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.
12:57:34 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Bill. Thanks for joining us. We'll start in a few minutes. Any opening thoughts?
13:00:42 Bill Rabinowitz: Welcome, everyone. Thanks for participating. Ought to be a fun one at the stadium Saturday. First appearance in the 'Shoe by Nebraska since 1956 -- and Huskers won't be back for a while because of a four-year hiatus due to Big Ten scheduling quirk. I look for a high-scoring, entertaining game.
13:01:00 Rob_(moderator): Let's get to the questions ...
13:01:01 go big red: i hope osu's backup QB is ready, because I dont see miller lastiing 4 qtrs if he has to run it 25 times, whch given osu's offense, he probably will. your thoughts?
13:02:43 Bill Rabinowitz: I agree that OSU is flirting with disaster by having Miller run so much. The problem is that his running is the best weapon OSU has. I'll say that Miller is pretty good about avoiding those brutal, direct hits because of his elusiveness. But him doing so much running is not conducive to his long-term health.
13:02:50 jp: What are the keys for OSU stopping the high powered NEB offense?
13:03:59 Bill Rabinowitz: They have to maintain their gap responsibilities -- no free-lancing. And they cannot overrun plays. Linebackers Sabino and Shazier have been prone to overpursuit, though they've gotten better about it lately. Against Taylor Martinez, you can't leave a crease for him to race through.
13:04:21 ncflash: Given that Meyer has "confidence" in Guiton and BM is an injury waiting to happen given the pounding he will take each game - any chance that Meyer may give Guiton a series or 2 in games to help him maintain his game?
13:04:21 Bill Rabinowitz: Burkhead is also talented. Pretty shifty and will fight for tough yards. But not as fast as Martinez.
13:05:11 Bill Rabinowitz: I think that's unlikely unless the Buckeyes would get a comfortable lead -- or be struggling so much that he wants to shake things up. Guiton is much-improved from what he was last year, but he's no Braxton Miller.
13:05:38 ncflash: IF we get this win, would you bet your money that we will be 10-0 heading into Madison?
13:07:34 Bill Rabinowitz: How about if I bet your money? I would think that's a pretty good bet, though. Purdue could give OSU problems, but historically they're much better against the Buckeyes at Ross-Ade than in Columbus. Illinois and Indiana should pose little threat. Penn State is a little iffy. The Nittany Lions are playing inspired ball right now and the crowd there will be into it, but I don't think they're as nearly as talented as OSU.
13:07:45 Buck-I-Nut: With Jordan Hall out again this week, do you feel the other backs can carry the load and take some pressure off of Miller. Or do you think they regress and Miller has to carry most or all of the load again.
13:09:26 Bill Rabinowitz: It'll be interesting. Hall is probably a better fit to play Nebraska than Hyde. Hyde is more a north-south runner and Nebraska's defense is designed to string runners out to the perimeter. On the other hand, Hyde did break a long touchdown run last year against the Huskers. If Miller does carry more of the load, I'm not sure I'd call that regressing. It may just be what's necessary to win.
13:09:32 ChacoAbq: It seems that Curtis Grant has disappeared from the lineup again, yet Storm Klein has had little or no impact. Is there a backstory here?
13:12:01 Bill Rabinowitz: I've asked and have gotten only vague answers. My sense is that he just hasn't learned the defense to the point where he just plays and reacts rather than thinks and reacts. He has taken some bad pursuit angles at times. From what everyone says, he's a good guy and is trying. It just hasn't clicked yet. Considering that Meyer said in the spring that Grant HAD to develop for the Buckeyes to play to their potential on defense, it's been discouraging. Sometimes, it just takes longer for some guys. For other guys, it never happens.
13:12:08 bcjeff: What concerns you more on defense, our secondary or maintaining pressure on the quarterback by the D-line?
