Each Thursday at 1 p.m. during the college football season, "Dispatch" OSU football beat writers answer readers' questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during an hourlong chat. Here's the transcript of today's Q&A session with Bill Rabinowitz.
Each Thursday at 1 p.m. during the college football season, Dispatch OSU football beat writers answer readers' questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during an hourlong chat. Here's the transcript of today's Q&A session with Bill Rabinowitz:
13:00:09 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Bill. We'll start after we move the elephant that's blocking the doorway and keeping everyone else out of the room.
13:00:26 Bill: Wonder what that might be.
13:00:59 Rob_(moderator): Complacency about Purdue, perhaps?
13:01:17 Bill: Obviously
13:01:25 Rob_(moderator): I have a couple questions that we submitted via email ....
13:01:45 Rob_(moderator): If you had to put money on it, do you see John Simon returning after this season or choosing the NFL?
13:04:52 Bill: My guess is that he'll return. I'm not sure he has an obvious NFL position. He's not big enough to play tackle and doesn't have that extra gear as an edge pass-rusher. Don't get me wrong. I think he's an NFL player down the road. Teams will love his relentlessness and team-first attitude. But I'm not sure he's a sure-fire high draft pick that would cause him to go pro. I have not checked with any NFL scouts, however, so this is just my opinion.
13:04:57 newguy: Is the NCAA likely to charge Penn State with violations of NCAA standards before this situation is over?
13:05:45 Bill: I've been gone most of the morning, but I did see something about the NCAA saying it would take a look at it. But beyond that, I just don't know enough to give you an educated answer.
13:05:55 Becky in Cleveland: I know this has been discussed in the past, but the whole Urban to PSU possibility has me extra worried now. Personally, I think their nightmare is a lot to overcome for any human, and not something Urban wants to deal with. I'm pretty sure it's been called Pediphile State University by now. Lots of times.
13:07:59 Bill: It seems almost crass and insensitive to discuss things like coaching searches at Penn State and how it might affect OSU when you have a scandal of this magnitude. But life will go on, and that is an issue for down the road. I guess it all depends on whether Urban Meyer would 1) be willing to follow a legend; and 2) believe he's the right man to take over that program given all it has and will go through.
13:08:09 Rob_(moderator): Another via email: What's up with Marcus Hall? He seems to have fallen off quite a bit.
13:10:38 Bill: Lost connection for a minute and lost my answer too
13:11:59 Bill: The simple answer is that Marcus Hall didn't play well enough to keep his job when Mike Adams returned. Coaches shifted Andrew Norwell to left guard and Jack Mewhort to right guard. As it was, Hall was splitting time with Corey Linsley. Now Antonio Underwood will start at right tackle for the injured J.B. Shugarts against Purdue.
13:12:11 Rob_(moderator): Back to Penn State: Even realizing Paterno's popularity, were you surprised at the reaction on campus overnight?
13:12:21 Rob_(moderator): Folks, need some questions.
13:13:27 Bill: Yes, I was. It was disappointing to see that. I know part of it is a mob mentality, college kids (and probably others) who saw it as an opportunity to be stupid. But anyone who read the grand jury transcript or was familiar with what happened and thought it was an injustice that Paterno was fired, I'd have to wonder about.
13:13:39 Becky in Cleveland: True; the whole thing is disgusting, but the media has already questioned it so I figured I was somewhat in bounds. Anyway, on another note, how do you anticipate the timing, etc. to be between Brax and Devier, upon his return?
13:15:03 Bill: I wasn't being critical of you for asking. I just haven't moved on in my head to thinking along those lines. As for the timing, I'm sure that Posey and Miller have worked on it extensively, but there's no substitute for game speed. Even so, Posey will be a huge addition.
13:15:30 JJcrow: How is Miller's and Herron's injuries?
13:16:25 Bill: Apparently, not an issue. Both practiced all week. Jordan Hall is apparently good to go, as well, according to Fickell. But Corey "Philly" Brown aggravated his ankle sprain in practice this week, and I don't know if he'll be available.
