rockportTXbuckeye: in retrospect (and we will know more tomorrow night) how good is Toledo? I know we had more than a few execution issues on offense. Anticipate a lot of correction in that regards for Miami?
12:57:06 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Bill. Thanks for joining us. We'll start in a few minutes, OK?
12:57:47 Bill: Yep
13:00:28 Rob_(moderator): Let's talk some football ...
13:00:29 rockportTXbuckeye: in retrospect (and we will know more tomorrow night) how good is Toledo? I know we had more than a few execution issues on offense. Anticipate a lot of correction in that regards for Miami?
13:02:56 Bill: Toledo is pretty good. It's easy to dismiss them as a MAC team with not much history, but sometimes those are the toughest teams to play. The Rockets do what they do very well. For all the talk from OSU players about how they respected Toledo and wouldn't look past them, let's face it, it's not a marquee name. Plus, you do have to remember that OSU is patching together lineups at this point.
13:03:14 DenisonBuckeye: I saw today that Nate Williams is a no-go for Saturday's game, a big loss in my opinion. Do we have people to step up and put legitimate pressure on Jacory Harris, or do we have to hope that our secondary can pick up the slack?
13:04:31 Bill: Nate Williams is a big loss. He's talented and could be deployed in a number of ways. I think John Simon and Johnathan Hankins will have to have big games. Another player to watch is freshman Michael Bennett, who's been very impressive. And yes, pressuring Jacory Harris is going to be key because we know what happened last year when he was (4 picks).
13:04:47 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Any update on Braxton Miller's "ankle sprian"?
13:06:43 Bill: He's fine. He practiced without limitations this week.
13:07:00 BryanL: Hi Guys. Is it fair to say OSU is lacking leadership? It seems like the Buckeyes have always had someone to lean on and it's tough to pinpoint that player this year.
13:09:32 Bill: That's a good question. Jim Heacock spoke of the leadership issue when he bemoaned losing the 7 starters. I'm not sure there is a vocal leader on defense. Simon and Sweat are more quiet guys, though I think Sweat can step up to that role. It's something to keep an eye on.
13:09:37 Jon Dalton: Several media outlets were reporting that Braxton Miller is a key for the Bucks this week. Any glimpses into what the coaches plan to do?
13:10:42 Bill: They haven't exactly shared the gameplan with reporters. I would think he would play and see significant time. Miami has a fast defense. Bauserman's not slow, but he's not Braxton. If OSU believes Miller's running ability will keep Miami honest, I think they'll turn to him.
13:10:47 rockportTXbuckeye: Can someone please explain how these 3 guys got suspended for 2 games for $200 and these fools on the Canes got less for more?
13:12:33 Bill: I'm not the guy. All I can say is that each NCAA case is different and that things that seem obvious to you and me seem to disappear into the NCAA blender and come out with mysterious outcomes. To me, the Miami offenses are worse because it happened over a long time and the allegations are so salacious. But if the NCAA couldn't prove, for example, that Jacory Harris did something that terrible, they decided not to spend him for more than a game. But I see your point, trust me.
13:12:39 wolfforbucks: I know watching from c-deck gives you skewed perspective but it looked like had Bauserman thrown a few of those passes on time the passes could have been completed. Instead he waited to long and had to throw them away. Do you think it is a case of Bauserman doing what the coaches want or him being to cautious and not trusting his arm/receivers?
13:14:32 Bill: We aren't in C-deck, by the way. We might as well be in E-deck, as high as we are. I think you're on to something. I think it's been drummed into the QBs heads for so long, "Don't throw interceptions!" that they're a little too cautious. They were in a four-way competition. They knew the quickest way to the doghouse was with turnovers, so they're ultra-careful. Sometimes, you just got make the throw.
13:14:59 ACMCHJR: It would be nice to see the team use some screen passes to to offset the defensive rushing. It seems the previous coach didn't believe in screens.
13:15:51 Bill: This a long-standing complaint going back to the Woody years. I'm not sure what I can add to it.
