Drew Thurman (12:55 pm)
Barack Obama has built his campaign on a single word, change! After two National Championship losses and the embarrassment that took place Saturday night versus USC, I cannot think of a better word for the Buckeyes. It's time to change! I excuse the lack of change the previous two seasons because at least the staff could think, "Well, we did win the Big Ten and go to the National Championship." The loss against USC though exposed the same problems, and the third time I hope is the charm. This team has some rough days ahead in less some changes are made, so lets look at those changes:
1) Special Teams has to improve...
I like many people thought that the Buckeyes special teams would improve after its mediocre performance a season ago. Wow, I was sure wrong. The special teams really did nothing right in the loss against USC. Let's take a look at some of the blunders...
* Saine and Herron looked terrible returning kickoffs, and averaged 15.3 yards per return.
* AJ Trapasso's punting left something to be desired. He did have to punt 7 times (many in in the shadow off his own goal post), but his bad punts seemed to come at the worst time.
* Ray Small refuses to fair catch now, opening himself up for fumbles on many punt returns.
* Ryan Pretorius missed yet another big field goal on Saturday night. Since his performance against Youngstown St, I have been very disappointed.
If we are going to win the big games, special teams has to start playing better. We are losing the field position war because of bad punts and returns, and this is way more valuable than many would believe. It's time for change on special teams!
2) Defensive play schemes have to improve...
If Tressel does not see the problems with our defensive approach, he needs a wake up call! The Buckeyes defense has been so exposed in the last three big games. When teams spread things out we look clueless, and we give up a ton of big plays. We refuse to attack, and instead continue to sit back in zone schemes.
I think we all know that Jim Heacock's days need to be numbered. Go back and take a look at the film against USC. The defense looks terrible, but the worst part of the defense was our defensive line. Who coaches the defense and defensive line for Ohio State? DING, DING, DING...that is correct, Jim Heacock! I know Heacock is Tressel's boy and has always been by his side, but it is time to cut the ties. It's time for change on defensive coaching staff!
3) Quarterback play has to improve...
I know many of you might be shocked I am saying this, but the quarterback play has to improve. I have defended Boeckman a lot, but I think this team needs the change. Boeckman has caught some bad breaks, but it is hard to defend those two terrible interceptions on Saturday night. It is amazing to me that Pryor looked more poised under pressure as a freshmen than Boeckman did as a sixth year senior. This team is going to be Pryor's next season, and I agree with Eleven Warriors in saying lets play him now. Sorry Boeckman, it's time for change at the quarterback position!
4) Offensive play calling has to improve...
No offense to Tressel, but the playing calling duties need to be handed off. I thought we had some good playing calling early on against USC, but we stayed way too conservative the rest of the game. We refused to open up and throw down field, which allowed USC to bring the house for most of the second half. We lack creativity in these big games, and I am sick of our vanilla offense. Obviously the defensive troubles highlight this problem even more, but this needs to be changed as well. We cannot get over the hump if we are going to continue to limit our offense. Most head coaches have given this responsibilty up a long time ago, and I think Tressel needs to do the same. It is time for change in the offensive play calling!
Like it or hate it, these are some things that need to change for the Buckeyes to not slip from being a top tier team. I for one will be rooting this team on until the bitter end, but that does not mean I do not want change. This team could go in two different directions after the lose to USC, and I hope changes are made to help us head towards the positive!