It is early but coach Fickell needs to make some changes and he needs to make them now.
I refuse to believe this Buckeye team went from a top 25 team to one that is going to go 6-6 like many fans seem to think it will be. I absolutely believe this team should win at least 9 games and I think 10, or even 11 is realistic. I watched the talent on this team as high school players. There is plenty of talent. It just isn't on the field right now.
Joe Bauserman came out in the Akron game with a performance that nobody outside of Bauserman and his family thought he was capable of. It looked to be a career changing game for him, and a program changing game for the Buckeyes. It is now looking like a once in a lifetime performance. He is getting worse. Toledo was the kind of game most of us expected out of Bauserman when the season started. I don't think anyone would have predicted that he could be as bad as he was against Miami. I have been trying to think back to the last time I saw a no comments
If Luke Fickell does not get the job he should immediately climb on a plane to Oakland, find Terrell Pryor and beat him until his hands are sore. The Buckeyes are left with one quarterback who does not have it and one who is not ready. The quarterback position has not been this inept since Steve Bellisari. I only hope to see Joe Bauserman be as good as Todd Boeckman. I was done with Bauserman after the third and goal on the second field goal drive when he threw the ball into the stands. He had three opportunities to throw the ball to Stoneburner. I am going to forgive him for the first window when Stoneburner was wide open. He may not have been in position to throw the ball. On the second he would not cut it loose. Bauserman has the arm. He could have put it in there. On the last window he had a low percentage shot but it was still a shot. If he throws the ball low only Stoneburner is the only one who could have gotten it. He threw the ball into the stands. He could have tried to throw it high at the back of the endzone to Fields. That way Fields is the only player who has a shot. He threw it into the stands. Taking either option would possibly gotten the Buckeyes a game changing touchdown but would have at least secured the field just as his throw away did. There is no reason not to go to Miller for the rest of the season. Joe Bauserman is not a quarterback at this level.
Once again we saw in this game that Ohio State cannot play from behind. Bad starts have been a hallmark of recent Buckeye loses. Four early plays were key to going down 14 points. The first play from scrimmage for Miami was a perfect no comments
There is a good deal of information coming out about the class of 2013. I do not think it is premature to look forward to that class. I think it very wise of the staff to get started on 2013. We are seeing the same names come up with the class of 2012. There might be a player who comes out of the blue but for the most part we have a good idea of who is going to fill out the class. 2013 is looking like another good one in Ohio but I like what I am seeing from some out of state players who are showing a great deal of interest in Ohio State.
I started out thinking I was going to pick just ten players that I would like to see the staff use every opportunity allowed by the NCAA to stay in contact with them. I will start with the Ohio players.
Jalin Marshall - Ath, 6-0, 190, Middletown
Coming off a camp season where his quarterback stock dropped but his athlete stock went through the roof, Marshall remains the top player in the class. He is a game changing athlete. I no comments
It is only two games into the season but you have to think it is time to review already. There are some obvious concerns popping up that are too important to put off.
The first is obviously at quarterback. Going into the season I asked the question, can Bauserman win a game for you? That was in response to the reasoning behind why Bauserman would be the starter. After the Akron game it appeared he would defy all of us naysayers and be a guy we could depend on to make a play for this team. I never thought we could see Bauserman be the player he was versus Akron. The player we saw versus the much better Toledo team was the one I expected to see. Which one is the real Joe Bauserman? His performance in previous years says the Toledo version. In relief roles over the years I have come away wondering what he was trying to do with the ball. That is what I saw against Toledo. The decisions he made were so very conservative. Way too conservative. I like it when a quarterback is in trouble and throws the ball away. No gain is a far better play than sack, sack and fumble, interception. We saw Bauserman throw the ball away when he was not in trouble. There is a big no comments
Friday night I had the opportunity to get a first hand look at the Marlington Dukes and star junior Dymonte Thomas as they traveled to Mahoning county to take on Poland. I was hoping to witness a future Buckeye, but after watching Michigan's come from behind win over the Irish of Notre Dame, word has come down that Thomas has verbally committed to Michigan. Key word being verbal, but I'll leave that at that.
