August 13, 2010

Inside The Bloggers Unwashed, Unshaven, Studio: THE Ohio State University Edition

Ohio State Week caps off here at LBU with another edition of ITBUUS. This week's guest is Vico from Our Honor Defend (pictured above as "Honest Brutus" which is simply Brutus the Buckeye's head photoshopped onto Abe Lincoln's portrait. I'm sure if he had a choice, Lincoln would still choose the John Wilkes Boothe treatment.) and my goodness, does he have a lot on his mind. I strongly recommend printing this out and taking it to the bathroom with you whenever your lunch time burrito begins to work its digestive magic or if you're going to be waiting for a little while someplace and need some hefty reading material...

LBU: So, what made you decide to make a foray into the ever-so-saturated blogosphere?

OHD: My dumb little blog has a rather convoluted origin. It really wasn't my idea. That I was even willing to do it I think grew out of dissatisfaction with living in Alabama after I graduated from The Ohio State University. Moving to the deep south has been a very good professional experience, but a lousy personal one. Without much a social life and struggling (still) to adjust to Alabama and its people, I had plenty of free time on my hand. The blog also wasn't my idea. A friend of mine was talking to me about doing it, knowing that I had a passion forall things Ohio State and that I was fairly adroit at web design. Even then, I really didn't want to do it.

By the end of 2007 (when I bought the domain), Buckeye Commentary was going strong and Eleven Warriors was very active and putting forward great stuff. I don't think my input was needed. I resigned myself to an if-then statement about starting the blog: If we lost the BCS title game to LSU, then I would activate the blog I had started behind closed doors.

Failing that, I reckoned that much of this idiotic discussion about SEC Speed and Ohio State as a relic of a bygone era would go away. ESPN would regain its senses and I could go on living happily ever after with Tressel having redeemed the good name of the Buckeyes in New Orleans. This did not happen, so the blog went active.

My friend who put me up to it eventually stopped his contributions after a few months. A friend of mine that I invited in to help out moved on to other things. In a sense, I'm kind of left holding the bag for something that wasn't my idea. After the "Better Know A Buckeye" series and "Drive-Thrus" permeated through the internets, the blog readership gradually grew. I think it's pretty neat that it's accomplished what it has.

LBU: My favorite thing about OHD hands-down are the Drive-Thrus. They were the inspiration behind our own 10 Minutes Or Less series. Which games were your favorite to put together?

OHD: Oh, thank you very much for saying that. I obviously would love to say how great it was that I came up with this genius idea to put Ohio State games on YouTube, but really, it's all a reaction to WolverineHistorian. That Michigan should have a great resource like that guy and Ohio State basically had nothing was not okay with me...

It can be a chore, but I love getting these games, saving them, editing them, and eventually finishing them for general consumption. My general aim is to provide Ohio State fans with video documentation of games they DON'T remember. I admit I don't know the ins and outs of Penn State football lore for your audience at Linebacker-U but for every Rose Bowl victory, every big game triumph, and every instant classic, lays a slew of games that don't seem to register. Every season with a Holy Buckeye and games that end with dramatic interceptions, has some rather mundane beatdowns that people will forget sooner than later.

Honestly, I get a little annoyed when someone ask for the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, the 2006 Fiesta Bowl or any recent victory over Michigan. You just saw it and you clearly remember it well. I'm trying to present Buckeyes with things they don't remember well, if at all. As such, I'm a sucker for interesting non-conference matchups.

My favorite upload is probably the 1985 Colorado game. Nothing of consequence came from a game that ended with a comfortable Buckeye victory. However, for me to have that game in my possession when a storied program like Ohio State has clearly played and won much more interesting games makes my possession of that game all the more random, and all the more intriguing to me. Other noteworthy uploads include the 1987 opener against WVU, the 1980 opener against Syracuse, the nationally televised payback against #2 Oklahoma in 1983, the road game against UCLA in 1979, the mid-70s clashes against then-independent Penn State [NSFW for you PSU fans who get pissed off easily].

Beating Michigan and reminding myself about that is also fun. I have every victory over Michigan since (and including) 1968 in my possession. I've uploaded more than a few of those. I really hate Michigan.

LBU: The media is all hyped up on the Buckeyes at the very least playing for, if not winning a national title this year. Are you buying the hype? Where do you see things possibly going wrong?

OHD: Ohio State football always has my stomach in knots. I'm aware of the hype, but I'm trying not to pay too much attention to it. For a season with such promise, there's no shortage of landmines ahead. I'm buying the hype in that this has to be Tressel's best chance to win a second national title for Ohio State before retirement. Most people are expecting Tressel, who never aspired to catch Paterno in total years coaching, to retire in about 5 years. The Rose Bowl champions and five-time defending conference champions return almost everyone, including the Rose Bowl MVP, three year starting quarterback.

More than viable candidates are expected to offset losses at left tackle, tight end, linebacker and defensive end. Making up for strong safety Kurt Coleman's departure will be important, but I think Buckeye fans are thinking that the secondary will be that one little vulnerability on the Big Ten's Death Star that we hope to hide from everyone by sending wave after wave of defensive linemen to sack the quarterback.

That's not to say there aren't other important roster issues to sort out on this team. I think we are all wanting more from the tailback situation. The Boom-Zoom (Brandon Saine, Dan Herron) situation, where Buckeyes have a 1A-1B tailback tandem is good enough. I think Tressel really wants one of them to be "the guy." They will be joined by a slew of promising youngsters, making this position probably the most intriguing on the team. Elsewhere, the Defensive Line From Hell from last year got a little weaker. Ohio State's front four (Williams, Simon, Larimore, Heyward) is still among the nation's best, but the position is not as deep as last year. That's what made the position truly great in 2009.

