Random Thoughts
September 8, 2003 8:45 pm EST

--Time to move on.  Saturday was tough to swallow, but there is a big game on tap this week and this is the same Buckeye team that had decent success offensively against a top 25-ranked Washington team nine days ago.  Both Ohio State and NC State are better than they showed on Saturday and this one will be a good battle.

--Obviously Ohio State will need to get its running game in gear.  That may mean that true freshman Ira Guilford has to get a shot.  Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall were both praised by OSU coaches coming into this season for the strides they made in the blocking department.  I am sure that Guilford is not at the level of Ross or Hall when it comes to blocking, but I feel that Guilford deserve a series or two against the Wolfpack to see if he can spark the Buckeye ground game.

--I expect Craig Krenzel to bounce back this week.  He is a much better QB than what we saw Saturday.  And I think Krenzel is due to hit the bomb to Drew Carter.

--Watched a tape of the first quarter of the game (...haven't gotten to the rest of the three quarters.)  Man, did Nate Salley ever whiff on San Diego State's first quarter TD.  I've been agreeing with some of the opinions that there has not been much of a downgrade in the OSU safety play this year, but I'm not sure that either of last year's safeties, who had seven years of starting experience between them, would have missed that tackle.  But that is youth.  Salley, as well as Brandon Mitchell, appear to have bright futures at Ohio State.

--I have been a supporter of Fred Pagac and feel that fans still sell him a short a bit, but Pagac has to make the tackles that linebackers are supposed to make.  He doesn't have the athletic ability that the other backers have, so he at a minimum needs to tackle well.

--Mike D'Andrea still seems to be learning, but I expect MDA to make more and more noise as the season goes on.  I am not sure if I have ever seen this kind of athleticism at linebacker.  Man, can this kid move.

--Speaking of moving, AJ Hawk's football speed is just fine, and that may be an understatement.  And to think that OSU offered several other LB's before Hawk, with some talk that Hawk's speed was questionable.  Again, Hawk will lead this team in tackles this year and is well on his way to stardom.

--It does not seem like it is the style of this staff to get in a player's face, but I'm of the opinion that someone needs to bluntly tell these senior offensive linemen that they need to get their (crap) together and take their games to higher levels.

--Speaking of the offensive line, Alex Stepanovich is the guy that gets this line going.  Shane Olivea may need to take over this roll if Stepanovich is forced to miss much time.  A high ankle sprain is not a good thing.  The hope is that Alex recovers quickly. - Brent

Still Frustrated
September 6, 2003 11:45 pm EST

It started from play number one.  Craig Krenzel was intercepted and this set the tone for the day.  The most frustrating thing is a great team should be able to shake off a slow start and put away an inferior opponent.  Ohio State was never able to shake San Diego State, a team that beat a D1-AA opponent a week ago by a score of 19-9.  The Buckeyes, a 31-point favorite were fortunate to escape with a 16-13 victory.  What went wrong?  Well, where do you start

--Craig Krenzel never recovered after the pick he threw on the first play of the game.  He overthrew receivers all day, and often could not locate open receivers when he had time to throw.  It was his worst performance to date as a starter.

--The tailback combination was dreadful.  Don't let the yards per carry (slightly less than 5 yards per) fool you with Maurice Hall.  Hall again showed poor vision and like Lydell Ross, has definitely lost some speed with the added weight.  Ross finished with 16 yards on 7 carries, hardly championship material.

--The offensive line that looked oh so improved against Washington forgot to schedule their wakeup call today.  The protection they provided Krenzel was less than par, and the run blocking was poor.

--On special teams, Mike Nugent was wide-right on a very important 28-yard field goal attempt late in the third quarter.  BJ Sander punted a ball 26 yards, giving San Diego State the ball at midfield, at a crucial point in the fourth quarter.   And the Buckeye defense had a nice three-and-out stand midway through the third quarter, leaving the Aztecs with a 4th and 12, only to commit a roughing the kicker penalty trying to block the San Diego State punt.

--Ohio State's third down conversions?  1 for 13.  And the number of touchdowns scored by the OSU offense?  0.  Bare in mind that this was not NC State, Wisconsin, Purdue or Michigan, but San Diego State that the Buckeyes played today.

--Leading 13-7 at halftime, you would have thought Ohio State would have made some serious halftime adjustments and come out smokin' in the third quarter.  Not the case.  Ohio State was outscored 6-3 in the second half.

--The defense did play better in the second half and did get it done when it counted, but this unit, like the rest of the team, clearly was far from motivated early in this one.  Give credit to the San Diego State coaches who did their homework, finding ways to penetrate this Buckeye defense.  The Aztecs had some success moving the ball in the first half, with true-freshman tailback Lynel Hamilton, and a short passing game.  The Silver Bullet defense eventually made the proper adjustments, but San Diego State had more success on offense than many thought they would.

