As I walked out of the stadium trying to defend my beloved Buckeyes to my less loving friends, we all surmised the following generalities at about 3:15 on Saturday afternoon:
1) Way WAY too much Braxton; and they are going to get him killed (along with our season chances) out there.
2) The defensive line seems in contain mode with no rush and no disruption. Who woulda thunk it from this group of beasts?
3) The DBs play soft and the opposing receivers are having a field day underneath. Luke – adjust, man…
4) Lots of penalties and turnovers and mental errors and, well…just sloppy football.
5) The offense still looks out of sync and if it wasn’t for the playground heroics of Brax, they would be struggling.
6) The O-line and receivers are better than we projected but that hasn’t manifested itself yet into a balanced and steady offense.
7) And – hey – quit bitching already! We won pretty big for the second week in a row and tied last year’s 2-0 start (hope that isn’t an omen…)
So, I get in the car and turn on to hear Urban’s comments and he went straight down the same list. It wasn’t watered-down coach-speak that was politically correct. Yes, fans, he recognizes all the problems and summarily said, “We just aren’t a very good team yet.” And our list?
We love him but maybe not this MUCH of him ...
1) Too much Braxton: “Twenty-seven hits, whew! That’s too much. Somebody’s gotta run the ball … but 27 carries? Too much. You could tell he was kind of blown out in the fourth quarter.”
2) D-line: “Pass rush? I feel the same way as you guys. We’ve got to get a rush on their quarterback. I see a QB not getting hit…”
3) Pass defense: “But … pass defense, we have a long way to go.”
4) Sloppiness: “Penalties and turnovers – just not good”
5) Offense out of synch: “Back to fundamentals. (No excuses) on offense. We’ve got to be a lot better than that”
6) Balanced and steady: “I’m open to suggestions. Well, not really…”
7) But we won: “Don’t want to be a downer around here. We won the frickin’ game against a pretty good opponent, so we’re happy about that”
We won the frickin’ game against a pretty good UCF team at that. A team that felt like a big step up in class from the Miami bunch of the previous week. University of Central Florida. What a concept. Sharing the headlines with Mickey Rat in Orlando and with an enrollment of 58,698; that’s huge – maybe even bigger than Ohio State. And their stadium only holds 45,323. Quick now, is there another Division I team in the country that has a larger enrollment than stadium capacity?
So, logically, you and other fans with Buckeye blinders (and many bookies) thought we would roll. Logically, if your theory was sound, that’s how it woulda happened. Then again, if the world were a logical place, men would be the ones riding horses
UCF looked pretty good to me. Overwhelming pick to win the Conference USA East division; 16 returning starters. Historically, they know how to win: they were 11-3 two seasons back and beat, uh, Georgia in a bowl game. And they have the requisite cartoonish coach (another ass-talker who sounds and looks better from a distance). George O’Leary said the fans sit on their hands at OSU. He actually said their little stadium is much louder. He was doing alright with that schtick until he mentioned that the Ohio State stands were far away from field. Said he was there with Syracuse when OSU was #1 in 1980. George must not know they got rid of the track since then. O’Leary – who has had an on-and-off relationship with the truth throughout his career (see: Dame, Notre; see: days, five …) was demonstrative and coached a pretty good game. Kinda like other moderately gifted coaches that have come and gone from South Bend.
Well, I want to wrap this up and get into the analytical commentary from the less emotional and more technically gifted Bucknuts Beat Boys. Suffice it to say that OSU has now won 62 straight regular season nonconference home games against unranked teams. That string dates to a 1982 loss to Florida State. We have some issues at running back as we have lost three of them already and we will have issues at quarterback if we keep running Braxton like he’s Bronco Nagurski. We have two key linemen (Michael Bennett and Nathan Williams) down and they will be back. We have two rather tepid non-con teams being served up the next two weeks where we can get some of the fundamental football issues on track.
Urban can’t tell you for sure what’s wrong (that’s the bad news) but he knows that it is – indeed – wrong (that’s the good news). I am going to try something new this week and ask our Bucknuts brethren for their opinion on our UNDEFEATED AND UNDER-APPRECIATED BUCKEYES!
