Posts Tagged ‘on the field


a change of plans.

But this makes me feel a little better.


promises kept.

We heard some about it a year ago, Urban saying that while he liked the offense, he didn’t have the playmakers on the roster to really make the offense hum.

We heard about it during this summer’s camp, too. Jordan Hall was healthy, Carlos Hyde would miss only three games while sitting for his summertime indiscretion, the receivers had an additional year’s experience under their belts and there was that Dontre Wilson kid from Texas who was already tying up the first-team defense in knots.

We heard that we’d get to see what Urban Meyer’s offense really looks like in 2013.

There were glimpses against Buffalo and San Diego State. But on the road at California … boom, there it was. Again in the first half against Florida A&M.

But how would Ohio State do against Wisconsin, arguably the first real defense the Buckeyes had seen all year? With a quarterback who hadn’t played in more than two games?


Well, uh, yeah.

I still get the sense that we haven’t see the best of Ohio State’s offense. The best, I think, is yet to come.




kenny g.

This Kenny G.

Not that Kenny G (although a Kenny G. halftime show at some point this season would be hysterical).


a solid start.


Jordan Hall was healthy. Dontre Wilson blew away everyone in camp. The receivers were healthy and experienced. And, we were told, Braxton Miller had successfully turned the corner, morphing from an athlete playing quarterback into an athletic quarterback.

The Urban Meyer offense was locked and loaded. And during the first quarter on Saturday, we got a glimpse of what could be in store for the rest of the fall.

Three possessions. Three touchdowns. Total time of possession just over six minutes. Two two-point conversions from one of those flaky unbalanced formations that I hate unless Ohio State is the team doing it.

And lots of silly grins and high fives in C-deck.

It was raining when I opened the garage door at 5:30 Saturday morning; that humidity hung with us even after the rain ended.

But the heat and humidity didn’t seem to bother the season’s first tailgating effort, and it certainly didn’t appear to bother our guests for the morning; my Florida cousins Jonathan and Ryan got to join us before taking in their first Ohio State game in the stadium. I hadn’t seen either one of those guys since they were kids, and it was great to hang out with both of them for the day.


The Hat is back.

We ate well — Mrs. Crappy will have her recap posted in the next day or two, and let me tell you, the breakfast creation she came up with was killer — pulled off the toast, and we all got inside without any forgotten tickets or anything.

At the end of the first quarter, the score was 23-0, and most of us in the stadium were sporting those silly grins I mentioned before.

The coaches said they throttled back on that display after the first quarter, in part out of concern for how players were faring in Saturday’s heat. And that helped highlight the one concern I had at the end of the day — the offensive line. Some of those problems were most noticeable in the second half, when Buffalo was dropping eight players into pass coverage; the blanket coverage downfield can lead to some extra pressure on Miller, who looked a bit like he didn’t want to scramble, at least until ripping off a few long runs in the fourth. But I saw too many instances where Miller was hurried by a three-man rush, and I saw too many instances when Ohio State’s O-line got pushed into the backfield; that unit should be a strength for the Buckeyes, and there were too many instances on Saturday when it didn’t play that way.

But, you say, what about the defense? How can Ohio State give up 20 to a middle-of-the-road MAC team? There are two answers to those questions:

1) Nine of the starting 11 had never started a college game before. There will be mistakes.

2) Because of that inexperience, Luke Fickell and the coaching staff played a pretty simple defense on Saturday.

Look, before you start griping about the defense, consider: Bradley Roby will be back at his corner spot against San Diego State, and that’s going to help a bunch. And the youngsters have three more games — against SDSU, at Cal and against Florida A&M — to get themselves comfortable before we start conference play.

And best of all? As far as I know, this was the most serious injury of the entire day.


Mrs. Crappy’s foot was OK. But the hummus, unfortunately, is out for the season.



Have any questions about who to cheer for in the Super Bowl?

Alex Boone.

Alex Boone.

Larry Grant.

Larry Grant.

Donte Whitner.

Donte Whitner.

Ted Ginn.

Ted Ginn.


Now you know.


click. click. boom.

The song above is apparently a staple at Beaver Stadium; we heard snippets of it several times during Saturday’s game.

It’s also a pretty apt analogy for the game itself, especially if we’re talking about Ohio State.

First quarter: Click.

Second quarter: Click.

Second half: BOOM.

