Dispatch OSU football beat writer Bill Rabinowitz answered your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat.
Dispatch OSU football beat writer Bill Rabinowitz answered your questions about the Buckeyes, Big Ten and college football in general during our weekly chat.
13:01:57 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Bill. Thanks for joining us. Ready to roll?
13:02:05 Bill Rabinowitz: Yes, I am. Fire away.
13:02:08 wglobnik: I would like to see OSU sign legitimate QB's, ones who already know how to throw and have their mechanics in place. While Braxton is an amazing athelete, he is very inconsistent, especially when under pressure.. It would be refreshing to sign a QB who is a pure passer and has the mobility to extend a play. I'm not saying a QB needs 4.4 speed but a mobile QB. One the likes of Art Schlichter ( minus the obvious addiction ). Even a QB like Craig Krenzel who was mobile enough to prolong a play or see an opening for a gainer.
13:04:40 Bill Rabinowitz: Craig Krenzel was a tough QB and a winner, but he wasn't exactly a prototype either. Those quarterbacks are hard to find, and I think Miller has a chance to become a consistent passer. He has the arm strength and I've noticed his balls don't wobble as often as they used to. He needs to refine his footwork under pressure -- no question about that. But remember, he's only a sophomore.
13:04:52 bobthebuckeye: Can Ohio State survive in the Big Ten if Braxton Miller continues to be their leading rushing week after week?
13:06:10 Bill Rabinowitz: It depends on whether he pulls a Brendan Bigelow and can gain 159 yards in three carries. If Miller is gaining his yards on safer runs -- scrambles where he darts out of bounds -- that's one thing. Taking a pounding with QB draws into the teeth of a defense is another. But OSU would love to have Jordan Hall or Carlos Hyde emerge to take the load off Miller.
13:06:20 ncflash: Seen a lot of press about poor tackling last week - doesn't seem like this is a one game or OSU-only problem - it seems like a majority of defensive players shun the basic "wrap-em up" tackle for the glamourous lead with the head and knock them down. Do you see anything really changing this year regarding how we "tackle"?
13:08:20 Bill Rabinowitz: Urban Meyer seemed to think it was more an issue of trying to strip the ball away because turnovers are so emphasized, and not realizing that rule No. 1 is to get the guy to the ground. As for head shots, they've really cracked down on that because of all that's now known about concussions. Meyer said he'll stop practice if he sees a tackler leading with his head. Does it happen still? Yes, but I don't think that's what caused the missed tackles this season. They're just not wrapping up and getting ball-carriers to the ground.
13:08:27 GAbuckeye: Any inside information on who the young man the Buckeyes are trying get a committment from. From the tarheel state might committ to.
13:09:24 Bill Rabinowitz: He announces at 4 p.m., I believe. The smart money is on Ohio State. His name is Tyquan Lewis.
13:09:51 shwabbie: Should we be worried about our defense? What are we doing to shore up our run 'D'?
13:12:08 Bill Rabinowitz: There are concerns about the defense, but I think they can be shored up. The defensive line, even with its injuries, is pretty good. The secondary has had its breakdowns, but they're talented. The weak link is the linebackers. They have to play better. Ryan Shazier is playing well, but he's kicking himself over two big missed tackles on the long touchdown runs. The Buckeyes spent extra time on tackling drills this week in practice. Will it pay off? That's what Saturdays are for.
13:12:17 jt: Do you think we'll see more Storm Klein in the coming weeks? It seems that Grant is still not ready
13:13:50 Bill Rabinowitz: Curtis Grant has been a disappointment this year, though in fairness to him, he's not been on the field that much because the Buckeyes have played so much nickel defense, which he's not on. He needs to do a better job taking the right angle. He gets himself out of position. If Grant can't improve, yes, we will see more of Storm Klein.
13:14:01 dom the dougnut man: UAB? Seriously?
13:15:03 Bill Rabinowitz: Next year, it's Florida A&M. UAB looks like Alabama compared to FAMU.
13:15:42 bobthebuckeye: Could alabama-birmingham beat indiana?
