Nevertheless, Purdue — home of the World’s Largest Drum — is up next and it’s cause for us to celebrate some of the better moments of the Purdue-OSU series in the past couple years. A few days ago, I uploaded a Drive-Thru compilation of the Holy Buckeye game, perhaps the most celebrated in all the series. It’s a toss-up between the 1968 or 2002 games for most celebrated in Ohio State lore, but the common denominator there is that the victory over Purdue paved the way for a national championship. Today, I give necessary props to Ben Jones, my hero of the day1 for November, 15 2003. It is Purdue’s first visit to Columbus since that game.
So, here’s what I’m chewing on about the Purdue game.
- Dane Sanzenbacher, as you might have guessed, is out for the Purdue game after getting his brains scrambled by the Badgers. Ray Small, though, is not a certain go for the Purdue game either. This means DeVier Posey gets moved to second in the depth chart at split end and, potentially, Lamaar “Flash” Thomas gets moved to second in the slot. Opportunities abound for the freshmen in a season that was supposed to be dominated by seniors.
- When Steve Rehring came back from injury after the USC debacle, the consensus seemed to be that he would be inserted back in at left guard, moving Cordle back to center and Michael Brewster back to the bench. However, Brewster has established him as the center, an impressive feat in and of itself for a true freshman and one with no previous experience at center. Now, Rehring, Browning and Person will be part of a three man rotation for the right side of the line. To be honest, and though I was critical of him early on, I see no reason to shuffle Browning in and out of the game on offense since he’s become a solid performer. So far, it looks like Rehring will be at right tackle and Browning and Person will exchange time at right guard.
- I’m finally getting my wish: with Boom Herron’s brains also being scrambled by the Badgers, Lamaar Thomas will take his kickoff return duties. I’m getting ready to yell at him through the TV for carrying the ball like a loaf of bread (a problem all freshmen have), but I’m a bit surprised why he wasn’t in the mix earlier. Technically, it’ll be a 3 man rotation on kickoffs, also including Mo Wells.
- Boom Herron should also be missed in the backfield. I’m not sure who the no. 2 is on the depth chart, or at least most importantl, who would stand behind Pryor in the Buckeye Pistol. Saine is now listed as no. 2 in the depth chart, so if he’s the guy, there’d be no time like the present to show that he’s not just a track player trying to play football.
- I’m convinced Purdue’s offensive line isn’t very good. It’d be easy to throw stones on that regard, but the truth is that our defensive line is probably even worse. The fact that only 50 percent of respondents to my totally scientifically valid poll question think that our defensive tackles can dominate against Purdue is both damning and depressing. Our defensive line is among the worst in college football in the important dimensions of sacks (77th nationally) and TFLs (103rd) and our tackles constitute a large part of the problem. I’ve touched in this in past game synopses here, but often times, our defensive tackles don’t even register a statistic.
- I know people have taken shots at our linebackers (specifically Laurinaitis) for being overrated. Whatever kernel of truth there is to that is ultimately a function of how poorly the defensive line has been. If you look at the past couple games, or even try to infer from statistics, you’ll see that the linebackers have been getting quite a workout. The solution for the defense so far (on passing plays) has been to keep the deep options covered and force the underneath throw so Homan and Laurinaitis can jump it and end the play for minimal gain. So far, so good. It’s not a reliable solution to the problems on defense, but it’s working for now.
- On the flipside, I really like how well our offensive line is gelling. I see consistent improvement across all players — probably sans Ben Person. I see flashes of Alex Boone’s inner mean drunk, Browning becoming more well-rounded and a true freshman under center looking more and more like an upperclassman. I feel confident we can the trenches while on offense. Of course, I felt that way against Ohio too. Hmmm.
- I really hope the staff takes a cybernetic approach to Terrelle Pryor, encouraging himself not to get too lost in the details for now. Wisconsin really chewed him up for huge losses when he tried to do too much.
- On a recruiting note, Marlon Brown and Ra’shede Hageman will be in town for this game. This represents the first official visits for the Buckeyes of the 2008 season. Brown is definitely in the DO WANT category, and with each passing day, there’s more optimism that he would commit.
We should be around for this game. Feel free to leave a comment.
- I know my freshman roommate reads this still… I’m trying to see if he can pick up the reference here… [↩]