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:
13:02:42 Rob_(moderator): Bill, surprised at the timing of the news about Meyer being confirmed??
13:03:33 Bill: Well, it's not as if OSU or Meyer announced it. It's just that credible sources have finally said that it's going to happen -- or at least is likely to.
13:03:40 daver39.: Who says it has been confirmed???
13:04:37 Bill: Not OSU and not Meyer. But there are other people who know and are willing to share that.
13:04:42 section 105: Bill- I'm sure the Dispatch has independent confirmation of the Meyer hiring. What do you think about his denial?
13:06:06 Bill: First, there apparently are significant things to work out. So as the saying goes, it's not a done deal until it's a done deal. I also think Meyer has enough cl respect for Luke Fickell and the Ohio State-Michigan game to not confirm it, even if it was a done deal.
13:06:14 afgm29: Bill, this "acknowledgement" of a deal couldn't have happened without Fickell being forewarned of it...could it have?
13:06:39 Bill: I can't say I know for sure. I'd like to think he'd be kept informed, but I don't know that for a fact.
13:06:59 hoggsway: what are the chances that Urban Meyer would retain Fickell, Vrabel and Heacock as his Defensive coaching unit?
13:09:36 Bill: I think he'd be smart to keep Fickell. He's a solid coach and would really help with recruiting. I've had recruiting analysts tell me he's the best recruiter on the staff. Heacock's body of work over his tenure at OSU has been impressive, though he'd be the first to say he's been disappointed this year. Vrabel, I don't know. The linebackers -- his group -- have not played well as a unit. I think he certainly has the knowledge and background to be a successful coach, and his players say he's a good coach. But if Meyer wants his own guys, anything is possible.
13:09:42 Earle Bruce: I just read a report on the Gainesville Sun that says Urban Meyer is not coming to C'bus. Who would be the next in line?
13:10:54 Bill: Well, you're ahead of me. I'm doing this chat so I haven't see that story. I don't know who the next in line would be if Meyer isn't the choice. I could throw out some names, but I'm not sure that'd be the right thing to do because they'd just be guesses.
13:10:59 San Antonio Buckeye: Has the university said if the NCAA responded to it's request to have it's ruling in by 11/28?
13:11:39 Bill: Good question. I don't know the answer. It's something for me to ask about. Some other issues have taken precedence, as you might imagine.
13:11:47 denbuckeye: Seems there is a lack of focus on The Game this week with the public and media, how about the team? Do you think they have the focus to pull off the win?
13:13:17 Bill: I think the people least affected by the rumors are the players and coaches. They're busy with preparations and coaches have tried to keep them from thinking about anything else. That said, it is a new world out there with Twitter and Facebook and all the other stuff. It's hard to be in that bubble entirely. But I don't think it's hard for an OSU player to remain focused during Michigan week. The rivalry means too much.
13:13:22 Earle Bruce: What do you make of Brady Hoke calling us "Ohio?"
13:14:14 Bill: Just a cutesy thing. He says it's something he's always done. I'm sure part of the intent is to get under OSU's skin -- a Team Up North kind of thing. The Buckeyes will get a chance to STATE their case on Saturday.
13:14:39 JohnInFrisco: As far as The Game is concerned, should we be more worried about the run or the pass with _ichigan?
13:16:09 Bill: The run. Denard Robinson is so dynamic and now with Fitzgerald Toussaint's development as a runner, defenses can't gear everything toward Robinson. Michigan's passing game is a lot better than OSU's -- whose isn't? -- but I think the Buckeyes would prefer to force the Wolverines to beat them through the air.
13:16:13 Rob_(moderator): Via email: If OSU makes the announcement of Meyer next week, do you think he'd coach the Buckeyes in their bowl game?
13:16:31 Bill: My guess is that it would be Fickell if he remains on staff.
13:16:39 Robbie: If indeed the sources are correct about Urban Meyer, how long before 5 star recruits start committing to the OSU? I'm not sure Ohio State has ever had a recruiter quite like Meyer will be.
13:17:46 Bill: Are you forgetting about Tressel? Heck, are you forgetting about Cooper? He was a helluva recruiter. But no question that OSU would be in position to close very strong this year in recruiting. I've been told there are a lot of quality recruits who are just biding their time waiting to see how things shake out with the OSU coaching and NCAA situations but are ready to jump when that's resolved.
13:17:55 hoggsway: We should just be worried about tacking better and taking better pursuit angles, Bill what do you attribute this to? A lack of talent or just lack of experience on the D side?
13:19:57 Bill: Mostly inexperience. In some cases, lack of football instincts. Remember that John Simon was the only defensive starter last week who started last year. They're all learning on the job and there isn't the trust among teammates that comes with playing together for a couple seasons. So instead of staying in their gaps because they trust a teammate to do the same, they're tempted to do too much and that can result in disaster. But no question the tackling has been weak.
13:20:01 AtlantaBuckeye: Any thoughts on possible bowl games for a 7-5 or 6-6 OSU team?
