Weekly 'B' Deck Report - Indiana
Parking at Indiana is like being on the wrong end of a bird dropping. It stinks, it's unexpected, it ruins the moment, and you are not going to live it down for quite some time. Now I know why the stadium in Bloomington is always half-empty at Kick-off. Well, at least that is one of the reasons. I'd complain, but Chicken Skat is the primary reason my tomato plants are still producing only two-and-a-half weeks shy of Halloween.
Ohio State dispatched the Hoosiers 33-14 Saturday night with a career high performance from first time starter Brandon Saine. Saine finished the game with 114 yards on 17 carries(6.71per). Terrelle Pryor had an efficient game with 3 touchdowns through the air and another on the ground. It might have been 4 Td's through the air had Devier Posey not dropped a catchable td pass early in the game. I'm sure the coaches watched the tape and informed Devier of two football cliche's,'go get the ball at it's highest point', and 'catch the ball with your hands'.
There were other sloppy moments. The normally proficient Aaron Pettrey missed two field goals(35,29). Pryor played well but threw yet another ugly interception. Indiana scored a garbage Td on the back-ups with less than 5 seconds remaining in the ballgame. Add the two FG's, and take out the garbage TD, and the final could have been 39-7. At least the coaching staff has something to talk about before coming back home to play undefeated Wisconsin in the Shoe on Saturday. That game will put somebody in the BigTen driver's seat. Ohio State owns a huge series advantage over Wisconsin(52-17-5), but has split the last 8 games versus the Badgers.
Freshman Marcus Hall saw his first significant time of the season at RT. He played well in relief of starter J.B.Shugarts. At safety, Orhian Johnson got his first career start in place of suspended defensive Captain, Kurt Coleman. Johnson had only 3 tackles, but played well in pass coverage. The surprise of the night was the performance of Anderson Russell. He led the team in tackles, had an interception, and caused a fumble.
Dexter Larimore went down with a knee injury. Hopefully, it's no worse than a strain. No update to this point on the injury - other than 'he will not play against Wisconsin this week'. Boom Herron should be back this Saturday. This game will likely be the game that will determine whether or not Jamaal Berry will redshirt this season. Berry has not been 100% since off-season surgery, but is approaching 100% now. Berry could redshirt if the trio of Saine, Herron, and Hall make it through the Wisconsin game unscathed. My guess is that is the hope of Jim Tressel. It would be a shame to burn the freshmans' redshirt at this point in the season. In other injury news - Ross Homan returned to his starting OLB spot without any ill-effects from last weeks mild concussion.
Brandon Saine could have won the starting job in Herron's absence. Saine is averaging over two yards per carry better than Herron through 5 games. Brandon is also a bigger home-run threat than Herron. Ohio State has the luxury of 3 talented running backs, and 8 quality offensive linemen. The year-long competition is making each player stronger and more confident as the season goes on. In 2010, Ohio State will return 10 offensive starters from the starting units of the last two ballgames.
WR Duron Carter and FB Zach Boren had their first career touchdown receptions. Carter's TD came on a slant as the frosh snagged a high throw out of the air - rekindling memories of his father, years ago. Boren's TD came later as he celebrated the moment with his brother Justin, the starting LG.
I do not think that many Buckeye fans expected this type of contribution from the freshman class this season. Three frosh offensive lineman are basically in the two-deep. I say this only because Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley have dropped out of the depth chart to redshirt. Marcus Hall appears that he will continue to contribute the rest of the way in 2009. RB Jordan Hall has solidified his hold on the 3rd Rb spot. Not many people expected Duron Carter to be a starter at WR - nor did they expect Zach Boren to start at fullback. John Simon has cracked the two deep at DT, and could see even more time with Dexter Larimore sidelined. Storm Klein has been a major contributor on special teams and is listed as the back-up at MLB. Two players that I penned as possible starters in the pre-season, Chris Fields and Dorian Bell, appear destined for redshirts.
The performance against Indiana was anything but flawless, nevertheless, Ohio State looks like the class of the BigTen. The defensive line continues to dominate, and the offensive line is good enough to ease the growing pains at the offensive skill positions. If Ohio State can win this weekend - they should cruise into Happy Valley with an 8 and 1 mark, and be in prime contention for another BigTen title. If all goes well - Ohio State will run the rest of the regular season slate and position the team for a BCS game, and a shot at redemption for both themselves, and for the BigTen conference.
Avoid the 'birdshots' and see everyone in the Shoe on Saturday....