Archives for September 2011

Spartans Preview

The Essentials
What: Ohio State vs. Michigan St
Where: The Horseshoe
When: 3:30 PM, Oct. 1, 2011
The Line: Ohio State -3
Television: ABC
Weather: Upper 40s, cloudy, windy (20mph sustained with gusts of 32mph), chance of showers

Dantonio returns home. This time, however, he will not be facing his mentor across the sidelines, but will be facing his mentee. The roles have been reversed. Fickell’s foundations as a defensive mind were set at Dantonio’s chalkboard, and the two remain close acquaintances to this day.

The Bad News
With due respect to Al Golden, this will be Fickell’s first true coaching test. Dantonio has established a reputation as one of the more saavy coaches in the B1G, taking calculated risks at times and playing conservative at others. Also, he’s been able to extract more productivity out of his players than their talent level would seem to allow.

The Spartans lead the nation in total defense (172.3 ypg) and pass defense (101 ypg) and have an offense with veteran skill players that has looked dangerous at times. They are led by fifth-year senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, who is way better than OSU’s fifth-year senior quarterback, who we affectionately call “B-Deck Bauserman.”

The Spartans have destroyed the cupcakes on their schedule, beating Youngstown State, Florida Atlantic and Central Michigan by a combined score of 117-13. They lost their only game to a decent opponent when Notre Dame easily brushed them aside 31-13.

The question is: which MSU team will show up on Saturday? The one that rushed for 197 yards against Central Michigan; or the one that only managed 29 yards against Notre Dame?

The Good News
While Michigan State won a share of the B1G championship last season, it wasn’t without drama. They needed a fake field goal in OT to beat ND, and needed miracle 4th quarter comebacks to beat Purdue and Northwestern. Remove those three breaks, and MSU would be viewed as a ‘fair-to-middlin’ team at best.

Dantonio hasn’t done that well on the road, either, going 10-10 overall (and 1-6 against ranked opponents).

At the Big Ten preseason media day, Dantonio said, “Every time we’ve lost a game, when I talk about lost it decisively, which has not been very often, it’s because we’ve not won the game up front.” With that in mind, OSU seems to hold a decisive advantage in the trenches against MSU. The Buckeyes will likely continue to rely on the power-I/spread hybrid being developed for Braxton Miller.

The best benefit of this approach is that OSU’s best and most reliable player, Zach Boren, will continue to see significant time. With OSU’s larger and more athletic offensive line, and “I’m Zach Effin Boren’s” continued ownage of all things linebacker, the advantage in the trenches and rushing game seems to favor OSU.

Boren leading Braxton… woe unto any defender who sees this approaching.
Image via The-Ozone.

Will this strategy allow Braxton some play-action magic to convert some 3rd downs via the pass? Time will tell.

The Unknown
Ultimately, because neither team is particularly dominant this year against good competition, the game will likely hinge on whichever team capitalizes on the other’s mistakes. In that vein, MSU has had special teams difficulties this season. The Spartans gave up an 89 yard kickoff return against ND. They’ve also had major problems with penalties, committing 27 penalties (to OSU’s 16). Jordan Hall has been getting closer to the end zone each week… will this be the week he punches a kickoff or punt return in?

OSU will be without Jaamal Berry, a potent weapon on offense and special teams. However, if there’s one position OSU could suffer a loss of depth in and it have negligible impact, it would be at RB. Expect no drop off in rushing with Hall, Hyde, and Miller in the backfield.

Finally, the weather may play an unforeseen role. The conditions are expected to be windy and gusty, which could affect the kicking game in particular. Michigan State edges OSU out slightly in FG percentage on the year (but only slightly).

What to think
Doom is nigh if…

  • OSU is forced into repeated 3rd-and-longs
  • The game becomes a FG-fest
  • Fickell gets his glass-eyed Adam Sandler face going

Rapture is around the corner if…

  • Hall gets a special teams score
  • The defense gets a defensive score
  • Any OSU RB goes over 100 yards


Ohio State 24 (with 1 TD via defense or special teams)
Michigan State 17

Jamaal Berry incident

So I really don’t like writing articles without all the known info but this strange case deserves a write up of some sort.

Wednesday morning at Enarson Hall on the Ohio State campus a “physical confrontation” between two people was reported to campus police. When campus police arrived they found an incoherent and mentally unstable Jamaal Berry who was reportedly involved in a wrestling match with an as of yet to the public unknown other person. Berry reportedly couldn’t tell police his name or location. A OSU professor who witnessed the situation said that Berry was “clearly out of sorts and… quite disconnected from his surroundings,”. Jamaal Berry voluntarily admitted himself to the hospital to be subjected to some tests and to be monitored.

