I come not to question Urban Meyer's credentials as a football coach. At any other university I think he'd take the team right back to the top. But not at Ohio, and here's why.
Meyer has been followed by professional and ethical controversies (33 players arrested at Florida, quitting-coming back-and-quitting again, rampant rumors of an affair with a 23 year-old grad student, suspending Brandon Spikes one half for an eye gouge, etc.). Do you think Ohio will stand for that? Not a chance.
If we know one thing about that university and its fans, it's that winning is nice, but it's meaningless if you don't win the right way. Jim Tressel won games, but remember how hard the fans came down on him after they learned Maurice Clarrett was given illegal benefits? Tressel was lucky to keep his job, and Ohio fans are still reluctant to talk about the 2002 championship, ashamed that they won by cheating.
Who can forget Gordon Gee's response when Tressel's latest scandal broke? When asked if Tressel could be fired, Gee famously responded, "It's definitely possible. Winning football games will always come second to integrity at Ohio State." A maxim that administrators and fans have lived by for years, and one that will not be welcoming to Meyer.
Ohio further solidified their commitment to winning the right way in their complete and total cooperation with the resulting NCAA investigation. "If we did anything wrong, we will suffer the consequences that are justly coming to us," Gee said, and fans agreed. At no point did they try to coverup transgressions or skirt their responsibilites. And while it's true they lead the NCAA in infractions, that just means they have a great compliance program, somehow.
Ohio fans have long been known as the most humble, classiest fans in sports and I think we can all agree the title is well-deserved. We've all heard stories of Michigan fans being greeted with a warm welcome in Columbus, Ohio fans offering their finest microbrews to their guests from the north. These fans are in no way dead-eyed, slack-jawed, mouth-breathing sub-morons, equally proud of their GEDs and Truck Nutz. But I don't have to tell you that.
Woody Hayes once punched a kid in the throat, but it's not like they continue to deify the guy.
In conclusion, Meyer's shady tactics would play well at a lot of schools over the country, but not Ohio, my friends... not Ohio. With an athletic department that stresses honesty, integrity, and accountability, and a fanbase who would rather lose every game than sell out their principles, Meyer will not last long.
Eh... Maybe he'll be fine.
The standings live here as always. BlueBarron gave the proper sacrifices to the Ctrl+F deities and has returned to the top 20.
This week Southern Miss and Florida State drop out of the polls. Georgia Tech returns as one replacement and Virginia enters the poll for the first time since 2007. It will come as no surprise to you that Virginia was not a very popular pick this year. Only 2 people selected Virginia as their unranked team. What may come as a surprise is that MaizeAndBlueWahoo was not one of the two. Instead he chose Boston College. I wonder if he’s regretting his decision to choose all of his most hated teams.
Individual Ballot Analysis
Brooklyn Blue is on a 3-week stay at the top of the leaderboard. This week he has 105 points. The perfect ballot has changed slightly with the losses by Oklahoma State and Clemson. With 119 points this week, the perfect ballot is LSU, Stanford, Arkansas, Michigan State, Southern Cal and Houston.
There are four people tied for last place who all have the worst possible score. They’re only getting points from Oklahoma and TCU for a score of 21 points.
Judging Your Picks
It has been a long time since MGoBlog has been able to claim that it’s readers had better than average skill at predicting the outcome of this college football season. This week a completely random ballot and the average MGoBlog ballot are both earning 54 points.
Games To Watch
There are a ton of good games to watch this weekend. It might just be the best weekend in college football. The top team from every group is playing in a game that is at least somewhat tough.
- #1 LSU (leader of Group A) vs. #3 Arkansas (leader of Group C)
- #4 Stanford vs. #22 Notre Dame
- #8 Houston (leader of Unranked) vs. Tulsa
- #11 Michigan St (leader of Group D) vs. Northwestern
- #10 Southern Cal (leader of Group E) vs. UCLA
While the last two games may not sound that tough, Northwestern picked off Nebraska earlier this season and they’re playing at home. Teams don’t just walk into the vaunted Ryan Field and expect an easy victory.
USC is far and away the best team in the Pac-12 South but they’re ineligible to go to the title game. Right now UCLA is a game ahead of Utah but Utah has an almost guaranteed victory over Colorado on Friday. That means Saturday night UCLA will know they are playing for their spot in the Pac-12 title game.
Since it’s Thanksgiving I’d like to share what I’m thankful for.
I’m thankful for Georgia and Virginia Tech quietly putting together good seasons. I’m also thankful for Stanford getting back into the top 5.
I am not thankful for Arizona State. They have forever disappointed me with their losses to UCLA, Washington State and Arizona the last three weeks. That is about as far from a murder’s row as you can get in the BCS.
What are your non-Michigan thanks?
I managed to catch up with 2013 four-star receiver Laquon Treadwell on Tuesday, and he gave me a quick update on his recruitment, including a potential decision date. He'll be in Ann Arbor this weekend with his teammate and 2012 commit Anthony Standifer to watch the Ohio State game. [Note: This week's recruiting roundup will go up on Friday. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.]