13:16:28 Akron BuckGuy52: TOledo presented lots of opportunities for Bauserman to check down from run to a pass play but he didn't. What do you think? -- Is he not ready or not enabled -
13:17:27 Bill: It's always hard to know what's going on at the line of scrimmage. A lot of Peyton Manning's histrionics are for show. I will agree that it seemed OSU ran into the teeth of whatever Toledo was scheming too often. Whether that's on the quarterback or the coaches is hard to say.
13:17:35 d porter: where is Curtis Grant?
13:18:35 Bill: Sitting on the sidelines. He told me at media day that he was having trouble grasping the defense, though it was getting better. He's unquestionably talented physically, but you have to know what you're doing to earn coaches' trust. Given the lack of depth at LB, it'd be a huge addition if he were to be a factor.
13:18:44 DenisonBuckeye: Do you see this game, Jacory Harris' first of the year, as an advantage to the Buckeyes, or does having played us already make him "ready"?
13:19:20 Bill: Good question. I'm sure he's more than ready after the suspension and what happened last year. But there's a danger for players in his situation to be over-amped and try to do too much. We'll see which it is on Saturday.
13:19:27 sgehrich: It seemed our O line had a lot of trouble with Toledo. I know they didn't give up any sacks, but I attribute that to Bauserman throwing the ball away as soon as possible, rather than lack of pressure. With Miami's speed advantage over Toledo, are we in big trouble?
13:20:35 Bill: No question Miami is faster than Toledo. That's why they're at Miami. But OSU handled their speed -- mostly -- last year. Miami is a flawed team, too. Mistake-prone, learning a new system, etc. This is not the USC team that smacked OSU in '08.
13:20:40 h: How soon do the Bucks need to get their new coach (Urban Meyer) hired to turn around recruiting?
13:22:36 Bill: I think our moderator has to do a better job screening. Mrs. Meyer, your husband's resume is in the pile. Don't call us. We'll call you. (Chatters, I think I know that this questioner is a prankster.)
13:22:53 ChicagoBuckeye: If I was auditioning for a job why would I play it safe? This is an all or nothing season for Fickell and he is not playing like it. Bauserman is the safe pick with no upside and Miller is the more risky pick with all upside. Why is Fickell playing it safe?
13:24:56 Bill: To me, weighing short-term vs. long-term is one of the more intriguing storylines of the season. Does Fickell hesitate to go with Miller because it might cost him a game or two even if the long-term payoff makes it worth it? Or does he not want to shatter his confidence by throwing him in too soon. I don't want to assign motives. I think Fickell is a stand-up guy who's doing what he thinks is best for the team. Whether he's right or wrong remains to be seen.
13:25:04 Skippy15275: Can Hall add alot to the gameplan this week? I know the guy is a good runner and very good at catching passes out of the backfield
13:26:31 Bill: Yes, he can. Carlos Hyde has done a good job, but he's not really a breakaway threat (yes, I saw his TD run last week) that Hall is. I'd expect OSU to deploy Hall in several ways -- RB, split out as a WR, as a punt returner and kickoff returner.
13:26:37 Jon Dalton: It looked like Storm Klein was finally starting to step up his game with the interception, then he missed the tackle for a long Toledo game. Is he in the doghouse at all?
13:28:30 Bill: I don't know if he's in the doghouse. There aren't enough linebackers to put one in the doghouse. I'll say that I haven't been overwhelmed by Klein's play. The interception was a nice play, but the QB threw it to him. Klein overpursued on a 40something-yard play that would have been a short gain if he had taken the right angle. I just haven't noticed him as much as you should a MLB. He'll need to play well Saturday.
13:28:34 Buck Wylde: There's a theory floating about that Braxton's "ailment" is just a puzzle piece in a "planned mediocrity leading up to public demand for change at qb" scenario, in order to coax a somewhat jaded Buckeye Nation to embrace another sudden change from a sub par senior, to yet another highly gifted "athletic" quarterback. I personally feel that a change at OC is years overdue, and would lead to an offense that would justify the calibre of athletes that we have on the team.
13:30:43 Bill: I've learned in my years covering football that the offensive coordinator is usually the one with the biggest target on his back. Everyone thinks they can call plays better, including sportswriters. I honestly don't believe there's anything conspiratorial. Coaches are trying to win games, period. It's hard to judge Bollman too critically when you realize how many pieces he's missing, as I alluded to in my story in today's paper.