As of Friday morning Berry has been released and no criminal charges have been filed as of yet. His status for this weekends game against Michigan State is completely up in the air let alone his career at OSU. We at MOTSAG wish nothing but a healthy recovery for Berry and hope whatever his issue is/was is solved soon and he can have a productive career and life.

Coach Fickell radio show recap

– Coach Fickell is very happy with the special teams play so far and says it is a real strength of this team.

– He feels Braxton did a great job in his first start and he protected the ball well. He has progressed nicely in practice this week as well.

– Doesn’t look like either Philly Brown or Nate Williams will play this week.

– Fickell said Christian Bryant brings a certain confidence and IT factor they need at the safety position.

– Jordan Whiting is out for this weeks game with an undisclosed injury.

– Ryan Shazier is part of the 4-man rotation at LB and will get increased playing time as the season goes on.

– Kenny Guiton may get some time on special teams on the kick off coverage and return teams.

Michigan State by the Numbers

Statistically Speaking
Ohio State
Value (Rank)
Value (Rank)
Michigan State
Rushing Offense (ypg) 184.0 (39) 71.3 (10) Rushing Defense (ypg) Michigan State
Passing Offense (ypg) 156.8 (109) 101.0 (1) Passing Defense (ypg) Michigan State+++
Pass Efficiency 132.7 (65) 79.3 (3) Pass Efficiency Defense Michigan State
Total Offense (ypg) 340.8 (91) 172.3 (1) Total Defense (ypg) Michigan State++
Scoring Offense (ppg) 28.0 (69) 11.0 (8) Scoring Defense (ppg) Michigan State+
Rushing Defense (ypg) 99.3 (29) 143.3 (65) Rushing Offense (ypg) Ohio State
Passing Defense (ypg) 177.0 (21) 274.0 (36) Passing Offense (ypg) Push
Pass Efficiency Defense 111.6 (24) 145.9 (42) Pass Efficiency Offense Push
Total Defense (ypg) 276.63 (16) 417.3 (52) Total Offense (ypg) Ohio State
Scoring Defense (ppg) 15.8 (17) 32.5 (47) Scoring Offense (ppg) Ohio State
Turnover margin 0.50 (33) 1.25 (12) Turnover margin Push
Penalty Yards/game 33.0 (13) 45.3 (42) Penalty Yards/game Ohio State
Sacks (/game) 2.50 (26) 1.25 (41) Sacks Allowed (/game) Push
Sacks Allowed (/game) 1.25 (41) 1.25 (80) Sacks (/game) Ohio State
3rd Down Conv. (%) 40.4 (75) 30.6 (22) 3rd Down Conv. Def (%) Michigan State+
3rd Down Conv. Def (%) 29.8 (18) 38.6 (82) 3rd Down Conv. (%) Ohio State+
Redzone Offense (%) 82.4 (66) 80.0 (43) Redzone Defense (%) Push
Redzone Defense (%) 88.9 (84) 75.0 (88) Redzone Offense (%) Push
  Difference <25 in National Rank = Push
  Difference >25 in National Rank = Ohio State
  Difference >50 in National Rank = Ohio State+
  Difference >75 in National Rank = Ohio State++
  Differences >100 in National Rank = Ohio State+++

As always, stats are grabbed from

Ohio State Stampedes the Buffaloes, 37-17

Raise your hand if, after the first series of the Braxton Miller era, you had doubts.

Even little ones, back there in the dark recesses of your Buckeye consumed mind. I did.

Then, a shanked punt, a nice little eight-yard run for Jordan Hall and Braxton was off an running. Two running plays for 16 yards by Miller and just like that, the Braxton Miller era at Ohio State was officially underway.

He didn’t look back after that.

While the stat line isn’t “impressive” (5-13, 83 yds, 2 TDs; 17 rushes, 83 yds), the product on the field was. For one game at least, he lived up to the hype he came to Ohio State with. He was faster than I remember and while the moves and jukes might not make you forget about Terrelle Pryor, it was certainly a sufficient substitute.

And not to get ahead of myself, but on those sprint roll-out passes (especially the 32 yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith), I dare say he looked Troy Smith-esque. Laying off the hyperbole, let’s just agree to say the Miller looks promising and should have a long illustrious career at Ohio State. That should involve multiple Heisman Trophies.

(Oops, there’s that hyperbole again)

The defense played as well as could be expected. They held Colorado’s offense well under their average offensive output and shut down their playmakers, especially Paul Richardson. A few performances stood out: I thought the insertion of Christian Bryant at Safety paid immediate dividends. He was involved in numerous plays and seemed to be around every big stop.

Tyler Moeller aslo had his best game, contributing to the aforementioned shut-down of Paul Richardson.

