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.
12:00:05 Rob_(moderator) Hi, Bill. What are you looking forward to more: the turkey tomorrow or the game Saturday?
12:00:36 Bill Rabinowitz I'll be looking forward to the turkey because it means most of my work is done. But I am looking forward to the game.
12:01:12 Rob_(moderator) I've found in recent weeks that the OSU chat crowd is a late-arriving one, but let's get started anyway.
12:01:17 skippy15 what did you see last week Vs Wisconsin? a great showing by Wisconsins defense or a very conservative and strange play calling by Ohio St? I saw both and it was very strange
12:02:12 Bill Rabinowitz No question the play-calling was conservative, and Urban Meyer takes the blame for that. OSU had bad field position for most of the second half and the defense was playing well, so they got lulled into Tresselball. I don't think it'll happen again.
12:02:25 DLu For awhile I have said that perhaps two of the most dangerous running backs in the country are Miller and Robinson, but both are being played out of position at QB. Do you think UM has finaly figured that out due to Robinson's injury and what are your thoughts on Guiton at QB and Miller being in the role that Meyer wanted Hall to play this yr?
12:04:08 Bill Rabinowitz That won't happen. Miller has a much stronger arm and is an overall better quarterback. Part of his effectiveness as a runner is because teams know he can throw. And every carry Miller would get as a running back is one that Carlos Hyde doesn't get. Miller is most effective on scrambles and a few designed runs. Robinson is playing RB only because of his injury.
12:04:31 Hippster Some people seem to think that because UM should have beaten Notre Dame (dominated stats, 6 turnovers) and ND is #1, this is a measure of how good UM is. I don't buy it. thoughts?
12:05:51 Bill Rabinowitz Michigan is a good team. Its losses are to Alabama, Notre Dame and Nebraska. The question is whether it's a very good team because they haven't beaten those teams. Turnovers are a big part of the game. Am I sold that Notre Dame is truly the best team in the country? No. But they deserve to be No. 1 because they haven't lost. That's why I have Ohio State No. 2. Winning matters.
12:06:01 DLu The pass defense looked suspect on Wiscy's last scoring drive last week. DBs were 5-10 yds off receivers when they caught the ball. Was that the strategy to prevent the big play or are the DBs not capable of guarding receivers closely?
12:07:45 Bill Rabinowitz It had to be the scheme. Wisconsin was out of timeouts and so OSU didn't want to give up one huge play (like the Badgers gave up last year to the Buckeyes). I watched that last drive on replay. Give Curt Phillips and the receivers credit. He threw some darts and receivers made some clutch catches. It's hard to fault Zach Boren for Pedersen's touchdown catch, for example. He was draped all over him.
12:07:50 smumbs Speaking of Carlos Hyde, why the lack of carries last week? What more does he (and the O line) need to prove in order to become a bigger part of this offense?
12:08:49 Bill Rabinowitz I think that was a mistake. Hyde wasn't happy about it, not from a selfish perspective but because he thought the Buckeyes would have won more comfortably if he'd gotten the ball more. But he did get stuffed on one pivotal third-and-short that didn't help.
12:09:12 Jeff If you are drawing up a game plan to defeat the Bucks, what would it look like?
12:10:14 Bill Rabinowitz Thankfully, no body has asked. I'd do largely what Indiana and Purdue did. Spread the field, make linebackers tackle in space. Get rid of the ball quickly so the defensive line is neutralized. Defensively, I'd do what Wisconsin did. Bracket Miller and force him to try to beat you with his arm, not his legs.
12:10:31 skippy15 What do you think about USC back up QB guarenteeing a victory over Notre Dame?
12:11:10 Bill Rabinowitz I read the quote. It wasn't exactly Joe Namath. I think what he said is we're ready, we're going to play well and we're going to win. To me, it's no big deal.
12:11:18 DLu I know the players like the special unis for the game but I assume the helmets won't have the buckeye leaves. Looks like the reward of the leaves throughout the season is something the players would like showing up on their helmets in the final game, showing the success they have had during the season. Any mention of that by the players?
12:12:37 Bill Rabinowitz No, but I can't say I asked or that anyone else did. I can't imagine that in the Michigan game a single player is going to be thinking about that.
12:12:44 geddylee With what little I know about UM defense, it seems the way to attack these guys is on the ground. That's clearly OSU's strength, offensively. Is that how you see this playing out - at least early - with the Buckeyes trying to pound the ball with Hyde, xBrax360 and possibly Smith mixed in?
