Dispatch OSU football beat writer Bill Rabinowitz answers your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat.
08:46:16 Rob_(moderator): Welcome to today's Ohio State football chat with [i]Dispatch[/i] beat writer Bill Rabinowitz. We'll begin that chat at 1 p.m. At about 12:45, a moderator will enter the room, and that's when you can start sending your questions. Thanks!
12:44:44 Rob_(moderator): Hi, everyone. You can start sending your questions for Bill. We'll start at 1 p.m. Thanks.
12:56:37 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Bill. We'll start in about 5 minutes.
12:57:28 Bill: that's fine. enough time to throw lunch in the oven
13:01:36 Rob_(moderator): Ready to roll? Nice crowd. Guess there's not much to talk about regarding Ohio State football these days. :(
13:02:41 Bill: I'm ready
13:02:46 zinsmr: Do you think Braxton Miller is going to struggle mightily against a great nebraska defense? and also on a completely different topic with the down swing of OSU this year could it mean that we have a potentially good game next year between UC and OSU?
13:04:53 Bill: I would not expect Braxton Miller to throw for 300 yards, or even close to 200. The passing game is in its infancy with him and all those young receivers. But at least OSU can learn from what Michigan State did against it. The Buckeyes no doubt have been working against overloaded lines and blitzes. As for Nebraska's great defense, well, wrong year. The Cornhuskers have really struggled on D this year. They have some great players such as LB Levonte David and DE Jared Crick. But they haven't played well this year.
13:04:59 jim: Any reason they dont put Miller in the shotgun to give him a little more time?
13:05:16 Bill: As for OSU-UC, OSU will be better next year. I don't know enough about UC to say.
13:05:47 Bill: Miller is in the shotgun quite a bit. One issue has been low snaps from center Mike Brewster. But I don't think the shotgun thing is any kind of salvation.
13:06:00 Rob_(moderator): This question comes via email: Do you think if Jim Tressel had been coaching OSU vs Mich. St., would the outcome have been different?
13:07:16 Bill: Sorry, got booted off system for a minute
13:07:48 Bill: I don't know that it would have been radically different under Tressel. I think he would have had OSU better prepared for what Michigan State did on defense.
13:07:54 Rob_(moderator): Another via email: How much is Fickell negatively impacted by not having been able to pick his own staff? By the way, we can use some questions, folks.
13:10:45 Bill: That's one of those unknowable questions. There simply wasn't time to change the staff even if he wanted to. I don't have a great sense of what Fickell's offensive philosophy is, because he's always been a defensive guy. My hunch -- and it's only that -- is that if Fickell is back he'll at least take a long look at changing the offensive staff. The scheme just looks stagnant and kind of stale compared to some other teams. Or maybe the players' inexperience would make any offense look feeble.
13:10:53 Bringbackearle: In your opinion does Kenny G or Talor Graham see the field Saturday?
13:12:00 Bill: No. I doubt Taylor Graham makes the trip. He didn't to Miami, which I wasn't aware of right away. I think the offense would absolutely have to tank before Guiton got a shot. Nothing against Kenny, but that's where he is in the pecking order
13:12:06 denbuckeye: How much impact will the return of Adams have?
13:13:14 Bill: I think it'll help quite a bit. I thought Andrew Norwell did a nice job at left tackle. I didn't notice him much, which is a good thing. Norwell will now slide to left guard and Jack Mewhort from left guard to right guard, which has been a problematic area. Assuming there's not excessive rust, Adams will become Ohio State's first or second-best (behind Brewster) offensive lineman.
13:13:18 jim: How about the Dispatch doing an interview with the OSU trustees, and get an answer on why they haven't fired Gene Smith yet?
13:14:37 Bill: That's not really my domain right now, especially in the middle of football season. I'm sure that our newsside reporters have or will pursued that general topic. But it's clear Gordon Gee is firmly behind Smith.
13:14:46 jt: It seems that our defense has been playing better than expected so far. How much do you think it has helped our defense by going against Herron, Adams and Posey during the week?
13:15:52 Bill: That's a very good point. I'm sure it's been helped a lot. They're not going to go against many better players on Saturday. From all accounts, the suspended players have been selfless in helping out and trying to bring their teammates along.
13:16:04 Bringbackearle: When I watch the SEC, I hate to say it but the talent they have seems to be better. The game moves faster. I know that there is a HUGE disparity (sp?) at the amount those schools pay assistants, but it is pretty much a given that the SEC is a step above the big 10. Right?
13:17:26 Bill: No question about it. Maybe more than "a step." There are a lot of reasons for that. Players down south can play year-round -- or close to it. The football culture down there is incredibly strong. And academic standards in the SEC aren't as stringent as in the Big Ten. Don't discount that. But no question, the SEC is the best conference in college football.
