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Sunday Morning Quarterback

Sunday Morning Quarterback

Monday, May 01, 2006

AN ABSURDLY PREMATURE ASSESSMENT OF: OHIO STATE
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SMQ spins the wheel for a hastily-rendered, too-soon look at a random school's prospects for the fall, sans inevitable academic and criminal suspensions, sudden transfers, debilitating injuries and other miscellaneous misfortunes of the long summer

Today:
OHIO STATE
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Nine back on offense leading to projections of grandeur; nine gone on defense to uncertainty. tOSU: Now with fireworks!


PAST FIVE SEASONS: 50-13 (31-9 Big Ten) - 2005: 10-2 (7-1 Big Ten); won Fiesta Bowl
STARTERS BACK, ROUGHLY: 11 (9 Offense, 2 Defense)
WHAT'S CHANGED: The entire defense, save stud tackle Quinn Pitcock. Six of last year's back seven is about to make mega bucks as football players playing football for various football teams in The National Football League, three as first round picks. The linebackers and safeties - for the record: Hawk, Schlegel, Carpenter, Whitner and Salley - were collectively second to none. Seven of twelve opponents had their season-low point total against tOSU last year; not one got closer than four points to its season average. That's a damn good group that left.
WHAT'S THE SAME: The entire offense, save stud receiver Santonio Holmes (ah, sweet dichotomy). It was virtually unstoppable, too, once Troy Smith made himself comfortable; during the team's seven-game win streak following its only league loss at Penn State, Smith and Co. upped the wattage to 38 points a pop against a string of suspect defenses and got writers reaching for stories on deadline in March all hot and bothered with the prospects for this fall.
MAJOR OVERHAUL=MAJOR CONCERNS: So - Number One, eh? (LINK WARNING: Non-sensical Kool-Aid reference). This very, very early hype isn't surprising given the expected offensive prowess, even without Holmes, but unlike Dennis Dodd, SMQ is not ready to automatically anoint the new defense "killer" on anything resembling a mythical championship scale. It doesn't take much insight to see that losing the linebackers - prototype Butkus-style linebacking assassin Hawk especially - and secondary stalwarts that made the group legitimately killer the last two years isn't a shrug-off, plug-and-play situation; it won't be October before it's a shit-we-really-miss-those-guys situation. The tempering factor: half the new starters and even a couple projected backups are fifth-year seniors, so the learning curve isn't, like, totally steep, even if the drop-off in talent from Hawk and Co. could be.
YOU THE MAN NOW, DOG: Troy Smith has been alleged to be "the Next Vince Young," just a few months after we christened Vince Young himself as the original "Vince Young," which is a bit premature. Smith is not as big and not as strong-armed as VY, not as spectacular on a hide-the-children level, but he will shred a bad defense to tatters and keep it together by avoiding mistakes (only four INTs last year to 16 TDs; 8 TDs to 1 INT in '04) against good ones; there's very good reason to believe that tOSU would have taken down Texas last September with the recently reinstated Smith going full-time rather than giving way to the giant sucking presence of Justin Zwick, in which case our perceptions of all involved would be much different now. But reality being what it is, and our perceptions being what they are, the most serious of the few questions about Smith have to concern his inability last season to overcome the toughest defenses (Penn State, Texas) he saw.

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In Harry Turtledove's world, Troy Smith takes all the snaps and Ohio State wins the Rose Bowl. Alas, the constraints of time and space...


THE MEANING OF SANTONIO HOLMES: The other question is how much Santonio Holmes meant to the passing game and the offense as a whole as a legit number one receiver, a spot Ted Ginn Jr. has seemed too inconsistent and rail thin to fill. There is a good compliment between big play, watch-at-all-times heartstopper Ginn and possession man Anthony Gonzalez, but is there the depth that allowed the offense to run the run-oriented, quick-read spread most of the season? Smith's rushing total owes a lot to the respect defenses had to pay to the far-flung flanks as he and Antonio Pittman attacked the middle, but no more Santonio Holmes to keep an eye on means more attention paid to the backfield. Depth charts still list fullback as a position in the base offense, and it might be employed more often if Ginn, Gonzalez, Roy Hall or some combination doesn't make up for the loss of Holmes' threatening presence. If the defense struggles, Jim Tressel might actually revert to Krenzel Era conservatism and try to slow things down to keep opposing offenses off the field.
OVERLY OPTIMISTIC POST-SPRING CHATTER: New uniforms are puke but OMG the light is going on and staying on for Ted Ginn:

"I started actually seeing to two days ago," said OSU Wide Receivers Coach Darrell Hazell on Tuesday.

