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Suitanim 10-11-2005 08:00 AM

Ohio State's problems...
This article sums it up nicely...and Terry Pluto is an excellent sports writer who knows what he's talking of 19 books and nominated twice for the Pulitzer.

Posted on Tue, Oct. 11, 2005

Smith not right for this offense

By Terry Pluto

This is intended for the Ohio State offensive coaches.

Defensive guys, you can go home from school early. You get it, just keep up the good work.

It's the offense...

Can anyone tell me exactly what the Buckeyes are doing on offense?

I know, not scoring.

Besides that, does anyone have a clue?

Certainly not quarterback Troy Smith, who seems about as comfortable as a cat dropped into the middle of the Westminster Dog Show. Sometimes, he tiptoes around. Other times, he runs for his life.

He continually looks left, looks right, peeks behind his shoulder.

This is not his offense.

Actually, when the Buckeyes are in the shotgun and using three receivers, it's similar to the system that backup Justin Zwick used when he was at Massillon. It's designed for a quarterback to throw the ball all over the field to several receivers, and it also gives the quarterback some freedom to change plays.

It's not a good offense for a quarterback who likes to run, and that's the quarterback whom the Buckeyes are using.

I'm not sure what should be the Buckeyes' offense. Maybe more of an option, maybe something else. Coach Jim Tressel and his staff must have several ideas for what is an athletically gifted but extremely underachieving offense.

OK, Antonio Pittman, I'm not talking about you.

The sophomore running back from Buchtel usually runs hard and runs well. He's averaging 92 yards a game, 5.0 per carry. His worst night was against Penn State, but that wasn't a disaster as he gained 58 yards in 15 carries.

Part of the problem for Pittman was Penn State stacked the line. The Nittany Lions could see that Smith's passing was erratic, that he was worried and that he was unsure what he wanted to do.

Smith was sacked five times!

This happened to a player who might be talented enough to be a Division I tailback, but Smith never seemed to know where the rush was coming from or where he should run.

The Buckeyes had only two plays gain more than 20 yards, and those came on their final drive when Smith finally completed a couple of decent passes. Then he was sacked and fumbled, ending OSU's attempt to tie the score.

OSU is 3-2. The Buckeyes dominated Iowa 31-6 in every aspect of the game three weeks ago. Their other victories have been against Miami (Ohio) and San Diego State. Neither are ranked teams.

When they lost 25-22 to Texas, fans dwelled on the pass that tight end Ryan Hamby dropped in the end zone. But that night, Tressel juggled his two quarterbacks. Then, neither was effective, both played cautiously.

That led Tressel to pick Smith, which makes sense.

The offense is still sputtering, though.

Has anyone seen Ted Ginn Jr. this year? Yes, the Ted Ginn of a year ago who was supposed to a Heisman Trophy candidate? This Ted Ginn is playing like just a track athlete still trying to transform himself into a football player.

Ginn has carried five times for seven yards. No one is fooled when he gets it on a reverse. He has caught 16 passes for an average of 12 yards per catch. He has one touchdown. His returns have been underwhelming.

Somehow, the Buckeyes have to set him loose.

Santonio Holmes is a big-time receiver, and there are times when he seems open, but he doesn't get the ball nearly enough. Smith has the arm with enough power to throw deep, but accuracy has been a problem.

Some fans might want to switch quarterbacks again, returning to Zwick.

That's not the answer, at least not yet.

You don't want to keep alternating quarterbacks.

But the offense?

Now that's where things have to change, and change this week before Michigan State comes in on Saturday.

geran42o 10-11-2005 07:11 PM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
I agree Suit, I just read this article this morning.

Suitanim 10-12-2005 07:44 AM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
Tressel chimes in:

Talking offense, Tressel defensive
Ohio State coach takes the heat for struggling Buckeyes
By Marla Ridenour
Beacon Journal sports writer

COLUMBUS - Ohio State is 3-2, the same record it held at this point last season, and the heat is on in Columbus.

So what else is new?

But those expecting coach Jim Tressel to eventually become less involved in the offense will be sorely disappointed. In his fifth year, Tressel took a stance that sounded like the resolute Marty Schottenheimer in his final days in Cleveland.

Asked if he could ever see himself as an overseer instead of virtually the offensive coordinator, Tressel said, ``That's a discussion you have at times, but I'm not sure that that would interest me. Now, you know, we'll see, but I like being involved.''

Fans are in an uproar over Saturday night's 17-10 loss at Penn State that ended the No. 15 Buckeyes' chances for a national title. Radio analyst Jim Lachey suggested on Monday night's Buckeye Roundtable that fellow St. Henry High School product Todd Boeckman should start at quarterback in Saturday's home game against No. 16 Michigan State and Troy Smith should be moved to tailback. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman is under fire, even though his input is perceived as little.

Tressel started his media day Tuesday fielding questions about the use of OSU's offensive personnel on the Big Ten Conference call. When he showed up at the team meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, he took a condescending tone.

