Archives for February 2013

Buckeyes Outlast Northwestern, 63-53

OSU LogoAt least one Big Ten team can take care of its business against lesser opponents. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but against Northwestern, it hardly ever is.

The first half was the Lenzelle Smith Show early, with him hitting a barrage of threes (that’s the technical term for 4 three pointers in a half) and solid play otherwise (we’ll all agree to pretend that break-away non-dunk didn’t happen). But the pesky Wildcats would not go away and the strength of some nifty three-point shooting themselves kept them close in the first half.

Ohio State took a 29-22 lead into the locker room.

Northwestern came out hot, hitting 75% of their shots early while Deshaun Thomas’ shooting woes continued and Northwestern pulled to within two points early in the second half.

It looked like Ohio State might be able to pull away as the defense tightened up and Deshaun Thomas had an easy layup followed by a steal and fast break by Shannon Scott. Up by six, it looked like they would wrest control from the Wildcats and cruise to an easy victory. Then a couple scores by Northwestern followed by a prayer with no time on the shot clock by Abrahamson put Northwestern up by one.

It was back and forth after that, according to script again as Ohio State couldn’t put away the Wildcats until late. But put away them they did, outscoring Northwestern 15-7 down the stretch to win 63-53.


Deshaun continues to be an enigma. He’s had a stretch now of nine or ten games where he has not been efficient in any way. Sure, he’s a “volume shooter” and okay, sure, he has a short memory but he just doesn’t look confident. Craft picked up the slack on Sunday and Smith picked up that slack tonight but this team is going to go as far as Thomas takes them this March.

Northwestern Live In Game Chat

Northwestern Preview

OSU LogoFor a team that normally struggles to even think about making it to the Big Dance in March, Northwestern has been a thorn in the Buckeyes side for a while now. Last year, it was the 75-73 nail-biter. Early this season, Northwestern practically limped into Columbus and almost ran away with the improbable upset. A late run prevented an embarrassment of epic proportions.

So Bill Carmody brings his healthier Wildcats against Ohio State this evening, (7 PM, ESPN2) looking to finally get the B1G upset is so deserves.

Northwestern does a lot of things that give Ohio State trouble: long, patient, drawn-out offensive possessions that chew up clock and wait for the defese to make a mistake, allowing for easy baskets off of back-cuts and screens. It happened time and again in the last meeting and a deeper team this time should be able to execute their offense and frustrate Ohio State defense.

Ohio State, for its part, needs to turn this into a track meet. Northwestern isn’t build for transition defense and Ohio State is at its best when it’s running the floor, looking for easy baskets on fast breaks and steals by the solid back court play of Scott and Craft.

This should also be a good chance to Deshaun to “right the ship”. He’s clearly been feeling the pressure to be the man and it’s showing in some of his shot selection and his tendency to shoot the ball early in the shot clock or while double-teamed. Craft proved on Sunday that he is able to bear the mantle of the “second option” for whatever that means. He can certainly get to the rim against Northwestern and should be able to continue his contributions on the scoreboard.

Last time I previewed the Northwestern game, I chuckled to think it was going to be anything but a blowout. Now having seen another top B1G team go down in horrible, horrible flames, I’m not making that mistake twice. I still think the Buckeyes should win (and win easily), I would not be surprised to see this turn into another 51-54 slugfest that comes down to the end.

(One more time for Google Juice: Epic Failure)

In Case You Missed It

OSU LogoIn case you missed it is Men of the Scarlet and Gray’s semi-weekly look at items that would interest the casual and hard-core Ohio State fan, be they news items, interesting blog posts or funny memes you probably saw on Reddit last week. It’s all here and it’s all for you. Have a tip that should be included in the next ICYMI? Send it our way!

Yikes. The blogging slump was more prolonged than I thought. Let’s get to this before it goes any further:

THIS SHOULD BE ONE OF MANY. If you’ve been on Twitter in the last forty-eight hours, you’ve already seen this linked a million places, but if not, Braxton Miller is on the cover of the March 4, 2013 issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, part of SI’s Spring Football Preview.


JIM BOLLMAN, MAN OF MYSTERY. Jim Bollman continues his foray across the country, this time showing up in East Lansing, posing as the offensive coordinator of Mark Dantonio’s Michigan State football team. Sometimes I think this is all a huge joke, that Bollman is just throwing job offers against the wall and seeing which one sticks.

