The-Ozone Note and Quotebook
By John Porentas
Armchair and Internet Coaches vs. Ones Being Paid: Criticizing coaches is a long-standing tradition in all sports. That pursuit seems to have really blossomed with the advent of the internet, particularly on game days when instantaneous communication on message boards allows fans to vent as the game unfolds.
The current whipping boy at Ohio State is offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. That should probably not be surprising. The guess would be that the biggest whipping boy at every program is whoever is calling the plays.
Bollman has been criticized for his use of quarterbacks this season, both in his selection of which quarterback is on the field, and what he tried to do with the play calling while those quarterbacks were in the game.
It's great sport for fans, but one person who is not criticizing Bollman is Indiana Head Coach Kevin Wilson.
"They have a style of play that's very good, but because of their strengths, with the young quarterback and the great defense, they don't stretch themselves out, so that means there's going to be some third and eleven quarterback draws.That's the strength of their football team and that's why they win. As a coach, you play to your strength."
Wilson made those remarks immediately after the game. Over an hour and a half later, Bollman described how he has made his decisions regarding the shape of the offense. It sounded almost like an identical statement.
"The first thing you do, as always, you've got to try and draw upon the strengths of the guys you have there," he said.
Bollman then gave a broad outline sketch of how the OSU coaching staff sees their offense.
"You have a lot of guys on the offensive line who have a little experience, so that could be pretty good and I think they are pretty good,"said Bollman.
"You want to be able to use those guys, and you have a lot of running backs. When they're all healthy, when they're all there, lean on those guys.
"You know, to be a whole picture of an offense, as we've been before in the past, in the past we've been fortunate to have some quarterbacks who can run, and we've had some very good receivers, all of a sudden that part of the game is kind of absent, so you're trying to bring that back and get closer and closer and closer to having that whole picture."
Again, Wilson was right in step with Bollman.
"Their biggest pass play is typically you look at number one, you look at number two and the quarterback run is number three, so even when it's not (quarterback) draw you still have to account for him in their style, and that's just smart football and playing to their strengths."
Defense Impressed and Embarrassed: The OSU defense did enough to win on Saturday, but at times really struggled with the Hoosier spread offense. That bothered them.
"What bothered me the most was us not doing a good job on the quarterback run," said Tyler Moeller.
"We've got to do a better job on that, all of us. It wasn't just one person or the defensive line or the linebackers, it was everybody. We definitely need to do a better job of that."
Photo by Dan Harker
Linebacker Andrew Sweat offered his opinion on Indiana's third down success against the Buckeyes.
“I thought they were balanced. Some of the formations, the tendency was to run, and they ended up passing out of it. They just kind of schemed us up a little bit, and it came down to we didn't execute," said Sweat.
“They kept running the same play a couple of times, but we didn't adjust to it very well," agreed Moeller on Indian's third down success.
"After a while we got it. They have a pretty good quarterback running around, scrambling and making some plays. We definitely need to get better on third down.”
Defensive lineman Adam Bellamy agreed with Sweat, that the Indiana offense was well prepared for the Buckeyes.
“They caught us a couple of times. They probably studied us really well on film, found some holes and took advantage of them," said Bellamy.
“They put up points and have battled almost everybody they've played this year. Coaches were saying that this was going to be a battle. It's football. Indiana does what they do pretty well. They kept it close. Props to them."
Moeller Mending: Defensive back/linebacker Tyler Moeller has been fighting injuries for two years, some of them football related, some of them not. He is finally back on the field, but says he is just now starting to get back to full health.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"Every game I feel better," said Moeller.
"I think one of my biggest problems was during the summer I pulled my hamstring and didn't get to run a lot.
"That hamstring kind of went to my groin a little bit in camp and I didn't get a good chance to really get my feet under me, so every game I'm feeling better and I'm playing better."
Now that he is feeling better, Moeller is craving action, but opposing offenses are in a hurry to let him mix it up with them.
"I wish they would run my way and pass my way a little bit more, but I'm playing consistent and I'm happy," Moeller said.
"I'm not making the big plays that I want to make but I just need to be patient and I'll make those plays."
When a bad thing is a good thing: It's no secret that it wasn't a great day for the OSU defense against the Hoosiers. Give due props to Indiana's offense, it really was good, but the OSU defense didn't really play up to standards either. The result was what you saw on the field, a defense that at times struggled to get stops.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"Indiana runs a spread offense and they got a lot of mismatches in with our defense so they were able to move the ball," said cornerback Travis Howard.
"Our coaches kept telling us that we just have to go out there and compete and somebody is going to have to make a play."
Howard did just that with his fourth-quarter interception and the Buckeyes got the win. Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock also hopes they got an experience that will have benefits going forward.
"We probably didn't do the things we have to do," said Heacock.
"Luke was talking all week long about you have to be ready, you've got to be ready, but I don't think we played the way we need to play the next three games, that's for sure. It might be a good wake up call."
"Hopefully you learn. I guess that's what a mature team does.