Ryan Shazier hasn’t worked his way into the starting rotation yet, but I’d be really surprised if he isn’t there by the end of the season. He’s making his presence known on special teams and he’s making the most of his playing time.

The Buckeye Battlestation is almost fully operational. One more game before the suspended players are able to join their teammates on the field. While their impact on the game may not be immediate, their senior leadership will be. And as the season goes on, the debacle against Miami game gets smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.

Poll Dancing: Week Four, or Seminole Wind

With each passing week, the task of assigning value to cumulative wins and losses becomes more and more difficult.  I don’t envy the coaches who contribute to the poll as they rack their brains each week to remember which grad assistant they assigned to fill out the ballots this year.

Last week, Florida State seemed to be punished a bit too much for losing to the #1 ranked team in the country, especially when compared to other teams who were dropped similarly for losing to far inferior opponents.  And this week, the Seminoles went and lost again and again they fell the standard 10 spots that had, up until now, been the standard sentence for not being the best team on the field on a particular day.

To be fair, FSU is the only 2-loss team still ranked, although they teeter precariously at #24.  They have also lost by 10 to the #1 team at home and by 5 to the #15 team on the road.  The teams they have beaten (Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern) are laughers, but at least they blew them out.

It’s hard for me to believe I’m taking up the mantle for a team that I despise to the point that they are essentially well-tanned Wolverines in my eyes, but that’s how terrible a job the coaches are doing.  Let’s take a look at some of the teams ranked ahead of FSU:

#23 West Virginia

This week, the Mountaineers lost to #3 (now tied at #2) LSU at home by 26, nearly double the combined margin of both of Florida State’s losses.  Yet, WVU dropped just 7 spots while the Seminoles have fallen a total of 19.  West Virginia’s wins?  1-3 Marshall, Norfolk State (which I’m pretty sure is a railroad college), and 1-2 Maryland, a team that just got BEAT. DOWN. by Temple.

#18 Arkansas

The Razorbacks also lost to a top team this week, the other half of that #2 tie Alabama.  Arkansas’ loss was on the road and only by 24, so they just dropped 6 spots.  The Razorbacks have beaten 1-2 Troy, 0-4 New Mexico (who just lost to Sam Houston State even though I’m pretty sure there is no state named Sam OR Houston), and 0-4 Missouri State (even though I’m pretty sure there is no state named Missouri).

#13 Texas A&M

Maybe you could make an argument for the SEC-bound Aggies since their loss this weekend was just a one-point home drop to #6 Oklahoma State.  For this, A&M fell only 5 spots.  The Aggies’ wins are against 3-1 SMU and 1-3 Idaho.

Here we have three teams who all lost to top-10 opponents and dropped no more than 7 spots in the poll.  Yet, when FSU lost to a top-1 opponent last week, they dropped 9 spots–and then another 10 this week for losing to a top-15 opponent.  None of these teams has a signature win against a good opponent, so there’s no “body of work” argument in play.  For some reason, the ‘Noles losses are being treated more harshly than similar losses by other teams.

This Week’s Laughing Stocks by Conference

ACC – Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia

Big 12 – Dan Beebe

Big East – Toledo/Syracuse replay officials, West Virginia, West Virginia


Big Ten – Minnesota


2011 Blogpoll Ballot, Week #5 (draft)

Colorado Live Game Chat

Saturday Open Thread

We haven’t had one of these in a long while. We’ll still have the Live Game Chat for the Colorado game, but that isn’t for a few hours. There’s a full slate of games all day, so why not chat while the day goes by?

I’ll be in and out during the noon block of games but we’ll be around for Colorado and thereafter.

To get the conversation starter, here’s a picture of Mark May sportsMonkey shared on Google+ earlier:

The most uninteresting man in the world

Colorado Preview

The Essentials
What: Ohio State vs. Colorado
Where: The Horseshoe
When: 3:30 PM, Sep. 24th, 2011
The Line: Ohio State -16.5
Television: ABC/ESPN2
Weather: Mid-60s, possible showers

Colorado comes to town. If Fickell has any chance of retaining the title “Head Football Coach” he better have the team loaded for bear. Or Buffaloes. Either way, come Saturday evening, if there isn’t a smoldering pile of Ralphie at the fifty yard line, there will be a reckoning.

So let’s do this preview thing (format heavily borrowed from Brian at Em Grab Blag)

Run Offense vs. Colorado

This has the potential to be the classic strength vs. weakness match-up. How good or how bad is Colorado’s run defense? On one hand, Hawai’i had success moving the ball on the ground (particularly their QB, Bryant Moniz). Moniz ran all over them including a 57 yard gash where he simply outran everyone on the field for a TD. On the other, they held Cal to a hundred yards on the ground, almost 80 under their season average. It’s hard to gauge how good (or how bad) Colorado’s run defense will be.

