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.
13:00:41 Rob_(moderator): Hi, Bill. Ready to roll?
13:00:51 billrabinowitz: I am. Fire away.
13:00:56 GoBucks22: A reason for the young linebackers not seen much playing time has been attributed to them being slow to pickup the scheme (along with injuries). Yet Boren picked up the scheme well enough to be trusted to play in about 3 days. What am I missing here?
13:02:53 billrabinowitz: Good question. Don't forget that Boren was a linebacker in high school and has always wanted to play the position in college. He's also a senior who's been through the battles. It's probably not fair to compare him to a freshman adapting the faster speed of play. The inability of Curtis Grant to get up to speed is certainly worrisome because he's a sophomore. Half his career is almost done.
13:03:04 Buckguy: Any word on J Hall yet for the season
13:03:57 billrabinowitz: He's out for the season. He re-injured the PCL ligament in his knee. The only good news is that it looks like he'll be eligible for a redshirt, so he'll be a junior again next yr. The PCL is not an injury conducive to being fixed by surgery. Usually, it's just rest and rehab.
13:04:04 mehtash: What is your view on why Illinois tends to perform well against Ohio State regardless of the team's record coming into the game?
13:05:35 billrabinowitz: Some teams just are that way. Purdue is also. But don't forget that Illinois usually is pretty talented. That Juice Williams team from 2007 went to the Rose Bowl. This year's Illinois team supposedly has a decent amount of talent, but the Illini are young and flailing right now. I'd be surprised if they throw a scare into Ohio State this week.
13:05:40 Skippy15: This looks like it should be a pretty easy game. Illinoise is in the bottom or next to at the bottom in almost every major catergory in the big 10. Think Ohio state handles this one pretty simply? We've seen them struggle against some teams they should destroy (Indiana, Purdue) and play their best games vs teams that should play tough games (Penn state, Nebraska)
13:07:48 billrabinowitz: That's the angle I'm writing for my advance. Don't forget that these are 18-22-year-olds. They are susceptible to believing what everyone does. It's easy to get up for Nebraska and Penn State. Indiana and Purdue, not really. No matter how often coaches drill it into their heads, it's hard to truly believe it. They'd had coaches since Little League tell them not to overlook weak teams. It's just human nature. But it is something that has been emphasized this week.
13:07:57 Joey: If the Ill. game is a blowout, do you think we should play K. Guiton for the second half?
13:08:42 billrabinowitz: If it's a blowout, I'd suspect Guiton will play a decent amount. It won't be for the whole second half. I'd suspect if OSU is up by four touchdowns, Guiton might play the whole fourth quarter.
13:08:54 ncflash: Do you think Braxton has improved as a passer from game 1 to game 9 - I'm not sure I see it...if he could be a more consistent passer accuracy wise, it's scary how good he and we would be...
13:10:03 billrabinowitz: He has improved but it has not been a steady progression. He was awful with his accuracy early against Penn State. His footwork remains erratic. But the tools are there. He does have a strong arm. When he sets his feet correctly, he can pinpoint the ball. But it has not happened consistently.
13:10:20 jt: How much is C Grant playing on special teams? I believe he played a decent amount last year and if I recall, he had a block punt against PSU.
13:11:43 billrabinowitz: I wish I had a precise answer. I know he's on the punt unit. I'd have to check my notebook to see if he does kickoffs, but I suspect he does not.
13:11:50 ncflash: Looking past Illinois for a moment - assuming we take of business this week - which of the last 2 games do you think poses the greatest risk of a loss?
13:13:29 billrabinowitz: Good question. I'm tempted to say Wisconsin because it's a road game, though I've been underwhelmed by the Badgers this year. As for Michigan, especially if OSU is 11-0, I just can't see them losing that game unless they allow their emotions to get the best of them. Denard Robinson has not thrown the ball well this year, and OSU has been pretty good against the run. Neither game is a cakewalk, but I give OSU the edge in both.
13:13:44 Skippy15: Who ya got this saturday night, Alabama @ LSU and Oregon @ USC. This could basically be the Nat. Championship playoff here. I'll take LSU and Oregon
13:15:25 billrabinowitz: Alabama is the best team in the country by far. LSU is tough in Baton Rouge, but 'Bama is a machine. I like Oregon against USC. The Trojans haven't impressed me and the Ducks are just rolling everyone. Their scores would be astronomical if Chip Kelly didn't ease off the pedal in the second half.
