3-0? Yeah, I'd be smiling, too.
So this past week I was cruising around the OSU message boards, and by the look and feel of things, I'm stunned that OSU kept it within 7 of Cal. I mean, that was an ass beating the men of Scarlet and Gray took from the Dancing Tedfords, wasn't it?
Wait, we won?
//rewinds game on DVR
Holy crap, OSU DID win. Son of a...
Look, I love the passion of the OSU fan base. Maybe I'm more willing to enjoy the win because the professional football team of choice that I cheer for is a total bag of ass right now, and I'm just happy to see someone I cheer for on the plus side for a change.
But maybe things aren't as bad as we're making them out to be. Yeah, there's stuff I'd like to see the Buckeyes improve on, but I'm also enjoying the ride. We're watching the dawn of a new era of OSU football unfold right before our eyes, and Jim Bollman is nowhere near it.
And for that alone, we should rejoice.
But there are some things I'll be looking for from the Buckeyes against UAB, after the jump.
Head up, Lead With Your Shoulder, Wrap With Your Arms and Drive To The Ground. That's basically how you execute a tackle in the game of football. That's also something that OSU hasn't been doing on defense for the better part of three games. Cal piled up 512 yards of total offense last Saturday, and all but 6 of them came on two plays, both of which were runs by their third string RB. So far, OSU's defense hasn't played to the whistle on every snap, which is uncharacteristic for what is normally a very good defense. On the 81 yard TD run by Brendan 'Deuce' Bigelow, for example, he was pinned on the sideline with three Buckeyes around him. They let up, he didn't go down, and it was over. Finish the play and go to the whistle, and that's a three yard loss. I think the OSU defense is a lot closer than some people think, just get back to basics.
A Football Game Is 60 Minutes Of Focused Intensity...Not 45...Or 30. So far, at some point in each game, Ohio State has checked out mentally. Against Miami, it was the first quarter. Against Cal, it was the third quarter. Let's face it, against a team like UAB, they could probably check out for three quarters and still win, but that would be like giving 50 pounds of red meat to a starving lion. Let's come out, play like the hair is on fire for four quarters, and put all this unsettling talk about not being focused to bed, okay?
Are There Other Wide Receivers Besides Devin Smith? This is a bit nitpicky, since Jake Stoneburner had two TD receptions last week. But this is more directed towards a guy like Philly Brown. Stoneburner and Devin Smith have done a pretty good job so far, but there really hasn't been a whole lot of playmaking from the other WR's on the roster. The potential for this offense is there, they just need to tap into it. Let's have someone step up and make a big play. Not saying that Smith and Stoneburner can quit making big plays, but the more threats that Miller can go to, the better the chances the offense won't stall out.
Can We Get Full Depth At Running Back? It certainly looked like OSU is close. Jordan Hall had 87 yards and 5.1 YPC average, which was great to see, and it would be nice for him to keep it up this week. Carlos Hyde will sit out this week, but all indications are that he'll be back for the conference opener, and that's a good thing. I don't have a problem with the offense going through Braxton Miller; on the contrary, if OSU is going to be successful it must go through the sophomore. But having a full up running game outside of Miller makes him even more dangerous than normal, and keeps the pressure off of him running. I think Kenny Guiton is a good back up, but I don't want to put that theory to the test.
Force The Action On Defense. One of the hallmarks of the Ohio State defense is how good they are at dictating the tempo of the game to the opposing offense. That was absent for almost all of last year, and again in good spurts this year. Last week they started out looking like the Silver Bullets of old--wreaking havoc from the outside with a mixture of blitzes, putting pressure on the quarterback from a solid front four rush, and sound, fundamental tackling. But then it just disappeared. Be proactive, not reactive, force a couple of early turnovers, take UAB out of what they want to do, and make them one dimensional.
Prediction: Color me not impressed with UAB...because they're not very good. They're damn near last in the nation in rushing yards, points scored, and points given up. This shouldn't be close, and I expect OSU to cruise 41-6.
It's the last non-conference game before the real tests start, and hopefully OSU will be able to work out the issues that they've had on both sides of the ball. That said, I feel these are issues that are correctable, and can be fixed before the Big Ten Salting Of The Earth commences in a little over 8 days.