13:30:49 gob_bluth: Have the Tat 4 been on the sidelines during the games and will they travel with the team this weekend?
13:31:07 Bill: They are not allowed at the games unless they buy a ticket and watch. Not allowed on the sidelines.
13:31:49 rockportTXbuckeye: who do you see stepping up this week at receiver?
13:32:59 Bill: Are you available? They don't have many options. Verlon Reed, Chris Fields and the freshmen -- Evan Spencer and Devin Smith -- are about all they have. T.Y. Williams has to show he can catch. That's why Jordan Hall's availability is so important.
13:33:06 bartfrombradenton: I haven't hear much on Tyler M. lately. Is he OK?
13:33:43 Bill: He's fine physically -- just hasn't made many plays, as even he admitted the other day. I would expect Heacock and Fickell will scheme this week so that Moeller will get a few cracks at Jacory Harris.
13:33:48 DenisonBuckeye: Based on the limited infomation we have so far (in-game results/performance), does Braxton Miller have to play and have a big game for us to win? Why/why not?
13:35:26 Bill: I wouldn't go that far. Bauserman, when he plays well, is more than adequate. I'd still expect him to play the bulk of the game. But Miller adds a dual-threat dimension that could make the difference. However, I'm not sure I'd want to put it on the shoulders of a guy playing his second game to win the game. I'm sure OSU coaches don't, either.
13:35:33 sgehrich: I'm going to the game Saturday night. Will I leave happy, or will I leave listening to Miami fans gloat...
13:36:37 Bill: This is one of the tougher games to predict because neither team has been at full strength and there are so many variables. I'd give OSU a 55 percent chance of winning because I think the Buckeyes are more fundamentally sound. Miami is mistake-prone.
13:36:44 buckeyebond83: Even if Fickell wins lets say 10 games this year, do you think OSU will keep him or go seek a "big name" coach?
13:37:26 Bill: If he wins 10 games this year, I don't think there's any question his contract is extended unless there's some other unknowable reason.
13:37:32 Skippy15275: After 2 big fumbles in the red zone (one almost costing us a game) along with Hall coming back does Rod Smith get any real playing time this week?
13:38:15 Bill: I would think that Rod Smith will be fourth in the pecking order behind Hall, Hyde and Berry. Fumble once, shame on you. Fumble twice, shame on me.
13:38:26 ChicagoBuckeye: Everyone is worried that Miller will not be able to handle the presure in a tight game but if he is not given the chance to come in in that situation how will we know? Toledo was that oppotunity and Fickell messed it up.
13:39:17 Bill: You're not alone in that opinion. Who knows how serious the ankle sprain really was? I can tell you this, he was not suspended from the game, despite some rumors on the Internet. I asked Fickell directly about that today.
13:39:32 sgehrich: Any word on whether Howard will start? I know the coaches said he would "play a big role"... Does that mean starting or subbing often?
13:40:16 Bill: From the sounds of it from Heacock, Howard will rotate with Roby and Clarke. Don't know who starts. Not sure it matters much.
13:40:21 Skippy15275: How is Philly Brown doing? Back next week or longer?
13:40:53 Bill: He's out this week. My guess is he'll miss next week, but I don't know the severity of the injury.
13:40:59 ChicagoBuckeye: What is more confidence shaking: Throwing an interception and maybe losing a game but learning a lot or not getting in the game and watching a guy with half your talent play poorly and almost cost your team the game?
13:42:47 Bill: Gee, I'm trying to figure out what your opinion is. Like I said to a previous questioner, you are far from alone in your opinion. I think Fickell thought if he kept Bauserman in in the first half, OSU could extend the lead to a comfortable margin and then play Miller. When it stayed tight, I think he figured, 'Why put a true freshman in who's dealing with an ankle sprain?' Not saying he's right or wrong, just what I guess he was thinking.
13:42:55 DenisonBuckeye: Could this game (in true Tressel fashion) simply be a matter of winning the battle of turnovers and special teams?