More "Boom" and less "Zoom?" Or vice-versa? Does it really matter? OSU's ground game should be kicking ass and taking names regardless.

To that end, Buckeye fans want DT Garrett Goebel, DE Solomon Thomas and/or DE Melvin Fellows' Safari Planet to step up and contribute to a unit where position coach Jim Heacock likes to substitute liberally. Duron Carter's strange exit from Ohio State leaves an interesting hole at the third WR position. This may finally be Taurian Washington's year, but this will have to be demonstrated. Underscoring the "hype" for 2010, this position is also one with no shortage of candidates to contribute. I think Buckeye fans want the offensive line, the interior of which emerged as the strength of the offense by the end of 2009, to take the figurative quantum leap forward. Jim Cordle was the one loss from the unit, but his loss is ultimately manageable should Mike Adams really consolidate his position at left tackle.

You'll notice that, to this point, I've mostly ignored Terrelle Pryor. That's not to say everyone is 100% confident that he has got it down, just that we all know there will be tremendous pressure on him. We are all hoping that the growing pains Pryor went through in order to fit into the system are behind him. We hope the Rose Bowl was a little sign of things to come. As it is, the coaching staff has already done a good job using Pryor's natural proclivity to find edges against opposing defenses (while rushing) to their advantage. Playcalling (obviously a huge issue in 2009) has advanced to the point that Buckeye fans are thinking we should have a fairly balanced attack (albeit mostly ground-oriented and low risk) on offense in 2010 (see: for example).

The Buckeyes play important games at home, but there's still no shortage of potential landmines on the schedule. The Buckeyes again have a marquee non-conference matchup, hosting the Miami Hurricanes. Pundits are fairly high on the Canes for the season in general, and deservedly so, they are no team to be taken lightly. Further, important road clashes against Wisconsin and Iowa loom. Iowa is probably fuming that they are picked to be second fiddle to the Buckeyes, in spite of returning so much themselves and only narrowly losing to Ohio State in Columbus last year. Wisconsin fans understandably feel that their performance in Columbus was in no way representative of their team in general. The two pick-sixes in that game where Ohio State struggled to do much offensively should serve as motivation to be rude hosts at Camp Randall, one of the Big Ten's most difficult venues.

All told, the bowl season demonstrated that the
strength of the conference is in its respective defenses (particularly the defensive line). Games are won and lost in the trenches. Ohio State has the athletes to run the table, but diligent preparation in camp and going forward is not an option.

LBU: Which one-and-done recruit shall be gracing the basketball program with his presence this year? Will they do an admirable enough job filling the void left behind by Evan Turner's departure?

OHD: Evan Turner understandably went pro and it was impossible for us to begrudge the guy who literally broke his back for Ohio State basketball. Had he returned, he would have been part of a team that is loaded with incoming talent. The biggest names of the group are C/PF Jared Sullinger and F Deshaun Thomas, both McDonald's All-Americans. They are the #5 and #22 recruits in their class, nationally and regardless of position. Sullinger's entry will be particularly helpful. I always felt the Buckeyes were unnecessarily weak in the paint. I love Dallas Lauderdale and his attitude, but his contributions largely come in weakside defense and defending the inbounds pass. He really has no post moves for himself. Sullinger should help here.

Importantly, the Buckeyes will need a point guard to step forward. This, more so than any other aspect, is where we will miss Turner the most. Evan Turner had the ball in his hands mostly because players like PJ Hill were either not as adroit on offense, or players like Jeremie Simmons were really shooting guards in point guard bodies. Aaron Craft is the point guard in this class and is no slouch. However, it seems difficult to imagine that we can compensate for losing Turner here. Replacing 6'7 do-it-all players is always tricky.

LBU: Which of these three events will happen first? Jim Tressel wins another national title, Terrelle Pryor says something idiotic to the press, or [Men's basketball coach] Thad Matta chokes on his gum?

OHD: I really think Pryor has been, completely. He has acquired Tressel technology. Seriously, read through a recent interview of him if you can and you'd think Tressel had programmed him into giving nondescript answers about trying harder, respect, leadership and so on. If Pryor walked out to the opener against Marshall in a sweatervest and holding a clipboard, I don't think I'd be too surprised. Growing up is always difficult. There are mistakes you can't get back. After 2+ years in the program, I think he knows now to withhold any ill-advised comments regarding Michel Vick and whatever else. Underscoring this: Tyler Moeller, the Buckeye defensive player returning after getting attacked in a bar in Florida, noted that Pryor was a bit of a punk when he enrolled. Now, Moeller said he'd follow him into battle any day of the week.

If Matta is going to swallow his gum during a game, I'm guessing that'd be something done deeper into the season. It will probably come against the Buzzcuts in Madison, should it happen. Therefore, by process of elimination, I guess Ohio State holds the Waterford crystal at season's end. A victory would have the pleasant effect of exercising the poltergeist out of that stadium, affording Terrelle Pryor to make his daffy statement then: This house is clean.

Thad Matta will finally get his much-awaited Heimlich maneuver treatment after choking on gum in a moment of excitement.

Really, I'm fine with all three of them happening. Terrelle Pryor could publicly express an affinity for burning down hospitals, burning down children's hospitals, burning down children, snorting cocaine, or say that Michael Cera is the greatest actor of all time. This can be followed by Matta swallowing his gum during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge and being saved from certain death by a Heimlich maneuver applied by assistant coach Jeff Boals. If, at the end, Ohio State emerges victorious in the BCS title game, I'll be a happy camper. :D

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