13:17:34 jim: Since it seems to be a lost season, how about putting in a different quarterback each quarter?
13:17:55 Bill: Not sure how to answer this one.
13:18:14 Bill: Let's just say it's never been tried that I know of -- for good reason.
13:18:31 zinsmr: do u feel miller is the best option at quarterback this year? or could we possibly use a tandem approach to take pressure off of him
13:19:56 Bill: I definitely believe Miller is the best option for the long-term future of the team. Even if Bauserman were a modest upgrade -- and I'm not saying he is -- he's gone next year. Miller can only get better and he'll be around for three more years. I can see coaches turning to Bauserman in absolutely obvious passing situations. They gave him a shot against Michigan State.
13:20:03 denbuckeye: At this point it would be nice just to see some improvements in the offense, is that likely with the October schedule?
13:20:47 Bill: I haven't studied Illinois much and haven't seem the Illini at all, so I don't know how good their defense is. Nebraska's defense, like I said, has been anything but special.
13:20:57 Rob_(moderator): A follow-up to the SEC question ...
13:20:58 Bringbackearle: Bill, assuming that we are both right, and they are more than a "step" ahead. What are the big 10 coaches doing to keep up?
13:20:59 Bill: So I think there's potential for OSU's offense to get better.
13:22:27 Bill: Well, Big Ten schools have recruited the south hard for years. OSU, Michigan try to recruit Florida hard. Purdue has really concentrated on Florida. But with some exceptions, the Big Ten will get mostly left-overs. That's just the way it is. I also think the SEC dominance wouldn't be so great if bowl games were played outside in northern locales.
13:22:37 newguy: are you expecting a nebraska blowout, or someting less than that?
13:24:52 Bill: I can see the potential for a Nebraska blowout, that's for sure. But I believe the Buckeyes' offense has to be better than it was against Michigan State, which does have a very good defense. They've got to be able to control the ball and pass enough to get first downs. The Buckeyes' defense has played well all year except for the two drives to start the Miami game. Martinez will go the distance if given a crack of daylight, but OSU's defense is usually fundamentally sound. So I certainly believe Ohio State can make it a game and even win it. But if I were a betting man -- and I'm not -- I wouldn't put money on OSU straight-up.
13:24:57 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Look into your crystal ball 12 months from now ... Does OSU have a new athletic director?
13:26:25 Bill: I honestly don't know. I think a lot of it depends on Smith's willingness to leave. He may have just had enough, though he has never given that sign. As for being fired, I can't see that happening barring any new revelations. But then again, OSU officials were in Tressel's corner until the very end when they were most decidedly not.
13:26:34 jt: what's the likelihood that Curtis Grant is redshirted this year?
13:27:51 Bill: With the shortage of linebackers, I think Grant playing has to be an option. But there's no question he has picked up the defense slower than he or others expected. Fellow freshman Ryan Shazier is clearly ahead of him in the pecking order. I would say red-shirting is a real option if injuries don't hit the LB group. Would never have thought that at the start of camp.
13:27:58 jim: Are there any games left on the schedule you think the Bucks have a chance at winning?
13:30:02 Bill: You have heard of Indiana, right? Any team that loses to North Texas should be an easy victory for the Buckeyes. They'll be solid favorites against Purdue. The way Penn State has played -- barely beating Indiana -- that's a game OSU should win at home. Who knows about Michigan, but that's not a game to write off as of now. Illinois isn't exactly a powerhouse, though the Illini are unbeaten. I think the only game that you say -- on paper -- no chance is Wisconsin. Saturday's game is probably second on the list.
13:30:08 Bringbackearle: How good is Wisconsin? Alabama LSU good?
13:31:07 Bill: I haven't seen enough of any of those teams to really know. I used to say this when I covered the NFL: When you cover one team, you know next to nothing about the others that your team doesn't play. My hunch is that Alabama and LSU are a notch above, but if the game developed into a certain flow, Wisconsin would give them a game.
13:31:26 denbuckeye: It sounded like Philly Brown was probable for this week - is that still the case?
13:31:53 Bill: Yes. He would be a big boost, though I don't know that he'll be at 100 percent. But Philly Brown at 75 percent would be a help.
13:32:00 stsweitzer: What is the status of our running backs....who will be suiting up and who do you expect to see time?
13:32:51 Bill: I don't think anything's changed there. Hall will start and Hyde will complement him. Jaamal Berry might get in the mix after not playing last week following the incident he had on campus. But it'll be Hall and Hyde leading the way.
13:32:59 cwolf: Has Miller got any experikence running the option?
13:33:52 Bill: I don't know about in high school. OSU has run it a few times with him this year. Not sure it'll really work well against a Nebraska defense that is used to it because the option is a major component of the Huskers' offense.
