"But I'm not worried," he said. "Both those guys (Barrett and Jones) are able (enough) to where you can win games with them right now."
- Tom Herman, via Rob Oller, Columbus Dispatch
As everyone begins to digest the news about Braxton's shouler reinjury from last night and then confirmation today that he'll miss the season, many are turning to doom and gloom scenarios for the Buckeyes' 2014. In fact, gamblers have been scrambling to bet against the Buckeyes since news broke late last night, despite not having an MRI or any substantive updates on Miller's status.
Rob Oller thinks that it was just a matter of time for Braxton's reinjury, saying "In a sense, Miller’s setback simply arrived early. Calling him injury-prone seems too harsh, but the dual-option threat has a history of getting injured during games." First of all, it's a shame for Braxton's career -- the guy is a competitor and a true Buckeye and you have to hope that he can play at 100% sooner rather than later.
The season is absolutely not lost. With his supporting cast, Barrett must simply be smart, careful, and capable of distributing the ball to his playmakers. I think he'll be able to do that. Before Miller's injury, the floor for this team was something like 10-2 and the ceiling was complete domination and a national championship. Now, I'd argue the ceiling remains the same (though it's likelihood is diminished), and the floor lowers to maybe 9-3 or 8-4 at the worst.
It's not perfect, but I think there's some analogy here with the Tide. Alabama's hopes rest on the shoulders of a transfer player who has yet to play a snap at quarterback for the Tide. True, Alabama typically ask their quarterback to do less than others, but honestly, both teams will be riding high on their supporting casts anyway this season. Both the Buckeyes and the Tide have enough stockpiled talent on offense that a facilitator -- an accurate, smart distributor -- can win lots of games just by playing smart. And I think Barrett can be more than capable.
It looks like I'm not the only one. In fact, Matt Hinton on Grantland argues that the Buckeyes still have a good, maybe great shot at the playoffs. Though not a favorite in the conference anymore, he's right that (1) Barrett isn't exactly green at OSU, (2) is a highly rated player, (3) he'll have the job all to himself, and (4) really the offense is all about the offensive line's success anyway.
Now the other question is whether Braxton redshirts and comes back for a second chance at a senior season as he says he plans. As we discussed in this news post, this could really go either way -- it's not totally cut and dry whether he should stay or go. Regardless, he has the opportunity to mentor J.T. as he takes the reins of the offense this season.
"In total, according to stats compiled by The Michigan Daily, the first-team offense gained 33 yards on 20 carries -- between reps split by Green, Smith and Johnson."
- Nick Baumgardner, MLive.com
Well, on to some better news, this time in schadenfreude. So far it's looking like the Wolverine offensive line is at roughly the same place it was last season, considering former four- and five-star running backs are combining for a cool 1.65 yards per carry in a recent scrimmage.
By all accounts, Derrick Green has been surging up the depth chart this summer and fall after starting as the third-string running back. But Adrian Peterson could be in the Wolverine backfield and still not average more than two yards a carry if you have such a porous offensive line. I suppose that some optimistic Michigan fans can look at offensive line struggles as the mark of a strong defense, but...I think that's unlikely.
"If you want to make a decision based on what you just saw...good luck."
- ESPN Analyst Mike Tirico, on the Brown's starting quarterback decision, via Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland.com
The Browns' quarterback play last night against the Redskins was less than adequate, to put it gently. The whole state of Ohio seems to be having a rough time at quarterback right now, between Braxton, Hoyer, Manziel, and Andy Dalton (he gets included, right?).
Neither quarterback impressed last night and their stats through two games are nearly identitically mediocre, but it looks like fans are supporting Hoyer. On the Browns' SB Nation blog, Dawgs by Nature, the poll is currently 2-1 in favor of Hoyer.
"So I trust no one will accuse me of hopping on the bandwagon when I offer the following observation: Thad Matta is the most underrated coach in the nation."
- John Gasaway, ESPN Insider
In a little positive news for our final link today, John Gasaway argues that the Buckeyes have a good one in Matta. He argues that Matta has redefined "rebuilding years" for the Buckeyes to mean a Top 25 year and maybe even Sweet-16 appearance.
Though the rest of the article is paywalled, he's absolutely got a point. The Buckeyes have been so consistent since Matta was hired, even if they haven't quite gotten to the top of the college basketball world.
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