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 Tim May.
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 Tim May:
12:57:55 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Tim. Do folks think there's a cover charge here?
12:58:51 Tim May: No, free admission as always. Good afternoon. Great to be here again on this cold, crisp day. Let the inquisition begin, but understanding I have nothing to do with the design of the Ohio State passing (?) game.
12:59:06 Rob_(moderator): Anything new from Luke today?
13:00:45 Tim May: He wouldn't yet rule Andrew Sweat (concussion) out for Saturday, but it doesn't look good. DL Johnathan "Big Hank" Hankins and RT J.B. Shugarts are expected to be ready, and WR Corey "Philly" Brown has a chance to be back. That's the injury update.
13:01:10 Rob_(moderator): I've had a few emails from folks this week wondering that even if OSU wins out (the next two plus a bowl win), that won't be enough to bring back Fickell next year. Your thoughts?
13:02:56 Tim May: I can only go by what my insiders are telling me, and they say Gene Smith has been steadfast about giving Fickell the entire season, as promised, to prove himself. That said, the school also announced in June when it formally introduced Fickell as the interim coach that at regular season sch
13:03:07 JJcrow: Will Posey start?
13:03:16 Tim May: send it would look around the country, taking Fickell into consideration too. So we'll see.
13:03:37 Rob_(moderator): Oops, sorry. I jumped the gun there. On to the Posey question ...
13:05:08 Tim May: I asked Fickell that exact question just past noon, and he would not commit to it, saying it could come down to the personnel grouping called for, etc. But considering Posey has immediately regained the position as No.1 wide receiver threat on the team, he will play sooner rather than later. He has paid the price and then some for his transgressions.
13:05:17 woodyfortimmay: Should OSU institute a one-year postseason ban now that there's little hope for a decent bowl bid?
13:08:51 Tim May: No, and one reason is because history shows there probably won't be a bowl ban, though the unknown circumstance for OSU is the repeat violator status, which give the committee on infractions carte blanche in a way. Still, even if OSU decides to make a change at head coach, the new fellow probably would like the luxury of a month of bowl practice; it's like adding a spring of workouts to the calendar and the team development scale. Besides, you're spoiled, because if OSU wins out, for example, it won't slip that far down the Big Ten bowl hookup list.
13:08:56 newguy: How is Coach Fickell holding up under the pressure coming his way 24/7 ? Is he enjoying his job?
13:11:42 Tim May: Hard to tell, except every time he meets with us he seems to have a smile on his face. And this week, he seemed more comfortable for some reason. He is growing into the job. Whether he has grown fast enough remains to be judged, and last week's fall at Purdue did not come at an opportune time. But Jim Tressel saw his more talented team stink up the joint at P.U. just two years ago. Things happen. This was always going to be a learning year for Fickell. Judging him without seeing what he would do with HIS staff might not be fair. But making such decisions is why Gene Smith gets paid the big bucks.
13:11:47 woodyfortimmay: How do you think fans will receive Penn State this weekend?
13:13:55 Tim May: Cordially, though I am sure there will be some knuckleheads. What's funny -- as in odd, strange -- about the cordiality being promoted is Penn State might be one of the ruder places for an opposing team in the Big Ten. The gauntlet of profanity and sometimes other things the opposing team has to walk just to reach the field should have cleared up long ago.
13:14:05 Chark: Biggest disappointment is that I expected a "killer" attitude from Coach Fickell, instead of the usual "super-conservative" play. It seems as though everyone is afraid to make mistakes and there is no trust in the players to execute. There is enough skill to have beaten all of our opponents, but no desire. We have not gotten better all year. Same boring plays. If this continues, I would prefer to clean house and start new with more progressive coaches.
13:17:39 Tim May: As I wrote in the OSU Insider this week, there is no excuse 10 games into the season for a passing attack as pathetic as that offered by the Buckeyes last week. They are 118th in the country in passing -- out of 120 major college teams. No excuse. As for cleaning house, if you didn't think the defense was going to have a few challenges at times this season you weren't paying attention. Saturday, if Sweat can't play and freshman Ryan Shazier takes his place, there will be 10 new starters on the defense compared to this time a year ago. A team is always going to pay a price for such new blood; just look at the Alabama defense a year ago with nine new starters compared to the unit rocking and rolling now. But when you have the ball, you have to be able to do something with. It's called offense for a reason.