13:13:45 Bill Rabinowitz: I'd go back to my previous answer -- linebackers, specifically middle linebacker. I think the line is getting healthier and should continue to improve into a dominating unit. Barnett's high ankle sprain is a concern, but there's enough depth that it shouldn't be devastating. But if you don't have an impact player at middle linebacker, it's tough to be a great defense.
13:13:53 Skippy15: I've seen some critics recently saying that this spread offensive system doesn't work for Carlos Hyde style backs and they can't be successful in it. I completely disagree. Hyde had 49 yards on only 11 carries last week without busting any big runs. There will a couple plays that stand out where Hyde had great blocks downfield and should have got the pitch but Miller didn't pitch that could have been big gains. I don't think this system favors the big back like the the Wisconsin style does but I think this system can definately have a 1000+ yard rusher from a bruising back, They just have to actually get them the ball. Thoughts?
13:15:42 Bill Rabinowitz: There's no question that a power back like Hyde can succeed in this offense. This is not a run-and-shoot spread. The run game is crucial to it. Hyde has good speed. He doesn't have the elusiveness or wiggle that's ideal in a running back, but he runs with good lean and is strong enough to break tackles. As for the 1000-yard question, yes, it's quite achievable in this offense.
13:15:53 Buck-I-Nut: I know the Huskers came back last year on the Buckeyes, but that was a sketchy 6-7 team that played like it for the most part. And with Miller going out of the game. Wisconsin is NOT the team they have been in the past and thats the reason they lost to the Huskers. Nebraska also seems to have the tendency to get behind early and has to play catch up. Do you feel that if the Huskers get behind they will be able to do it again against THIS Buckeye team.
13:18:17 Bill Rabinowitz: Can they? Sure. Is it advisable for the Huskers? No. It's always tougher to rally on the road without the crowd providing energy. Yes, what happened last year was a perfect storm. Miller gets hurt, Bauserman is abominable, the discouraged defense collapses. You're right about Wisconsin. What a train wreck the Badgers have been. I think Ohio State is the better team on Saturday. But Nebraska is certainly good enough to win. Ohio State cannot let Martinez or Burkhead run wild. If they contain them, the Buckeyes should prevail.
13:18:24 Woody for night games: What's up with OSU-Indiana being played at 8 at night? Do we have the BTN to thank for that?
13:19:32 Bill Rabinowitz: Yes, we do. One for the ages. As a newspaper writer, such games are a real delight. The good thing is, the outcome shouldn't be in doubt by the fourth quarter so I can get a jump on writing.
13:19:42 Buck-I-Nut: Do you think the game against MSU was a turning point for this Buckeye team?
13:19:46 Rob_(moderator): Folks, I encourage you to submit a question if you have one. No questions = no chat.
13:21:33 Bill Rabinowitz: I thought all season that Michigan State would be the pivot for the season. Win it and everything is on the table (minus the postseason goodies, of course). Lose it, and the season could really go downhill. To go on the road and beat a good (not great) team provided confidence to a team that really didn't silence skeptics in its first four games.
13:22:12 ncflash: Do you think Dunn gets any meaningful RB time this game or is he a distant #3 option behind Hyde/Smith?
13:23:35 Bill Rabinowitz: Good question. We aren't permitted to watch practice and Dunn's status is not something that's been a pressing matter to ask about. It's clear that Rod Smith has gotten in Meyer's good graces. I'm not saying Dunn has fallen out of them, but he's clearly behind Smith. Wish I could be more definitive.
13:24:10 You: Before the season started, ddid you think OSU would be 5-0?
13:24:48 Bill Rabinowitz: I thought there was a 60 percent chance they'd lose to Michigan State. I thought they'd breeze through the first four games.
13:24:53 newguy: What's the holdup on times for the Purdue, Illinois & Wisconsin games?
13:25:38 Bill Rabinowitz: The networks haven't decided which games they want to showcase. TV holds the power, Newguy. We're at its mercy.
13:25:51 Skippy15: Big Hank has been so great this year on the defensive line. He said before the year that he wont leave unless he's a high pick. Think he's gone?