Here’s what I saw:

  • In the first half, Braxton Miller continued to look like he was trying too hard to not run; yes, we’re all concerned about his health — and we were all terrified last weekend against Purdue — but I think he can swing too far in the other direction. He’s a better passer than his predecessor, but he’s not a drop-back quarterback and his running game must be part of his offense.
  • But when he did run? Somewhere between being scraped off the field against Purdue and the start of the Penn State game, Braxton learned A) how to slide and B) where the sideline is.
  • And when he has room to run, he is magic.
  • I do not understand the special teams breakdowns. Ohio State — and special teams coordinator Urban Meyer — has been lucky that one of them hasn’t cost us a game so far this season. Against Wisconsin, or Michigan — or even against Illinois — it could.
  • The touchdown Ohio State gave up on the blocked punt was balanced out by Adam Griffin’s play to break up Penn State’s fake punt. Outstanding.
  • Does anyone else think Rod Smith looks a lot like Eddie George did in his first season or two? Big, physical, deceptively fast long stride? Even the occasional fumble?
  • We heard a lot of grumbling about penalties from those wearing white in Beaver Stadium. Penn State gave up 85 yards on nine penalties. Ohio State gave up 75 yards on seven. Hm.
  • To save the best for last: Saturday’s game against Penn State was easily Ohio State’s best defensive effort of the season. One stat: Penn State had 32 yards rushing on 28 attempts. That’s a good day.

road trip.

Let’s see: I’ve been to games at Purdue. Indiana. Pitt, in buildings old and new. Miami (the one in Ohio). Michigan State. Cleveland Browns Stadium. And two miserable visits to The Big Hole in Ann Arbor.

With the exception of those two visits to AA, I’ve always enjoyed my college football trips.

But I can’t imagine what it would take to have a better trip than the one Mrs. Crappy and I took to State College on Saturday.

Our friends Kelly and John got themselves their first season ticket package at their alma mater earlier this year, and they immediately offered their extra two tickets to the Ohio State game to us. That’s not an offer we would turn down.

The plan: Head out to State College early — early — Saturday morning, see the town, eat, visit a couple tailgate parties, have our own, watch the game and catch some rest at a cheap motel in Altoona before heading home to Pittsburgh.

How’d we do? Here’s a look:

We got out of the car in our parking lot, looked to the south — and there is Beaver Stadium. Let me be clear about this: one of the things I was most excited about was sitting in this building during a white out. It’s always been one of the most impressive — and intimidating; just ask the 2005 Buckeyes who lost during a Beaver Stadium white out — displays of college football fandom I’d ever see on television, and I couldn’t wait to see it in person.

After a quick stop to see one of Kelly’s old professors, we headed to another lot to see Lauren — and The Bus. A friend of Lauren’s bought the old team bus on eBay — the first such retired bus to be sold that way by Penn State — and turned it into a tailgating machine.

They pay attention to every detail.

We were there early enough that the Blue Bus crew was just getting started. But even in the morning, the spread was impressive.

One of the stops on our campus tour was the Millennium Science Complex, a stunning L-shaped set of buildings joined by a triangular cantilevered roof, covering a courtyard. Penn State’s campus is dense and compact, especially for a school of its size, more like OU than Ohio State, but while it doesn’t feel crowded, the courtyard is a beautiful oasis in the middle campus.

The aforementioned courtyard. See?

We walked downtown to look for some Penn State gear — uh, for Kelly and John — and get some lunch at the Corner Room, which had this sign posted outside. The point? Everyone was nice. The entire day, I heard just one muttered shitty comment, from a student who was drunk enough at lunchtime that he was going to be passed out before the game started. Over and over, we were welcomed to Happy Valley by people who seemed genuinely happy we were there. We heard plenty of comments about the upcoming game, but all were good-natured, and once we set up our own tailgate party, we chatted with a guy from Pittsburgh that Kelly had met before a local half marathon. Old college football games, the Browns-Steelers rivalry (back when it was a rivalry) — great stuff to get in the right frame of mind for the game.

We walked back towards the lots, which were filling rapidly. Had some beer, some of the snacks that Mrs. Crappy brought along and an amazing beer-bratwurst-cheese soup Kelly had prepared. I’m hoping she’s going to get together a guest post about that soon, because it was too good not to share (a note — if you had the soup we made for last year’s Michigan game, you’ve had one of Kelly’s recipes. Good stuff, right?)