13:17:43 ncflash: With Posey back as a deep threat, any chance we will see the short/intermediate pass game explored?
13:20:18 Tim May: Heck man, I don't know. And I am saying that not as a shot at you, but as a fellow who never can get a good answer to why the short and intermediate game isnt exploited each and every possession of each and every week. Look around the country, almost everybody is doing it, the reason being it puts a premium on tackling in space. It gave Purdue it's only real shot at beating OSU, and the Boilermakers took advantage. Meanwhile, they loaded up the tackling box against OSU and laughed at the notion the Buckeyes might try to beat them throwing. That OSU still almost did was testament to Braxton Miller's talent.
13:20:35 gabuckeye: I think that the secondary has been exposed can this problem be fixed?
13:23:08 Tim May: Secondaries are exposed all across the country every Saturday (or in the MAC's case, every week night). The OSU secondary has played very well on occasion and has been beaten on occasions. But like last week, when team are throwing to the edge, it comes down to making open field tackles, not coverage. Sometimes the secondary has been one, sometimes it hasn't. But compared to this time a year ago there are four new starters back there. You always are going to pay a price as they learn to play together.
13:23:21 luckeeman: Hind sight is always 20-20. At THE TIME, did you think OSU should have kicked the Fg in OT against Purdue or gone for the 4th & 2?
13:26:29 Tim May: My hunch sitting high above in the press box is I thought the advantage headed into OT was with Purdue, because its offense -- though held to three points in the second half -- seemed more dynamic and creative all day. But it is hard to just say go for it, because if you donn't make it you are, uh, in trouble. A team must put points on the board one way or the other if it has the first possession, then hope its defense can make the play. Twice the Buckeyes forced third downs from P.U. and twice P.U. converted before scoring the TD. Cest la vie, or something like that.
13:26:35 denbuckeye: I haven't watched much of Penn State this season but it seems their Defense has gotten them this far, what do you expect to see Saturday?
13:29:57 Tim May: I was on a Pittsburgh radio show this morning where I said I wouldn't be surprised if the final score in 3-2 or 35-31. These two teams seem so stressed when it comes to calling unpredictable offensive series, and they both are built defensively to stop what the other likes to do the most, which is RUN THAT BALL. PSU at least has tried almost twice as many passes as OSU, so give the Nits A for effort. But, they have been pathetic when it comes to actually scoring points. So in summation -- I have no idea.
13:30:03 woodyfortimmay: How would you rank the tailbacks? I like Herron and Hall, but they are the same size and same type of runner. Shouldn't Hyde be the true No. 2?
13:31:39 Tim May: Herron and Hyde are like a hard slider followed by a heavy fastball. Hall is a change of pace. I just wonder whether the coaches lost that chapter of the playbook they talked about earlier this year that had Hall splitting out a lot more in the search for mismatches against the defense in the passing game.
13:31:48 ncflash: It was painful to watch a couple potentail TDs at Purdue missed due to badly overthrown deep passes - is Miller's accuracy really that bad at this stage of his career or was the wind a factor?
13:34:16 Tim May: The wind. It was blowing all day out of the south-southwest. All you had to do was watch what it did to some of the punts to understand it wasn't a day for lofting it deep. One of Miller's throws deep down the left sideline with wind toward T.Y. Williams flew 70 yards in the air, it seemed, or about 10 yards past Williams. That's why I said it was a day more for short and intermediate stuff, especially with P.U. loading the tackle box.
13:34:28 gabuckeye: Braxton seems uncomfortable in the pocket at times, Is this due to the play calling, And I have to belive when the D-line is jailbreaking on him all the time we have to have some kind of screen play in the playbook?
13:37:36 Tim May: Not sure what the term jailbreaking means relative to the D line, but I agree that the pocket often has not been an ideal place from which to launch lately. A buddy of mine keeps saying the coaches need to get Miller out on the edge often in pass-run option plays which cut down on what he needs to read from the defense and also makes the defense have to respect his abillity to tuck and run. Makes sense to me. But I also know from watching him in some of his high school games and some of the practices earlier this year that he can pass with the best of them from the pocket if he has time. He is the real deal.