Colorado, having seen the success other teams have had, will probably load up to stop the run, particularly in between the tackles. After last week’s passing embarrassment, establishing the run will be priority numero uno. A rejuvenated Jordan Hall will be called upon early and often. He ran well when given the chance and the line got movement against and not terribly bad Miami offensive line. Even against eight and nine man fronts, Hall found lanes and ran hard.

Carlos Hyde is listed as a starter alongside Hall and both will see lots of opportunities.

Key Matchup – Jaamal Berry vs. the depth chart. Come on, dad, let me play!

Pass Offense vs. Colorado



SERIOUSLY STOP, MY SIDES ARE HURTING. Quit joking. Passing game! You’re so funny.

Oh, we’re being serious? Okay then.

Braxton Miller was announced as the starter and will get his first chance to get into any kind of a rhythm. He had a good showing against Akron but has been hurt limited since then. This will be his first chance to really show anything.

I’m not sure Colorado is the best game for Braxton’s first start. They do a lot of blitzing on defense and will certainly bring the heat against the new guy. Of course he always has the feet, a la early-era Troy Smith (let’s not compare Braxton to Terrelle. Pryor was a freak of nature with athletic ability that I don’t think Braxton parallels. He’s going to be a better passer and therefore better QB than Terrelle but he’ll never have the escapability or speed of Pryor). He also needs to protect that ball like new born.

If we go conservative and simple in the passing game, similar to what Tressel did with Pryor in 2008, Miller should be able to gain confidence and fall into a rhythm. Then start layering the complexities in there. Give this time. A 12 for 18 for 175 yards will do just fine. Just keep Bauserman off the field.

Key Matchup – Tight ends vs. wide receivers (same team) in a race to see who will catch the first pass in almost two weeks.

Run Defense vs. Colorado

Colorado’s main back, Rodney Stewart, (an Ohio boy) is not a top tier “threat” but has the size (5’6″, 175) and speed that always gives the Buckeyes fits. Small, shifty and quick. In fact, none of the listed Colorado running backs tip the scale over 195 or 5’9″.

Simon and company did a commendable job as a whole on defense against Miami but also were gashed early putting them in uncomfortable spots. The Colorado line is young, anchored by a freshman at center and not imposingly large. The trenches battle should tilt in the Buckeyes favor and free up Storm Klein, Etienne Sabino and Andrew Sweat to rehabilitate their image as premier line backers.

Key Matchup – John Simon vs. Colorado’s medical staff.

Pass Defense vs. Colorado

While Colorado was being not that bad against Cal (rolling up over 580 yards) quarterback Tyler Hansen and receiver Paul Richardson went to town, connecting for 284 yards on eleven catches, including two for TDs. Hansen went 28 for 49 and 474 yards. Against Cal, that’s not terrible.

With Richardson at 6’1″ and Toney Clemons at 6’2″ on the other side, the defensive backs will have their hands full. We’ll assume that Travis Howard will check Richardson, which could be the match up of the day.

Rodney Stewart is also a major part of the passing game, tied with Richardson for the lead in receptions. If tiny fast running backs catching the ball out of the backfield doesn’t give you nightmares, you’re not a fan of the 2011 Ohio State Buckeyes.

Colorado is going to pass early and often, both due to their ineffectiveness to get a ground game going and (hopefully) because they’ll be playing from behind.

Key Matchup – Howard vs. Richardson

Special Teams

Basil got off the shnide, kicking two FGs for the only points last week against Miami. Before that, his previous attempts at kicking the ball through the uprights had been OH THE HUMANITY. Now, he appears to not be completely terrible. And please, announcers, get the pronounciation right. It’s “Bahzil” as in “Bauserman.” Think Jamie Oliver. Bahzil.


The last time Colorado won a game on the road (Oct. 27, 2007), Braxton Miller was in the ninth grade. (Bauserman was still old).

Jim Tressel always had his teams ready after a tough loss. Let’s see if Fickell will, too.

This is the first game in The ‘Shoe since classes started, so it should be ruckus.

How others see it

Marcus Hartman at Cus Words: Scouting Colorado. Scarlet Game: Week 4 Colorado Buffaloes Preview. The Buckeye Battle Cry’s Keys to Victory: Colorado. Inside The Shoe: Enemy Blogger Interview: Colorado.

What to think

Doom is nigh if…

  • Colorado scores first.
  • And second.
  • And third…

Rapture is around the corner if…

  • Jordan Hall runs like he did in the 2nd quarter against Miami in the first against Colorado.
  • Miller opens with three straight passes to Stoneburner that don’t end up in B-deck.
  • Bauserman is taking snaps… at the end of the third quarter.

Predictions? Predictions:

Ohio State 31
Colorado 10

(Photos via Daylife)