(I still love you guys…)
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The Bucket Collection … We have an all-star team of writers and analysts here at Bucknuts. As much as I know you treasure my insights, we thought it would be even more valuable (and immensely more entertaining) if we featured short analyses from the all-star group each week here in the Bucket. This week, we have four such pithy reviews. After their venting and verbal gymnastics, I have a few more bullets to fire underneath the heading of “Bottom of the Bucket” below.
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The Facts and the Mr. Pub
Game review by Dan Rubin, Bucknuts Publisher:
I knew this first-year experience would be an education in Urb and how he runs a show.
But two things stand out after two games.
First, I knew but I didn’t really know what an instant star chamber the quarterback position is under Urb’s watchful eye. To say Braxton Miller’s athletic gifts have been highlighted thus far would be an extreme understatement.
They don’t have a franchise running back! Uh, yeah they do. They don’t have a Percy Harvin! Uh, yeah they do. Both are named Braxton. Now, it’s not the classic definition of either but in Year One it’s the Miller Show … and worth the price of admission. Urb did it in different ways at quarterback with Alex Smith (en route to No. 1 draft pick status), Chris Leak (en route to a national title) and Tim Tebow (en route to Heaven). This is just Braxton’s route to ... [something excellent].
Second, the defense has been as expected. You play this many pups – no matter how talented – there will be growing pains. Some tight ends will slip out uncovered. Some tackles will be missed due to reckless abandon. I’ll take it. Those turn into sacks and forced fumbles as the days progress.
And I’ve railed about the need for an elite pass rush for years. It’s not here yet. I know. Not even close. But hold the panic. It’s coming. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, combined with franchise mainstays Big Hank and John Simon, provide a quartet that will spend a combined 40-plus years playing on Sundays. By season’s end they could be among the nation’s best … opposing passers be warned.
So let’s assess where we stand among those we cherish:
*The style points may not be there, but the Buckeyes are 2-0.
*Wisconsin had to head west near Seattle to learn Danny O’Brien really isn’t Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Oregon State? That’s Pac-12ese for Indiana. Disgraceful. And it was no fluke. Bret’s boys got it handed to them.
*Nebraska can always fall back on the defensive mastery of coach Bo Pelini. Or it can give up 653 yards to perennially mediocre UCLA led by a redshirt freshman quarterback. Way to rep it out there.
*Ah, Penn State. You guys best focus on winning by two scores. Anyone think that field goal was going to have a chance? Anyone?
*Michigan rebounded from it’s Sabanization by struggling to top a service academy.
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Second and Long
Thoughts on yesterday by Duane Long, Bucknuts analyst:
One thing that really bothered me about this year was looking at the schedule, I saw the one team that could beat the Buckeyes, Michigan State, as the first quality opponent on the schedule. It is an away game on top of that.
Today changed that.
I did not expect Central Florida to be this good. There is an old adage that the NFL is a players game and the college game is a coaches game. George O'Leary is a good enough football coach to get hired at Notre Dame. He showed it today.
He had a well-coached, senior-dominated and very physical football team. They came out more ready to play. For most of the first half and at points in the second half I saw Central Florida as the more focused, better prepared and more motivated team. This was a good, tough win against a good, tough football team. I think we needed it. I think having to work for it will prepare this team for games down the road against a team who could beat these Buckeyes, a team like Michigan State.
As far as preparation is concerned, I was disappointed today. We saw more broken plays than we should see all season. We saw far too many plays where this team was standing around looking at each other trying to figure out what the play was. The quarterback might as well kneel down on a broken play. They are often no gains or a loss of yardage.
We talk about the center snap being the most basic element of football. It is not. Everyone being on the same page and knowing what the snap count is, is where it starts. There is no reason for a huddle if being on the same page is not crucial. We are seeing a newly-installed offense. I wonder if we are seeing players that have to absorb too much at once. Take a look back at how many different things the offense did today. They are going to have to get it. No doubt about that. We want to see more different things. The broken plays make me wonder if we do not see the staff slow it down a bit.
When plays break down like that it means your quarterback is odds on to get hit. Braxton Miller is already taking enough shots. That he gets hit on a play he was not supposed to makes that play that much worse. On the second broken play Miller makes a dazzling play to not only avoid a loss but turns it into a run for a first down. Everyone applauded the run.