JOHN SIMON, OHIO BORN AND BRED. WFNY links to an article that the Cleveland Browns (among other NFL teams) have met with and interviewed the real Johnny Football, John Simon, and that the meetings were “positive”. The Browns are prepping to install a 3-4 defense which may not be the best fit for Simon, but his drive and determination have to give NFL scouts reason to at least consider him a possible draft target. As a Browns fan, I’ve longed for the days that the Brownies would give some Buckeyes a chance to prove their mettle. Hopefully Simon fits that bill and is on the Browns sideline this coming season.

THEY HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY, BUT DO THEY HAVE THE SPEED? The SEC and other conferences will be chipping football players this upcoming season to monitor things like speed and direction of movement of football players, all in the name of… maybe it could lead to safety?

They obviously won’t be using these in the B1G because the speed is slow and the direction is forward. Nothing to see here, move along. (Actually, it would be great to see this track Braxton Miller’s movements. How many yards did he really gain on the five-yard scramble?)

THINK UCONN HAD IT TOUGH? The obvious parallels of UConn’s magical 2011 run and if the Buckeyes can make it out of the B1G Tourney as champions should give us at least a glimmer of hope that there still could be some magic up Coach Matta’s sleeve.

EXTRA POINTS: Consider the Johnny Loophole closed. (And with it, another blog post the sportsMonkey and I don’t get to write) Joke about fans of Michigan football being ashamed of themselves and the shame it brings on their families goes here… Got some time to kill? Watch this tour of the Ohio State Football weight room, it’s like an episode of Cribs for really committed football fans.

A look back at the 2013 recruiting class: Cornerbacks

Eli Apple

A young Eli Apple with Coach Tressel

A young Eli Apple with Coach Tressel

Eli Apple was the fourth recruit to commit to the Buckeyes in the 2013 class, so he was sort of forgotten during signing day. Depending on the recruiting service, Apple was regarded as one of the best cornerback recruits in the country. The 6’1″ 190 lb US Army All-American from New Jersey recorded 45 tackles to go along with two interceptions and 17 pass break-ups. Apple’s great instincts and ball skills jump out on film, as he makes a huge impact from his cornerback position, whether it be in run support or in coverage. He also has the size and athleticism to play right away whether it be at cornerback or on special teams. Apple has yet to play a down in his Buckeye career, but expect him to be the next great cornerback to come through Columbus. ESPN ranked Apple as a 5 star recruit and the 11th best prospect in the country. Rivals, 247 and Scout ranked Apple as a four star recruit.

Cameron Burrows

cameron burrows

Cameron Burrows is a 5’11” 203 lb Under Armour All-American cornerback from Trotwood, Ohio. Like Apple, Burrows excels in both man and zone coverage, as well as in run support. He possesses great instincts that stand out in his film as he always seems to put himself in the right position to make a play. Burrows has great size, which could remind Buckeye fans of  an even taller Malcolm Jenkins. Rivals, ESPN, 247 and Scout all ranked Burrows as a four star recruit.

Gareon Conley

Gareon Conley

Gareon Conley is a 6’2″ 170 lb Under Armour All- American from Massillon, Ohio, who decommited from TSUN to join the Buckeyes. ESPN ranked Conley as a 4 star and described him as a “national sleeper who brings a great blend of height, speed, smarts and ball skills to the position.” He is a ball hawk with great instincts and has a knack of reading the opposing quarterback. Conley will have to fill out his tall, slender frame to make a physical impact for the Buckeyes but he has the athleticism and talent to eventually become a play making defensive back. He may be a candidate to redshirt to fill out his frame. 247 and Scout ranked Conley as a four star recruit while Rivals ranked him as three star recruit.


247 Sports ranked Ohio State with the number one defensive back class (cornerbacks and safeties) in the country. With numerous players whom could see time right away either on defense or on special teams, this is the positional group to be most excited about. In all honesty, barring injury or transfer, every defensive back could make an impact by the time they leave Columbus. Their instincts and ball skills are off the charts but their size is what stands out. All three corners have great height and the talent to become lock down corners in the B1G.

A look back at the 2013 recruiting class: Pass Catching Play Makers

OSU FootballTo say that the WRs and TE in the 2013 class is the best group on paper would probably do injustice to the DBs group but those 2 groups were by far the best of probably the greatest class OSU has ever had on paper. With just a few weeks left in the 2013 class though I am sure most fans were wondering if the WRs that OSU needs so badly would come to fruition. WRs are a finicky group of people that’s for sure and to say they love the drama would be an understatement. Fortunately for Ohio State and Coach Meyer in the end the group of WRs and the TE came together and as you will see below it is super talented and has a lot of potential. So Lets get to them….