13:33:56 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Are you surprised how much support so many Buckeyes fans still give Jim Tressel?
13:34:18 Bill: When a team is struggling and the former coach had the record Tressel had, no.
13:34:37 Bringbackearle: Look into your crystal ball 5 years from now. How is the vest remembered?
13:35:49 Bill: I think he'll be remembered as a great coach and an overall good person who made some unfortunate mistakes. Kind of the way he is now, I suspect.
13:35:53 Rob_(moderator): Via email: As a reporter, are you looking forward to going to Lincoln. Or do most members of the media look at it as a game is a game is a game, no matter where it's played?
13:36:43 Bill: I went to Lincoln last year for the Texas game, so it's not new to me. I think people in the media always look forward to new venues, especially a place with the history and tradition of Lincoln. It sure as heck beats going to Jacksonville to cover the Jaguars, I can assure you.
13:36:58 warricovolley!: in watching the game for the 3rd time, I noticed that no adjustment was made in putting a fullback/running back behind Braxton Miller to pick up the array of blitzes Dantonio was sending up the middle...were you surprised as much as me that this fundamental tweak wasn't added on the fly as our line was manhandled?
13:38:28 Bill: Doc Tressel said that Jordan Hall was too deep in the backfield on the play the Michigan State player leaped over him for a sack. Tressel said that was the coaches' fault for not having Hall closer to the line. So yes, there were a lot of things I questioned when I looked at the replay. On the 33-yard pass play to Chris Fields, tight end Jake Stoneburner stayed in to block. So I think you'll see more max protection stuff this week.
13:38:37 Bringbackearle: I don't think I saw a follow up on that J. Berry story? What happened? Original print was cryptic
13:39:45 Bill: It was cryptic because it's still unclear exactly what happened. No charges were filed. All I know is that OSU was concerned about Berry's well-being and that everything has checked out OK. That's about all I can say.
13:39:54 jim: The academic standards in the SEC aren't as stringent as in the Big 10-what do you base that on?
13:41:08 Bill: I just know that the requirements to get into Big Ten schools are higher than that for SEC schools. I'd have to look up exactly what that is, but I did so in the past and think I'm right about that. It doesn't mean the SEC admits anyone who can breathe, but the Big Ten standards have exceeded the base NCAA ones.
13:41:13 Rob_(moderator): Bill, we're out of questions. Anything you want to point out that folks should watch for on Saturday night? Or any other thoughts you want to share?
13:42:08 Bill: Not really. I'm intrigued by Saturday's game. I'm curious why Nebraska's defense has struggled and I am equally curious to see what kind of adjustments the OSU offense has made.
13:42:17 Bill: What no Urban Meyer questions from H?
13:42:31 Rob_(moderator): I didn't post them. Here's one more ...
13:42:32 warricovolley!: Thanks Bill. Appreciate the answer to my previous question. Have you sensed at all, Luke Fickell's inability to fully engage or "coach" his assistants since (if you think of this as a family business), he's been mentored/"fathered" by some of these same guys for years in coaching business? I suspect the flipping on the relationship switch has not been quite so quick as far as him now the CEO of the program. Thoughts?
13:42:42 Bill: Smart man, Rob.
13:44:43 Bill: I'm sure it's awkward given that Jim Heacock was Fickell's boss and that Fickell had nothing to do with the offense before now. But that's not an unprecedented thing in coaching. I think Luke has handled that aspect of things well. He's not a big ego guy, and I think that helps. I also think he has a strong enough personality that he won't shy away from asking tough questions of his assistants if warranted. But all that happens behind closed doors, so I'm just guessing.
13:44:50 Lubbucks: Plenty of blame has been placed on Bollman, and the offensive coaches have admitted they need to do better. If the play-calling continues to falter, is there really anything Fickell can do about it?
13:46:19 Bill: The honest answer is, not really. The fact is that players are playing at key positions who aren't fully ready to do so. You can't rush the maturation process. Now, are there plays the Buckeyes need to and can master as the foundation to their offense? Absolutely. And I bet they are trying to figure out which ones.
13:46:27 stsweitzer: Is Nate's rehab progressing from surgery and when do you hear he will be able to play?
13:46:56 Bill: I have no idea. He's not going to play Saturday. I would expect he'd return soon. But we haven't been told the exact nature of the knee surgery he had.
13:47:05 Rob_(moderator): Another via email: Have you seen Michigan play at all? How good are they?
13:47:59 Bill: I've seen only bits and pieces. I'm impressed that they've really prevented big plays on defense the way they have. Denard Robinson clearly is an electrifying player. But I can't say I've seen enough to go much beyond that.
13:48:09 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. We'll do it again next week. Thanks, Bill. That's a wrap.
13:48:24 Bill: Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to participate. Good questions this week.