12:13:54 Bill Rabinowitz I think they'll mix it up. I think they want to establish the passing game first, just to show they can. Some safe stuff like they used last week with maybe a deep one mixed in. But no doubt that Hyde and Miller will be used as often as necessary. There's no point in saving them, right?
12:14:02 Hippster Do we see Hankins back next year?
12:15:14 Bill Rabinowitz I would be surprised if he's back at OSU. He's ready for the NFL. As a defensive tackle, he's double-teamed a lot of the time. If you're going to get pounded on like that, you might as well get paid for it. He'll certainly be missed. I don't think it's a 100 percent thing, but think he'll go pro.
12:15:30 skippy15 So before the year Meyer said several times he had a set of plays worked out to get Miller and Guiton on the field at the same time. It never happened and I don't expect it will vs UM. Do you think he actually had some plays or he was just blowing smoke and giving opposing coaches things to worry about? Or did Miller's very good play keep that from happening
12:16:44 Bill Rabinowitz I think coaches have a lot of things in the playbook that they never use, for whatever reason. I just don't think they've needed to put them in there together. But who knows, maybe it'll be unveiled this week. If only to give Michigan something to have to account for.
12:16:52 DLu Can you feel the added excitement that the Big Game brings from your spot in the pressbox as opposed to other games?
12:17:48 Bill Rabinowitz It's strange being in the press box sometimes because it can feel like a hermetically sealed container. But I suspect we'll be able to tell that Saturday isn't like most games.
12:17:55 smumbs Does Tressel show or not show during the 2002 recognition ceremony? He's being quite "senatorial" about his plans.
12:19:02 Bill Rabinowitz I would guess he'll be there, but I have no inside information. I didn't cover OSU when Tressel was coach. I saw him and talked to him occasionally, but I can't say we have enough of a relationship to know what he's going to do.
12:19:28 DLu On a few third and longs the Bucks went with an empty backfield and 5 wideouts. That left 5 OL to block 6 Wiscy linemen. It seemed that the plays were designed run for Miller because he didn't even seem to look to pass. Don't you anticipate UM defense to look similar in those situations?
12:21:17 Bill Rabinowitz Coaches always copy what has been successful. I'm sure Brady Hoke and Michigan's coaches studied what Wisconsin did. But Ohio State will also make adjustments to what they did because they didn't like the results. The spread is all about creating and exploit numerical mismatches. If OSU has five WRs, then in theory one of them should be open if Miller and the receivers are on the same page. Clearly, something was amiss last week.
12:21:28 skippy15 I don't know if you seen the report today about the NCAA sending letters to former, accused of violations, Miami (FL) players telling them basically that they have the option to be involved and help the NCAA and try to prove innocence for Miama and tell what really happened or they can not help and basically Miami will be held as guilty for the allegations that player is accused of. I personally find it brilliant but I have seen some calling foul. Whats your take? I think it's a great way to make players take responsibility for what they have done
12:24:05 Bill Rabinowitz The NCAA's biggest weakness as it investigates programs is that it does not have subpoena power. In other words, it cannot force anyone to cooperate. And a player who no longer plays for a college has little to fear from the NCAA. What's the NCAA going to do, declare them ineligible? They can't send him to jail. So I'll be curious to see whether this is just barking or whether the NCAA has anything behind this to give it some bite.
12:24:15 DLu If Tress does show, do the majority of the fans cheer or boo if he is personally recognized?
12:25:06 Bill Rabinowitz That'll be very interesting to see. I would guess there would be a few boos -- and some of them from Michigan fans -- but that those would be more than balanced by cheers. I think the longer it goes on, the more it'll be cheers vs. boos.
12:25:27 geddylee How good is Toussaint's backup (Rawls?)? Also, are you guys throwing up another podcast today? I need one that's about 3 hours long for my Thanksgiving drive, if you can work that out. Thanks!
12:27:31 Bill Rabinowitz Well, Geddy. You'll have to ask Neil Peart to provide you some solos. Yes, Tim and I will do a chat in a couple hours. I can assure you I have too much writing to do to go beyond our standard time. But as you know, Tim ain't exactly quiet. I'm not really quiet, either, but compared to him, I'm mute. As for Rawls, I haven't really seen him play. I remember Vincent Smith, and he seemed OK to me.
12:27:49 go blue does ohio have a realistic chance of winning say?
12:27:57 Bill Rabinowitz I'm sorry, a podcast, in a couple of hours.
12:28:25 Bill Rabinowitz Tim and I are doing a podcast, not a chat. Correct me if I'm wrong, Rob, but this is a chat. It's late in the season. My mind is gone.
