Archives for November 2011

Braxton Miller…Big Ten Freshman of The Year

I wonder if Urban Meyer could use such a player…hmmmm…

Nov 30, 2011 – The Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday that Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was chosen as the Thompson-Randel El freshman of the year. The true freshman is the inaugural winner of the award, named for Minnesota’s Darrell Thompson and Indiana’s Antwaan Randle El.

Miller, who took over as the starter four games into the Buckeyes season, finished among the conference’s top ten offensively, with 18 touchdowns altogether. Eleven of those touchdowns came in the passing game, where he threw for 997 yards and only had four interceptions, going 67 of 134. He also led the Buckeyes with seven rushing touchdowns and 695 yards. His last outing of the season, against Michigan, had plenty of season highs – 14-for-25 for 235 yards and two touchdowns.

He received the conference freshman of the week award twice this past season and led a comeback win over the Wisconsin Badgers earlier in the season, where he hit Devin Smith for a 40 yard touchdown in the final seconds. Miller has high expectations heading into next season, as the starting quarterback in Urban Meyer’s offense.

I cannot wait for Miller to run wild in Meyers offense. Dear rest of the Big Ten, enjoy your year off from playing a real Ohio State team.

A Little Help…

First off, there is probably going to be a Poll Dancing post this week, but quite honestly, I haven’t had the time to get around to it.  But there is something I’d like to throw out for your input.  Today on Yahoo!, Dan Wetzel has a piece about what to do with the college postseason.  As we know, he favors a playoff but he offers something of an olive branch to the BCS stalwarts: an overhaul of the BCS ranking system.  Of the two ideas he suggests, I am most intrigued by the first: an open, objective computer-based system for comparing teams.  I had already started working on something like he proposes to feature here in the coming weeks, so why not take it to the next level?

That’s where you come in.  I’ve already started tweaking some initial ideas, but I’d like to know what you feel are the most important factors in determining a team’s success.  For example, I have already included third-down conversion/opponent third-down conversion, turnover margin, and points for and against.  I decided to filter these stats to include only games against FBS teams with a winning record, so blowouts of weak opponents will be ignored.

What else do you think makes a good team good?  Anything at all, even it isn’t statistical in nature, is welcome.  If there’s a way to quantify something, I’ll do my best to find it.

Buckeyes curbstomp Duke Blue Devils 85-63

Here, in numerical order, is a list of teams that give me the most satisfaction when My Team beats them:

1. Michigan (Football) – always and forever
2. Michigan (Basketball)
3. Duke
4. Pittsburgh Steelers
5. L.A. Lakers

Also, Coach K is no doubt going to regret his final quote in the above linked ESPN story:

“I’ve had my butt kicked before,” Krzyzewski said. “We’ve kicked some butt. Tonight my butt’s sore.”

Duke Live In Game Chat

BlogPoll Ballot Week 14

With all the excitement of yesterday, I decided to hold of a day on our BlogPoll Ballot.

This week, our ballot is brought to you by SYR:

Urban Meyer and His Quarterbacks

At Bowling Green Meyer had a guy named Josh Harris. At Utah he had Alex Smith, and at Florida he had Chris Leak and Tim Tebow and at Ohio State he will have Braxton Miller for the next three years.

In 2001 when Meyer became the head coach of Bowling Green he packed up his favorite Trapper-Keeper and hit the road. He went around the country meeting with John L. Smith and Scott Linehan at Louisville, Randy Walker and Kevin Wilson at Northwestern, Bill Snyder at Kansas State, Joe Tiller and Jim Chaney at Purdue, and Rich Rodriguez at West Virginia, all of whom ran some form of the spread offense. He picked their brains and began forming his offense.

He started with Bowling Green and Josh Harris. Not many people remember him, but he was a hell of a QB that got a cup of coffee in the NFL. Harris under Meyer accounted for 39 TD’s in his junior year. He, like most of Urban’s QB’s was a dual threat QB. After the 2002 season, Meyer went onto Utah but Harris had another season left and under offensive coordinator Greg Studrawa. In 2003, running the same offense Meyer installed he accounted for over 4600 yards of total offense and 41 TD’s. Why is that important? Greg Studrawa is going to be the offensive coordinator of the Buckeyes. Harris lead BG to 2 top 25 finishes. Imagine if Harris would have been running the “dave” offense?

So Meyer used Bowling Green to get to a bigger program, this time Utah. And at Utah Meyer had Alex Smith to work with. In 2004 Meyer became very well known in the world of college football and he made the spread option offense famous. Utah went undefeated and beat Pittsburgh in the Fiesta Bowl. Smith won the Fiesta Bowl MVP honers and became the #1 overall pick in the NFL the following year. In his senior season, Smith accounted for 42 TD’s and over 3500 yards of offense. I remember watching the Fiesta Bowl that year and falling in love with that offense. The Pitt defense didn’t know what was happening…it was a thing of beauty.