13:17:00 Bill Rabinowitz: I actually thought about that this week. Yes, I think they could. UAB actually hung in with South Carolina for a little while last week. The Blazers couldn't cash in on a couple of goal-line situations and that was it for them. IU, without Roberson, is pretty bad. Not that the Hoosiers were good with him.
13:17:40 ncflash: From a pure "accuracy" standpoint - do you think Braxtoon has improved significantly? He seems to still be missing a lot of passes consistently
13:18:54 Bill Rabinowitz: I think he has improved. I've seen some curls and shorter passes on which he's shown accuracy and touch. By no means is he a finished product. But when he gets his feet set, his accuracy has been OK. Last year, he had some horrendous throws. I don't recall many of those this year.
13:19:07 3 Yards: Guys! What the heck has happened to the BIG ... I mean big10?
13:20:57 Bill Rabinowitz: It hasn't been a good September. No glossing over that fact, unless you want to point to the fact that Penn State is the only team not above .500. But the league has fallen on its face in its big matchups and even its small ones. Even with OSU's inconsistencies, the Buckeyes look like the best team in the conference so far.
13:21:15 J.C.: Tickets have been available for public sale for the all four non-conference games, something that didn't seem to happen in years. Has Ohio State effectively priced people out recently, are people not excited due to the bowl ban or due to the opponents? Simple explanation (outside of the economy)?
13:21:20 Bill Rabinowitz: Should have said "some of its small ones."
13:22:45 Bill Rabinowitz: That's a good question. I think an underrated factor is the proliferation of HD television. With clear, big-screen pictures, I think a lot of fans think it's not worth it to pay for the ticket, pay for parking, pay for inflated concession food and deal with the hassle of getting to and back from the stadium. Not when the alternative is being able to see the game clearly from their own living room. But that's just my theory.
13:22:56 Joey: Have the Bucks signed any top-rated QB's for next year?
13:23:47 Bill Rabinowitz: Oh, Joey. Guess you didn't read my story in GameDay last week on J.T. Barrett from Texas. He's a four-star QB who's one of the top-ranked dual-threat QBs. His coach raved about him to me, especially about his leadership and charisma.
13:24:13 Skippy15: I've seen some UM fans making comparisons to Braxton Miller saying he is just a worse version of Denard Robinson. Do you see any comparison between the two other than they are both great runners? It seems to me Miller is a much better passer from when Robinson was a sophmore and Miller has always been a much better decision maker
13:25:45 Bill Rabinowitz: I think Miller is a better pure passer. Better arm strength. Better mechanics -- when not on the run. As runners, they're both dazzling. Miller also usually makes good decisions, last week's interception notwithstanding. He's pretty smart with the ball.
13:25:51 jt: Our inability to run the ball, especially on the inside, has me nervous with the B1G coming up. Has Meyer addressed it?
13:26:49 Bill Rabinowitz: That's where the injury to Carlos Hyde really hurts. Jordan Hall is more effective on the edge. Rod Smith has now moved past Bri'onte Dunn on the depth chart. He's got the size to be an effective inside runner, if he can hold onto the ball. Fumbles have been an issue with Smith.
13:27:23 ncflash: I was surprised Dunn didn't get any carries last week - is there more to that story?
13:29:24 Bill Rabinowitz: I asked Meyer after the game if it was a lack of faith in Dunn and Smith that kept them from getting the ball. He wouldn't use those words and said the closeness of the game was more the reason. Still, given that Hall was coming off an injury, the fact neither of the backups got a carry does reveal his level of faith. He seems happier with at least Smith this week.
13:29:32 Joey: Who do you like in the Michigan vs. ND game?
13:30:22 Bill Rabinowitz: Haven't given it much thought. I guess I like Michigan. Not sure why, other than I think they're due to put it together at some point and I'm not completely sold on Notre Dame. But it's just an uninformed guess, really.
13:30:39 J.C.: It seems like certain sections of the OSU fanbase never seem happy with anything, something Urban Meyer mentioned about Florida's fanbase while w/ the Gators. Is this just something every coach has to deal with at a high-profile program or something that will eventually drag on the coach and lead him to early retirement?