12:28:54 Bill Rabinowitz What was the question from Go Blue?
12:29:22 Rob_(moderator) Well, I think he asked if Ohio has a chance to win. Go with that.
12:29:37 Bill Rabinowitz I didn't know the Bobcats were playing Michigan.
12:29:49 Rob_(moderator) And on we go ...
12:29:50 DLu If Miller is stopped this week as he was last week against Wiscy, what are odds Bucks win?
12:29:52 Bill Rabinowitz But Ohio already beat Michigan in the NCAA tournament.
12:31:13 Bill Rabinowitz I don't think Miller can have another game like he did last week and have Ohio State win. He's too big a part of the offense. They need him to make dynamic plays with his feet and they need a semblance of a passing game. Everything else works better when he's on his game. Though I do think OSU's defense is capable of stealing one. But OSU would be living precariously if they had to rely on that.
12:31:30 Buck-I-Nut Actually I think the wolfies have a better chance with Denard at rb than at qb. Your thoughts?
12:32:59 Bill Rabinowitz It depends on whether he can throw. Look, the guy has struggled throwing this year, but his career speaks for itself. I don't think he's big enough to take a 20-25 carry game as a running back, especially against guys like John Simon and Johnathan Hankins. If Robinson is able to throw -- a very big question -- he's the guy. Besides, Gardner can play WR, where the Wolverines can use him.
12:33:09 Hippster So if UM does bracket Miller, what is the adjustment? Feed the ball to Hyde and try to open the D up with quick slants and screens>
12:35:30 Bill Rabinowitz There are always counter-moves. Meyer can do the Xs and Os better than I can. But when teams bracket Miller, that means those defenders are not covering something else, such as the 10-yard pass to the tight end or a short curl to the wide receiver. There are ways to flush out those spies. I'm sure Tom Herman, the ultra-bright offensive coordinator, will try to determine right away, how Michigan is going to play Miller and will react quickly.
12:35:37 Steve Michigan's Defense is dramatically better than it was 2 years ago. In addition to a new DC (Mattison) what other changes have you noticed?
12:37:04 Bill Rabinowitz More experience. They seem to swarm to the ball much more and are in sync as a defense. Their pass defense is dramatically improved, which is what I'm writing about for tomorrow. I thought they would miss Mike Martin more than they have. I really liked him as a player. It's not a defense with big stars, but they're all in sync now, which is more important. Mattison is very good.
12:37:12 DLu Don't you think that Meyer vs Hoke is another coaching mismatch much like Tressel vs RichRod? I look for Meyer to have the same type of winning streak that Tressel had against UM.
12:38:43 Bill Rabinowitz Brady Hoke is a good coach. You don't win at Ball State and San Diego State if you're not a good coach. I think it's unrealistic for any OSU coach to have the record against Michigan that Tressel did. That's just one of those streaks. But I certainly think Meyer will have his share of success in this rivalry. He's too good a coach and the Buckeyes will have so much talent -- moreso than this year -- for him to flop against Michigan.
12:38:48 withholding judgment Ohio State's punting game has been poor to mediocre this season, and OSU's field position has suffered greatly because of that. Can it be get better against Michigan? I think field position will be a key to this game.
12:40:02 Bill Rabinowitz It has been up and down with the punt game this year, with more downs than Meyer can stomach. Michigan's special teams are pretty mediocre, but all it takes is one mistake or big play to change a game. Does OSU win without Philly Brown's punt return last week? Very questionable. In a game like this, each team is looking for any edge it can get. Often, it comes in the kicking game.
12:40:10 skippy15 Under Tressel if the Buckeyes got ahead by say 3 touchdowns with 2 minutes left he would almost do everything he could not to score another TD it seemed like if the game was out of reach for UM. He would just end it. Meyer seems to be one who will keep his foot on the pedal no matter what. Do you think if Ohio state gets up by a good margin he will keep pushing it and run up the score to send a message or do you think he will lighten way up like Tress did
12:42:59 Bill Rabinowitz Meyer would love nothing more than to have that situation. I think he respects Hoke and Michigan enough not to rub it in. But if there was a scintilla of doubt about the outcome, Meyer would score and not give it a second thought. I think he's also enough a student of the game and the rivalry to know how much the '69 upset was driven by Michigan's perception that Woody Hayes tried to run it up by going for 2 leading 50-14. By the way, there are a lot of misconceptions about that. Hayes signaled to kick but players on the field changed it up because there'd been some injuries.... It's too long a story. But I don't think Meyer will do anything to disrespect the rivalry, as I'm sure Hoke wouldn't.