13:37:56 BuckeyeBob: If the coach won't even respond to the press' questions regardiing why they won't make use of short, quick and intermediate passing game, it seems like they are taking the position of being accountable to nobody. Do you have any insight as to why that is?
13:41:11 Tim May: Well, there is no federal law that says college football coaches must answer all-knowing reporters' questions or face the scrutiny of an IRS audit. Some coaches are quite adept at telling you nothing. That's why the proof is always in the pudding. If you've got it, let's see it on game day. If it doesn't show up then, that means you don't have it or you're too timid to call it. Football is about scoring touchdowns when you have the ball and trying to keep the other team from scoring when it has the ball.
13:41:17 Joe Payne: Where is Walt Harris these days? I think he's probably the one hire needed for next year!
13:45:11 Tim May: Funny, but that's what Pitt though, and then Stanford, and then Akron and then one of those PA Division II schools a couple of years ago. Someone told me the other day he was living in the Pittsburgh area again. For my money, though, the best overall offensive scheme I've seen here in the 28 years I've been covering the team were those three seasons of Jim Colletto. The Buckeyes had a power running game and a pro-type passing attack, and he had great feel for playcalling. Too bad those three season -- John Cooper's first from 1988 to 1990 -- also featured some of the worst defenses the school has ever seen. Colletto went on to Purdue, then the pros, but I hear he is available.
13:45:42 Chark: It's been rumored that Coach Vrabel took our offensive playbook and threw it to the ground stating that it was crap. Assuming that it was true, does Coach Fickell have any ability to alter the assistant staff?
13:49:30 Tim May: I heard Vrabel as buying a house in Upper Arlington, too. But back to your main question -- I asked Fickell early in the season after the Miami game whether he walked into the offensive staff meeting and jacked up the joint. Of course I didn't expect an answer, but upon taking the job he was sort of stuck with the staff on hand, for better or worse. Whether he will get the chance to make changes, we'll find out in a couple of weeks I guess. But there is no way any head coach can be happy with his total offense being ranked in the 100s in the country. NO WAY!!!
13:49:36 ncflash: I think as a collective group, most of us fans have issues with the passing game strategy and play calling in general - that said, should our ire be directed at Bollman or Luke in your opinion?
13:51:17 Tim May: The ire -- as long as it doesn't involve physcal altercation, because that would be anarchy -- should be directed at Bollman and his staff. But then, Fickell is the head coach. They probably would listen to him before they would listen to you and your group of ire-ish friends.
13:51:33 gabuckeye: Run us through the missed extra point lack of detail on the blocking or was it a missed kick?
13:54:32 Tim May: When a defensive lineman penetrates more than two yards through the B gap into your backfield and is standing straight up, as the P.U. fellow was, it's going to be hard to launch a kickk past him. The kick might have been a little low; I'm still not convinced. But when the defensive man in the middle pulls the guard toward him and the offensive tackle is hit head on by another rusher, it sometimes create a gap the likes of which you saw. And wow, what an impactful -- to borrow a Tresselism -- play that was for the team and the coaching staff. Man oh man.
13:54:57 ddew: How do you feel about the match up between OSU's defense and PSU's offense? PSU's offense does not seem overly impressive, so I am expecting (or hoping...) that OSU's defense will make a strong showing.
13:57:57 Tim May: I agree. OSU's defense is more geared to take on an offense such as PSU's than it is to take on P.U.'s. This Saturday's game will be more about honest football. But I wouldn't be surprised to see the Nits throw it 30 times or more. It also would be fun to see the Buckeyes do the same thing, now that Posey is back and they have a legitimate WR threat. We'll see. And now I shall commence holding my breath.
13:58:00 ncflash: So I thought I read somewhere that if Wisconsin loses to IL and then beats PSU - we would still play in the championship game by winning our two games. Wouldn't Purdue also have to lose?
14:01:46 Tim May: No, because Purdue has been beaten by Wisconsin and Penn State, which means it would be the first team elimnated in the four-way tiebreaker scenario, the way I understand it, while OSU's record would be 2-1 in that intramural competition. And with P.U. eliminated, OSU would own wins over the other two. Voila. Now, about Illinois upsetting Wisconsin ... Again, I am holding my breath. But hey, if ever there was a year in college football when such might happen, this is it.
14:01:57 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. We'll do it again next week. That's a wrap.
14:02:20 Tim May: I enjoyed it as usual.