Thomas is not the only playmaker for Marlington and he was actually out shined by his senior teammate Alden Hill on Friday. Hill, a 6-2 220-pound Tennessee verbal, made plays both on the ground and through the air where he scored on a pair of deep seam routes over the middle. He is a load to handle when he gets going downhill. His explosiveness and forward lean are devastating in short yardage situations. There has been some chatter that some folks in Stark county like him even more than Canton GlenOak's Bri'onte Dunn. With all due respect, I haven't a clue what those folks are looking at. I try not to pay too much attention to star ratings from national recruiting services, but there's a reason Dunn gets 5 stars and Hill gets 3 or maybe 4. In this case it is a decent measuring stick. Hill has a good first step but nowhere near the breakaway speed or elusiveness of Dunn. Dunn can match Hill's physical game but Hill cannot match Dunn's speed game. I have to admit he was even better than I expected and I'm not trying to put him down. Dunn is just in another class.
And it all starts up front for the Marlington offense. That's where 6-5 300-pound Michigan State verbal Zach Higgins comes in. Number 76 for the Dukes is a high intensity lineman both at the line of scrimmage and downfield. You don't see those kind of effort blocks by a guy so big so far downfield very often. He doesn't have the feet of a left tackle but he has the skills and talent to play either guard spot or right tackle for the Spartans. He is always well balanced and comes off the ball hard. He knows how big he is and he knows how to use it. The result is a high level Big Ten prospect.
Now to the newest north-bound talent in the state of Ohio; Dymonte Thomas. He is just a great looking athlete. He's long and lean and looks like a dream for a collegiate strength coach. He is so explosive out of his breaks with the ball in his hands. Most, however, like him best on defense as a safety. I was of that opinion going in and haven't changed having seen him in person. Getting in and out of breaks is huge for a safety and he has the tools. Playing outside linebacker right now, Marlington dropped him into coverage for the majority of the first half. He was taking good angles and being an athlete covering ground quickly. This shows me he has taken to his coaching well. He failed to get enough depth on several occasions with nothing in front of him and the ball went deep over his head. This shows me he's still a step back on natural understanding and instincts. In the run game he seemed a step behind on recognition and wasn't making an impact until they started bringing him off the edge in run blitzes later in the game. Before Friday I was arguing that Warren Harding's Jalyn Powell is closer to Thomas than the experts might think. After seeing them both in person, I feel that it is Thomas that is just behind Powell. Powell is a ball hawk and actually the better hitter. I'd like to word this in a specific way. Dymonte Thomas has the higher ceiling, which in large part is what recruiting and the scouting of recruits is all about. But, not only do I feel that Jalyn Powell is the better safety today, I believe he is more likely to reach his ceiling. Powell is a natural gamer and I don't think that that is something that is easy to learn. Make no mistake, I would much rather see him in Scarlet than in Blue, but now I have him as number 2 instead of 1 for Ohio's safety class.
Later on I was able to catch Powell's Harding team play crosstown Howland on tape delay. I was very interested in this game after being surprised by Harding running back LaShun Daniels (6-0 206) in week one and wanting to compare him to Howland's DeVeon Smith (5-11 210). I initially said that my gut reaction was that Daniels might be the better of the two. After this game, I must retract that statement. It's close, but DeVeon has taken his game to the next level. There were questions about Smith's speed and although he may never be a breakaway burner, I feel he has more than enough to compliment his style. He reminds me so much of Michigan State's Edwin Baker. He rarely misses a hole and has a great burst through it and through his breaks. His strength is top shelf as he drags would-be tacklers, seemingly without ever slowing down. His first long touchdown run on one of the first offensive snaps of the game is one to look forward to when the highlight tape comes out. Daniels also continues to impress. His balance and power has Big Ten written all over it. He is a great finisher as his grinding style makes him increasingly dangerous as the game wears on. Just like in week one his best work was done in the second half. I wasn't disappointed in either, but the good things I've been hearing about DeVeon Smith continue to hold true.
As for next week, I've got a Stark county trip planned so be sure to check back with the DLR!
We talk about needing a special teams coach. I never looked around to see if other college teams have special teams coaches. The NFL has special teams coaches. A few short years ago we just assumed we would be better on special teams than anyone we went up against. Buchanan was very good again. We got the punt return but overall we are not a good special teams football team. Not nearly good enough. I don't know if any colleges have special teams coaches. I know we need one.