13:22:09 Bill: Gator, Insight, Meineke Car Care Insurance Realignment Tuneup or Ticket City Bowl. If OSU wins this week, probably Gator or Insight. If they lose, one of the others. Remember that the lower-tier bowls don't have to take teams based on records. OSU draws well, so they'll probably go to a better bowl than they deserve.
13:22:29 truebuckeye: Why does OSU not self-impose a bowl ban this year to get it out of the way?
13:23:57 Bill: My hunch is they don't want to deprive a senior class that has endured so much -- thinking of the ones who didn't get in trouble -- a chance to end their careers with a bowl ban. OSU thinks the odds are against an NCAA bowl ban anyway, so why self-impose something that they think probably won't happen anyway.
13:24:04 denbuckeye: Is Sweat going to play this week? Philly Brown?
13:24:57 Bill: Sweat underwent a test yesterday and was still awaiting the results. OSU is going to be very cautious because of the heightened sensitivity regarding concussions these days. Fickell was vague about Philly Brown, but my guess is that he'll play.
13:25:04 Earle Bruce: Meyer was not "the" recruiter at Florida. Greg Mattison was. He's now at Michigan pulling in the #1 class in the country. Do you agree?
13:26:04 Bill: Honestly, I can't say I know enough to agree or disagree. I was covering the NFL during Meyer's NFL heydey. But I'm sure it was a team effort at Florida like it is most places. That'd sure make for an interesting dynamic though -- Meyer at OSU and Mattison at Michigan.
13:26:12 hoggsway: Can the Bucks get up for this game and get through all the mess of this season, essentially can they make it the one game is the season mentality that us fans do?
13:26:23 Bill: meant to say Meyer's Florida heydey. sorry
13:26:55 Bill: Ohio State will have no problem getting up for this game. These Buckeyes have never lost to Michigan. That's enough incentive right there.
13:27:01 Rob_(moderator): Via email: All this Meyer talk ... a positive or negative for the players heading into The Game?
13:27:49 Bill: Any distraction isn't helpful, but it could also be a rallying cry: Win one for Luke. I've already seen people wonder whether OSU will wear "Luke" headbands like they did for Earle Bruce's last game
13:27:57 denbuckeye: A read an article by a former player that believes there has been a lack of senior leadership on this team which has contributed to some of the problems. Do you agree?
13:29:31 Bill: There just aren't enough seniors, particularly on defense. The natural leaders on offense -- mainly Herron and Posey -- missed so much time. I think Brewster and Sweat are good leaders, off the top of my head. But on defense, they could have used a Brian Rolle-type vocal leader. Simon is a leader by example, but he's not a rah-rah guy.
13:29:41 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Are you surprised at the hiring of RichRod?
13:30:10 Bill: Not really. This is the time of year for that stuff, particularly for teams like Arizona that are playing out the string.
13:30:17 Rob_(moderator): Via email: If it's true that Meyer will be OSU's next coach, do you think it's a good hire?
13:32:13 Bill: On paper, yes. His credentials are impeccable. He's a proven winner with Ohio ties. But who knows how it would actually work out. His health, his status as "savior" of the program, how he would mesh with holdover assistants if he keeps them... all of these things will have to play out. Nothing is a slam dunk. Belichick was a failure with the Browns. Can't-miss coaches sometimes do.
13:32:20 ncflash: what happened last week with our center-QB exchanges - all on Brewster?
13:33:29 Bill: I think so. He mentioned after the game that the balls were slick. On one or two of those, Miller had time to retrieve the ball and possibly salvage the play. But it's clear it's been drilled into him not to make mistakes that he decided to fall on the ball just to ensure nothing worse would happen.
13:33:39 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Pick an osu player on each side of the ball who really needs to step up on Saturday
13:34:39 Bill: On offense, Miller. He can't be fazed by the most hostile road crowd of the season. On defense, Shazier. I think it'd be smart to have him be a spy on Robinson. He has the speed and instincts to do it. The way he hits, I wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of it.
13:34:45 ncflash: which in your opinion is the biggest obstacle to us winning this week - offense moving the ball and scoring or defense stopping them?
13:36:28 Bill: good question. I'd probabl say defense. The Silver Bullets have mostly been blanks the second half of the season. Penn State hasn't moved the ball the way did against OSU in the first half against anyone all year, I don't think. They have to play better, pure and simple. Cut down on the missed tackles, take advantage of turnover possibilities.
13:36:39 Rob_(moderator): Via email: why would the "sources" confirm this now? where's the respect for fickell and the team as they prepare for UM?
13:38:31 Bill: Sources reveal information for a variety of reasons. I'm not privvy to some of the motivations and would be guarded about revealing them if I knew. One of those journalism things.
13:38:41 Robbie: What do you think about Ryan Shazier? I believe hes gonna be a superstar.
13:39:11 Bill: He certainly has that potential. He has stood out almost from the first day of preseason camp.
13:39:14 JohnInFrisco: When Miller gets sacked, it seems that it usually happens when he is moving forward as the pocket collapses. He usually avoids sacks when he rolls out to the right or left. Do you agree?
13:40:24 Bill: I seem to remember him taking sacks from a lot of different angles. He just isn't confident in the pocket yet, partly because his receivers haven't shown the ability to get open consistently. I think you'll see much improvement next year, assuming you have some different offensive coaches and a better scheme.