13:15:35 jt: I read that Scheelhaase is graduating this year and has one more year of eligibility. How soon before we read that he's playing for Wisconsin next year?
13:16:44 billrabinowitz: Funny. I expect him to return for his senior year - at Illinois.
13:16:53 3 yards: would someone please tell the coaches that 4 (and sometimes 5) step punters get punts blocked. PLEASE!
13:17:53 billrabinowitz: It's funny because I also think the release has been slow, but I just heard Meyer said on his radio show that he doesn't think a slow release has been the problem. He said it's just missed blocking assignments. No question that stutter steps aided the PSU cause last week when Mike Hull blocked that punt.
13:18:02 Skippy15: This week there was an article from somewhere, I don't remember where, about the lack of top depth in the cornerback area for the NFL draft. Someone suggested Roby, a redshirt sophomore, may leave early to capitalize on this. He's already made himself one of the besti n the nation and people are starting to recognize this. He would probably be a first round pick but with Roby's talent he could make himself a top 5 pick with another great year or 2 years. Do you think there is any chance he leaves? I just don't see it happening but I guess it is possible.
13:19:28 billrabinowitz: Never say never. Roby is certainly going to be a high draft pick someday. He'd probably be a high pick next year, though I haven't studied whether it's a deep class for cornerbacks. It's still pretty unusual for a redshirt sophomore to turn pro, so I'd expect him back. But it's something to keep an eye on.
13:19:37 email@example.com: Sometimes it seems in Buckeye Nation's rush to embrace UFM and all the SEC hype he brings that we have forgotten that TOSU is, and has been for decades one of the Rolls Royce programs in college football. I grow more annoyed and irritated as there are always references made about what UM did at U of F. During that same period JT took OSU to 3 titles games and more BCS games than any other program. The tipping point was reading that Tebow is communicating with BM. Have we forgotten about our own dual threat Heisman winner Troy Smith ? Can you please comment ? Thanks !!!!
13:21:41 billrabinowitz: I don't think anyone, especially Meyer, thinks that he has built OSU from the ground up. He has always been consistent in saying that he inherited a great program. But it's also clear this was a demoralized team when he was hired and got them on board and up to speed quickly. As far as the Tebow thing, the thinking is that Tebow played under Meyer, knows him and the system inside and out, and could impart wisdom to Miller. It has nothing to do with Troy Smith.
13:21:53 ncflash: Assuming no major injuries this week (or in practice) - with a bye week is there anyone who shouldn't be near 100% healthy come the Wisconsin game (except J. Hall)
13:23:20 billrabinowitz: And the other guys like Devan Bogard and Najee Murray who are also out for the year. The off week will help, but one game off won't erase all the bumps and bruises accumulated over 10 straight weeks with games. Besides, I'm sure that OSU will go hard at least a couple times next week. But the relief at getting a game off is almost palpable. They've grinded for a long time with no respite.
13:23:31 mehtash: Is the plan to continue to play Nate Williams at OLB in certain situations? Is he becoming more comfortable in that spot when called upon?
13:24:28 billrabinowitz: Yes. Williams knows that if he has a future in the NFL, it's as a linebacker. He's not big enough to be a D-end in the pros. He said after the Penn State game that he's catching on to it, and it looks like he is. But such a transition takes time. He's got the athletic ability to do it.
13:24:58 Joey: How's the recruiting of the great linebacker (Mitchell) looking?
13:25:26 Rob_(moderator): Almost out of questions, folks. Anything else on your minds?
13:26:25 billrabinowitz: My colleague Tim May took a look at that a couple weeks ago. I'd refer you to that. I'll try to find the link. OSU is certainly in the running. If I remember correctly, though, it's not a sure thing.
13:26:42 GoBucks22: Do we see more of Hyde and Smith in the backfield together, or will this just be a switch it up type formation used only sparingly?
13:27:48 billrabinowitz: OSU's offense will always be mix and match, but I can see it being more than a rare thing. As long as Smith proves he can hold on to the ball, he's a pretty potent weapon.