"I watched Saturday's practice and I said 'He's coming.'
[....]
Hazell says that while Ginn has always been fast, he was missing an ingredient that great receivers all possess, technique and savvy. The possibility that the light has now gone on for Ginn in those areas as well has Hazell borderline giddy.

"I don't know if it's missing any more," said a beaming Hazell.

"Before he didn't understand all the things in terms of getting off the ball, in terms of separating from defenders, keeping separation and playing in traffic. I really feel like after Saturday's practice he's taken that step to look like that guy.
[...]
Hazell isn't the only one to notice the new, improved Ted Ginn. Fellow wide receiver Tony Gonzalez was right there with Hazell.

"Teddy is playing extremely well. He really is. It's the best I've seen him play, and that's not easy because he's already playing at such a high level," said Gonzalez.

"I've been just totally blown away. He really is playing extremely well. I really looking forward to see what it translates into. It just seems like when we saw the film from the previous practice it seemed like on every play he was going to score a touchdown. Every single play he was wide open for a touchdown. I said 'Man, that's impressive. That's not easy to do,'" Gonzalez said.
(emphasis SMQ's)

Ted Ginn might score a touchdown on every play. That is totally Heisman Trophy shit. Five-year, $23 million contract to anyone who lays a hand on him this fall - late hits in the end zone not included.
REASON FOR HOPE: Smith, Pittman, Ginn, entire offensive line back, if not always sober. This offense should make for the Buckeyes' best by far since the Hoying-George-Glenn days a decade ago. (Really? A decade? What have we accomplished since then? - ed.) We are very old men; grizzled.
REASON TO BE AFRAID, VERY AFRAID: 2005's best offensive player and everybody who was anybody on defense are in the pros. There is no way of legitimately replacing the experience and talent of the departed linebackers and safeties.
IF THIS TEAM WERE ANY POP CULTURAL, HISTORICAL, POLITICAL, LITERARY OR OTHERWISE NOTABLE FIGURE, IT WOULD BE... Advances in military technology immediately following World War I - after four years searching in vain for a breakthrough to escape the brutal tyranny of defensive-oriented trenches, old-fashioned methods were scrapped for new ideas based on speed and vast advances in air power, leading to more aggressive and effective attacks in the next conflict.
HONESTLY, WITHOUT LOOKING AT THE SCHEDULE, SMQ'S THINKING: Double-digit wins again, but he'll hold off on predicting a conference championship until he gets a better look at the league compared to the Buckeyes' big question marks on defense. Can a team that lost so much talent in one place really be better?


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Previous absurdly premature assessments:
April 3: Central Michigan...April 4: Brigham Young...April 6: Kentucky...April 7: Bowling Green...April 8: Southern Cal...April 11: Rutgers...April 12: Marshall...April 13: Florida State...April 15: San Diego State...April 17: Alabama...April 19: Oregon State...April 20: Buffalo...April 22: NC State...April 23: Arizona...April 24: Memphis...April 26: Louisiana Tech...April 28: Iowa...April 30: Toledo

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Permalink

11:24 PM

Comments:
Good assessment, I spend a lot of time around tOSU's football program and I believe its finally safe to say that our offense will be as powerful as ever; enough to squeak by in a few horse race, touchdown after touchdown games, most certainly. As the defense will be inexperienced the stategy might come down to good ol' ball control, and the Buck's will have one of the most potent groud trios with Pittman, Sophomore Maurice Wells, and Freshman, top-rated, All-American, back Chris Wells. Smith can scramble ,air it out to Ginn/Gonzo, or... give it up to a back. I'd say the best defense is not giving up the ball and with these backs, the Bucks can still play some old conservative Tressel ball control.

The million dollar question is, you guessed it, the Defense. Here in Columbus hopes are high with phrases like "we don't rebuild, we reload" tossed around reguarly. The truth is these statements are somewhat accurate
as many of the new starters were highly touted recruits, like Jamario O'neal DB, Marcus Freeman LB, James Laurinitis LB, and Malcom Jenkins DB all chomping at the bit to see action. And now with freshmen LB Ross Homan already ordained to be the Hawk's second coming, tOSU has effectively reloaded.