13:26:51 Bill Rabinowitz: I'd be surprised to see him play his senior year here, and I certainly wouldn't blame him. Why deal with constant double-teams in college when you can paid for it in the pros. He'll be a first-round draft pick and quite likely a high one.
13:27:02 jp: I noticed last week that Wisky kept the husker defense on its toes a lot by doing constant pre-snap motioning. Will OSU try to do the same?
13:27:55 Bill Rabinowitz: I was driving back from Michigan State, so I didn't get a chance to see any of the Wisconsin-Nebraska game. OSU does a lot of pre-snap motion anyway, so I'm sure the Buckeyes will. All that is pretty standard stuff for all teams these days anyway.
13:28:01 3 Yards: Stoneburner seems to be missing in action. Think the move from TE was a bad one, or does he just need more time and opportunity
13:30:19 Bill Rabinowitz: Stoneburner is a hybrid WR-TE. He's not a good enough blocker to be a full-time TE and isn't quite fast enough to be a pure WR. Meyer said today on his radio show that Stoneburner needs to show more speed on his routes. He said the one time he was targeted last week -- a 25-yd or so pass -- he should have cut across the defender to make the play. I thought the play failed because Miller threw late. Stoneburner has blocked well (for a WR), but he's a guy who hasn't found his niche in the passing game in this offense yet.
13:30:28 ncflash: Would you expect any coaching changes next year on Meyer's staff?
13:34:20 Bill Rabinowitz: Interesting question. Expect? I'm not sure I'd go that far. But it wouldn't shock me. The guy I'm curious about is Luke Fickell. Meyer always has kept the defensive coaching staff the first year on the job because he believes it'd be too ambitious to try to change the offense and defense in one year. Year 2 could be a different matter. I'm not saying that's going to happen. I'm saying it could, and how the rest of this season plays out will help dictate that. Fickell wants to be a head coach someday. He was up for the Pitt job that went to Wisconsin's Paul Chryst. If there's another job comparable to that, I'd think Fickell would look into it. I don't have any evidence of friction between Meyer and Fickell. They're complimentary of each other. But it's something to keep an eye on, possibly.
13:34:24 jp: At this point in the season, what are your B1G title game predictions?
13:36:06 Bill Rabinowitz: I still think Michigan State is the best team in the Legends division. As for the Leaders, ugh. It's going to be either Purdue or Wisconsin. I figured before the start of the year, Wisconsin had it all wrapped up. But things are not going in Badgerland. Purdue doesn't have any quality wins, but they're 20-17 loss to Notre Dame might qualify as a quality loss. Pretty sad that it's come to that, huh?
13:36:21 jt: what's the scoop on Ty Williams?
13:36:22 Bill Rabinowitz: their 20-17 loss. Man, oh man. My grammar.
13:38:06 Bill Rabinowitz: I don't have the scoop. All I know is that his dismissal was announced on Monday. I did a search of police records to see if there was anything along those lines and didn't see anything. He got suspended for the Gator Bowl last year for violating team rules. So he might have been on double-secret probation all along.
13:38:13 SCBuckeye: xLet's really look ahead. How will we stack up against michi-can't?
13:40:24 Bill Rabinowitz: Can't go a whole chat without a Michigan question, huh? I haven't seen the Wolverines play much this year -- a little against Alabama and Notre Dame. If Michigan doesn't get better in the passing game, it's hard to beat OSU with a one-dimensional offense. Defensively, Michigan doesn't seem to have a lot of playmakers. But honestly, I haven't seen them enough to feel sufficiently educated about them. When you cover one team, it's hard to know a ton about another.
13:40:33 ncflash: What do you think is the biggest development need for BM - improve his passing accuracy or make better option reads consistently?