13:28:01 Rob_(moderator): Via email: OSU almost always played poorly coming off the bye week under Tressel. Has anyone asked Meyer what his routine is for off weeks during the season?
13:28:37 billrabinowitz: No, that hasn't been asked. A caller to Meyer's radio show said he was something like 14-1 after off weeks. I'll have to see if that's true.
13:28:47 ncflash: Does OSU cover the spread this week (still around 24?)
13:29:28 billrabinowitz: If you've seen my predictions this year, you'd know better than to rely on me. I'd have lost you a lot of money. But Illinois hasn't lost by fewer than 14 in the Big Ten.
13:29:39 Skippy15: With the sceduling of Texas and TCU in the future, do you think that is all just getting tough opponents or do you think there is some recruiting mindsent of getting later recruits a chance to play in their home state as a selling point
13:30:50 billrabinowitz: I think it's more about having a tougher strength of schedule to impress the selection committee for the playoff. I don't think playing one game in Texas is going to do much to persuade a kid to come to OSU. It might help with national recruiting, though, just to show prospects that the Buckeyes will play elite teams from all over.
13:30:58 firstname.lastname@example.org: Do you have any details regarding how the 2002 team will be honored on 11/24?
13:32:02 billrabinowitz: I don't. I'm just like a player these days, one week at a time. I'd imagine they'l have the players line up on the field and be introduced and they'll probably show highlights from that season on the videoboard. But I don't know anything for sure.
13:32:12 Buckeye in VA: What does Illinois need to do to when this game?
13:33:08 billrabinowitz: They can't drop passes like they have. Scheelhaase has to play great. Their defensive line, which is pretty decent, must bottle up the OSU run game. Most of all, OSU has to self-destruct to some degree with turnovers, penalties and/or breakdowns.
13:33:35 Joey: If Braxton Miller plays up to his potential for the next 3 games, do you see him winning the Heisman?
13:34:53 billrabinowitz: I'll be very surprised if he wins the Heisman. Collin Klein from Kansas State is probably the front-runner right now. Notre Dame's Manti Te'o is rightly getting a lot of buzz for his play. I think Miller is a year away -- both because he's a sophomore and because he's not a finished product. But I think an invitation to New York is a pretty solid bet.
13:35:02 Buck-I-Nut: The Bucks are going to lose a few key players to graduation and the NFL after this season. Do you see them being hurt by this next season or do you think UM has enough top talent coming in to continue on as this squad seems to be doing.
13:38:05 billrabinowitz: They are losing some very good players -- Simon, Williams, Boren, Fragel, etc. But they are generally at areas with decent depth. I also expect Hankins to leave. I'd expect a lot of the freshmen who are only getting their feet wet to be bigtime players next year. With another strong recruiting class coming in, I think the Buckeyes will have enough talent. BTW, I said earlier that Jordan Hall is a junior. He's a senior. But the redshirt this year will allow him to come back. I got him confused with Carlos Hyde, who is a junior.
13:38:18 ncflash: Do you think the D strategy of pressure up front with more man-man pass coverage is here to stay for the last 3 games?
13:39:41 billrabinowitz: Yes. It's manageable for an offensive line to block OSU's front four with five OL and a RB or TE. It's a lot tougher when OSU brings five as they did last week. Especially when the fifth is Shazier. The increased confidence coaches have in Roby and Travis Howard allows them to bring an extra rusher, and I think it's a good strategy.
13:39:46 mscott59: hi bill. if you don't mind a look back to the osu-psu game, made my 7th trip to state college over the weekend. obviously it was a great cfb environment, as it usually is when osu visits, BUT, how do they get away w/leaving the pa system music/sound effects on so long when the visiting team has the ball? that would stay on until there was less than :10 on the play clock, and would seem to be an incredibly unfair advantage to the home team. the sound effects definitely were much less when psu had the ball. arent' there rules against that kind of thing? thanks.
13:42:12 billrabinowitz: It's a good question, but I don't have the answer to it. It's a little hard for me to judge from the soundproof chamber that a press box can be, but I didn't think the noise from the music was that loud. That Nittany Lions roar sound effect, which I heard continually when I lived in Pennsylvania for a decade, can certainly be grating. I'd guess that opponents might say something similar about the third-down bell at the Horseshoe. But I don't think it's a big deal.
