After interviews with OSU beat writer Ken Gordon and Ian from Inside the Shoe, we're concluding our information-gathering trifecta with the good people at Buckeye Battlecry. This was a really fun Q&A and, like the others, is chock full of must-know details about Ohio State and interesting perspective on the Razorbacks. It's safe to say we know a lot more about OSU than we did a week ago, and hope you feel the same.
Many thanks to the Buckeye Battlecry crew for their efforts here, and be sure to head over to their site to read our half of the interview. With all that in mind, read on and enjoy!
The Tattoogate scandal has dominated the pregame news. How much of an impact will it actually have on the Buckeyes in the Sugar Bowl? What's the typical OSU fan's perspective on the whole thing?
"Tattoo-gate" as it's being called, though "Ring-gate" might be more accurate, probably won't affect the Buckeyes as much as most people believe. All of this stuff came to light and was solved before the players even returned to campus for bowl practice. The only time they're going to have to deal with it on any substantial basis is in talking to the media, and one thing the Buckeyes are (usually) well prepared for is talking to the media. With about a week to get over their embarrassment, and an honest desire to "seek forgiveness on the field" as Pryor said, I imagine they'll be more than ready and completely focused on the game.
It also helps that the players were forced to apologize to the media essentially the moment they showed up for practice. That gets it out of the way and keeps the players from worrying about it for days.
It starts to get dicey when you start to talk about the OSU fan reactions. There's been a lot of commentary the last couple of days with a large outcry from the readership of the OSU blogs. The basic thoughts filter this way:
1. The players sold things that belong to them, therefore they did nothing wrong and should not have been suspended.
2. The players screwed up and should be punished, but 5 games was (too much/just right/not enough). Also, they should play the Sugar Bowl because the NCAA says they're allowed to.
3. The players screwed up and definitely should not be playing the Sugar Bowl, regardless of the NCAA's rules to the contrary. We'll worry about next year after the 4th.
We, as a blog, have generally held to number 3. Honestly, I'd rather see the Buckeyes lose to Arkansas without these players on the field than see us win with them. As one blogger put it, OSU loses the moment Pryor steps on the field no matter what the scoreboard says at the end.
Our coverage includes an initial set of thoughts and a well intentioned pod-rant, should your readers have the time. We're dealing as best as we can.
For good or for ill, Jim Tressel let his senior players vote on whether or not to sit Pryor and company. Given the way things have turned out, Arkansas can look forward to seeing all 5 of these guys in New Orleans on the 4th.
How does this year's Ohio State team compare to some of the more notable squads of the recent past (such as 2002, 2006 or 2007)?
The main difference between this year's Ohio State team and some recent great teams is depth.
The 2010 defensive line has some great players in the starting four, but lacks elite depth like the 2002 or the 2009 defensive lines boasted. Injuries have also created a severe lack of depth in the secondary, although the return of Christian Bryant for the Sugar Bowl should help alleviate some of those concerns.
Similarly, Ohio State has some outstanding starters on offense this season, but lacks the proven depth of the 2006 team which fielded three NFL caliber receivers (Ted Ginn, Brian Robiskie, Brian Hartline), two NFL caliber running backs (Antonio Pittman, Beanie Wells), and a Heisman winning quarterback in Troy Smith.
One advantage that this year's team has is an outstanding offensive line, which is arguably the best that Ohio State has fielded since at least 2002.
The bottom line is that Ohio State's starters this season stack up favorably with many of the best teams of the last decade, but proven depth, particularly on the defensive line and at wide receiver, is a major concern.
Let's play a little word association game...please tell us the first word (or words, if it's easier) that pops into your mind when you think of the following:
- Bobby Petrino- Offensive whiz with historic commitment issues
- Ryan Mallett- Former Wolverine, current wunderkind. We're looking forward to drafting him in fantasy football next season.
- Arkansas (the state)- Good fishing
- Arkansas (the team)- Thank God Houston Nutt's not there and they've gotten back on track. Should play Texas more.
- SEC- Questionable math abilities. See "Oversigning.com" Oh, and one of us has an SEC degree... so he blogs much faster.
- Terrelle Pryor- Shut up, relax, and play your game.
- Jim Tressel- Amazing man, pretty good coach, fashion trendsetter. We're lucky to have him, and the next guy will need to walk on water to come close to what he means to Ohio and Buckeye fans/players. Hearing parents talk about him is a real treasure.
In everything from his style of dress to the way his teams play, Jim Tressel seems about as buttoned-down as it gets. What's the secret to his success? Do OSU fans ever wish for him to get crazy and introduce a bunch of new wrinkles into his offense, or is Tresselball simply the modern version of Woody Hayes' straightforward (and highly successful) approach?
To me that his persona, he is cut from the mold of don't beat yourself. Sometimes that seem buttoned up, and sometimes he is doing it to challenge his players. They have 8 in the box- Let'ss find a way to get 3 yards.While that his is greatest strength sometimes it is greatest weakness as well. Take USC last year at home, where we had them beat and instead of really trying to score late, he pinned them deep thinking our D would stop them from going 90+ yds.
What I believe we would like to see is not so much predictability. You truly can call the plays before the ball is snapped half the time. There are plays we would like to see more of like, screens, fades in the redzone, less of the play we call "Dave" which is the off tackle zone read where the backside guard pulls. You will see it at least 15 times in the game.
We do like the wins, but it is frustrating at times, and leaves us wanting more. But it is hard to question success.
Which Ohio State player (or players) will Razorback fans be cursing the most next Tuesday night?
Hopefully, all of them. But one that may drive y'all nuts is Dane Sanzenbacher; the latest in clutch wide receivers who don't seem to get enough credit. Team MVP this year, and saved numerous games with acrobatic grabs that displayed no regard for his personal safety. He's the real deal.
Finally, what's your prediction for the game?
That Buckeye fans who are lucky enough to be in New Orleans will be pretty tired of "Woo-Pig-Sooie!", win or lose. Fair enough?