Two options: I can go the classy route and congratulate OSU for playing a hell of a game or I can go the petulant jerk route and point out everything they did wrong. If, as I contemplated, I had written this column at the end of the third quarter, we all would've been treated to the latter. However, after watching those guys fight back and nearly pull it out, I'll tip my hat to them and try to write a slightly classier piece.
I'm too tired for eloquent prose so we'll make this short and concise:
1. Ohio State may have finally figured out how to play defense against a modern spread attack. Instead of sitting on their heels and letting Texas crossing route them to death, the Buckeyes blitzed from all over the field and kept McCoy on the run all night. If not for some tough (and in the case of Gibson's second personal foul, terrible) penalties on the Longhorns' first scoring drive, OSU may have gotten into McCoy's head and had more success in the second half. Still, they played a great game and were one foot and/or Anderson Russell blown tackle away from winning the game.
2. OSU has some good looking pass rushers coming back next year. In Gibson, Heyward, Rose, Williams, and possibly Wilson, OSU could have a very good defensive front.
3. The Buckeyes may not have won the game but the healing of Ohio State's National image may have begun. The defense showed they were for real and the offense managed 21 points with a freshman under center. I really think you will see the national perception of OSU improve, at least a little bit in the wake of this game.
4. No surprise here by Pryor is very good in the open field when he actually makes up his mind and decides to run the ball. If his throwing ever gets to the point where it's just bad instead of laughable, he will be very tough to contain.
5. James Laurinaitis, you deserve credit for being a badass tonight. The dude was making plays all over the field. I'll always maintain that in the grand scheme of things, Laurinaitis was one of the most overrated players in OSU history....but not tonight. He played an outstanding game. The same can be said for Malcolm Jenkins. Absolute stud.
1. Pryor can't throw the ball. He flat out can't throw the ball. I mean I'm sure he's physically capable but as of right now, he can't throw. Period. What saddens me is that Tressel convinced Pryor all season that he couldn't just be a runner. Well you know what, when you're up two scores against Michigan State, that's fine. Work on reading coverages and making throws. When you're playing in a BCS bowl, utilize the skills that you have. Pryor should've been running all over the field tonight. He left at least 6 points out there because of the stupid notion that he can't just be a runner. It was just senseless. Also, on that note, Pryor is 6'6 235. There was no reason for Tressel to have him running out of bounds every time a defender got within 5 yards of him. I'm sure Tressel never intended him to forget where he was on the field (the first drive) but I thought the message in general was bad. They needed Pryor to make big plays when he scrambled. I thought it was hard for him to do that when he was obviously told to protect himself at all costs.
2. Get these offensive tackles out of my life....forever. I mean it. I never want to see Alex Boone again. The only time I ever want to see Bryant Browning again is if he's getting water for Mike Adams and J.B. Shugarts in practice next year. They're absolutely helpless against an edge rush. Boone might, and I stress might, make an average guard at the next level but he has about as much chance of being a successful NFL tackle as I do.
3. Get these wide receivers out of my life. Yes, yes, I know, Robiskie made some catches down the stretch. Good for him. He can't get any separation. None of the OSU receivers can seem to get any separation. You know why? Because they're slow (Matt Vasgersian's wonderful observations aside). Posey and Marlon Brown (fingers crossed) can start next year. We can't continue to play with pedestrian athletes on the outside. Next year, I'll take those guys on the outside with Sanzenbacher in the slot and Stoneburner at TE. Now that would be a formidable attack.
4. Chris Wells....oh Chris Wells. It's just never been right with you. I'm not a doctor so I'm not going to hide behind my keyboard and call you soft. All I will say is that it's really a shame your body is not cut out to play football. What a breathtaking talent to waste. Wells has 10 carries a game in the NFL written all over him.
5. Although overall, I thought it was a great defensive effort, the Buckeyes didn't exactly adjust to that hurry up offense. Apparently the dry erase marker ran out of ink before Heacock could diagram our defensive lineman running their portly asses across the line of scrimmage and getting set because it never happened. That one was a bit of a head scratcher.
The Absolutely Indefensible:
1. Jim Tressel, the jig is up. You are a wonderful head coach and you run one of the best programs in the country. All things considered, I wouldn't trade you for any coach in America. That being said, as long as you stubbornly insist on calling the plays, you will continue to waste talent and blow big games. There's just no excuse. Texas has their ends halfway up the field the entire game and you run one screen and a handful of draws. No excuse. You come into the game with the somewhat logical plan of using Boeckman in passing situations and then, inexplicably, you forget about it for half the game. No excuse. You have a starting quarterback whose only weapon is his legs and you keep letting him take normal drops into the collapsing pocket. ROLL HIM OUT. I mean this is so basic that it makes me want to pull my hair out. I'm so god damn tired of this insanity. I'm calling it like I see it. Offensively, the game has passed Tressel by (and yes, this is a complete waste of time beause Tressel is never giving up playcalling duties).
2. Along those same lines, Tressel has yet to realize that a first half field goal is completely worthless in College football. Seriously, you can't drive all the way down the field and keep kicking it. It's an absolute waste and it kills your momentum. If it's short yardage and you're inside the 30 or so, go for it. If you're ouside the 30, punt it and pin them deep. I'm so sick of watching this team settle for crappy field goals. It always comes back to bite them in the ass. They were playing a team tonight that averages a ton of points. Did Tressel really think the defense would hold all game? If not, he had no business kicking it 3 times in the first half.
The Comedically Abominable:
1. Really Fox? Tim Ryan and Matt Vasgersian? That's the A-team? You spend a fortune to get a BCS game and skimp on the announcers? I genuinely felt like I was watching thursday night Big East football the entire game. What a joke. Get a life Fox.
2. Since when did Laura Okmin start looking like a washed up stripper (a tip of the cap to my buddy Pete for that description. I was going to go with recovering heroine addict but the stripper description is just spot on)?
3. I have absolutely no problems with Texas. Mack Brown seems like an alright guy and for the most part, their athletes and fans don't bother me. That said, what a hilariously cliche' enterprise Texas football is. The band uniforms, the quarterback named "Colt," the qb and wr being childhood friends and roomates just like their dads were, the qb's semi-hot bleach blonde girlfriend in the stands, all the blissfully ignornant fans in their stetsons.... I almost think Texas should get rid of Bevo and just have a guy running around the sidelines in a burnt orange Yosemite Sam costume. We get it Texas. You're all very rugged and cowboyish. Now stop trying so hard. It really takes away from an otherwise respectible thing you've got going on down there.
There's no getting around the fact that I'm heartbroken right now. I really thought OSU played well enough to win. I thought they were the better team tonight and a win could've done so much for this program on so many different fronts. Still, i'm optimistic about next year. Other then Jenkins and Wells (when he's not nursing something), I don't think there's a single guy we're losing that can't be replaced with someone of equal or greater talent. Moreover, I think the offensive line will be 100x better once the young studs are installed next year. Everything will come down to how well a vintage coaching staff can develop Pryor's skills and decision-making abilities and whether they can put him in a system that hasn't, unbeknownst to them, already gone the way of the steam engine.