I applauded the fact that he got out of bounds at the end of it.
That is what made the play for me. This is a player who has an injury history. The number of hits Miller has taken already is getting up there. I don't see him in there at the end of the year at this rate. Notice how many plays Miller was slow to get up after. I cannot give you a number. I was not counting. I was scared to count. We have to find other players to help him, and that may include seeing Kenny Guiton some. The staff said they were impressed with him. If that is not coachspeak then they should get him in there some.
Let him find his rhythm and confidence and at the same time get Miller some time off. The way Miller is getting hit we are going to see Guiton at some point anyway.
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Bax’s Public Breakdown
(Well, yesterday’s game, that is…) by Matt Baxendell, ‘The People’s Champ’:
It was a decidedly underwhelming win against UCF on Saturday. First of all, the injury to Carlos Hyde is a very disconcerting event: If he is out for any time period then we are looking at a situation where three out of our five scholarship tailbacks are missing due to injury. With Braxton having already carried the ball entirely too much---43 carries in two games is a recipe for injury---our only alternatives are either a freshman or a fumble-prone junior. Hyde's status will be my top concern over the next week. Combine that with the team's inability to pick up crucial short yardage and we officially have cause for concern.
Beyond that, there were plenty of reasons for hand wringing in this game. After two games where the Bucks 'enjoyed' an obvious lack of pass rush, I've begun to question Luke Fickell's defensive playcalling. One play that really stood out to me was in the second quarter when it was 3rd and 21 and Ohio State only rushed three players. Needless to say, the Knights picked up a first down that should never have been converted and scored their only touchdown of the game two plays later. For a coach who was supposed to be the scion of the aggressive 'Silver Bullets' on defense, the lack of pressure from Coach Fickell's defense has been frustrating, to say the least.
Bottom line is that Ohio State needs to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback or we'll find ourselves lamenting a loss at some point this fall.
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Breaking down the Buckeyes, by The Technician:
Uh, does anyone still have Jim Heacock’s phone number? Look, the offense – you expect that to be a work in progress and it is. Jordan Hall is out, and then Hyde went out. The WRs are very green and it is a whole new system. The o-line shows some talent, they just have to build cohesiveness.
But, on defense, who are these guys and what did they do with my Silver Bullets?!?!? I know, factually, that there is a lot of talent on that side of the ball. So where is the problem? Methinks coaching.
This whole idea that the DBs are going to make more interceptions if they are playing zone is predicated on the ability of the front seven to get pressure. However, pressure is non-existent. UCF was begging to be sacked at times, yet there was no pressure from the front four and the LBs were playing zone underneath. Someone needs to explain to the brain trust that allowing the QB to sit back and wait for a receiver to find a seam in a zone is a recipe for a loss you simply shouldn’t have.
On offense, Urban brought in the best minds he could find. On defense, he has a guy that is truly a first-year coordinator and LB coach and his bump-up boy, the first year DL coach. It is bad enough that they have made the passive decisions that they have. But then on top of it they have decided to play zone with 3 corners that have exemplary coverage skills – thus negating their demonstrated abilities.
Vrabel and Fickell might be great buds and great recruiters – but you still have to coach them when they get here. Jim, if you can forgive us, call us…..you can have your old office back!!
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Bottom of the Bucket
Meanwhile, back in Bedrock … I made fun of the Hokester last week which got me thinking: I have made fun of every Michigan head coach since 1968! Brady certainly isn’t special. From the Dead Schembechler*, to Lllllloyd Carr**, to Slaphappy Moeller*** to DickRod**** to Brady Hjoke*****.
We all miss the girth and gaffes of Charley Cheeseburger and the unwarranted arrogance of DickRod but in our darkest hour – our greatest time of need – Brady has stepped forward to become a bit of both. He is gaining on Charlie “Front Butt” Weis in stature and he has the macho know-nothingness that’s supposed to pass for hidden insights that the Dickster displayed. The only good hire that the UM Trustees have made in many years is Greg Mattison, who came in last year and kept Fred Flintstone from going 7-6 instead of an ironically skinny 11-2. It is so easy to poke and prod Brady. He just leers at players – and looks hungry! When Hokey first got to Ann Arbor, we thought he said funny things. Later we realized he just said things funny. Like “Ohio” rather than “Ohio State.” Not only wasn’t that jibe even clever, but there really is an “Ohio” and the jibe isn’t demeaning, just embarrassing. It was only later that we found out that he really did think that was the name of the school in Columbus. Go figure…
How bad was Michigan’s 41-14 season-opening loss to Alabama? How about the most lopsided season-opening loss for the Wolverines in their 133-year existence? And you thought all that worst-ever stuff left Ann Arbor when Rich Rodriguez did. And how about just hanging on against Air Force yesterday? A harbinger – I’m telling you.