"When you get older players and you've got six or seven seniors that have been through it before, just like these guys have been through it now, then they can see to believe what everybody is telling you, that they're going to be a good team and if we don't play our best it's not going to work.
"As these guys mature you hope that the next time there's potential for that situation they'll remember this and say 'We've got to make sure that doesn't happen.'
"I think we'll get good attention tomorrow in the meeting and I think we'll get good attention all week in practice, but I do know we have to improve for these last three games from where we were today."
Priorities Straight: A lot of people thought the Indiana game was going to be very one-sided. They also thought that if the Buckeyes could open up a comfortable lead, the Buckeyes and Braxton Miller could work on the passing game. Neither of those things happened, but OSU did get a win. According to Mike Adams, that was the only thing that really was important. A chance to work on the passing game was never really a priority.
"Not really," said Adams when asked if the lack of passing was an opportunity lost.
Mike Adams paves the way for Boom Herron.
Photo by Dan Harker
"We just execute what the coaches call and we've got faith in what they call. And either way, we got the “W”, so it worked out for the best.”
That's not so say that there will be no improvements in the passing game as a result of the Indiana game. Improvements often follow mistakes which are corrected. There were a number mistakes in the Indiana game that if corrected, can lead to a better passing game. Take for instance one of the sacks that Miller took on a called pass. It could have been avoided, and the fault on that play was not with the offensive line or with Miller. It was with a receiver who misread a blitz.
“I'm looking for the hot read and it wasn't really there,' said Miller.
"There were a couple times there were a route or two that were not as exact as it should have been," said Bollman.
"That's all part of it too. All those things are tied in. It's not just him (Miller), it's the whole operation.
"What I want to do is look back and see what the hot receiver did.
"Maybe Braxton was very ready to pick up the hot receiver. Was he ready to catch the ball? I don't know.
"I'm not going to sit here and say it's just Braxton. It's a two-way street."
Impressive Debut: Senior right tackle J. B. Shugarts left the game in the fourth quarter with what appeared to be an ankle problem. His replacement was true freshman Antonio Underwood who saw his first extensive service as a Buckeye in a "game is on the line" situation. Underwood held up well, and it was behind his block that Carlos Hyde found a big hole for his long run in the fourth quarter to set up OSU's final touchdown.
“He did a great job for the situation," said left tackle Mike Adams.
"I was excited for him to get in there and get a chance to play.
"You just have to pick those guys up and bring them with you. You just got to get them going and instill the confidence in them. I think that happened and he played a great game.”
“He’s young and I think he’s going to be a really good player here," added Mike Brewster.
"I told him, ‘Stick to your fundamentals, make sure you take the first step and just listen to me.’ I make sure to tell Jack (Mewhort), ‘Tell him the call because I know his head is probably going a thousand places.’ I think for being thrown into the fire he did a great job.”
Offensive line coach Jim Bollman agreed, though he was keeping a close eye on Underwood to make sure he didn't become a liability on the field.
I think he did pretty well, because we were trying to watch him pretty closely when he went in there," said Bollman.
Bollman seems to really like the potential he sees in Underwood.
"I think he did pretty good. He's been working every day and it's been more of a situation where Marcus (Hall) has been working on the left side and Tony has been working on the right side, so that the first thing we did was put a guy in there that's practiced it probably the most, and he did pretty good.
"For his age, he has a very fine ability to be a good pass blocker. That takes a lot of time for guys to develop, not that he's where we want him to be or he wants to be, but he's got some really good natural ability to do that and be effective."
Nope: A rumor emerged last week that Jim Bollman was looking at a return to the NFL next season. Bollman made it very clear that is not the case.
"I would totally dismiss that. I have no idea why people are starting that or saying that. I haven't thought about that," he said.
That particular rumor is just one of many that have made the rounds as a result of the uncertainty of the future of the current coaching staff. As to the coaches themselves, they seem to have blinders on with regard to the situation.
"I think we all try to keep that in the back of our minds (not the front). I actually try to not even think about it. I don't think about it. What choices are there?" said Bollman.
"What good does it do to dwell upon that? That doesn't do the program any good, it doesn't do the kids any good, it doesn't do us any good. It's 'Charge man!' . There's one way to go. There's nothing to worry about but getting ready for the next one. Here we go and try to get better every day."
Boilers Up! Next up for Ohio State are the Purdue Boilermakers at West Lafayette. You may remember that the last time the Buckeyes ventured to West Lafayette they came away with a loss, a little something the Buckeyes who made that trip have not forgotten.
"It was a painful game on all fronts. We’ll remember it," said Mike Brewster.
The OSU coaching staff is hoping that the Buckeyes will not have another "flat" week.
"You're playing for the Big Ten championship again next week. It's the same thing," said Jim Bollman.
"Everybody has got to understand that. Everybody has got to get some emotion, get ready to go, and the main thing is to keep getting better.
"You've got to keep trying to get better. Whether you actually do or not, if you quit trying, you're in trouble."