--Penalties.  The Buckeyes accumulated 12 for 124 yards.  And senior co-captain Will Smith?  Will, there was a reason you were selected captain; there is no place for the cheap shots you made today. - Brent

September 6, 2003 8:15 pm EST

Wow.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  That was one of the most frustrating three and a half hour spans that I have sat through.  Where to begin.  It was a win, but it was uglier than all of the ugly wins that the Bucks got last year.  I'll chime back in later after watching the Oklahoma - Alabama game. - Brent  

Game Day
September 6, 2003 8:15 am EST

The weather: 52 degrees as of 5:50 a.m. this morning on the OSU campus.  Forecasted temperature at kickoff (noon-ish) is 71 degrees with the temperature rising to 75 degrees by 3:00 p.m.  It is expected to be sunny with no rain in the forecast.

As for the matchup, I expect San Diego State to try the short passing game, with new QB Matt Dlugolecki getting rid of the ball quickly, much like Washington tried.  There simply won't be time for Dlugolecki to set up in the pocket.  The Aztecs will have to give their highly touted freshman TB, Lynell Hamilton, a shot at penetrating the Buckeye defense as well.  But the best hope for San Diego State is to hope the Buckeye offense sputters a bit and that OSU makes uncharacteristic mistakes.  It will be very hard for San Diego State to generate much of anything on offense today.

Look for the Buckeyes to try to establish the run with Lydell Ross and Maurice Hall.  It doesn't look like Maurice Clarett will be in the picture this year, so these two need to take their games to higher levels.  Also, look for a few more deep balls to Drew Carter or maybe Santonio Holmes.  On special teams, the Buckeyes will bring Carter and Michael Jenkins off the edges to try to block a punt, and they may just get one today.

In the second half and maybe sooner, you should see both Justin Zwick and Troy Smith behind center.  These two will get the attention, but watch for the following youngsters who should get a lot of PT today: DT David Patterson #97, DE's Joel Penton #98, Mike Kudla #57, Jay Richardson #99, CB Ashton Youboty #26, Safety Donte Whitner #9, WR Santonio Holmes #4, TB Ira Guilford #5, and TE Louis Irizarry #81. - Brent

Ohio State vs. San Diego State
September 5, 2003 7:15 am EST

There are few ifs, ands or buts...Saturday should be a good old fashion spanking.  San Diego State had one of the most prolific duos of wideouts last year and a QB that threw for a lot of yards, but none of these three will be on the field Saturday in Ohio Stadium.  The wide receivers have used up their eligibility and quarterback Adam Hall has a severely sprained ankle which will force him to miss Saturday's contest.

Last weekend, San Diego State got by division 1-AA opponent Eastern Washington 19-9.  Meanwhile, Ohio State beat another school from Washington....the University of Washington...a top 20 D-1A team, 28-9.  This one could get ugly.

Look for the Buckeyes to put up 50 points or more against the Aztecs.  If you are a diehard and want to see all the younger kids play, tomorrow is your day.  Look for redshirt freshmen QB's Justin Zwick and Troy Smith both to see considerable time in the second half.  Look for a good amount of playing time out of 3rd team, true freshman TB Ira Guilford.  Look for short afternoons for Craig Krenzel and Michael Jenkins.

The Call: Ohio State 59 San Diego State 3   - Brent

Clarett Recommendation Delayed Further
September 4, 2003 3:30 pm EST

Steve Snapp, OSU assistant athletics director, has indicated that a recommendation regarding Maurice Clarett will not be made this week.  Snapp stated that OSU is still in the process of gathering information.  Earlier, it was hoped that the recommendation would be sent to the NCAA in Indianapolis this week.

Clarett's Season May Be Over
September 4, 2003 7:15 am EST

Many pieces in the daily link section on Maurice Clarett and reports that his season may very well be over.  Could this be the end of Clarett at Ohio State?  Seems possible.

Clarett News
September 2, 2003 5:30 pm EST

Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett is no longer practicing. Clarett did appear on ESPN on Saturday, which may or may not have been okayed by the Buckeye coaching staff.  Whether or not this has anything to do with the decision to not have Clarett practice is anyone's guess.  Could the suspension now appear to be longer than originally thought?  Again, I'm not sure a lot of people have the answer to these questions. - Brent

Bucks Gain In AP Poll
September 1, 2003 2:00 pm EST

Ohio State did not take over the #1 ranking in the AP poll, but they closed some of the gap on Oklahoma.  Here is the poll:

