Hi there Saturday Skullians. Have you been glued to the TV all week? Is that even a valid question? Of course you have. ESPN’s All Access has given fans a glimpse into the OSU football program that most have only dreamt of. It’s been enough to give me goose bumps a few times and I think it’s time for football season to start.
I know it might be difficult for you to handle any more Buckeye insider access without your head exploding from lack of actual football, but here’s your friendly reminder that OSU’s edition of the BTN Summer Football Tour will air tomorrow at 10 p.m. ET. Watch it. Discuss. Hooray football!
LINEBACK IT UP. As Kyle touched on earlier in the week, the Buckeyes have fielded a long and illustrious list of amazing linebackers. During Tressel’s tenure it seemed there was rarely any drop-off at the position from season to season. As we all know, that certainly wasn’t the case in 2011. Now, questions linger for the Buckeyes at LB heading into 2012.
The Dispatch’s Bill Rabinowitz wrote a piece discussing how sophomores Curtis Grant and Ryan Shazier are being counted on to bolster a unit viewed as the defense’s weakest.
At times last season, Shazier played like a man possessed on his way to tallying the most tackles for a true freshman (57) since Andy Katzenmoyer’s 86 in 1996.
As Rabinowitz pointed out, Grant was OSU’s highest-ranked recruit last season, but his inability to grasp the playbook relegated him to the sideline more often than not.
In 2012, that doesn’t sound like the case. This from Coach Fickell:
“[Grant’s] one of those guys that I’ll lay my head on my pillow knowing he’s going to give you everything he’s got. He’d die for this game. He loves this game. He studies it. He works at it. He’s got a chance to be a great player because of his passion to play football.”
Grant will need to show that level of passion on the field and in the film room if he is going to be successful. Penciled in as the starting middle linebacker, Grant will essentially act as the quarterback of the defense. Luckily, the sophomore is backed by nine returning starters taking the field with him on the defensive side of the ball.
The success or failure of the Buckeye defense in 2012 will have a lot to do with the progress of these two young talents (specifically Grant). If Ohio State wants to continue its dominance at the LB position, Shazier and Grant will have to step out of their sophomore shoes quickly.
THREE IS A MAGIC NUMBER. In a write-up yesterday, CBS Sports outlined three questions the Buckeyes must address in fall camp: can Braxton Miller master the offense, who will emerge at receiver, and can the front seven improve?
Mastering the offense of the master.
I feel these are the same questions Buckeye fans have been asking themselves since the conclusion of last season. It seemed most of them remained unanswered at the end of spring ball, but reports coming out of fall camp lead me to believe some of these issues may be closer to resolution than many (including Coach Meyer) felt possible back in April.
Reports state Miller worked tirelessly with receivers during the dead period between spring and fall ball. Back in April, Meyer told his QBs and receivers their progress or regression would have everything to do with getting out and doing exactly that, and it sounds like they took his words to heart. Sophomore receiver Evan Spencer had this to say about their down-time:
“We were always doing something. Always. When we were tired from a workout, we went in and watched film and dissected some film. If we had a day off, we’d come in here and talk through some routes. The offseason was really good for all of us.”
In addition, junior receiver Philly Brown added this about his QB’s development:
“Braxton improved everything. He’s a hard worker. He’s one of the hardest workers on the team. Throwing, he’s always trying to throw, always trying to lift, always trying to run. He improved his overall game a ton this offseason.”
Players are always going to say they’ve been working hard, so it was encouraging to hear wide receivers coach Zach Smith say the group is progressing nicely and that they should be where the coaching staff wants them by Sept 1. As far as a standout in the group, Smith said Philly Brown has been the most impressive of all of the receivers thus far in camp.
In response to CBS’ other question about whether the front seven can improve, I don’t see any scenario in which they don’t. With supreme talents like Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington coming in to bolster an already stout line, this group has nowhere to go but up. If Nathan Williams is able to stay injury-free and the young LB corps puts it together, I think we’ll see a huge step forward from this cohort in the upcoming season.
BELLAMY QUESTIONS ANSWERED (KIND OF). Junior D-lineman Adam Bellamy has been absent since last Sunday’s media day, and Ohio State finally put some questions to rest, announcing yesterday that Bellamy left the team for “personal reasons”. Speaking to reporters after practice, Coach Vrabel didn’t rule out a possible return:
“Adam is working through some personal family matters right now and when he gets that taken care of, we will welcome him back with open arms. We miss him in our (meeting) room and when Adam gets those things take care of he's going to be able to come back.”
The 6’4’’ 292-pounder tallied 25 tackles last season and was tabbed as a co-starter with Nathan Williams on the team’s latest depth chart.
One can only hope for a happy ending to this story, and I’m sure Adam knows Buckeye Nation is rooting for his return.
REHAB FOR HONEY BADGER. According to Fox 8 news in New Orleans, former LSU star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu has checked into the Right Step drug rehabilitation center in Houston.
Tyrone Mathieu says his son is committed to restoring his health and won't play football until he is confident that his rehab is complete. That may rule out the possibility of Mathieu transferring to a school at the FCS level and playing this season, after which he would be eligible for the NFL draft.
Personally I think this is great news for Mathieu. If his problem is as serious as it sounds, getting help is the absolute right choice. College campuses can harbor a lot of demons for some individuals, so the last thing Mathieu would want to do is throw himself back into that environment. According to LSU, there was no shortage of “environments” vying for Mathieu’s services as the school reported approximately 20 college football programs have asked the Tigers for permission to speak with the former Heisman Trophy finalist about transferring.
A quick look at Mathieu’s Twitter account would suggest the Honey Badger has already started his road to recovery:
Football is like life – it requires perseverance,hard work, sacrifice, dedication and respect for Self!
— Tyrann Mathieu (@TM7_Era) August 17, 2012
And he’s got no shortage of people rooting for him:
Hoping & praying Honey Badger finds the right path to success in life -this is a smart moveespn.go.com/college-footba…
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) August 17, 2012
Here’s hoping the Honey Badger gets a second chance, because everyone deserves one.
AND WITH A LINK HE WAS OFF. Men throwing rocks with their other hand set to music… Progressive Insurance's Facebook wall is a firestorm right now (and rightfully so)… Here's why you should never crowdsource a product name… The hip hop food pyramid… The state of the music industry.
© 2012 Eleven Warriors.