As we walked around the stadium to our gate we passed the corner where I left a buckeye at the feet of the Joe Paterno statue days after he died in January. I was expecting to see a crowd there; I wasn’t expecting to see a person, in bronze makeup from head to toe, posing as the statue. Very cool.

Inside. Teams are warming up. And the student sections, directly across the field, were already full. The building doesn’t look especially big — I guess I’m used to the concrete on the banks of the Olentangy — but there are a lot of people in there … 107,000-plus on Saturday.

That’s us, with Kelly and John. The fun is about to begin.

Ohio Stadium is loud. And while there may have been games in Columbus that were close — USC in 2009, Michigan in 2002 or 2006, or Penn State in 2002, which I still remember as one of the loudest games I’ve ever attended — I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything as loud as Saturday’s first half in Beaver Stadium.

And being in the middle of a white out is an awesome thing.

We’ll talk about the actual football in another post. Let’s say I was happy to be able to join in the postgame Carmen Ohio when it was over.

We were even close enough to see this.

We had an interesting night at our hotel in Altoona — I can’t say I’d recommend the Econolodge there for pretty much any reason — but we had an awesome breakfast at Tom and Joe’s Diner, a place Kelly found, before heading home.

It was a short trip, and a very long day — we were up at 4 and didn’t get to bed until late — and I wouldn’t change a thing. Kelly and John were great hosts, and I hope they don’t mind if I thank them one more time for a fantastic day. I hope we can return the favor in Columbus next season.

And. State College, you do it right. I hope we’ll be back soon.

I originally referred to the bus as one that took members of Penn State’s marching band to the stadium; Lauren pointed out that the bus was actually used to transport team members to Beaver Stadium. Sorry ’bout that.




One of my favorite moments of the Purdue game came after the comeback, after the overtime touchdown and after Christian Bryant successfully defended the Boilermakers’ fourth-down pass in the end zone. Mrs. Crappy and I watched the celebration and were still in our seats — actually, standing on our seats, I think — when the team assembled in front of OSUMB.

Most of the guys had already locked arms and started swaying, as they do when they sing the post-game “Carmen Ohio.” But as the noise of the crowd died down in the South Stands, a figure, in a white jacket, appeared in front of the team. It was Urban, doing one last pump-up job before the band did its thing.

You’ll see him briefly in front of the team; you get a better look if you’re watching the scoreboard.

I don’t have any doubt that the previous head coach had emotional moments like this; in fact, I remember seeing a couple in person in Tempe almost 10 years ago. But this is not something the previous head coach would have done, ever, and I have to say that I’m enjoying the hell out of watching the new head coach and the enthusiasm he wears on his sleeve.


to review.

Ohio State is undefeated. After the team’s four non-conference games, it is where I thought it would be.

In a wins-and-losses sense, anyway.

I haven’t, however, expected the struggles the team has dealt with, especially in Saturday’s game against the University of Alabama branch campus that doesn’t play football nearly as well as its big brother in Tuscaloosa. That’s been unsettling, to be sure.

But on the other hand: Just win. That mantra got me through some pretty good years — and one great one — in the last decade, and if I have to fall back on it again in 2012, that’s OK.

Before we launch the conference schedule — a thing that suddenly has much more importance than it did back in August — let’s take a look at what we’ve seen on the field so far.

The good.

Braxton Miller. In this young season so far, I’ve seen quarterbacks who throw better balls than Braxton Miller. I’ve seen some who are more consistent, and more polished. And there are some — even some in our own conference — that have received more hype than the Buckeyes’ sophomore. But I haven’t seen a quarterback — not a single one — so far this year who can take over a game like Braxton Miller. I’ve generally been pleased with the development of the team’s receivers, and the tailbacks are improving (see Rod Smith) and getting healthy (see Jordan Hall), but there is no question who the coaches turn to when they’re looking for something to happen. There isn’t anyone in the country I’d rather have as Ohio State’s quarterback right now, and just think about this, kids: He’s only going to get better.

Receivers. If you listened to Urban during spring practice, you heard this: “Receivers? We don’t have any.” Look now, though. Devin Smith. Corey Brown. Michael Thomas is starting to play. Jake Stoneburner looks good after the move from tight end. The backs are included in the passing game as well. This is not a polished group, to be sure, but they’re better than I thought we might see, based on Urban’s comments last spring.