So at this point Meyer can pretty much go where ever he wants (except Ohio State). He flirts with Notre Dame, but ends up taking over a Florida program that was run into the ground by stupid Ron Zook. For those playing at home the “Zooker” was just fired from Illinois. Many thought Meyer’s gimmicky offense would be shut down in the mighty SEC. Urban’s 1st year he brought the Gator’s back to respectability and had a 9-3 record along with a Gator Bowl victory with pocket passer Chris Leak. Things would get interesting in Meyers second year when all world recruit Tim Tebow came on board. Tebow was the prototype for Meyers offense. Big, strong, fast, athletic, etc…

Leak and Tebow teamed up to account for 3800 total yards and 40 total TD’s, Oh yeah…they beat someone for the National Title that year too…though I don’t remember who they played. In Tebow’s first year as a starter, Tebow went full mutant and accounted for 4100 total yards and 55 total TD’s on his way to the Heisman. Yes…55 total TD’s…in the SEC. Folks, that is incredible.

In Tebows junior year he lead the Gators to another National Title and in his senior season only lost one game to the eventual title winners. They went on to win another BCS Bowl game and Tebow went on to be a 1st round pick, who believe it or not is winning football games in the NFL.

Meyers Florida spread option under Meyer at full boar:

Now, OSU’s last two outstanding QB’s (Troy Smith and Terrelle Pryor) were certainly productive, but didn’t quite live up to Meyer’s QB’s on any level unless you count John Brantley who sucks. In Pryor’s best season he accounted for 32 TD’s and Smith’s best season he accounted for 31 (which he won the Heisman). Both outstanding production, but when you compare that to what Harris, Smith, Leak/Tebow and Tebow accumulated it’s not even close. At Pryor’s very best running the OSU Model T he was still 23 TD’s short of Tebow at his best running the Urban Meyer Ferrari.

Enter Braxton Miller

With all due respect to Tim Tebow, who I believe is one of the best if not the best college football player to ever play the game, I don’t believe Urban Meyer has ever had a QB like Braxton Miller before. I’m certainly not saying he is better than Alex Smith or Tim Tebow, but he brings something a little different to the table.

Miller’s ability to make people miss is better than all of Meyers QB’s in the past and could open up the spread option that much more. Miller is the whole package, he has a strong arm (sometimes too strong…DOH!), is very fast, has amazing lateral movement and is a gamer. Miller ran either a QB draw, speed option or was running for his life while dropping back to pass for the Buckeyes. In Meyers offense, the running game will be catered to his skills and we have all seen what he can do in the open field. And once the spread option is working (and it won’t take long) the passing game will be fully unlocked. Miller is a special player who deserves to be running an offense that will maximize his talents.

Buckeye fans, get ready. This offense is about to become the compete opposite of what this guy has run:

For those wondering, the confused look on Bollmans face is after he watched game film of Urban Meyers offense. Direct quote from Bollman after watching:

“What der hell was dat….dat looked like sumfin from outerspace.”

Live Blogging Ohio State Press Conference

(Available on pretty much any local Columbus News Channel, Ohio State Buckeyes dot com and at BT2Go)

5:15 (Gene Smith at the podium) “Our next head football coach, Mr. Urban Meyer” – pretty much the greatest thing Gene Smith has ever said.

5:17 “One of the premier leaders in football”

5:19 “This is the right time for Urban Meyer to lead our football program”
“Let me take this opportunity to thank Luke Fickell… He was the right leader for this program at that time.”

5:20 “Coach Fickell will be our coach for the Bowl Game”

5:23 (Urban Meyer at the podium) “I’m deeply honored to … lead the Ohio State program.”
“If it was but for the coaching position at the Ohio State University, I would not have coached this year (this coming year).”

5:25 “Our goal is to compete and win Big Ten Championships”
“It’s good to be home.”

5:26 “The interest in this program is overwhelming.”
“Health-wise, I feel great … I feel fantastic now.”

5:30 “If you’re the best offensive line coach, I want you here.” (Sorry, Coach Bollman)

5:32 “I did a lot of research” (He’s said that quite a few times. I like that)

5:33 Meeting Braxton Miller was Coach Meyer’s “highlight of the day”. “real excited” (We’re all excited, Urban)

5:36 “Go hard”

5:38 “We need an EMS to the back please.” (Camera shaking and awkward rubber-necking)

5:41 “I understand the significance of that game” (referring to the OSU/Michigan game)
“The one thing I know about that game, there is a lot of respect in that rivalry”

5:43 “I’m putting a lot of pressure on this kid (Miller) already.”

