August 21, 2002
After eight plus months of speculation about the 2002 version of the tackle football Buckeyes, it is finally time to "strap it on." No more talking about the how good the freshmen are going to be or what a great feeling it was to finally beat Michigan on the road. Game week has finally arrived. Jim Tressel's sophomore season has the potential to be very special. With eight of our thirteen games at home and a stellar defense, New Year's Day in Pasadena is a highly plausible scenario. However, before we even think about crossing that bridge, all efforts need to be focused on the task at hand - The Texas Tech Red Raiders!
Texas Tech will definitely be one of the tougher home openers we have had in quite a while. The spread offense employed by 3rd year coach, Mike Leach, has the potential to give our defense fits. Although we have seen versions of the spread in recent years, I am quite confident we have yet to see anyone put the ball in the air as many times as we will see this Saturday. Anything under 50 pass attempts would be a shock. This definitely has the making of a four-hour game, especially if we are unable to chew up time with our ground game and are forced to throw 30 plus times.
Here is how I see things unfolding:
No doubt our offensive line is going to be tested early. Texas Tech returns 9 starters on defense lead by pre-season All-Big 12 selection Aaron Hunt. Hunt lead the team with 14 sacks last year and will more than likely start this year off with a couple of early sacks against our inexperienced offensive front. Along with Hunt, sophomore defensive tackle Clayton Harmon and Linebacker Lawrence Flugence lead the experienced Tech Defense. Based on last year, as well as Coach Tressel's fifteen years with Youngstown State, I expect us to try to establish the run right away. As much as I would like to see us open things up a bit, this is just not the team to do it against. As with most games, the key to winning will be dictated by our ability to control the tempo of the game. The longer we can keep Kingsbury and company on the sidelines the better off we will be. I don't foresee any major problems with our ability to move the ball on the ground. While this is not one of our more experienced offensive lines I still feel we should be able to run at leisure. Much like Northwestern and Michigan last year, if we can't move the ball on the ground you, better hope you brought a seat cushion and hope the portable lights are in place, because this one might not end until midnight.
As good of a defense as we have I still think we are going to face one of our toughest tests all year. The unconventional nature of the spread offense along with inexperience at key positions could create some challenges for our defense. Fortunately, we have seen similar versions of the Tech offense as recently as last year and have the best safety tandem in college football anchoring our secondary. The key to preventing Tech from topping their average of 33 ppg from last year will be not giving up the big play. Also, forcing Kingsbury to make quick decisions and holding yards after the catch to a minimum are musts. Otherwise, there is the potential for the Bucks to find themselves down four touchdowns real quick. Our defensive line will definitely keep Kingsbury on his toes. I would not be surprised if we end up with 5-7 sacks on the day. The rest will be up to Mr. Doss and company to make sure the Tech receivers are looking behind themselves every time they come across the middle. I will be very disappointed if we don't see a number of big hits, especially as many times as the ball will be thrown across the middle of the field.
Mike Nugent appears to be set for a break out year and Andy Groom is one of the better punters in the country. Would not be at all surprised if we see a kick or punt returned for a touchdown by Hall or Gamble. Special teams are definitely a big advantage for the Bucks.
I don't think it will be pretty but I like the Buckeyes 31-21. Not until the end of the year do I think most fans will realize how good of a team Texas Tech really is.
August 10, 2002
I just got back from the scrimmage. I didn't take notes and did some socializing, but here are a few tidbits from what I did see and can remember
--The defense retained the scarlet jerseys and it was not as close as the final score indicated. The 1st team offense really did not have a legitimate scoring drive on the 1st team defense even though they were matched up against one another for several series.
--Even though the defense again proved to be too much for the offense, the 1st team offense hung in there. They did not have many negative plays and Krenzel often had time to pass. Maurice Clarett again showed that he is a load to bring down. The person I sat with noted that he always seems to fall forward for an extra yard or so after being hit. He had a play where he ran right over Dustin Fox. The offense focused on the passing game most of the day. Clarett and Hall split the carries at the TB spot with the 1's.
--Krenzel was not on target today, although he looks the part out there and seems to have command of the offense. Early in the scrimmage he was hanging his receivers out to dry.
--Justin Zwick did not have the best afternoon. He had a few nice balls, but many times threw a wobbly duck. Zwick also had several problems with the snap, which may not have been his fault. He was picked off at least once.
--Troy Smith stole the show on offense. He threw several pretty balls, one going for a long gain and one going for a fairly long TD. Both of these passes hit the WR in stride. Boy does this kid have some tools. He looked very natural out there today. Smith got a look at WR as well.
--From what I saw, Scott McMullen did nothing to raise eyebrows, but did nothing to really disappoint.
--Matt Wilhelm was in on the second series with the 1's, replacing Freddie Pagac. Wilhelm was all over the place today. He showed zero signs of rust after having surgery in the spring.
--Mike D'Andrea played mostly with the 3's, to my knowledge. Late in the scrimmage he appeared to be very active. I tell you, the kid sure moves quickly from the hash marks to the sidelines.
--Mike Doss picked off a pass and returned 90 or so yards for a TD.
--Will Allen can lay the wood. He had several nice hits.
--The defense seemed to have a score to settle. The hitting was outstanding today.
--Simon Fraser left with some type of leg or knee injury, but looked okay when I saw him walking after the game.
--The whole first team defensive line was very stingy, as is almost always the case.
--The first team O-line looked like this (L to R): Douglas, Stafford, Stepanovich, Bishop, Olivea. As a whole, they did not get the job done although Douglas and Olivea each had their moments. Olivea looks like he is 340 and probably is more suited to play at 325. Adrien Clarke sat on the bench for most of the practice and did not play. He is still very, very big maybe 350 pounds.
--Michael Jenkins had the best day of any of the receivers. He used his size bringing down a few passes that were thrown high. Bam Childress had a few plays where he almost shook free.
--There was a short fight late in the scrimmage. It looked like it was between Quinn Pitcock and Adam Olds, but it was broken up quickly.
--Two FG attempts that I can remember Nugent missing from 49, but hitting from 40. Oh, and Nugent hit another one of short distance. Josh Huston sat out wearing the yellow jersey.
--There were several passes to Ben Hartstock. Seemed like Hartstock took a good hit every time he caught the ball.
--The offense ran out of the one-back set much of the afternoon. I remember seeing an I-formation just one time, but they probably ran it more than that.
--McNutt started opposite Fox with the 1's at corner.
--Chris Conwell had a nice pick and return of a Zwick pass for fairly long return.
That's all I have time for now.