13:42:36 Skippy15: Michigan lost Robinson last weekend and to be nice, the back played horribly. Do you think Michigan is in trouble next year at QB or do they improve greatly? They seem to be a one trick pony or nothing gets done. OSU is very Miller heavy but at least when he went down Guiton played good enough for them to win and Carlos Hyde has been great this year. Mich. seems to be Denard or Nothing
13:43:28 billrabinowitz: I haven't researched this lately, but I would think Devin Gardner would be the front-runner to switch back to QB next year.
13:43:43 Joey: It didn't appear that there was much pressure on Mc Gloin on Sat., so don't you think that more blitzing is in order here on?
13:44:56 billrabinowitz: There was a decent amount of pressure on McGloin. I thought they did a nice job of taking him out of his comfort zone. That was because because the Buckeyes often brought five rushers, which as I said earlier is something I think they'll continue to do.
13:45:22 Buckguy: do you think that we'll see Fickell as defensive cor next year?
13:47:38 billrabinowitz: A couple weeks ago, I would have said the odds were against it. If the defensive improvement continues, I'd say the odds are for it. Of course, a lot depends on what opportunities Fickell might have at a head coaching job. I get the sense there's been some debate among coaches about defensive philosophy and that the decision was made to be more aggressive. I know I'm being vague, but I don't want to throw something out there unless I'm really firm on the facts. How much tension there was in the room, I don't know.
13:47:56 Skippy15: Recently a Georgia player tweeted he got pulled over by police officer who let him off with a warning and a "GO Dawgs" as he walked away. How is this not an NCAA violation?
13:49:20 billrabinowitz: Oh boy. I'm not sure where to go with this. Who knows if it's actually true? Who knows the real circumstances? It might be more of a work issue for the police officer.
13:49:33 mscott59: bill, as the year has gone on, we've seen less and less rotation in the backfield. it's been hyde when healthy (and he's done real well in my opinion) w/smith on occasion for a change of pace in the 2nd half. brown has been in a little when we run wide. is that a surprise? i thought we'd see more bodies in that role in this offense.
13:50:16 billrabinowitz: There'd be a lot more if Jordan Hall were healthy. The only other alternative right now is Bri'onte Dunn, and it's clear Smith is ahead of him.
13:50:23 ncflash: If you could fix one major team weakness - which one would you fix?
13:51:45 billrabinowitz: Two weeks ago, I would have said linebackers. Now I'd say special teams. They do certain things really well. Their kickoff coverage -- the high kick just short of the goal line and usually pin their opponent inside the 20 -- is impressive. But the blocked punts is just inexcusable. Special teams has not been the strong plus it was expected to be under Meyer. My story today delves into that.
13:51:58 ncflash: Which receiver do you think will be the most productive over the last 3 games?
13:52:52 billrabinowitz: They've all been so hit and miss that it's hard to say. I might venture to say it'll be Stoneburner. He's had some clutch catches the last couple weeks and seems to be finding himself in the offense.
13:53:05 Joey: Is Matt Wilhelm still in the League?
13:53:58 billrabinowitz: No. His last year was 2010 -- seven games with Green Bay.
13:54:11 mscott59: in covering osu football this year as opposed to under tressel, it seems obvious that meyer is a little less vague (ok, a lot less vague) when it comes to answers/statements, but other than that is it much different? in terms of access to coaches/players/etc?
13:55:52 billrabinowitz: This is my second year on the beat so I didn't cover Tressel on a full-time basis. No question that Meyer is more direct. When Meyer has his press availabilties, he answers questions completely and candidly, but he's not chummy with the media. When time's up, time's up. Player access has been better this year than last, I'm sure in part because the team has been successful and it's not pulling teeth to get them to talk.
13:56:03 Rob_(moderator): Thanks, everyone. Like OSU, the chat will be off next week, returning Nov. 15. That's a wrap.
13:56:05 billrabinowitz: We get two assistants to talk to each Monday.
13:56:13 billrabinowitz: Thanks, everyone.
13:56:39 Rob_(moderator): Now it's a wrap. :)