Asked about expectations for a high-powered offense, he told a newspaper reporter-turned-radio talk show host, ``I don't know the superlatives that you're using, you have to talk so much more now that you've been reading the dictionary... ''

When pointing out that the Buckeyes' seven takeaways are the second-fewest in the conference behind Illinois with six, he said, ``No one brings up that we lead the league in time of possession, you know, but we're last in whatever. Let me tell you what the important one is, if you have your pencils out. We're last in the league in turnover margin. Don't talk to me about the rest.''

Actually Illinois is last at minus-4 and OSU is tied for ninth with Indiana at minus-2 (seven takeaways, nine giveaways).

But Tressel didn't hesitate when asked if he was contemplating a change in quarterback against MSU, which ranks second in the nation in total offense and is averaging 45.4 points per game. (OSU is averaging 24.8.)

``No,'' he shot back.

Tressel went out of his way to defend Smith, who turned the ball over twice at Penn State on an interception that led to a touchdown and a fumble on OSU's final play.

``If you analyze his performance, you'd have to start making the list of the factors,'' Tressel said. ``One might be Penn State. One might be maybe what we didn't design properly for them or it wasn't the right thing. Maybe we didn't rep something enough. Maybe he allowed himself to be distracted. Maybe the protection... ''

His toughest criticism, in reference to the final sack and forced fumble by Penn State defensive end Tamba Hali, is that Smith needs to ``feel the rush.''

Even with perceived offensive firepower in receivers Santonio Holmes, Ted Ginn Jr., Anthony Gonzalez and Roy Hall, Tressel still sees the offense as merely a third of the total picture.

OSU's offense has never been ranked higher than eighth in the Big Ten under Tressel. The Buckeyes were 10th during the national championship season of 2002.

``We've found that if we can score 24 points and our defense can reach their goal of 14 points or less, we have a good chance to win,'' Tressel said. ``Our goal isn't to be knighted as prolific. I don't know that we've ever sought that, we just want to do our part to help the team win.''

Senior linebacker A.J. Hawk didn't seem too upset about the criticism going around town.

``It's like that in most places,'' Hawk said. ``In Columbus, it's magnified a little bit. But we want people to expect us to win. When we lose, obviously something is wrong.''

Tressel said the criticism he's taking hasn't been that unusual.

``The guy cleaning the locker room wasn't too nice to me on Sunday, but (it's been) no more or less than normal,'' he said. ``You hear plenty. Whoever invented the Internet, the e-mail, my poor deleted-items box is in trouble. But you guys get the same thing when you write an article, you get 54 opinions. That's life.''


Hammer67 10-12-2005 01:59 PM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
You know...there was another team on the field that MIGHT have given them isn't as if they jsut shot themselves in the foot. Both teams have powerhouse defenses...


Suitanim 10-12-2005 02:48 PM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
I'm sorry, but holding the Bucks to 7 points just doesn't happen without an offensive implosion. If you recruit top 5 talent every year, and run a spread offense with elite team speed you should be hanging at least a couple TD's and a couple FG's on any and all comers...if you aren't, you have to look at your own internal problems first.

Nothing against PSU, again, but OSU should be scoring more points against them than Northwestern or Cincinnati.

Hammer67 10-13-2005 06:33 AM

Re: Ohio State's problems...

Originally Posted by Suitanim
I'm sorry, but holding the Bucks to 7 points just doesn't happen without an offensive implosion. If you recruit top 5 talent every year, and run a spread offense with elite team speed you should be hanging at least a couple TD's and a couple FG's on any and all comers...if you aren't, you have to look at your own internal problems first.

Nothing against PSU, again, but OSU should be scoring more points against them than Northwestern or Cincinnati.

Well, it is past the half way point of the season and the Defense has gelled...If you watched the game, both Defenses stepped up and made unbelievable plays. It wasn't as if OSU didn't have any chances. Ginn was covered like a blanket, as were most of the recievers. That's why Smith wasn't releasing as fast. ANd, when he did get flushed out of the pocket, he got chased down by the best linebacker in the Big 10 (no disrespect to the OSU linebackers)

Plus the PSU D shut down the passing game early and they were forced to try and run it, which is PSU's main strength, run defense. OSU did much of the same. What would this game have been like if Lowry didn't return an interception to the goalline?

Suitanim 10-13-2005 05:56 PM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
PSU has a fine defense, and you may, in fact, have the best linebacker in the Big 10, which, by default means best in the Country since the Big 10 is stacked at LB. I still like AJ Hawke though...

As for the rest, Holmes was open, he just wasn't thrown to, and that's Smith's fault...he's uncomfortable in the pocket, and that has less to do with the defense than it has to do with the fact that he's just not in a groove, and he's not seeing the field, since the guy likes to run around back there anyway...

Look, I didn't want it to come to this, but the fact remains, OSU is struggling offensively, and they have all season. PSU played a nice game defensively, but OSU shot itself in the foot numerous times. If PSU was so dominant, don't you think the players and coaches of OSU would have commented on it? Instead, we hear:

Rob Sims, senior offensive tackle
On the offensive line in the Penn State game
"Switching up guys was part of the problem. We did that on the fly, which made it difficult. We had people playing in different positions. As a result of that, there were some holes."