13:16:31 Becky in Cleveland: Understood. How do you expect the defense to rebound this week, and in particular the D-backs?
13:17:41 Bill: I'd think the Indiana experience can only help. Purdue's receivers aren't really downhill threats, so I'd expect Ohio State to play more press coverage and dare Purdue to beat them that way. I thought the front four played well last week, as did Andrew Sweat. But the other linebackers did not stand out.
13:17:58 Zachross: Do you think it makes things better or worse for OSU chances against PSU next week given that JoePa is gone now? Do you think the PSU team with be more fired up?
13:19:26 Bill: Again, it's one of those things that I know fans think about but I am having a hard time doing. But I think it'd be incredibly hard for Penn State to go on the road after what happened this week and have any kind of focus. They might be able to do it this week in front of the home crowd, but I'd have to think they're emotionally spent.
13:19:43 Buckeye in VA: What is the biggest threat from Purdue?
13:21:35 Bill: Purdue's one of those teams that doesn't do anything particularly well -- except the kicking game -- but has enough athletes to be dangerous if you're not on top of your game. They have a very good nose guard in Kawann Short, but he's not the game-changer Ryan Kerrigan was. Offensively, there's no one that is the clear star. RB Ralph Bolden has had his moments, but hasn't put up consistent numbers.
13:21:44 Buckeye in VA: Do you expect the offense to be about 80/20 the rest of the way? Eighty percent run and twenty percent pass?
13:22:52 Bill: I didn't think it was 80-20 the other way. I think they'd it to be maybe 70-30, but I don't know if that's realistic or even wise. But at some point, they're going to be forced into a situation when they have to throw effectively. That's why getting Posey back is so important.
13:23:03 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Biggest surprise for you regarding OSU's lackluster performance against IU?
13:25:35 Bill: I was surprised the defense didn't adjust to what Indiana was doing offensively with the spread and zone-read stuff. Usually, it takes the Buckeyes only a possession or two to adjust. Last week, they never really did. Offensively, I just expected them to anticipate Indiana taking chances with run blitzes and be better prepared to attack it. I figured Ohio State would consistently get chunks of 8, 10, 12 yards running. Instead it was 81 or 40 or not much.
13:25:43 Becky in Cleveland: How much do you think the Jaamal Berry issue affects us? I know we're deep in that position but that can change in a heartbeat.
13:26:28 Bill: I don't think it's a big loss, truthfully, especially as long as Jordan Hall is healthy. Berry hadn't really shown much in the limited playing time he got.
13:26:34 Zachross: Does Fickell have to take this team all the way to a BCS bowl to keep his job? Or is just getting the the big ten title game enough?
13:27:49 Bill: I don't have the answer to that one. Only Gene Smith knows. I would think that if he gets to the title game, assuming they win out to do so, it'd be awfully hard not to think he's earned the job. But Smith is playing it very close to the vest. I'm not going to pretend to know what he's thinking.
13:28:01 nmfwabash: It is really tough to focus on any individual game in wake of what's happened with Penn State. Jim Tressel's ordeal was bad enough! Now Penn State with Joe Paterno! What else can happen this year to the Big Ten?
13:30:15 Bill: Did you hear about ...? Just kidding. It has been a wacky year. The only team that looked dominant -- Wisconsin -- loses on two unbelievable plays. The only team unbeaten in league play is Penn State, and their record is rightly an afterthought right now. To think that OSU may have the best shot of anyone to get to the Rose Bowl after starting 0-2 in league play says it all.
13:30:25 Rob_(moderator): Another via email: Now that we're deep into the season, how good is Michigan?