13:42:53 Bill Rabinowitz: I think it's to refine his fundamentals, primarily his footwork. Especially when he rolls out, his fundamentals tend to collapse. As for the option reads, you're on to something. Meyer said today on his radio show that Guiton made the right call on one of his three plays on the same play that Miller made the wrong read twice. Miller does need to get better at knowing when to keep and when to pitch -- and the timing of the pitch.
13:42:59 Skippy15: agree or disagree and why, Roby will be a top 5 corner in college football by the end of next season
13:44:25 Bill Rabinowitz: I think it's certainly possible. I don't know who his competition would be, but Roby has all the skills you'd want in an corner -- speed, quickness, good hips, a willingness in run support. He also seems to have that on-field confidence/arrogance the best corners have.
13:44:35 shawn18: Which remaining games (if any) would you predict as an OSU loss??
13:46:00 Bill Rabinowitz: I've thought all along there were four games Ohio State could lose -- Michigan State, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan. That still applies, though I think OSU will be/should be the favorite in all of them. I think there's a chance of a stumble against Purdue or Penn State, but those are games OSU should win.
13:46:22 Buck-I-Nut: I've been to a bunch of OSU home games and have never experienced the stadium as quiet as it has been those first home games. What is going on? Are there just too many older ticket holders that want to just sit there and watch?
13:48:22 Bill Rabinowitz: I'm in the hermetically sealed press box, so I'm not the best to judge. OSU fans have always had the reputation -- or at least a good chunk of them -- of being sit-on-your-hands fans. There certainly have been games when the atmosphere has been electric and fans raucous. But overall, I think you have a point. It's also true that the lack of a USC or Texas on the schedule contributes to that. Miami, UCF, Cal and UAB aren't the type of opponent to get the juices flowing.
13:48:36 ncflash: The B-Ball team has some recruits visiting this weekend - is there typically much or any interaction between Meyer/football players and these recruits?
13:49:55 Bill Rabinowitz: I don't know. That may be a better question for our basketball ace, Bob Baptist. I would assume that all potential recruits hang out with each other some. It'd be a selling point for basketball players to hang out with the football team, so I'm sure there's some interaction.
13:50:04 Buckeye in VA: Do you get the feel that this will be a letdown game? Seems like things are moving too well.
13:50:49 Bill Rabinowitz: Prime time, national tv, first appearance by Nebraska since '56. Memories of last year. No, I don't think there'll be a letdown.
13:50:54 Skippy15: Which freshman have you seen and been around who when you watch him play he makes you think he could be the next big star at ohio state?
13:52:41 Bill Rabinowitz: Noah Spence, though he hasn't shown much yet. Adolphus Washington. Cam Williams, a linebacker who's close to seeing action. Tommy Schutt. OL Taylor Decker. Maybe Dunn. Devan Bogard. Those are the best guesses.
13:52:46 ncflash: Do you think we have plays in our bag of tricks that would include both BM and Guiton on the field at the same time?
13:53:46 Bill Rabinowitz: Meyer has talked about it. I could see a play -- again, we don't practice so I have no first-hand knowledge -- where they both line up and Guiton throws to Miller. It'd be interesting to see.
13:53:52 shawn18: Are Tressel and Meyer friends?? Do they communicate a lot about the current team???
13:55:28 Bill Rabinowitz: They know each other, but I'm not sure how close they are. Off the top of my head, I can't remember if Tressel was an assistant under Earle Bruce when Meyer was a GA in '86 and '87. If they're communicating about this year's team, Meyer hasn't said anything about it.
13:55:37 Buck-I-Nut: Should the buckeyes use the triple option to get some advantage on the run game? I personaly think it would be hard to stop them.
13:57:03 Bill Rabinowitz: I'm assuming you're talking about the Ga Tech/Navy offense. That's such an intricate, finely tuned offense that it's tough to do it as an offshoot of your offense. There are some triple option looks that can be used, but it's just not what the spread is about.
13:57:12 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. We'll do it again next week. Enjoy the game. That's a wrap.
13:57:21 Bill Rabinowitz: Thanks, everyone. Enjoyed it.