13:43:24 Bill: OSU needs to win the turnover battle and not lose the special teams battle.
13:43:32 DenisonBuckeye: More of a comment than a question: Last year, Jacory Harris averaged 1.5 picks per game, and did not throw a pick in only 2 games. A repeat of last year's performance in the 'Shoe would certainly help...
13:44:28 Bill: No question about that. Harris' performance is probably the single most important factor in the game.
13:44:36 ChicagoBuckeye: What is the deal with Mark May? Why is he such a _______ towards OSU?
13:45:06 Bill: I have no idea. Some guys have a schtick and they'll follow it until they die. I don't know Mark May so I wouldn't presume to guess his motives.
13:45:13 Skippy15275: I'm assuming Hall, Brown and Howard all payed back the money and are all clear to play?
13:45:33 Bill: That's my assumption as well.
13:45:48 Bill: don't know definitively.
13:45:49 Rob_(moderator): Via email: How many reporters does The Dispatch send to away games?
13:47:16 Bill: Usually six. Me (game story) Tim (main sidebar/notebook/view from press box), Bob Hunter (columnist), Rob Oller (Scarlet & Gray Matter) and Bob Baptist/Todd Jones (opponent). Plus photographers and if it's a big game, perhaps someone from news side. We do have these games well-covered (except the game stories can be weak).
13:47:29 Akron BuckGuy52: Yesterday, there was a report that Meyer was being considered, and interested in replacing Jo-Pa at Penn State. Possible ploy to let OSU know that he's willing to coach again? I'm not ready to throw Fick under the bus yet, but would also hate to face Meyer on the recruiting trail or on the field. Then again, he has health issues that might make him short lived. Whaddya think?
13:48:19 Rob_(moderator): Folks, if you have any other questions, now's the time to submit them.
13:49:23 Bill: I haven't been on the beat that long, but I'm already weary of the Urban Meyer speculation. He's bought a house here/he hasn't bought a house here, etc. Is Meyer a viable option? With his track record, of course. Whether he's likely to get the job is another matter. I'd rather not get immersed in the speculation at this early date in September and let things play out awhile.
13:49:51 Rob_(moderator): Question from the moderator: If the Buckeyes reel off 5-6 wins in a row, will the Urban Meyer talk quiet down?
13:50:23 Bill: Yes it would. But that's a tall task. And then if OSU loses to Michigan, they'll want to throw Fickell in the Olentangy.
13:50:29 jim: Does Gene Smith travel to the away games, and if so, does he pay his own way?
13:51:00 Bill: He's usually at the away games. I assume he travels with the team or on one of the OSU planes. Can't say I've ever asked that question.
13:51:06 DenisonBuckeye: If you had to pick one player on defense and one on offense that might be difference makers Saturday, who would they be?
13:51:55 Bill: John Simon on defense. Jordan Hall on offense. Simon is a beast. Hall provides needed versatility and big-play ability.
13:51:59 sgehrich: Could Jordan Hall line up at wideout and see extended action there? Since we are very weak (with lack of experience, not talent...).
13:52:20 Bill: Yes, I would expect that. Not a lot, but at least a handful of plays.
13:52:24 Skippy15275: Who do you think has a better Career by the end Pryor or Miller? (taking away the off the field trouble, just on field and overall performance)
13:53:39 Bill: Good question. For all the crap Pryor left behind and his deficiencies as a QB, he was a helluva player who made game-saving breathtaking plays. I don't think Miller is that freakishly talented, but I think he's a better pure "quarterback" potentially. It's just way too early to say.
13:53:47 Buckeye in Dayton: Although it's only been 2 games, any ones play surprise you (good or bad)? I've been impressed with true freshman Michael Bennett.
13:55:24 Bill: Good call on Bennett. Very impressive. The freshmen receivers have been good. The way Stoneburner has been used has been impressive given the historical reluctance to throw to the tight end. I'm sure I'm leaving some guys out.
13:55:33 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, Bill. And thanks to everyone else for the solid questions. We'll do it again a week from today with Tim May. That's a wrap.
13:55:45 Bill: Appreciate your questions.