Jalin Marshall

Staff photo by Nick Graham

Jalin Marshall is a 6’1″ 195 lbs 5 star Athlete from Middletown, Ohio. Jalin is the kind of guy you can build an entire offense around. Although he did play QB in high school he will play Wide Receiver at OSU and will be an explosive option at that. He is a barn burner in the speed department. He moves well side to side and vertically. He has great hands and instincts. He may very well end up being the best player in this class when its all said and done. ESPN ranks him a 4 star and the 49th best recruit in the country. Scout ranks him a 5 star and the 6th best WR in the country. Rivals ranks him a high 4 star and the best recruit in Ohio and 35th best in the country. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the 5th best WR in the country. Below you can see his highlights…..

Dontre Wilson


Dontre Wilson is 5’10” 175 lbs RB/WR from Desoto, Texas. Wilson who has been a commit to Oregon since last May has been wavering on his commitment since Chip Kelly was rumored to be heading to the NFL. Once that actually happened he full on started taking visits to other schools. He has visited Ohio State and his home state school Texas in the past few weeks. Dontre is the epitome of what Urban Meyer has been looking for to fill his Percy Harvin role. He is a RB who can play slot receiver run jet sweeps and be a part of the pistol package as a RB. He is a burner in the speed dept. and has the kind of moves that breaks ankles. Rivals ranks him a 4 star and the no. 100 recruit nationally. ESPN ranks him a 4 star and the 55th best recruit in the nation. Scout ranks him a 4 star and the 10th best RB in the nation. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the 113th best recruit in the nation. Below you can see his highlight reel.

James Clark


James Clark is a 5’11” 175 lbs WR from New Smyrna Beach, Florida. James is a true WR that OSU has been chasing and has the speed and deep threat capabilities that OSU needs. He is a barn burner with great hands and great route running he does need to build up his size a touch though. Rivals ranks him a 4 star and the no 45 WR in the nation. ESPN ranks him a 4 star and the no. 49 best WR in the nation. Scout ranks him a 4 star and the no 30th best WR in the nation. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the 174th best recruit in the country. Below you can see his Highlight video which is of course super impressive.

Corey Smith


Corey Smith is a 6’1″ 180 lb 4 star WR from Akron, Ohio. Corey is a JUCO guy who went to East Mississippi Community College to get his grades up to get back into the NCAA. Corey is a talented WR who also excels at Safety. There is no doubt he is a play maker in every sense of the word. He isn’t a barn burner with his speed but he uses his route running abilities to make the DBs look stupid and get things done. ESPN ranks him a 4 star. Rivals ranks him a 4 star. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the no 9 JUCO player in the country. Scout ranks him a 3 star. Below you can see some of his highlights.


Marcus Baugh


Marcus Baugh is 6’4″ 235 lbs 4 star Tight End from Riverside, California. Marcus is one of those guys who quietly went about his recruiting process and most OSU fans don’t know a lot about since he from the West Coast and we don’t hear a lot about those guys. He is a WR in a TE body though with soft hands and good instincts. His pass blocking will need improvement but I doubt he will be asked to do much of that in Urban’s offense. I would expect him to bulk up a little and lose some of his “baby fat” once he gets on campus and goes through the Strength and Conditioning program. ESPN ranks him a 4 star and the 102nd best recruit in the country. Rivals ranks him a 4 star and the 6th best TE in the country. Scout ranks him a 4 star and the 3rd best TE in the country. 247sports ranks him a 4 star and the 82nd best recruit in the country. Below you can see his highlights….


I just can’t say it enough on paper these guys could all see playing time very early on and add depth to a depleted area on the team. This team needs play makers and WRs badly and guys who can make plays on their own. I see all of these guys playing as Freshman except for Smith who is a JUCO guy coming in. Marcus Baugh may redshirt though because there is a little more depth at the TE spot but maybe not enough for it to make sense to do that though. Overall this group is stacked with talent and all of it will get a chance to earn a spot for sure.

Ohio State gets a BIG win vs MSU

I would hope by now most Buckeye fans know enough about this years basketball team that I don’t need to rehash the same played out story lines. There is the ever popular “They need to find a second scorer” or the “They need a win against a top team to save their season”.

Thad Matta is in his 14th season as a HC and now has 14 straight years of at least 20 wins yet there are still people calling for him to be fired??? At least with 2 wins last week those “fans” are a lot quieter this week. What he has done at OSU has been tremendous all things considered going up against the juggernaut that is Buckeye Football. On top of that he has coached in what has arguably been the best basketball conference in the NCAA for the last few years. Coach Matta deserves a lot more praise and a lot less criticism in my humble opinion.