13:32:17 Bill: You might know better than I do. When you cover one team, you don't get a lot of chances to see the others. Obviously, Michigan's defense is much better than a year ago. They look to be playing with more discipline and intensity. Brady Hoke, I think, is a good fit for where the Wolverines are and are going. Denard Robinson hasn't been as explosive this year, but he has a better supporting cast. Isn't it cool that this year's game isn't a foregone conclusion and that so much could be riding on it?
13:32:36 JJcrow: What does the Northwestern win at Nebraska say about the Cornhuskers and the Buckeyes? Are the Wildcats simply better than their record?
13:34:02 Bill: That one shocked me. I have a friend who's a NW alum and he told me before the game that the Wildcats had no chance. Northwestern's defense is earthquake shaky, but the Wildcats have been close late in every game they've been in. Usually, they just haven't been able to get a crucial stop. But yes, I was stunned by the Nebraska game.
13:34:12 Columbus Keith: Are you a little surprised Gene Smith's head didn't go on the block?
13:36:19 Bill: Not really. The NCAA hasn't directly accused him of anything. OSU has pinned this all on Tressel and the players. Smith has said some things I'm sure he regrets -- "Sweet spot" comes to mind -- but those aren't fireable offenses. I'm not saying he should or shouldn't be on the hot seat. I'm just saying based on the evidence that's come to light so far, I'm not surprised he's still here.
13:36:28 Rob_(moderator): Bill, about how many members of the media attend the luncheon and Fickell's news conferences on Tuesdays?
13:36:53 Bill: I'd say it's about 30. Some seldom or never ask questions.
13:37:01 ChacoAbq: Considering the (mostly) under-performance of the linebacker corps this year, has Curtis Grant improved enough to be a factor still this year? His blocked punt recovery (almost) in the end zone against Wisconsin showed a lot of speed and intensity.
13:37:58 Bill: The key factor in that play was Ryan Shazier making the block. I'd like to see both of those freshmen get more defensive snaps, but Shazier's the one who has shown star potential so far.
13:38:06 JJcrow: Might Ryan Shazier see more playing time on defense? Seems like he just makes plays.
13:38:34 Bill: I'm sure you typed your question before that last response. I keep waiting for them to unleash Shazier on defense.
13:38:46 Becky in Cleveland: "Close to the vest" might be bad choice of words. :) Anyhoo, at this time, do you think the iffy coaching situation and the lack of NCAA decisions is hurting us tremendously with regard to recruiting or is it too soon to tell?
13:41:02 Bill: Did I really say close to the vest? Oh well. The uncertainty isn't helping. Even if the NCAA hands down a major sanction, at least OSU -- and potential recruits -- knows what it's dealing with. It's not crucial that the NCAA rules real soon, but once face-to-face recruiting kicks in after the regular season, the lack of certainty could be a big factor. But I think the decision will come down this month.
13:41:19 tarponrandy: Any word from A Washington and some of the recruits that were at the wisc game? I am concerned about our lack of recruiting on the OL. We lose a bunch with Adams, Brewster next year. .
13:43:16 Bill: Adolphus Washington is going to announce his decision Nov. 22. The smart money is on Ohio State. As far as offensive linemen, there's a four-star recruit in Colorado named Alex Kozan, who once lived in Cincinnati and grew up a big Buckeye fan. OSU probably is the leader for him, but it'll depend on the NCAA stuff. Kozan is more a guard than tackle, though. No question Ohio State could use tackles.
13:43:22 Rob_(moderator): No more questions in the hopper. Bill, any final thoughts before we wrap this up? Things to look for Saturday? Restaurant tips? Movie reviews?
13:45:11 Bill: I've only been to West Lafayett once and don't remember much about it. Ohio State is only a touchdown favorite, but the Buckeyes are the better team. Purdue was crushed the last two weeks. But Ross-Ade has been a dangerous place for the Buckeyes over the years.
13:45:32 Bill: West Lafayette. yes, I know it has an 'e' at the end.
13:45:45 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, Bill. Good questions, everyone. We'll do it again next week. That's a wrap.
13:45:56 Bill: Thanks for your questions, everyone.