Granted, these conclusions are optimistic but this is one of tOSU's fastest most athletic defenses. That said, our questions on D will remian unanswered until saturday, particularly week two against TEXAS. This game, once again, will set the stage for the rest of the season with the winner becoming an odds on favorite for the national title!
 
People have said the "we reload" stuff about the defense, and year-in, year-out it's true on a macro level, but the 2004 defense was crap for about 7 games while they broke in 7 or 8 new starters. Once they jelled, they were a killer. I expect the same thing from this year's D. The thing is, will they be good enough to handle September road games at Texas and Iowa? Tough to be optimistic. Possible silver lining, as pointed out by The O-Zone: seven of the potential defensive starters have started in the past, and that's not including WLB Marcus Freeman, who many are projecting will be the D's best player, and who CFN said would have started the last two years on just about any other team in the nation. In Columbus, he had to sit behind A.J. Hawk...
 
I'm late the this party, but nice job. Rather than get all girly with the peaches and cream stuff, I will say Troy Smith does have a stronger arm than Vince Young.

Not as big? True.

Not as strong of an arm? False.
 
I agree with Keith about Troy's arm strength. He threw a nice spiral right on the money that went approximately 62 yards in the air. That is great arm strength. It was the Fiesta Bowl pass to TG Jr. that he caught on the 2/3 yard line. Troy let it go from around OSU's 36 yard line.
 
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PREVIOUSLY FROM SMQ:

2006 Preview
Anatomy of an Underdog
BlogPoll: 1-10/11-25/Roundtable
The ACC
The Big Ten
The Big XII
The Sun Belt

Running Departments
The Rap Sheet
July 29/Aug. 1/Aug. 9/Aug. 16/Aug.19/Aug. 25/Sept. 28/Oct. 4/Oct. 5/Oct. 18/Oct. 26/Nov. 2/Nov. 7/Nov. 8/Nov. 28/Dec. 2/Dec. 8/ Dec. 11/Dec. 18/Dec. 21/Feb. 6/Feb. 10/April 7/April 14/April 21/April 29/May 6/May 12/May 19/May 26/June 2/June 10/June 16/June 24/June 30/July 8/Aug. 4

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SMQ-APPROVED
COLLEGE FOOTBALL PAGES

News from the Big Guys
ESPN/ College Football News Wire
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FOX
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USA Today
Opinion: Columnists and bloggers
Around the Oval (Ohio State)
Badger Sports (Wisconsin)
The Blue-Gray Sky (Notre Dame)
Block U (Utah)
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Bruins Nation (UCLA)
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The Corporate Headquarters of the San Antonio Gunslingers
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Dawg Sports (Georgia)
ESPN: Ivan Maisel/Pat Forde
Every Day Should Be Saturday (Florida)
FOX: Pete Fiutak
Golden Tornado (Georgia Tech)
Heisman Pundit
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Journalism is for Rock Stars (Alabama)
Mark May Be Wrong
MDG CFB (Fresno State)
Mountain Lair (West Virginia)
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SI: Stewart Mandel/John Walters
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The Sporting Gnomes (Clemson)
Tiger Pundit (Clemson)
We Must Ignite This Couch (West Virginia)
The Wizard of Odds

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The Blog Poll

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WANNA DO SOME RESEARCH? NERD! HERE'S SOME QUICK REFERENCES:

College Football Data Warehouse
College Football Research Center
College Football News
cfbstats.com
Football Commentary
THE STANDINGS
THE POLLS

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing
Passing
Receiving
All-Purpose
Scoring
Tackles
Sacks
Interceptions
Tackles For Loss
Field Goals
Punting
Kickoff Returns
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TEAM STATISTICS
Rushing Offense
Passing Offense
Total Offense
Scoring Offense
Rushing Defense
Passing Defense
Total Defense
Scoring Defense
Turnover Margin

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Past Seasons
2005
Thursday Morning Quarterback
Sept. 29/Oct. 6/Oct. 20/Oct. 27/Nov. 3/Nov. 10/Nov. 17/Nov. 24/Dec. 1
Sunday Morning Quarterback
Oct. 2/Oct. 23/Oct. 30/Nov. 6/Nov. 13/Nov. 27
Stat Relevance Watch
Part One/Part Two/Part Three
SMQ Bowl Blitz
New Orleans/GMAC/Las Vegas/Poinsettia/Motor City

SMQ's [Hurricane-Abbreviated] 2005 Preview
Top 25 Countdown/Methodology
All-America Team
ACC
BIG EAST
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BIG XII