Thursday, April 10, 2008

Break It Down, Poe

Poe McKnoe takes a look at the major players on the 2008 Ohio State Buckeyes squad.

Todd Boeckman (QB, 6th year Senior):
Ok, Todd. You’re a 2nd year starter on a Top 3 team. Last year, you learned on the job, even though technically you had 4 years of training. An interception there, a fumble here, a floater now and then…it was fine. You definitely weren’t Craig Krenzel, but at least you definitely weren’t Justin Zwick. (Editor: Krenzel could basically will a team to victory…Purdue? Illinois? Piece of cake.) The good news is that Todd could end up with a similar W-L record as Krenzel, achieved in reverse. Todd, you’ve already got Craig’s 2 losses (not counting the 2001 South Carolina loss. Yes, Tressel has also lost to Lou Gamecocks), you know what that means Todd, undefeated including the Championship game.

What you’ve got
: You look like an Ohio State quarterback at 6’5" 230lbs. Your deep balls CAN be right on target, dropping into the receivers’ hands. You’re a 6th year Senior. You can read defenses and you can sell a play action. You’re sort of mobile in a lot of space. You can make a lot of throws (witness Penn State circa 2007). You’ve started a whole season. You get a whole off-season to hone those skills, and not fight for a job. You’ve graduated, you’ve got some extra time on your hands. You are a better QB (passing skill and accuracy) than Craig Krenzel.

What you need
: The knowledge to scan the field, the knowledge to check down, and the knowledge to throw the ball away. Unfortunately, LSU was able to posterize TB (even though his arm was going forward, referees) because of this. Don’t assume the play is going to be there. Getting on the up elevator after your last 3 games. You don’t really scare opposing defenses. If you’re going to run, RUN…you will not juke a linebacker…you are bigger than a lot of linebackers and especially corners…and you have backup QBs. Putting zip on your passes for short, medium, and long passes. The support of the majority of the fan base, those of whom are quick to dismiss a QB after a single loss or two. To be Craig Krenzel, and to use that thick head to take some hits and get back up and lead your team.

Beanie Wells (RB, Junior)
Ok, Beanie. You said you want to win the Heisman. Good mindset, bad execution. You want to stay at Ohio State for 4 years. Good mindset, bad execution. However, your sophomore season was excellent execution across the board. You got the warrior’s mentality, you manned up, and ran over everybody (especially teams from Michigan, MSU: 221+9 and UM: 222). We were a little scared in the Youngstown State game. We were a little scared in the Akron game, until you tossed a CB and your season was underway. You need to be the leader of the team, so we need attitude from you. Hell, act like you play in the SEC (we’ve seen how they act).

What you’ve got
: Size, speed, power, The Stiff Arm of Justice (copyright Men of the S&G), mindset, skills, ability to play through pain, and uh, basically everything you want in a running back. You can cut on a dime, you can spin, you can juke, you can move the pile, and you can knock a defender of his feet.

What you need
: More attitude. You heard me, and we saw some of it in the Wisconsin game running back to the bench, we saw it in the Michigan game, and we saw your stride into the end zone against LSU. You don’t quite run like Adrian Peterson just yet, but you are more durable. You need 2000 yards, a championship, and a ride into the NFL sunset. Sell out on every play, I saw you in the championship game. It was a Todd Boeckman deep ball and you knew it wasn’t coming so you walked out of the backfield. Maybe a smarter Todd would have checked down to a wide-open Beanie in the middle of the field.

Malcolm Jenkins (CB, Senior)
Ok MJ. You could be the best cover corner in college football, but we wouldn’t know since you don’t play it. You own Anthony Morelli, and I expect it to continue with the next Penn State QB. You came back for a senior season and now you have to show why. I like your attitude in leading the secondary. Three star recruits from New Jersey aren’t supposed to be that good, you are.

What you’ve got:
Size, speed, and skills. You play cornerback and safety. You hit and you tackle. Your NFL caliber skills are back for one more season. If I was an NFL GM, I would draft you in the first round and tell you to shut down whoever you cover. You’re so good in coverage, I was wondering if you could give some of it to the linebackers who can’t.

What you need:
You need more opportunities in man to man coverage and blitzing the QB from Heacock. I have memories of a young Jenkins playing man on a Texas WR and tearing the ball out of his hands down in Austin. You need to keep your head up, we saw it against Illinois, Wisconsin, and LSU. As a result of the head down, you got beat on plays you took off. Especially in the Wisconsin game, you got beat by a FB, a FULLBACK. You know who beat you on a similar route? Early Doucet. You need the mindset of getting a pick the play after something bad happens.

James Laurinaitis (LB, Senior)
Ok Jim. You too forgo the NFL for a senior season at Ohio State, and it was probably for the best. As the media appointed leader of the defense, you make a ton of tackles and intimidate everyone on the field. You’ve won the awards, played in 3 BCS games including 2 National Championships. You helped land Etienne Sabino, a recruit from Miami and #1 rated ILB in the nation, since Ohio State MLBs always rock worlds and get drafted in the Top 10.

What you’ve got:
You have a ton of tackles and awards to go along with those tackles. You sir, may be the team’s lone playmaker on defense. When we need a play, you make it. Texas? Washington? Good stuff. You played your first almost whole game against Michigan in 2005. You’ve been the leader of a young defense, and now that defense is no longer young. You’re big and most likely mean. You have no neck.

What you need:
You are not AJ Hawk. Though you could have been drafted where he was, you are not AJ Hawk. Hawk was a tank that blew through offensive lines, always took the angle on defenders, and made players pay. You make tackles. Cool. The problem is they aren’t at or behind the line of scrimmage and you still have problems getting off blocks, even from receivers. Hawk and Carpenter made people pay. Please hit hard, please. Go and watch film of AJ Hawk, Matt Wilhelm, and Andy Katzenmoyer. LSU and Florida have made your linebacking crew look silly, with no help from the secondary. It’s in your best interest to make Ray Malilugea look like a second stringer compared to you against USC.


Anonymous said...

Great, great post. I think you are DEAD ON about Laurinaitis. He is an extremely opportunistic defender, as you already highlighted. He does, however, have issues with shedding blocks at the point of attack (Illinois, LSU).

Last year, this could have been attributed to our mediocre play at DT, but with a more experienced interior D-line there should be no more excuses.

I also think that Heacock was not aggressive enough with the defensive play calling: he often preferred to have JL operate in space and react to plays. JL is a cerebral linebacker who obviously prides himself on film study and football acumen, evident from his ability to capitalize on turnovers.
He has been exceptional, but he has the chance to become an icon in the history of this program. Hopefully, with the talent in our defensive backfield, Heacock decides to let the reins loose and allow Laurinaitis and Freeman to attack the line of scrimmage and disrupt running lanes and create pressure on the QB. I am sure that Laurinaitis will figure out, at some point, how to shed those blocks.

Poe McNoe said...

I've seen Laurinaitis in person at a bar. Sure, I was drunk. But he sure looked like he could throw a lot of people out of the way.