5:46 Speaking of discipline: “If we have one (incident) we’ve had too many.”

5:52 Question: “Do you think you could lead Ohio State to a national championship?” “I’m just trying to make it to tomorrow. Wow, I don’t know.”

5:56 “The players didn’t choose me, I chose them”

Alright, I’m going to eat dinner. I cannot say how excited I am at this moment. I am about to GO HARD on this dinner right now.

Michigan outlasts Ohio State, 40-34

… and does something neither of my sons have ever experienced: having to see their father (and grandfather) totally crushed after a Michigan loss. I hope, for their sake, they never have to see that again.

I guess you can’t win them all. As far as this blog is concerned, though, they almost did. They went toe-to-toe with a more experienced Michigan team, took every punch Michigan could muster and STILL had a chance at the end.

But as the season closes, we see there just wasn’t enough steam left. This team was battered by the media over and over before the season even lifted off. They had to see their coach resign admist a scandal that now sure looks a lot less severe than it did seven months ago. And they suffered through not playing with their best teammates. They fought when they could have folded.

In the end, it was just wasn’t enough.

Luke Fickell didn’t have enough time to become a head coach. It was clear that he was being groomed to be the heir apparent. Fickell is a Buckeye through-and-through and was being mentored by the best. But then he was thrust onto the throne, forced to take the keys of a kingdom he wasn’t ready for. It was clear he was not in total control of this team. From coaching gaffes (what happened on that third and six play when Miller killed the clock? Why did he save those time outs in Miami? Why didn’t he use them when Nebraska was running wild over his defense? Why did he wait so long to let Miller take over? Why wasn’t Ryan Shazier on the field until injury forced him out there?) that probably weren’t entirely his fault, it was evident he wasn’t pulling all the strings. His comments about his coaching staff proved as much. In the end, he wasn’t ready. His preparation wasn’t enough.

For a defense that had been so dominant at times, it wasn’t enough. Surely this defense, the same defense that shut down the mighty Wisconsin Badgers, would have little trouble shutting down the diminutive Denard Robinson. But they didn’t. Tackling fundamentals seemed to have been forgotten. Simon and Hankins had been neutralized. And for Ryan Shazier, a revelation on defense and certainly the x-factor in the “who can stop Robinson?” equation, didn’t have enough time on a healthy ankle.

The refs didn’t have enough yellow flags. They came out at a critical time at the end which sure made for an exciting game but there should have been more laundry on the ground in the first three quarters. This isn’t sour grapes. This is factual evidence I spied with my two little eyes.

And ultimately, Braxton Miller didn’t have enough reps. Didn’t have enough chances, in game situations, to figure out how to complete the long pass down the field. DeVier Posey didn’t have enough time to build that relationship with Miller. How quickly this game changes if those passes are completed. This loss is not Miller’s fault. His heroics will not be forgotten. He should have been afforded more chances during the season. The ones he had weren’t enough.

Many of these issues were season long, not limited to the fourth quarter against Michigan, down six points. But the culmination of this season peaked in those final minutes. And ended in the only way it could — a six win, six loss season. Five of those losses by less than a touchdown. With Tressel, those close ones go our way. With Fickell, they didn’t. The Buckeyes were never at “full strength” — starting with the loss of Nathan Williams and continuing through the suspensions of Herron, Adams and Posey. There simply wasn’t enough time.

And now we look to the future. SYR and I had a chat this morning about how we have never been so excited about anything after a crushing loss to Michigan. A new coach has been hired*. New recruits are flying in. There is a young, extremely promising quarterback. There are multiple young, promising defensive players. All have passed through a baptism by fire and will be primed for a strong run in the coming seasons.

And this time, there will be enough.

Ohio St lands WR recruit from FLORIDA

In a recruiting year that has been strange in many ways the strangest of which may be that of the 15 recruits who have verballed so far ZERO were from outside the state lines of Ohio. That trend is officially over when Lakeland, Florida WR Ricquan Southward flipped his verbal from Miami of Fl. to Ohio State today becoming the 16th verbal commit of this years class.

Southward is a 6’2″ 190 lb WR ranked as a 4 star. He brings great speed and good hands to a position of need for OSU. He was recruited heavily by Stan Drayton the WR coach who also served on the staff at Florida under Urban Meyer. Southward was considering the Buckeyes before he gave a verbal to the Hurricanes earlier this season. Many believe the possible hiring of Meyer may be the tipping scale in landing this flipped recruit.

Michigan In Game Chat