Thursday, September 11, 2008

Something Doesn't Feel Right About Ohio State

Toe injury or not, something is wrong with these Buckeyes. Playing conservatively or not, something is wrong with these Buckeyes. Of course, one great moment in the Coliseum can change everything. But...that one great moment won't come easily, because something is definitely wrong with these Buckeyes.

But what is it?

I've been asking myself that question every seventeen minutes since the 26-14 snoozer over the Bobcats, and here's what I've come up with: The 2008 Buckeyes remind me of the 2003 Buckeyes. You remember the year 2003, right? I certainly do. Christina Aguilera was redefining whore by the video, Adrian Karsten was still breathing and Jim Tressel coached a team within a Michigan win of playing for their second consecutive BCS Championship.

That particular team played the season without its best offensive player, world class knucklehead Maurice Clarett, and never really got into a groove. At least not offensively. Michael Jenkins was good, but he wasn't a gambreaker. Drew Carter finally stepped up in his eighth year of eligibility before going down with another injury. Santonio Holmes proved to be a keeper, but he was just a redshirt freshman. The line was remarkably average (Mangold was still just a sophomore) and the running game was abysmal (Brandon Joe was the best of the lot). And of course, there was Craig Krenzel, who wasn't exactly the most accurate passer of my lifetime.

A lot of comparisons can be made between the offense of '03 and the offense of '08 - with the edge in talent and depth (even with Chris Wells out of the equation) going to today's team. The big difference, obviously, is that Krenzel was someone you could somewhat trust, even though he seemed to enjoy scaring the hell out of us. Todd Boeckman absolutely scares the hell out of us, but he can't be trusted at all.

As for comparing the defensive units, both teams were loaded. Will Smith, Chris Gamble and a young AJ Hawk in '03...James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Freeman, Lawrence Wilson, etc., etc., in '08. Again, both teams were oozing with talent, but the overall edge goes to the Laurinaitis-led group.

You know what, though? I'd swap the '08 defense for the '03 defense in a heartbeat. They had an edge to them. They were nasty. Will Smith may have been stupid for roughing San Diego State's QB over and over again, but at least he was fired up. Robert Reynolds may have been dirty for choking out Jim Sorgi, but nobody would ever question his passion.

And that, more than anything except for Boeckman, is the problem with these Buckeyes - the attitude. Don't get me wrong, I'm not questioning the desire of any one individual on the roster - far from it. But I do see an approach that is a little too businesslike for my taste. I mean, it's where's the emotion? Where's the swagger? You're defense is great, dammit, and you should be proud to show it off. Tackling someone behind the line of scrimmage is actually a reason to celebrate. And believe me, I understand games 1 and 2 came against the Pengs and Bobs, but whatever happened to burying an opponent from the first snap? When did that cease being fun?

I have no idea what's going to happen Saturday night, but I'd feel a lot better about OSU's chances if James Laurinaitis showed the same emotion as Rey Maualuga.

-Brad Spieser (
9/11/08 (the 7th anniversary of Mom telling me to hide in the closet)