The pass rush with the front four is still lacking. We get more out of the bigs, the nose, the 3-tech and the strong side end, than we do out of the Edge, which is a position designed to give the player at that position an advantage in the pass rush. We are not seeing any of the players lined up there do anything with that advantage. Moore played well overall but did not have an impact as a pass rusher. Big Hank had a great game. I don't know if he left the field. That says something about his conditioning. He was a menace the entire game. Simon was a one man wrecking crew after returning from the no comments
Looking back on last week there were several things that stood out to me. Unfortunately, the behavior of a couple of coaches topped the list.
Ohio State and other major programs pay a pretty penny to visiting schools who come into their home stadiums to play. A few years ago someone, I believe it was a state legislator but don't hold me to that, came up with the idea of Ohio State playing instate schools so that money stays in the states higher education system. Ohio State fans were appalled. There was no upside for Ohio State. No instate school had beaten Ohio State since 1921. No MAC school had beaten Ohio State since 1894. Beating, no, crushing, MAC opponents was expected so wins, no matter how big, gained Ohio State nothing. A loss would be devastating. Last Saturday we saw what we expected when an Akron program, coming into Ohio State off a 1-11 record, got crushed.
Duane and I had a new idea for this fall to add another dimension to this site. Since you’re here and reading this, you already know that Duane is one of the best in the business at breaking down player films and evaluating high school football talent. This fall I plan to be the on-site eyes for this blog. Each week I will go to high school games and try to get a first hand look at some of the top college prospects in the state of Ohio. I am based in NE Ohio so expect some Youngstown/Canton flavor. Week one went pretty well if you ask me, so hopefully you enjoy the information I’d like to pass along as much as I enjoyed gathering it. I actually saw two games in week one, one on Thursday and one on Friday, and was treated to a pleasant surprise in each.
The first game I saw was Poland @ Hubbard. Poland lost receiver Darius Patton to graduation and the Pitt Panthers, so I wasn’t expecting much as far as D1 prospects go. This game was a spurt of the moment decision for me to even go and I am glad I did! The Hubbard Eagles lost the game, but won my attention with a trifecta of underclassmen who already caught my eye as college prospects.
The first is a sophomore WR/CB named Darnell Tate. At 5-11 160, Tate was the fastest player on the field and it wasn’t very close. What impressed me the most was that this kid is what I like to call a football player. He’s not just a great athlete out there. He played man-to-man defense most of the night at corner while Hubbard walked their safety up into the box to stop the run. He didn’t give Poland’s QB Colin Reardon (committed to Miami (OH)) many easy throws to his side. Then on offense he took snaps at running back as well as receiver, where he found the end zone twice through the air, the last on a ball down the left sideline where he showed speed and elusiveness as he juked the safety back to the inside for the score as Hubbard tried to make a comeback. He also returned punts and kicks. His size and speed need to be verified, but he came across as a guy with a ton of potential.
Tate is a young kid, only a sophomore, but the other two that caught my eye one-upped him as freshmen! I’ll start with the center Matt Jones. I actually liked Hubbard’s center last year, but this freshman forced the now senior AJ Pantone to nose tackle because he was simply the better player even at his young age. Standing 6-3 and 295-pounds (it looked legit), Jones is a force on the interior of that line. Several times I saw him turn his man and push him into the neighboring defender , taking out two Bulldogs with one block. He bent at the knees and moved his feet very well. So well that he played the entire second half both ways and was also Hubbard’s most disruptive player on the defensive line, taking up blocks and knifing through for TFL’s. A Hubbard guy near me used the word ‘freak’ early in the game when I asked about him, I cannot say I disagree. Being so big at a young age scares me a bit. He’s the perfect size right now, so I don’t want him to grow unless it’s vertically. I was told he’s a weight room warrior, so I hope that means he’ll keep his body under control. If he does, watch out!
The last guy I want to mention from this game is a freshman tailback named Larry Scott. A few years back I watched a tape of a tailback, looked at the class, and thought it had to be a typo. I later found out it wasn’t and the beast I was watching was Bri’onte Dunn as a freshman at Alliance. When Larry Scott ran through about 8 Poland defenders before cutting back inside and rumbling 83 yards down the middle of the field to pay dirt, I was just as shocked to learn this 6-foot 200-pound back was also just a freshman. He’s naturally big and broad. He might not be his listed 200 pounds, but that might be a good thing because this kid has room to grow. He’s big, strong and has excellent balance. He has moves and by no means is an easy tackle. He’ll have to work on vision and staying between the tackles, but he was so physically impressive for a young kid. From his strength to his burst, this kid is going to be special. Oh yeah, his brother Isaiah is also on the varsity roster as a freshman at receiver and saw some snaps late in the game but didn’t have a catch. Remember those last two are 2015 kids, so certainly take it with a grain of salt. But I’ve seen Big Ten level players live at bother of their positions and I came away highly impressed with their first varsity game.