                           Record   Pts    Pvs 
1. Oklahoma (30)    1-0    1,566     1 
2. Ohio St. (25)       1-0    1,538     2 
3. Miami (2)            1-0    1,482     3 
4. Southern Cal (6)  1-0    1,389     8 
5. Michigan (2)        1-0    1,351    4 
6. Texas                 1-0    1,302    5 
7. Kansas St.          2-0    1,241    7 
8. Georgia              1-0   1,135    11 
9. Virginia Tech       1-0   1,094    9 
10. Pittsburgh          0-0     996    10 
11. Florida St.         1-0      930    13 
12. Tennessee        1-0     883    12 
13. LSU                  1-0      828   14 
14. N.C. State         1-0      815   16 
15. Virginia             1-0      641   18 
16. Purdue             0-0      533   19 
17. Auburn             0-1      524    6 
18. Wisconsin        1-0      512    21 
19. Notre Dame      0-0      507    20 
20. Arizona St.       0-0      309    22 
21. Florida             1-0      268     - 
22. Washington      0-1      222   17 
23. Nebraska         1-0      204   - 
24. Colorado          1-0     188    - 
25. TCU                  0-0     131   25 

Others receiving votes: Oregon St. 78, Alabama 77, Maryland 66, Penn St. 62, N. Illinois 43, Missouri 36, Iowa 30, Minnesota 28, Texas A&M 24, Arkansas 18, Oregon 18, Mississippi 15, Boise St. 11, Arizona 7, Colorado St. 7, Air Force 5, Hawaii 4, Washington St. 4, Oklahoma St. 2, New Mexico 1.

Time To Get Excited
September 1, 2003 1:30 pm EST

You often can't tell much from the spring game, but this year was different.  Although a high scoring Scarlet and Gray game could mean that your defense maybe isn't that good, you could see athletes everywhere in this year's contest.  Those who missed it got a glimpse of the depth and athleticism of this 2003 team Saturday night.

What can be said about this defensive line?  This was a very good Washington offense, surely a top 10 offense in the country that was manhandled Saturday.  The common phrase is that it "all starts up front."  Well, for Washington, it ended up front, and rather quickly.  Should the starting four stay healthy, you may see the all four guys on the first team All-Big Ten list at the end of the season.  Cody Pickett never got on track.  I cannot remember a single instance when Pickett sat back in a legitimate pocket.

And this defense may have missed Matt Wilhelm a bit, but I'm not sure there was any other drop-off.  Nate Salley brings great coverage skills to the safety position, much better than Mike Doss or Donnie Nickey.  And Salley and Brandon Mitchell are as athletic as they come.

Speaking of athleticism, Mike D'Andrea brings another dimension to the linebacking unit, one we haven't seen since Andy Katzenmoyer and maybe one we have never seen.  His speed is inhuman for a man his size.  D'Andrea coming free on a blitz is utterly scary.  And D'Andrea didn't even start.

Aside from D'Andrea coming off the bench, you had Marcus Green (DT), Bobby Carpenter (LB), Nate Salley (S), Mike Kudla (DE), Quinn Pitcock (DT) and E.J. Underwood (CB) rotated in regularly on defense.  Joel Penton (DE), Thomas Matthews (LB), Ashton Youboty (CB) and others rotated in before mop-up time as well.  This is definitely the most depth the defense has had in Tressel's three-year tenure, and the defensive depth may be as good as it's been since the Woody era.

On offense, as expected, the offensive line made big strides.  Craig Krenzel had a nice pocket to set up in with plenty of time to throw for most of the evening, something he often did not have last year.  The run blocking could have been better, but it still appeared to be improved.

Craig Krenzel....like the defensive line, what can you say about this kid?  The guy seems to get faster every game he plays.  Krenzel's two TD runs were absolute things of beauty. He always has that sense of exactly where he needs to get to and it looks like Krenzel's confidence is at another level this year.

Five receivers, two tight ends and two backs caught passes against the Huskies.  Michael Jenkins, as usual, caught everything thrown his way.  Santonio Holmes did not have his coming out party as I had predicted, but did catch a ball and still has the potential to be a star as early as this year.  5th-year senior Drew Carter looked like he is finally ready to have a big year and will be a handful for corners with average speed to handle.

The one area that still needs to make strides is the tailback position, with Maurice Clarett being held out.  Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross are both tougher to tackle this year, with their added muscle, but still have a long way to go to show that they are in Mo Clarett's league.  Both backs can side-step defenders on occasion, making them miss, but Hall does not have great lateral mobility and Ross looked a step slower with his added weight.

On special teams, Mike Nugent continued to nail his kickoffs deep, but got no chance to try a field goal.  I thought BJ Sander answered some questions about his mental toughness.  Aside from the first punt that he somewhat shanked, he was very consistent the rest of the night and his hang-time was outstanding.  I am not sure we will see anyone but Chris Gamble on punt returns again, except in blowout situations.  Coach Tressel was visually disturbed after Santonio Holmes fumbled a punt in his second attempt of the evening.  - Brent

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