ACE: First of all, your season finished a couple weeks ago, and you guys finished up 10-1. How did you feel about the team's performance and your own performance this season?
LAQUON: I think our team was great, and I had a good performance this year. I improved a lot, in a lot of cases—my route-running improved, and my catching, and my ability to break tackles improved a lot.
ACE: Do you know your stats off the top of your head?
LAQUON: I think they were 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns.
ACE: Not bad at all. You're coming in this weekend for the Ohio State game. Are you excited about the visit?
LAQUON: I'm very excited. I keep trying to go every time I get a chance to go down there, but my ride never comes through, there's always something [Treadwell tried to visit last weekend as well].
ACE: I know last time we talked you said it was important that you had your mom with you on some visits before you made your decision. [Laquon: Yeah!] Is she coming up with you for this one?
LAQUON: I'm not sure. I think she is—she said she doesn't have to work, so we [both] should be able to make it up there.
ACE: Is there anything specific that you're looking for on this trip, or are you just looking to come up and enjoy the game?
LAQUON: Enjoy the game, listen to the fans and everything, and enjoy the atmosphere of Michigan.
ACE: I know you're obviously in contact with Anthony [Standifer], but are you in contact with any other recruits?
LAQUON: I've talked to Shane. I talked to him last week about last weekend, but I haven't talked to him lately.
ACE: I'm guessing Shane is trying to sell you on the program?
LAQUON: [Laughs] Yeah.
ACE: You've got offers from Michigan and Notre Dame right now. Are there any other schools that have been showing more interest in you since your season ended?
LAQUON: Wisconsin, Nebraska, Auburn, and Vanderbilt.
ACE: Do you have any leaders at the time?
ACE: Is there any sort of timeline for when you make a decision?
LAQUON: Either on my birthday, June 14th, or the day of our first game or something like that.
Talented BUT . . .
So I've watched about 7 of Ohio's games, (Brady Hoke has only watched 4, he clearly doesn't "Get It". I mean what's the point of the countdown clock if you're not doing something every day to beat Ohio? Doesn't that include watching ALL of their games? /sarcasm) and the team has lots of talent, as you would expect. BUT...
Most of it is inexperienced, and the experienced parts of it are having trouble getting on the same page. It's one thing for your QB to be young and dumb, it's another for your senior laden O-line to not be getting to their blocking assignments or your two upperclassmen running backs doing their impression of the keystone cops when you put them in the wildcat. Those things are on the coaches, and it's been pretty clear for awhile that these coaches are on their way out. (Regardless of what lies Urban is spinning)
The video above is pretty typical. Shazier is stepping in for team captain Sweat. He's got loads of talent, but if you look carefully, you'll see that a lot of the plays he's making are downfield (when they're not running right at him) because he's slow to react and diagnose. Once he get's going, he's got a lot of speed to get there, and he likes to hit, but not very much form on the tackle because it seems like he's more interested in making a big hit.
When I watch this edition of OSU, I see lots of playmakers, but I don't see a cohesive team.
OSU on O
The Speed Option
The two plays I worry about from Braxton Miller are the QB lead draw and the speed option. He's also dangerous when he scrambles, but I feel like our DL can be disciplined enough to keep him in the pocket. I've already focused on his scrambling and the lead draws in the previous scouting reports, so this time I'm focusing on the speed option, which they ran much better this game, and ran more often.
They like to run out of the pistol, and they'll run it to either the weak side or the strong side depending on what the defense does. But they do prefer running to their right, which is behind Shugarts. PSU shows a cover 2, so there's a numbers advantage to the left side.
I kinda think PSU is a little bit miss aligned for this formation, but it seems like they had a CB blitz called on the weakside. The option motion just goes away from it and those two guys are not going to be a factor in the play.
It's just zone blocking and this is one of the plays where the O-line does a good job of scraping to the 2nd level.
Miller looked much better this game at taking the hole that is in front of him. But from a scouting standpoint, he almost never pitches. So it kind of seems like a waste of a player. They had one play where they did the power lead, which I would be even more concerned with.
So now that they've hurt PSU with the base play, it's time for the companion playaction. PSU had 8 men in the box for a lot of the 1st quarter, but backed off a bit after Miller hit a couple of passes. Here they've only got 7 in the box.
The option motion starts to the right, but then Miller jabs his foot in the ground and gets depth to throw. The key to reading this play is that the O-Line is clearly in pass blocking mode. The backpeddaling uncovered guard is a dead giveaway.
PSU does a great job of rushing with discipline, no one is over-running Miller, and they get a free rusher coming up the middle.
Miller will usually make the first man miss, but because of the spread out pocket and controlled rush by the D-line, he's got no place to go.
[Ed-Seth: take the jump for the much more.]