13:32:14 Bill Rabinowitz: Some fans are never happier than when they're unhappy. Carping from fans is part of the deal, every coach with a brain realizes. Does it drive some to retirement? Usually not. They find a way to cope. Besides, if the grumbling gets too loud, it's due to losing or other problems that get coaches fired.
13:32:34 Skippy15: Looking forward to next year a bit, Hall will be graduating, taking away the player who is supposed to be Meyer's "Harvin role" who do you see taking that position over? Hyde doesn't seem to fit it. Maybe Philly Brown or one of the true freshman Ezekiel Elliot or Jalin Marshall?
13:34:05 Bill Rabinowitz: Don't forget about Dunn or even Warren Ball. I haven't seen Elliot or Marshall, but Meyer obviously thinks they fit exactly what he wants to do. I think Philly Brown is definitely more a receiver who can run reverses. Percy Harvins are hard to find.
13:34:14 ncflash: It seems like every game Smith carries the ball he has fumbled at least once - is a technique issue or something that he will just be prone to in your opinion? Anything specific you've seen that would cause Dunn to drop behind Smith on depth chart?
13:35:55 Bill Rabinowitz: Reporters can't watch practice, so I can only go by what others say. Meyer was really happy with the way Smith played on special teams, which is the gateway to getting snaps. The fumble issue is a real one for Smith. In the UCF game, he and Miller botched the exchange. It's Smith's responsibility to make sure he gets the ball. Last year against Toledo, he jeopardized a win with a late fumble. So there'll be a short leash regarding fumbles.
13:36:06 Buckeye in VA: How would grade the receivers at this point? Long touchdown passes are great, but the drops are so hard to watch.
13:37:29 Bill Rabinowitz: I'd give them a B or B-. In the spring, they were flunking. Now at least Devin Smith and Philly Brown have emerged as weapons, and Evan Spencer and Jake Stoneburner are nice complementary parts. Smith still drops too many, but there are drops in the NFL every game, too.
13:37:37 J.C.: If you had to guess, do you believe that Urban Meyer continues to keep a shortlist of potential assistant coaches and coordinators to better prepare to replace coaches who leave for HC jobs? Just to avoid a situation like Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong?
13:38:32 Bill Rabinowitz: Sure, he does. Whether it's actual list or in his head, I don't know. But every coach has a contingency plan to replenish a staff if people leave or are fired. Who's on that list, I don't know.
13:38:56 J.C.: If the eventual goal on offense seems to be Oregon (since that's the school that's always mentioned), wouldn't that really take 1-2 full seasons before it is fully implimented? Are some impatient and don't realize that Chip Kelly was on Mike Belotti's staff for 1-2 years implimenting that system as the OC?
13:40:26 Bill Rabinowitz: It is important to remember that this is Year 1 under Meyer. He can't and shouldn't implement everything he wants this first year. He needs at least one more recruiting class to have enough of "his" players to really install and execute his system. These things take time, and patience is not something that some fans are too willing to grant.
13:40:37 BatonRougeBuckeye: There has been alot of talk about the defense and the poor tackling. While I think that is an issue as well I consider missed asignments as a bigger issue and receivers seem to be wide open. Am I wrong?
13:41:55 Bill Rabinowitz: It's a combination. There certainly have been times when miscommunication or simply a missed assignment has allowed a long completion that should never have been successful. There was a play against UCF, a third-and-21 I believe, in which a safety didn't drop deep enough and the quarterback dropped in a pass for the first down. That just shouldn't happen. It's one of the things the Buckeyes are trying to tighten up.
13:42:11 bcjeff: How do you feel about the coaching thus far on defense?
13:45:13 Bill Rabinowitz: Good question. I'm just reading between the lines here, but I guess the sense there's a bit of an adjustment going on in terms of Fickell's philosophy and Meyer's. Fickell is not a big blitz guy. He thinks if a defense is gap- and assignment-sound and tackles well, the defense shouldn't need a lot of exotic blitzes. I get the sense that Meyer wants his defense to be very aggressive. It's not that Fickell never wants to blitz or Meyer always does. It's a matter of degrees. I think Meyer prevailed in his philosophy last week. OSU brought the heat, and it resulted in six sacks. But again, this is just my conjecture. Nobody has said that explicitly to me.