Next was Friday night’s Division 1 showdown between Austintown Fitch and Warren Harding at Harding. The first guy I got to see this season with a Buckeye offer was Fitch’s OL/DL Billy Price. I was of the opinion that Price is the type of athlete that can play left tackle at the next level. Fitch doesn’t really pass much and almost never from the pocket, so I never got a good look in that regard. He was very good downblocking and a monster when he pulled and led his backs through the hole. He looks like a guard. He looks like an elite, 5 star at a position that doesn’t get 5 stars, type of guard. Thing is, he’s probably better on defense. He did what you would want an elite defensive lineman to do against high school linemen who couldn’t match his size, he went right through and over them. But then when he got bored with that, he beat them off the ball and went right past them with ease before punishing the ball carrier. He’s bigger than you, faster than you, more agile than you, and simply nastier than you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I wasn’t disappointed in number 54 in white.
Fitch also has a trio of noteworthy seniors. RB/LB Will Mahone, still undecided, had a stellar game on both sides of the ball. He’s probably a better linebacker but at 5-11 206 will be looked at as a running back mostly, which is what he wants to play. He’s so patient for a high school back. He’s actually remarkable in that regard. Good feet, good vision, good hands, good power. A high quality back for the upper tier Big Ten and schools alike. Then you have Pitt Panther commits in twins Demetrious and Chris Davis. Recruited as receivers although Demetrious is the Falcon QB. Both are great athletes with top level speed. Chris had a few tackles and a pick-6 and I actually like him better at corner even though he’s only about 5-7 (Demetrious is 5-8 or 5-9).
On the Harding side of things, Jalyn Powell (6-1 190) was a straight up baller. Duane has mentioned he likes him at receiver as well as safety, but he didn’t play much offense at all outside of some wildcat QB. What he did do is make tackles, a bunch of them, on his side and chasing things down from the backside. He made plays near and behind the line of scrimmage. As I mentioned before, Fitch rarely throws so he wasn’t given many opportunities to make plays in the passing game, but he also didn’t leave anyone open in the Falcons few pass attempts. He also helps in returns. He is an elite athlete and I wouldn’t argue one bit if we saw a Buckeye offer.
Lastly, I have my pleasant surprise from this game. Harding had a transfer in just before the season from former Raider and Buckeye OG LaShun Daniel’s son who also goes by LaShun Daniels. The newest version is not an offensive lineman but a 6-foot 208-pound running back who had 180 yards and the lone touchdown in Harding’s 28-7 loss. He’s got power, balance, vision and speed, probably in that order. He’s got a frame to carry 225-230 comfortably as a power back at a major university. Also showed some hands on a catch downfield that was ruled out of bounds, which was not the only ball thrown his way (but the Harding QB’s had some accuracy issues). Immediately I feel comfortable with tossing him straight into the top-5 for RB’s in the 2013 class in Ohio, if not higher. My gut tells me that I already like him more than cross-town back DeVeon Smith from Howland, and I’m a bigger fan of Smith’s than most (at least more than Duane), but I’ll wait to see another game or two to form a more concrete opinion. For what it's worth, I've heard Smith is tearing it up this year and looks faster, which was one of his few knocks, so I'm going to try to see him again sometime this season.
Now I had some troubles logging in here on the DLR so I'm going to have to lump the first two weeks together.
In week two I headed South from Youngstown and ended up in Steubenville where the Big Red took on the Akron Buchtel Griffins. Steubenville’s Harding Stadium, known as Death Valley has an amazing atmosphere for high school football and I recommend the trip for anyone within reasonable driving distance.
Now to the athletes. It was the game of the safeties as Steubenville features Buckeye commit Najee Murray, and Buchtel has Michigan commit Jarrod Wilson. The Griffins also have a starting tailback who played for Firestone last year named Darren McGinnis, who I see as more of an athlete than a running back. I’ll start with the senior, McGinnis. An above average high school back, McGinnis has a nice blend of size and explosiveness at about 6-foot 200-pounds. He excels with the ball in his hands in high school because of his athletic superiority. Catches it well out of the backfield as well. But he runs very upright and his between-the-tackles vision and cutback are below par. He’s just a really good athlete out there. Something that could project well at, for instance, the safety position. This is where I would project him in college.