But having said that lets get to the game itself….


Ohio State 68 – MSU 60

How we won this game?

Aaron Craft seems to be a lot like Coach Matta in the way the fans react to them. When things go well Craft is given lots of praise and when things go bad he takes most of the heat. This game Craft will get a huge amount of praise for shooting 7-12 and 7-8 on FTs in scoring 21 points a career high for Sir Swoons-A-Lot. He also contributed 6 assts and 3 rebs and 1 steal. He did all that while also staying out of foul trouble and leading this team to victory.

The other key to this victory was the way Evan Ravenel played coming in off the bench scoring 10 points on 2-3 shooting and 6-7 on FTs. He also contributed 5 rebs, 1 steal, and 1 block. he gave the team a much needed spark and energy boost when they were playing ho hum and losing.

How we nearly lost this game?

Garry Harris and Adriean Payne and Derrick Nix played as well as humanly possible they shot the ball well and rebounded it even better. They just didn’t have enough support from the rest of their team.

Here is where I am going to go on a bit of a tangent about DeShaun Thomas. He once again shot a horrible 4-12 and 2-7 from 3 point range. This kind of stat line seems to be the norm for DT this season and we just can’t have that from our best player night in and night out. In the last 5 games he has shot 25%, 37%, 47%, 35%, and 40% and that is killing this team.You just can’t have your best player taking more shots than he has points if you want to win big games. He has regressed as a shooter this year and as the man in this offense that revolves around we need him to make better decisions and shot selections. Hopefully he will get this figured out sooner rather than later as he is playing himself right out of the NBA draft and will need to return next year to get back in it at this point.


Overall this game was fun to watch and a great win. It continues to show this team can beat anyone when they control the tempo and play with heart and desire. There are only 3 games left in the regular season and only 1 game this week which is @ Northwestern on Thursday. They need to dominate that game start to finish and notch a road win to keep this momentum going into next weeks tough games @ Indiana and home against Illinois. Anything can still happen this year and OSU has the chance to make statements and make their case for why they should be a top 4 seed.

A look back at the 2013 recruiting class: Safety

Vonn Bell

Vonn Bell

In what Urban Meyer described as one of the greatest recruiting performances he had ever seen by safeties coach Everett Withers, the Buckeyes went into SEC country (Georgia) and wrestled away the fourth ranked safety in the country, Vonn Bell. The Buckeyes fought defending National Champion Alabama and Tennessee for the 6’1″, 190 lb 5 star safety. Bell is the complete package at safety as he has great range, is excellent in run support and possesses great ball skills. With his size and athleticism, Buckeye fans should be seeing a lot of Bell this year, either on special teams or at safety. Vonn Bell was ranked as a 5 star by both Rivals and Scout and a 4 star by ESPN and 247.

Jayme Thompson

Jayme Thompson

Jayme Thompson is another hard hitting commit for Coach Fickell’s defense. Thompson is a 6’2″ 185 lb safety from Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio. Thompson is more of a strong safety prospect compared to the ball hawking Vonn Bell. He tends to play better in the box, where he is strong in run support and is a very good blitzer. Thompson may have to be coached up a bit by Coach Withers to improve his coverage skills, but he possesses great athleticism to play safety at a high level. He could be a candidate for a red shirt with three safeties already on the roster and Bell, but we shall see. Jayme Thompson was a consensus 4 star prospect by ESPN, Rivals, 247 and Scout.

Some have said that Vonn Bell was the most important player recruited by the Buckeyes, as it proved that Meyer could go down into the south and battle the SEC for a big time recruit. With injuries and inconsistency from the elder safeties, Buckeye fans could be seeing Bell earlier than expected, but if not he will get his chance to start next season. Thompson is a player who could play strong safety or the STAR position with his size and athleticism. Overall, Buckeye fans should be ecstatic with both players and especially Bell who could turn into one of the all-time Buckeye greats at safety if he lives up to the high expectations.


B1G Newbies: Darrell Hazell

From the moment Brady Hoke accepted the Michigan job, Danny Hope’s days at Purdue were numbered. Hoke, as you have probably noticed, has a severe mental condition which causes him to confuse similarly named things. Doctors believe this condition is responsible for his insistence that Ohio University is the Wolverines’ arch-rival (Fig. 1) and even his marriage to Laura Homberger (Fig. 2). So, even if Hope hadn’t failed on the field, Hoke would have eventually called for his removal after showing up at the wrong campus one too many times.

