"I know that nothing is given at Ohio State. I have to come in and work just like everybody else."
-Raekwon McMillan, OSU Linebacker (per BuckeyeSports.com)
Highly-touted freshman LB Raekwon McMillan only saw the field on special teams during last week's victory over Navy. McMillan, one of the first freshmen to lose his black stripe and become a full-fledged member of the team, was seen by many as having the potential to supplant senior Curtis Grant at the position. Grant was the starting middle linebacker against Navy.
Grant, a former 5-star recruit, hasn't yet lived up to his full billing. But he cites the pressure put on him by McMillan as one of the factors that drove him to work harder than ever and earn the starting spot by the end of camp. McMillan, for his part, is handling the situation with good grace and wisdom beyond what's expected of the conventional college freshman. "I'm not the guy I was my senior year in high school," he told BuckeyeSports' Ryan Ginn. "Now I'm a freshman in college and I have to build back up."
Coach Meyer has stated publicly that he needs to find a way to get McMillan onto the field against the Virginia Tech Hokies this weekend. There's no reason to yank Grant from the starting lineup, but perhaps by Saturday McMillan will have earned the right to spell his camp roommate and mentor for a few meaningful snaps.
"Grant, one of the top prep players to come out of Virginia in the last decade, was close to becoming a Hokie."
-Bill Landis, Cleveland.com
Speaking of Curtis Grant (and the Virginia Tech game), a reminder came this week that OSU's starting middle linebacker was almost one of this Saturday's opponents. Grant leaned heavily towards the Hokies as a high school junior before committing to Ohio State as a senior. Grant was wooed away from his home state by Jim Tressel and Luke Fickell, who beat out Florida for his services. Coach Meyer had also heavily recruited Grant before his resignation from the Gators' staff in December of 2010.
Grant has said that he felt like he needed to leave home in order to "grow a little bit," something he's gotten the chance to do under Meyer and Fickell as a Buckeye. As mentioned above, Grant has freshman Raekwon McMillan hard at his heels on the depth chart. Still, he's a solid player who should continue to hold down the linebacking corps for the remainder of his last year in Columbus, and make Buckeye fans grateful this week that he chose scarlet and gray over maroon and orange.
"This is his first start, he's a rookie, but I think he held his own well."
-Aaron Rodgers on Corey Linsley (via ESPN)
It looks like the hand-wringing over former Buckeye center Corey Linsley's chances against Seattle's front four was needless. The rookie, a 5th-round pick, was called upon to replace the injured J.C. Tretter--no small feat, given the opposition in Week 1. Linsley held up admirably against a great Seahawks defense that had Bruce Irvin "praying" for him leading up to the game.
Linsley was hardly a concern for the Packers as the game wore on--he graded out at +2.2 in his first professional start, and the Packers averaged 6.5 yards a carry when running between Linsley and the guards. In a puzzling move, Green Bay got away from this strategy after a great early start, and found much less success trying to run between the guards and tackles.
The lone knock on Corey Linsley after the game was his early snap on a play where Rodgers had fortunately called timeout--otherwise, the errant ball could easily have resulted in a turnover. Rodgers rode Linsley hard for the mistake, and to his credit, the former Buckeye owned up. "Obviously, he got on me like a leader should," said Linsley. Still, Green Bay didn't false start once in the most hostile stadium in football, a promising beginning for their young center.
"We'll miss the rivalry, it's a great rivalry. Neither team needs the other."
-Dave Brandon, Michigan Athletic Director
At this point, everyone knows that Michigan and Notre Dame have ended their rivalry series, long-touted as among the best in football. Both programs are among the most successful in the history of the sport, and both have fallen a good deal in recent years from their positions of prominence.
Saturday marks the 42nd contest between the Wolverines and Fighting Irish, and will likely be the last for many years. When the split was first announced, there was a good deal of vitriol--Brady Hoke calling Notre Dame "chicken" for backing out of the rivalry, Michigan playing "The Chicken Dance" after beating the Irish last season (because this is 3rd grade, after all, and not college)--but tempers have cooled. Brandon, for one, seems to have embraced the change, as Michigan looks towards new scheduling challenges in the face of the redesigned CFB playoff system. Michigan will look for a big home-and-home series to replace the Notre Dame rivalry in coming years.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Looks like all that peacocking in the RPAC is paying off, bros. OSU has the 2nd best-looking men in the country.
- Columbus Brewing is buying up space for an expansion.
- Some important weekend traffic changes, for those of you heading to the 'Shoe on Saturday.
- DOG'S GOTTA EAT: An Oregon Great Dane wolfed down 43 socks and lived to tell the tale.
- In what can only be called a power move, author Margaret Atwood has written a book that you can't read for another 100 years.