I cover up the fact that Brady is from Dayton, Ohio. But, as he gets bigger and bigger, he will be harder to cover. Welcome to the funny pages, Brady. God help me but I love the big lug already for making this column so much easier to write. Fans, the “One Year War” is now officially over, if you are keeping score at home.
* Did you know that the Dead Schembechlers are a real band called “Watershed” and that one of the guys is a writer for magazines like New Yorker and Esquire, and has published a book – to great reviews - about being in the rock world minor leagues for over 20 years?
** Most fans remember that Carr has six “L’s” against the Buckeyes …
*** He couldn’t get his players to listen to him so he went after Mrs. Gary’s molars…
**** DickRod was the classic case of “He didn’t know what he didn’t know”…
***** In “Hjoke”, the “H” is silent, as Brady is during the actual game. He is not the strong silent type; he just doesn’t have much to say and is as plugged in as Paterno was during his long decline. Hjoke just started down that slippery slope started at an earlier age…
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Penn statement … I asked this on the message boards after the Penn State loss to Ohio (of Athens). But, man, I was rooting for the Bobcats last week. Shoot me full of Sodium Pentothal and I will tell you that I don’t think that PSU should be playing football with all its attendant rah-rah folderol and displays of tradition and spirit. And the only thing better than besmirching the criminal legacy of that hypocrite, Joe Paterno, is if their NitWit fans suffer for years to come for buying into the entire choreography of moral morass that passed for moral superiority. As said by a guy named Balzac, “Laws are spider webs through which the big flies pass and the little ones get caught.” Maybe the little flies get to play football this year while the big flies got a free pass for a generation or so. But they all should be swatted at some point.
The fans deserve to suffer, too, for buying blindly into the atmosphere and for basically enabling this juggernaut of evil to exist and spread. So what better way to pay back Nittany Nation? One for five on field goal tries yesterday including a miss with one second left to lose 17-16. Beelzebub couldn’t have scripted it any better.
For those keeping score at home, I am rooting for 12-0 and 0-12 this season – Buckeyes and Nits…
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Final words: We need to up the quality of our insults here at the Bucket … Yes, your comments are always entertaining and the names you call me can be quite imaginative (less so when it is about politics or global weirding). But we don’t exactly reach Shakespearian heights around here with our name-calling, now do we?
But now you can. I have devised a method by which you can sound like Shakespeare simply by picking one of his following descriptors from each column and using that to indicate your displeasure with anything I might have said.
Here’s how it works. To create a Shakespearian insult, start with a simple “Mr. Bucknuts, you are a…” and then combine one word from each of the three columns below. An example, if you simply used just the first words in each column: “Mr. Bucknuts, you are a beslubbering beef-witted barnacle”. Now that’s a high-brow insulting name-calling triumph! Go ahead and try – endless fun, really!
“Mr. Bucknuts, you are a…”
Column One / Column Two / Column Three
beslubbering / beef-witted / barnacle
bootless / beetle-headed / bladder
coppered / clapper-headed / bugbear
craven / clay-brained / clack-dish
dankish / dizzy-eyed / coxcomb
fawning / dread-bolted / dewberry
frothy / fen-sucked / flax-wench
gorbellied / flap-mouthed / foot-licker
loggerheaded / guts-griping / harpy
mewling / hedge-born / lewdster
reeky / plume-plucked / maggot-pie
ruttish / pock-marked / moldwarp
(As a lewdster myself, I know what Bill Shakespeare was driving at.)
Next week: The Bucket and the Bucket Collection will be back to review the Cal game and to regale you with why I hate them, including (but not limited to) the fact that my ex-wife attended that school…
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