12:43:11 DLu I don't know that OSU is #1 and have felt all year that probably 5 to 10 was a proper ranking, but with the defensive improvement and other top teams being beaten, I feel that the Bucks could play with most of those teams if not all, esp ND. How do you think OSU would fare in what could have been BCS c'ship game matchup of OSU vs ND? And how much would the nation have screamed with no SEC team playing in the game?
12:44:35 Bill Rabinowitz I think OSU would match up better than Notre Dame than against Alabama or Oregon or even Florida State. I think those teams have superior talent. But in a one-game deal, anything can happen. If the 2002 OSU team played Miami 10 times, how many would the Buckeyes have won? It's one game, and it's one game OSU surely wishes it had a chance to be in.
12:44:45 Buck-I-Nut Have you heard of any injuries that might be pertinent?
12:45:35 Bill Rabinowitz I haven't. Meyer will not have his normal Wednesday availability. I doubt he'd tell us anything anyway. I think the Buckeyes are as healthy as they've been in a while, though everyone is hurting to some degree this time of year. But I have not heard about any new injuries this week.
12:46:17 Hippster I love Meyer's intensity. Realistically, and I realize only he knows, can he avoid the same burn out at OSU that caused him to leave Florida. I mean, Columbus is a pretty intense town when it comes to the Buckeyes.
12:48:41 Bill Rabinowitz I think Meyer's pressure is self-imposed. I don't get the sense he's particularly consumed by outside forces, whether it be media or fans. Of course, it's pretty easy to be the toast of the town when you're undefeated. I think Meyer is intense because that's his personality. The first big story I did on him, I talked to his HS baseball coach and and a teammate and they told me of how he got tossed from a game for arguing a strike 2 in a game his team won 37-1. He's wired differently, like a lot of coaches are.
12:48:47 geddylee What's the UM FG kicker's deal? Does he make 'em and what's his range? When do I start worrying about FG range if Buckeye pass D looks like swiss cheese again?
12:49:26 Bill Rabinowitz I'm sorry but I don't know his range. I know he's 14 of 16 or something close to that.
12:49:32 DLu Looks like new gloves for the players that form an "O" just like two years ago when they were penalized at least twice for celebration penalties. Have the officials lightened up on the excessive celebration penalties overall this yr in college football or have the players finally got the msg and been reduced to under celebrating?
12:51:04 Bill Rabinowitz OSU hasn't gotten any taunting penalties that I can recall this year. I doubt that Meyer would be really accepting of that kind of thing. It seems to me that those ridiculous penalties for "taunting" that officials called the last few years have been reduced.
12:51:10 withholding judgment Can you give us an over-under for number of carries you think Carlos Hyde will get? I'd sure have given him more last week.
12:51:25 Bill Rabinowitz I'll go with 20
12:51:37 Rob_(moderator) Bill, I'll take this next one, because it's more in my wheelhouse.
12:51:39 Bill Rabinowitz If they get a lead, 30
12:51:42 DLu Once the Bucks beat UM, how long before the Dispatch posts "days since UM beat OSU"?
12:53:06 Rob_(moderator) That counter got started after OSU won, I think, three times in a row against Michigan. It was noteworthy because of all the years under Cooper that OSU struggled against UM. A win Saturday for Ohio State will not necessarily mean that the counter will return.
12:53:15 DLu What are you going to do with your winter since there will be no OSU bowl game to cover?
12:54:48 Bill Rabinowitz Sleep. No, seriously, covering OSU is a 12-month job. There's always recruiting, though Tim does a lot of that. There could be coaches' comings and goings, though I don't know of anything in that department. It's Ohio State. There's always something going on.
12:55:03 skippy15 How great was that forced forced fumble by Shazier? Read the play beautifully. Guy is special
12:57:13 Bill Rabinowitz I've thought Shazier had star potential from the first time I saw him play. I'm not alone. Some guys, you just know. I used to cover minor-league baseball. When major-leaguers would come down for a rehab assignment, you could tell in batting practice that they were big-leaguers because they had a different sound when they hit the ball. With Shazier, it's a different level of force when he hits guys. It's just different. He's a gifted player. And he seems to be a nice, level-headed kid.
12:57:22 Rob_(moderator) Thanks, Bill, for all of the time spent in the chats this season. Great questions, everyone. (Well, almost everyone.) Enjoy The Game. That's a wrap.
12:57:35 Bill Rabinowitz Thanks, everyone. Enjoy the game.