Thinking Hoke OhioThinking Hoke Burger

There was a moment in 2012 where Hope might have actually had a chance to still be around in 2013. As you remember, the 3-3 Boilermakers were up 8 on the Buckeyes with less than a minute remaining in the game. Star QB Braxton Miller was on his way to the hospital and no doubt Hope had turned to imagining the celebratory Sunday headlines, unaware that he was about to get smooth-jazzed out of a job.

So now former Tressel assistant Darrell Hazell takes the reigns and if you thought Wisconsin’s Gary Andersen was inexperienced, then Hazell is like a coaching newborn. With just two years at Kent State under his belt, it’s nearly impossible to guess what Hazell will bring to the Boilers. His two primary assistants (OC John Shoop and DC Greg Hudson) have shown an ability to improve their respective sides of the ball at previous stops, so that’s a good sign. In addition, Hazell has consulted with former Purdue QBs Kyle Orton and Drew Brees, so it’s likely that we’ll see the pass-happy basketball on grass style of offense that most of us associate with good Purdue teams.

That’s all well and good, but the spot of interest for Buckeye fans on Hazell’s staff is at offensive line, where the B1G will witness the return of the Wal–wait, no way, you’re kidding… he didn’t just say what I think he did, did he?

The Walrus Is Back

For some reason, Hazell has snagged Jim Bollman from Boston College to coach his offensive line. I’m assuming the buyout for Bollman was a bag of magic beans. While Bollman won’t be involved in play-calling for Purdue, he will be expected to actually coach the offensive line. To block defenders. You don’t really need me to tell you how bad he is at this specific task, for which he has been collecting paychecks nearly as long as I’ve been alive, but I’m going to anyway. Last year, as the OL coach for Boston College, he turned in a unit that ranked near the bottom of the country in the two major statistics that signal offensive line strength: rushing offense and sacks allowed. BC averaged 91 yards per game on the ground, good for #119 (out of 124). On top of that, they gave up 34 sacks (#102), nearly 3 per game (#106).

UPDATE: Bollman has been hired by Michigan State head coach (and former OSU defensive coordinator) Mark Dantonio to serve as the Spartans’ OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR. The Walrus has somehow managed to do absolutely nothing and get a better job for it. His mere existence forces me to question the very nature of our universe.

Still, I have high hopes for Hazell at Purdue. Bollman’s firing is an inevitability and I’d put the over/under for that one at First Day Of Spring Ball. Shoop and Hudson will get things moving in the right direction and as long as Hazell gets enough time to build the team he wants, he’ll have the Boilers threatening for B1G titles eventually.

Ridiculously Early And Entirely Baseless Prediction for 2013: 4-8 (Losses to Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Michigan State, Ohio State, Iowa, Penn State)

Buckeyes Take Out Frustrations on Minnesota, Win 71-45

OSU LogoMinnesota came into Columbus struggling just as much as the Buckeyes had been recently. Out of sheer necessity, one of these teams had to win. The game started as a whistle-fest (both teams were in the bonus with more than 14 minutes in the first half) with neither team playing particularly fluid.

Ohio State played tough defense during the first half, but looked a little out of synch at times. Defensive switching was sluggish and discombobulated. But things came together during the last six minutes and they played strong team defense, getting good defensive minutes from Shannon Scott.

Thomas struggled all first half until the final couple minutes when he hit a jumper, drawing a foul (leading to a three-point play) and a putback. Finally, Ohio State finished the half with a last second three-pointer by Craft put the Buckeyes up by six.

Thomas started the second half better than the first, hitting a couple open threes early as the Buckeyes built an early nine-point lead.

Ohio State had multiple opportunities in the middle of the second half to open up a sizable lead but couldn’t take advantage of bad offensive sets from Minnesota. Eventually, Ohio State’s defense became too much to handle for Minnesota, who suffered a drought of baskets while Ohio State started to pull away. Ohio State went on a run with a couple buckets from Thomas and was punctuated by a steal and a coast-to-coast slam by Evan Ravenel.

After that, it was all Buckeyes as Minnesota seemed at wits end and wanted nothing to do with the rest of the game. They played with little motivation and got lazy as the Buckeyes’ defense clamped down and swarmed the ball and frustrated the Gophers into mistake after mistake.

With the game out of hand, Amadeo Della Valle came in of the bench and brought everyone to their feet at the end, hitting a couple threes and playing like a man possessed. He’s going to be fun to watch.

This game was definitely what the doctor ordered. The Buckeyes didn’t look great all the way through, but they were able to get their defense straightened out and got some great play from Shannon Scott and Deshaun Thomas. They should be able to go into this Sunday’s game against Michigan State with a little more confidence.