HD Handshoe

With only a mere 39 days left until the start of the 2009 college football season, the excitement is building across the state of Ohio and around the nation.

With the loss of Chris Wells, Brian Hartline, Brian Robiskie, James Laurinaitis, Marcus Freeman and Malcolm Jenkins, the Buckeyes have some big shoes to fill on both sides of the football.

The only team right now that possibly reloads better than Ohio State is USC and that is up for debate as the start of the 2009 season nears.

We’ll certainly have many of our early-season questions answered in 50 days when USC travels to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes in prime time at the Shoe.

From all indications this spring, questions about the passing ability of Terrelle Pryor may have been answered.

In front of a record-breaking crowd of 95,722 Scarlet and Gray clad fans, Pryor fired impressive touchdown passes to Taurian Washington and Ray Small within seconds of each other.

His accuracy and mechanics, which have been his most glaring weaknesses as a passer, seemed finely-tuned that day.

That being said, it was the Spring game, verses his own teammates, in a gloried scrimmage.

Success may not come so easily when it counts against the likes of USC, Iowa, Illinois or Penn State among others.

Boom Herron, Brandon Saine, and Ohio State’s top recruit from the 2009 class, Jaamal Berry should be able to satisfactorily compensate for the loss of Wells at running back.

Other than senior Ray Small, the inexperienced wide receiving corp is young and raw, but also fast and talented!

DeVier Posey, Lamaar Thomas, and Taurian Washington along with Small will most likely be the top targets for Pryor this season, but a couple other names you might possibly hear are those of 2009 recruits James Jackson, Duron Carter and Corey Brown.

The defense will be better than one might think after losing Laurinaitis, Jenkins and Freeman. Ohio State always has a deep crop of linebackers ready to step in to a starting role.

Etienne Sabino and Austin Spitler are the names to remember at linebacker and returning starter, senior Kurt Coleman will anchor the defensive backfield along with Chimdi Checkwa and Anderson Russell. 2009 recruit Jamie Wood could also see some playing time as well.

Ultimately, the off-season improvements made on the offensive line (or lack thereof) and in the passing game by Terrelle Pryor and his ability to remain healthy in 2009 will determine the fate of this years squad.

The 2008 senior-laden Ohio State team fell far short of expectations after being considered a preseason legitimate BCS title contender.

The 2009 Buckeyes may conversely overachieve and find themselves, to the surprise of skeptical football fans nationwide, and even a bit to their own surprise, right in the thick of a 2009 BCS Championship hunt.

HD Handshoe is the blog publisher and founder of BlockONation. Please visit his website and blog at www.BlockONation.com