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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Buckeye Concerns: I didn't think Troy Smith's thumb thing was a big deal watching the Northwestern game. Some Buckeye fans are concerened, though. Awash in a sea of bad sports-talk-radio impersonation, Men of the Scarlet and Gray worry(-ies?) thusly:

Troy Smith’s thumb. (I don’t care what the “official” line is about his throwing hand being fine. Troy hasn’t been able to throw the deep ball for three weeks now, the same number of weeks he’s had his thumb and wrist taped. He’s underthrowing every deep ball, forcing Ginn to slow down to get under it, effectively removing the weapon that torched OSU’s opponents for the first half of the season.)
I dunno, Smith's throw to Ginn at the end of the first half versus Northwestern look AOK to me.

Meanwhile, The 614 notes that the Buckeye depth chart still lists Alex Boone behind Tim Schafer and, oddly, has Kirk Barton listed as "OR" with his backup. Probable relevance? Slight, though the 614 speculated Boone might be magically healed "after the first couple series." I doubt he misses any time, personally, if he's actually healthy. Also of note: with the Buckeyes going up against a lot of spread attacks lately, weakside linebackers John Kerr (disappointing senior) and Ross Homan (true freshman) haven't seen much time. Potential mismatch there?

Midwestern Bias noted something not many did in OSU's clobberation of the Wildcats:
Despite the turnovers, I was terrified by the way the defense was shredded in the first half. Not getting to the QB, falling for screens constantly, and generally poor tackling were all-too-prevalent in the first 30 minutes. Keith over at BC gained a little optimism by the defense holding NW to about 60 yards after intermission, but I'm still nonplussed to say the least: all season long, when competent opposing offenses have presented the threat of both the run and the pass, this defense has been brutal. What has saved them has been the proclivity of the Buckeye offense to jump out to sizable leads early in almost every game, as teams have had to abandon the run and commit to the pass. And as mediocre as the D has looked early in games against the run (and occasionally against the pass), they've throttled teams once they got to the point where they knew passes were coming and could pin their ears back and go apeshit rushing the QB, without having to worry about rushing plays. Will we jump out to a 2+ score lead early against Michigan? Doubtful. The Wolverines will play the entire game with all offensive options a plausible possibility on every single play, and I'm worried about our defense's ability to stop them.
(Seems a little negative... "brutal"? I would classify Texas as competent, even with McCoy in his second start, and seven (admittedly turnover-aided) points isn't bad.) I bring it up because I've watched OSU for a good portion of the year and if I say that I think their defense seems remarkably vulnerable for one of the nation's leaders in, well, everything I'm a big fat homer. But that guy's got a picture of Boban Savovic on his blog! Concerns are real!

Along those lines: Treasured commenter Colin drops science:
So you know how Football Outsiders had that article where they talked about run yardage distribution? I decided to go back (via Yahoo Sports) play by play and create a similar running total for three games for Mike Hart (ND, Wisc, PSU) and three games for the OSU defense (Tex, PSU, NW). I picked games based on perceieved competence of the run defenses faced. I probably should have thrown in Garret Wolfe too, but that would have probably made the Buckeye defense look worse.

To the numbers:

HART (80 documented carries)

min.yds 10.00% -15
0-4 yds 55.00% 82
5-9 yds 22.50% 112
10+ 12.50% 155

As expected, he rarely loses yards, but also doesn't break that many long gains. Notre Dame was by far his statistically most deviant game, with an actual five yard loss to his credit. Wisconsin was his most consistent, but least fruitful in terms of long games with PSU somewhere in the middle. I'm not overly surprised. ND's linebacker play wasn't that great and led to good gains, but their DL play that day was superb. Wiscy had little penetration, but cleaned up solidly. PSU had the best combo, but a weak DE which we exploited eventually. So how does OSU look?

tOSU (69 documented carries)

min.yds 8.70% -12
0-4 yds 50.72% 87
5-9 yds 23.19% 104
10+ 17.39% 191

I took off the last NW drive because it was clearly garbage would have made OSU's third stringers look bad anyway. Whatevs.

So, it would appear that OSU likely has a fairly poor run defense against competent backs. Hunt, Young, Charles and Sutton are varyingly talented, but certainly at least solid and capable backs with at least decent run blocking at their disposal. The lack of negative plays to me suggests a lack of DL penetration against the run (which may well be part of the scheme) and, considering the additional numbers, a lack of discipline and tackling ability in the linebackers.
I think there's a little cherry-picking going on here (Why NW instead of Minnesota, who got shut down?), but that's a fairly large sample of Michigan's rushes against competent run defenses and Ohio State's attempts to defense competent rush offenses; it suggests that Hart can expect a slightly more proficient day than he had against ND/UW/PSU. Against those teams he rushed for 327 yards on 80 carries -- 4.1 YPC.

I think there's substantial evidence Michigan will be able to run.

Really unverified, but Cross Cyed thinks Jim Harbaugh will be the next coach at Iowa State. I scouted around the ISU Rivals and Scout sites, found a ton of message board posts I can't read discussing Harbaugh, and the ISU Rivals sites' equivalent of Inside The Fort featured a front-page picture of the man himself. At the very least he's a serious candidate and may be the front-runner.

This would be outstanding for Michigan. If Harbaugh succeeds at ISU he'll rocket towards the top of appealing head coach candidates when Carr retires.


Many highlights of the past:

You can't spell "College Football iyknh" without "Nick Lachey":

Uh-oh. Antonio Bass had another major surgery ten days ago and may miss next season as well. The probability he ever plays again is dropping rapidly. Makes you wonder if Greg Mathews' redshirt-burn and the wide receiver fiesta that is the 2007 recruiting class were decision made with Bass' status in mind.

Etc.: Pictures of the proposed renovation from inside the stadium I still like it, but I wish they would give the stadium a bit of a buffer and add in some extra rows. Since the seats are going to widen, everyone's going to get moved around, and while I have no problem moving back a row or three if I'm suddenly shifted down ten yards there will be blood. Maisel on Bo; I heart Bo. Forde on potential rematch. EDSBS files a special report on the chaos and anarchy reigning in Columbus.

Oh my god... there is so much more. I'm just going to dump this installment out and continue gathering.