The guy who did play safety for Buchtel was the 6-2 190-pound Jarrod Wilson. Wilson is a centerfield type. He came up with a pick on a ball intended for Murray down the left sideline, but one that was poorly thrown. He’s definitely a great athlete out there and can cover some ground. Steubenville is a team that likes to run the football most of the time, and I did not see Jarrod Wilson involved in this part of the game very much. I like a safety that can hit and make plays in the run game and 24 certainly left something to be desired in that regard. To be fair, this was not a game that was set up to Wilson’s strengths and every recruit has weaknesses. You can still tell you were looking at a Big Ten athlete. I guess it wasn’t the best week to evaluate Wilson.
Lastly I have the first future Buckeye (at least that is committed) of the season in Najee Murray. He was noticeably smaller than Wilson and McGinnis, as his listed 5-11 185 would indicate, but is clearly the most physical. Murray is an explosive tackler who loves to come up and take a guys feet out from under him, think Antoine Winfield. As is often the case with trying to evaluate DB’s, poor QB play on the other side limits the opportunity. Buchtel’s throws were to the flats and down the sidelines where they could get one on one’s with the Big Red corners. Didn’t see one ball over the middle where Murray roams, which in itself says something about the respect he demands from other teams. On offense Murray had a couple sweeps coming in motion from the slot, including a big gainer down the right sideline before being dragged out of bounds for one of Jarrod Wilson’s few tackles. Murray can definitely scoot. Definitely looks fast enough to play corner, which makes sense with a reported 4.41 forty time. If that’s where he lines up for the Buckeyes then if nothing else, they’ve got one of the best tackling corners you’ll find.
As a side note, when I made it home from Steubenville, the Youngstown Cardinal Mooney game was being televised locally. Mooney has a pair of juniors of note in WR/S Marcus McWilson and LB Courtney Love. McWilson is a tremendous athlete who is probably the fastest guy I’ve seen this year. He has a really nice body at a legitimate 6-0 195 and has good hands that he won’t be able to show off much in the 90%-run Mooney offense. Still, receiver is where I like him the most. He’s not a hitter and takes too many bad angles at safety. He looks like a Big Ten athlete for sure, though. Then the 6-1 225-pound Love is a Big Ten level athlete as he already holds a Nebraska offer from Mooney alum Bo Pelini. Love is big, mean, physical and can run. This will not be his only Big Ten offer, I promise you. He missed the Glenville scrimmage that I saw with a shoulder injury so I was anxious to see him and I wasn’t disappointed. This is one to keep on your Buckeye radar.
Now that the kinks have been worked out, this should become a weekly thing. I know I'm excited about where I'm headed for week three, but I'll save that for later.
It has been a very interesting two weeks of football. I know you have a big question mark in your mind right now. The college season kicked off Thursday night. The NFL has not kicked off yet. What planet is Duane getting football on for the last two weeks?
The high school season. We had the Kirk Herbstreit Classic this last weekend. High school football started the week before in most states. The networks are figuring it out. I think there has always been a big fan interest in high school football but with so much interest in recruiting the interest has skyrocketed.
There were a number of players in action who Ohio State fans would have great interest in who played on television.
We have to take into consideration that Akkron was a team coming in off a 1-11 season. I saw a team that is going to be pretty lucky to do better than that this year. That said, I was very impressed with what I saw from Luke Fickell in his first game as head coach. With an inexperienced guy I worry about the little things. I worry about things like organization. I saw a very efficient football team. No personnel issues, having the right people on the field at the right time. I want to see a team that executes well. It was like clockwork.There were a couple of glitches but when you look at who made the glitches, first year players, you don't look at the coaches. You look at the inexperience. I loved the never ending blitzing. Not Fred Pugac style but definitely a scheme designed to put pressure on the offense on every play.
I thought the team looked more physical on both sides of the ball. On defense the front four just lined up and smacked Akron in the mouth on every play. I thought the run defense could not have been much better. I was more impressed with the tackles than the ends. I would not be surprised if Garrett Goebel grades out as the best defensive lineman in this game. He was very no comments