13:40:27 ncflash: It's been a long time since I've seen our defense miss so many tackles - is it because of youth/playing out of position or lack of coaching fundamentals?
13:40:37 Rob_(moderator): Any more questions, folks?
13:41:52 Bill: They say they practice it all the time. I'm sure they do. It really can't be coaching fundamentals because it's the same group of coaches and this hasn't been a problem in years past, generally. I think the inexperience has a lot to do with it. And there are some guys who are starting this year who wouldn't have been good enough to start in past years.
13:41:57 Tugnutt-for-President: How did Posey look in his return last week?
13:43:10 Bill: I thought he played terrific. On his first catch, he noticed Miller scrambling and fought to get free even though he'd been pushed out of bounds. The one-handed catch by the sidelines was as good as it gets. I've thought all year he might have been missed more than all the other suspended players because the dropoff between him and the other players at his position was so big.
13:43:15 baseball: If Meyer comes aboard, do you think we'll have a shot a Kalis and other 4/5 stars that have previously given oral commitments elsewhere?
13:44:15 Bill: Very interesting question. The people I've talked to think Kalis is solid with Michigan now. But they thought the same thing when he was an OSU commitment, so who knows? No doubt that OSU would be in the mix for a lot of players that now seem out of reach.
13:44:20 Rob_(moderator): Via email: If Ohio State finishes 7-6 (lose Saturday, win the bowl game), how will history look upon Luke Fickell, given the crappy hand he was dealt?
13:45:22 Bill: I think they'll look at him as a caretaker coach who handled a difficult situation with class, dignity and selflessness. Was he flawless? No. But it was close to a no-win situation.
13:45:33 Robbie: What are your predictions for this weeks game and the outlook for next season?
13:46:55 Bill: I'm still trying to figure out my prediction. I've been wrong a lot this year so don't put much or any stock into what I pick. My hunch is that I'll pick Michigan. It's hard to think much about next year. Depends on the coach and his staff. Depends on Miller's development. They've got some holes to fill on the offensive line. Can the defensive players improve? There's definitely talent on board.
13:47:03 Rob_(moderator): Via email: Do you think Braxton has more upside than Pryor did at this point in their college careers?
13:48:23 Bill: As a passer, yes. He has much cleaner passing fundamentals. Pryor could just run by people. Miller jukes around them. I also think Miller is far more humble and I think that makes him a potentially better leader. It would help if he were more vocal but that's not his nature.
13:48:31 AtlantaBuckeye: Can Braxton ever really evolve into a great passer ... like Troy did?
13:49:55 Bill: Hate to use the word potential, but potentially yes. I'm not all that concerned that his balls aren't tight spirals. He throws with zip. He needs to become more accurate. He also needs to have better targets to throw to. Who are the next Ginn Jr. and Gonzalez?
13:50:00 ncflash: Anyone taking responsibility for the recent 0-10 slow starts?
13:50:56 Bill: If they had the answer to that one, they'd have implemented it. OSU's defensive has historically been prone to give up a scoring drive early and then adjust quickly. This year's team hasn't adjusted quickly. As for fault, there's plenty to go around.
13:51:03 denbuckeye: I am going to my first away game Saturday, what should I expect from the crowd and venue?
13:53:07 Bill: I assume you're not going to the Purdue-Indiana game. If you're going to the Big House, expect a hostile crowd. Michigan's fans have a reputation for being staid, but considering they're licking their chops about beating Ohio State for the first time since 2004, I would expect they'll be amped.
13:53:16 AtlantaBuckeye: Do you see Brady Hoke led teams leading to a Mich resurgence over the next few years?
13:53:22 Bill: And be prepared to park far away
13:54:17 Bill: I think Hoke is a good fit for Michigan. He's a meat-and-potatoes guy. He understands the place. Anyone would look good in comparison to RichRod, but Hoke looks like a very good hire.
13:54:23 truebuckeye: What are the expectations for the NCAA penalties that are coming?
13:55:44 Bill: OSU doesn't expect a bowl ban, though they think it's more of a possibility than they did a few months ago. They're hoping the self-imposed five-scholarship ban will suffice. I wouldn't be surprised if that's pushed up a little. I'll be very surprised if Jim Tressel doesn't get a show-cause penalty, which means any other school would have to explain why it should be allowed to hire him. Not that I think Tressel wants to coach anywhere else.
13:55:46 Rob_(moderator): Not really a question here, Bill, but maybe you can comment ...
13:55:47 nmfwabash: Assuming Meyer is the next coach, Meyer will use Braxton Miller as he used Tebow in a two quarterback system. The biggest issue I see for the Buckeyes and disapointment this year was the defense! Help is needed on that side of the ball.
13:56:51 Bill: I think Braxton Miller is THE quarterback. He used Tebow that way because he had unique running ability and Chris Leak had been a disappointment. No question the defense needs to improve. It'll come mostly from internal improvement.
13:56:59 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. Enjoy The Game and the rumors. That's a wrap.
13:57:09 Bill: Thanks, everyone. Good questions.