Play 18, +13.4%, Robinson to Roundtree for 46 on 3rd and 8
Play 73, +6.6%, Robinson scores from the 14 on 3rd and 1
Play 52, +6.3% Robinson to Hemingway for 26 on 3rd and 6
Play 46, –11.1%, Martinez to Kinnie for a 54 yard TD
Play 59, –7.6%, Brett Maher hits a 51 yard FG
Plays 54/55, –7.1%, Terrence Moore intercepts Denard (-5.1%) and returns it to the Michigan 34 (-2.0%)
It’s nice to see Denard re-claim the top 3 with both running and passing, all on big third down plays. Also good, when the second most negative play of the day was one that (at that point) was one you had no control over.
Nebraska Game Scores
Rushing: +1, not spectacular but effective
Passing: +9, second only to Northwestern, a very efficient performance
Rush defense: +2, didn’t allow Nebraska to do enough to set up the pass
Pass defense: +3, since ND, no games worse than -2
Special Team: +1, positive for the 4th straight game, even without counting the fumbles
Denard: +14 overall, +11 passing and +2 rushing, only Northwestern and ND were higher at +15
Toussaint: –3, final TD considered garbage time, would have pushed him to par
Martinez -4, +0 pass, -4 rush, his worst game of the year and first negative in the Big 10
Burkhead: +0 on his fewest carries of the year
Heisman and Award Tracking
My top 3 Heisman/QB:
1. RG3, Baylor: +3.39 WPA (2nd), +13 PAN (1st)
2. Russell Wilson, Wisconsin: +3.24 (3rd), +13 (2nd)
3. Kellen Moore, Boise St.: +1.77 (24th), +11 (4th)
Denard Robinson: +2.50 (7th), +5 (28th)
Robert Griffin’s big game against Oklahoma propelled him into the number 1 spot over Russell Wilson. Case Keenum is right in the mix, as well, but Kellen Moore gets the third spot thanks to the games against Georgia and TCU. Andrew Luck remains absent based on his good but not great resume.
1. LaMichael James, Oregon: +.69 (9th), +3 (3rd)
2. Joseph Randle, Oklahoma St: +.39 (24th), +3 (5th)
3. Montee Ball, Wisconsin: +.67 (10th), +3 (7th)
Trent Richardson, Aabama: +.29 (34th), +2 (11th)
Fitz Toussaint: +.22 (40th), +1 (41st)
As you can see from the magnitude of the RB numbers versus the QB numbers, I just can’t justify putting an RB on my Heisman ballot.
1. Kendall Wright, Baylor: +1.94 (4th), +9 (2nd)
2. Gerell Robinson, Arizona St: +2.47 (1st), +8 (7th)
3. Sammy Watkins, Clemson: +1.40 (12th), +8 (4th)
Sammy Watkins has slumped as the season as progressed and Gerell Robinson has come on strong of late. Justin Blackmon’s season has still been strong but nowhere near the dominance he had last year. Former Michigan opponents Jordan White and Jeremy Ebert where near contenders.
1. Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
2. Whitney Mercilus, Illinois
3. Devon Still, Penn St
1. AJ Johnson, Tennessee
2. Danny Trevathan, Kentucky
3. Johnathan Brown, Illinois
1. Tony Jefferson, Oklahoma
2. Antonio Allen, South Carolina
3. DeQuan Menzie, Alabama
Defensive players are rated based on how many negative EV plays they make and the magnitude of those plays. They are then divided by the number of non-garbage time plays the entire defense has faced so teams that force a lot of three and outs aren’t punished.
Ron Zook Dumb Punt of the Week
Some tough calls this week. Notre Dame and BC both punted from inside the 45 with less than 5 yards to go in the second half, twice! Even though that game was an ug-fest both coaches get awarded dumb punt of the week.
Normally, I would have given the award to Mack Brown at Texas for punting from the 45 on 4th and 5 down 7 in the fourth quarter to Kansas St, but when your defense only gives up 120 yards for the game there is a defensible case for it.
The Game Preview
My son just turned three and he is starting to watch a little bit of football now. He always wears his jersey and says “Go Michigan” and asks every morning if today is a football day. I started getting nervous a couple weeks ago when watching other games he started telling me “I like the red team” for any team with red uniforms. This could not stand. So I started telling him that the red team was bad and he like Michigan. Yesterday I gave him a test and asked him if he liked Michigan or the red team, he yelled “Michigan!” and then told me, unprompted, that the red team is sad. I hope he is right, they deserve to be very, very sad.
PAN, National Rank (leader), B1G Rank (leader)
Michigan: +4, 10th (Georgia Tech), 2nd (Wisconsin)
vs Ohio D: +1, 38th, 6th
Michigan: +2, 41st (Boise St), 5th (Wisconsin)
vs Ohio D: +4, 15th, 3rd
Michigan: +2, 25th (Alabama), 4th (Illinois)
vs Ohio O: +1, 34th, 4th
Michigan: +2, 36th (Oklahoma St), 6th (Penn St)
vs Ohio O: –4, 109th, 12th
Michigan: +0, 74th (Florida St), 8th (Purdue)
Ohio: +2, 23rd, 3rd
A one-dimensional offense against Greg Mattison, yes please. Limit the turnovers and don’t allow any big special teams plays and I think the streak is over. Michigan 28-20
Happy Thanksgiving. BEAT OHIO.