13:45:22 jt: Following up on J.C.'s question. Do you think an Oregon type offense could be successful in the B1G - given their unsuccessful Bowl games against more physical teams like Auburn and TOSU?
13:46:26 Bill Rabinowitz: OSU could attract recruits to a physical game easier than Oregon can. All them corn-fed Midwesterners, you know. Oregon didn't lose those games because of their pace. They lost because they got manhandled.
13:46:49 Bill Rabinowitz: And Pryor and Cam Newton played great against them.
13:47:03 Joey: Can't the Bucks speed up getting the plays called. It seems like it's taking a long time between snaps. What do you think?
13:47:51 Bill Rabinowitz: I don't think that's really an issue. It's better to get the play called correctly than to rush. As Miller and the rest of the offense gets more comfortable with the play-calling logistics, things will speed up.
13:48:09 ncflash: If you had to pick one group that has to improve the most - would it be D-line, Linebackers or D-backs?
13:49:48 Bill Rabinowitz: Linebackers. I like Shazier a lot. As Meyer said, he's like a missile out there. You can just tell a Shazier hit from the press box. I think the rest of the group needs to get better, and even Shazier has trouble getting off blocks and has missed some tackles.
13:49:57 BatonRougeBuckeye: OK I will ask. What the heck is with the clapping that Braxton Miller does pre snap?
13:50:29 Bill Rabinowitz: I'm not sure, but I think it indicates the snap count. I haven't asked him or heard that question asked.
13:50:36 Skippy15: It seems Michael Thomas has gone quiet, after hearing all kinds of hype abouth im after his great spring game I don't think he even has a catch this year and He's only been on the field a handful of times. Will we see him more this year or did we just see a guy have a big spring game and probably wont see him more until next year a sophmore? Kind of like how we saw Philly Brown his freshman year
13:52:02 Bill Rabinowitz: Yeah, Thomas has fallen off the radar. That's not uncommon for a freshman. He makes a splash then disappears. Clearly, Devin Smith and Philly Brown took a leap forward, as has Spencer. Thomas has a future, but I'm not sure it'll happen this year. He has a good work ethic, so his time should come.
13:52:16 Buckeye in VA: The players have faced some adversity so far this year. Do you think they are ready for a road game in the upcoming weeks?
13:52:51 Bill Rabinowitz: We'll find out next week. There's just no way to know until it happens.
13:52:57 BatonRougeBuckeye: What has become of Chris Fields?
13:53:48 Bill Rabinowitz: He's just another guy who's fallen in the pecking order. There are a lot of wide receivers on this roster. Those who've found a niche get playing time. He obviously hasn't.
13:53:54 ncflash: Based on what you've seen YTD both as to Big 10 as well as OSU, any prediction on which games (if any :) ) we will lose?
13:55:27 Bill Rabinowitz: I've said all along that four games will determine this season -- at Mich State, Nebraska, at Wisconsin and Michigan. Even with the Spartans looking putrid against Notre Dame, I think that might be the toughest game. First road game, tough defense, etc. But I have little doubt that the Buckeyes can win each of those games if they play well. That's not to say they'll win all of them. But they could.
13:55:37 J.C.: It seems like certain players on defense have missed tackles for the past two seasons, so this is nothing new. Will the coaching staff really hold them accountable (by benching them) or is it mostly an empty threat?
13:57:42 Bill Rabinowitz: Missed tackles are an issue with most teams. It's part of the game. When it happens to your team, it feels the sky is falling. To answer your question, if coaches feel that it's a problem that the specific players can't or won't fix, then I'm sure they'll be replaced.
13:57:48 Buckeye in VA: Do you think any Big Ten coaches are on the hot seat?
13:59:50 Bill Rabinowitz: Off the top of my head, no. Maybe Danny Hope at Purdue if things go south. But the rest are either too established or too new. I think the heat will turn up on Bo Pelini at Nebraska if the Cornhuskers continue to struggle. Bielema is in no danger after what he's done at Wisconsin.
13:59:56 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. Really good questions, folks. We'll do it again a week from today at the same time with Tim May. That's a wrap.
14:00:05 Bill Rabinowitz: Thanks, everyone. I enjoyed it.