Jordan Hall. He looked tentative against Cal. He looked less so against UAB. And while he has good guys behind him, there is no question that the guy from Jeannette, Pa., — you know, the one who chose to stick around — is the team’s best tailback. And Ohio State will get better with every game he plays.

The offense. It’s different … but it’s not. This isn’t the spread we typically think of; it’s still Ohio State, run-driven football. But I couldn’t begin to count the number of different formations we’ve seen, just four games in, and I have no idea how a defensive coordinator figures out where the ball is going next. Mix in the passing game — and some of those dink-and-dunk passes are going to start breaking for big gains once the timing between Miller and his receivers improves — and that’s a scary offense. I can’t wait.

Red zone. In a refreshing change from the past regime, when Ohio State gets there, it scores touchdowns. The Bucks have been inside the other team’s 20 17 times so far; they’ve come away with 14 touchdowns.

The bad.

Braxton Miller. After the season’s first two games, it was clear that Ohio State was relying too much on Miller; even in an offense that’s built around his talents, it’s probably not smart for him to be the fourth-leading rusher in the country, as he was after Miami and Central Florida. But it’s possible to go too far in the other direction as well. Against Cal, he looked like he was thinking too much about not running, and it led to sacks and some poor decisions. I don’t think this is a huge thing, and it seems to me that he’s got a better grasp of the offense than did his predecessor at the same point of his career. It’ll get better.

The defense. There is one specific, defense-related thing I’ll address in a second, but in general, the defense has seemed a little lifeless. In the first two games, that might have been by design. Fickell and Withers didn’t call many blitzes, and we didn’t do much to pressure the other quarterback. That’s picked up some, but the team is still giving up an embarrassing amount of yardage — UAB outgained Ohio State 403 to 347, for example — and that’s going to bite us in league play. However — I like what Coach Withers told the Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz after Saturday’s game:

Great point, coach.

The ugly.

Tackling. As in, there isn’t any. OK, that’s not quite true — I saw improvement against UAB … but I also saw a lot of blown tackles, a lot of soft defense on the outside and a lot of intended big hits — most of which turned into whiffs — that should have been wrap ’em up and take ’em down. This is a fundamental thing; my coaches at Hastings Junior High School preached it over and over and over, and I assume that most of these guys have already had a longer football career than my five seasons. The Big Ten isn’t looking especially solid this year, but it’s going to provide tougher, more physical games than we’ve seen in the first four. And Montee Ball and La’Veon Bell will crush a DB who thinks a shot with a shoulder pad is going to take him down. Time to get this fixed.

Penalties. Thirty one of them. Two hundred and sixty yards. Many of them of the after-the-whistle-hits or yapping-for-unsportsmanlike-conducts variety. Stop it. Now.

Special teams. I wouldn’t have included this had I written it a week ago, but the performance of Ohio State’s special teams against UAB were atrocious. Know who our special teams coordinator is? Urban Meyer. Coach? Let’s not let that happen again.



First: As was the case two years ago, I am still not pleased with the names chosen by the B1G for its two football divisions. I am therefore making a Killer Nuts Tailgating style ruling: On this blog, the divisions shall be called the Pork and Beef Divisions, and Ohio State plays in the Pork Division.

This just became important today. I had assumed that with the postseason ban in place for this year, that even if Ohio State were to win whichever B1G division the team plays in (the Pork Division, as we now know), the actual division championship would go to the next-best eligible team.

And I was wrong. According to ESPN (and apparently confirmed by the conference), both Ohio State and Penn State are eligible to win the Pork Division championship this season (that goes for Penn State for the next three years as well); we’d get the trophy, but the next-best eligible team gets the berth to the conference title game.

Pork Division Champions. I like how that sounds.

2017 schedule

Aug. 31: vs. at Indiana, 8 p.m.
Sept. 9: Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 16: Army, 4:30 p.m.
Sept. 23: UNLV
Sept. 30: at Rutgers
Oct. 4: at Maryland
Oct. 7: Maryland
Oct. 14: at Nebraska
Oct. 28: Penn State, 3:30 p.m.
Nov. 4: at Iowa
Nov. 11: Michigan State
Nov. 18: Illinois
Nov. 22: Indiana
Nov. 25: at Team Up North, noon
Dec. 2: B1G Championship, 8 p.m.

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