Nick Mangold, senior center
On the assessment of last weeks game
"We didn't make the best of our opportunities. We made crucial turnovers and mistakes at the wrong time. We can't set up our defense against a good offense the way we did last week."

Jim Tressel, Coach
"And, of course, you always have to finish your formula with the fact that you need to be mistake free on offense and, again, throwing an interception that allows them to go all the way to the one and a half yard line, you know, can -- can be deadly for you and -- and we ended up with two turnovers, which we were not mistake free, we were not mistake free all the time on protection, all the time on decision making, all the time, I'm sure, on play calling, all the time on any of the things we felt like we needed to do, you know, from an offensive football team and the other thing is you have to be opportunistic and take advantage of every good field position. The first good field position we got and we did take advantage, I think we got it on our own 40 or thereabouts, our own 38, and went down and got three points. And the next scoring drive in the second quarter was a longer drive, but we had some opportunities in between our own 30 and own 40, you know, only starting 60 plus yards away and did not take advantage of those opportunities to move into scoring range and, you know, therefore, we come up on the short end of the 17-10 football game.

You know, I think offensive football, especially when you're playing against good defensive teams, you know, inevitably, that ability to have 11 guys getting things done, you know, perfectly is more difficult. Going into the game against Penn State, did I foresee that we would score 42 points or going into the season, you know -- the expectations of whatever you brought up were, I don't remember espousing those that against Penn State we'll probably be able to score 42 points, that kind of thing. The thing that we talk a lot about on all of our units is doing what we can do to help the team win. And I'm not sure that, you know, we were going to score 42 points. Am I disappointed we scored 10? Absolutely. You know, I really felt like we could score 21, 24 points and I really thought that our defense would do a great job of holding them to what their goal is. You know, our goal is to score 24 points or more. And whenever we talk about goals, we talk about against the best competition. You know, not -- you know, piling all the statistics from, you know, 20 years together or whatever, but against the best competition, you know, we've found that if we can score 24 points and our defense can reach their goal is let 14 points or less, we have a good chance to win. And ultimately, that's our goal. Our goal isn't to be, I guess, knighted as a prolific -- or I don't know what the superlatives that you're using, you have to talk so much more now that you've been reading the dictionary, you know, but I don't know that we've ever sought that, we just want to do our part to help the team win."

This is all stuff I have said numerous's just Tressel-Ball. The bottom line is OSU has a problem scoring points, and they need to fix it. Notice I didn't post this in the PSU thread? There's a reason for that...

Hammer67 10-13-2005 07:50 PM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
Every team that loses goes through the song and dance with reporters as to why they lost. And, for every lost football game, teams could have done things differently. OSU will rebound. Smith may not be the man, but they have other players that can get the job done.
Last year with JoePa it was "We were only one or two plays away" which they were, for the most part.

That was a tough loss though...knocks them out of the National picture...

sisitki 10-14-2005 07:46 AM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
One thing about OSU, they never get beat. They always shoot themselves in the foot. I'm friends with a couple OSU fans up here and they are the same way.

No, I wouldn't expect OSU players to say they were dominated. I'd never want to hear my team say that. Fact is, both D's are tough. If you look at last years game, PSU wasn't dominated. OSU scored 21 points but I believe 2 TD's were setup by turnover and special teams. Only 1 TD was a long drive. We didn't turn the ball over this year which made the difference.

I'd like a tape of the game with some more overhead shots. The overhead shots I saw on TV didn't show a lot of open guys. I saw safetys moving up over the middle and tempting OSU to throw deep down the sideline which they couldn't do.

One thing nobody mentions is the PSU offense. it went into hibernation the 2nd half. And it wasn't because of the OSU D. We quit throwing the ball and kept running right into the teeth of the OSU D. We could have scored more (or at least tried) but moved into the mode of "not making mistakes" instead of attacking.

Whatever, game over...we won.

OSU's refusal to use Ginn does blow my mind. A guy that good needs more touches.

I think the season is going to show that Smith is a pretty good QB. I really just think he ran into a good, experienced D that threw him off. I expect him to have a big game this weekend and predict OSU is going to kill MSU.

Suit, I also don't agree with swithing QB's. I hated it when PSU was doing it. QB is a leader and I think you need to pick one and stick with it. I really think it cost you guys a national championship during the Jackson/Germaine years.

Suitanim 10-14-2005 08:41 AM

Re: Ohio State's problems...
Well, like you said, it's over and done with. As for MSU, we've seen this kind of thing before from Smith...plays lousy one week then turns it around the next. However, if he continues to stumble, Tressel needs to pull the trigger and permanently replace Smith with Zwick. Zwick was always his first choice anyway, but he just had to get him out of there last year, and now the opposite may be true.

OSU can still win the Big 10, and that is now their focus...but not with the offense as it stands now. The question is, how do they fix it? That's why Tressel makes the big bucks!

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