Tag Archives: Penn State

Cus Words Week In Review: Ohio State, Penn State, Cavaliers, etc.

So the blog was quiet this week, but I kept plenty busy. Here’s a rundown of writings in case you missed anything…

Ohio Stadium Sept. 8, 2012

From BuckeyeSports.com

Cus Words: Moving Along – After another blowout win, where do the Buckeyes stand?

OSU Assistant Coachspeak: Johnson and Smith – A rundown of what some of Urban Meyer’s assistants shared with the media this week

Second Thoughts: Ohio State-Rutgers – Observations and opinions after a review of the tape of Ohio State’s last game

Ohio State Football: Scouting Penn State – We take a look at how Ohio State’s next opponent looks on film

Over at FoxSportsOhio.com

Meyer more pleased with Buckeyes’ attitude than performance

Cavs big three put on show for Central Ohio

Devon Still jersey sales raise more than $1.25M for cancer research

Recent history hasn’t favored freshmen QBs in OSU-PSU series

Cleveland LB flips to Ohio State from Florida

2014 Big Ten football picks

I think this will be one of the better Big Tens we’ve seen in the past decade or so, but I’m not sure there is an elite team in the league. There should be depth, and that could set things up for a strong 2015, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Ohio State is rebuilding on defense, but that unit could hardly be worse than it was when the ’13 season concluded, so it’s hard to count that as a negative. Michigan State’s offense was a sore spot early last season but finished on a high and returns almost everyone of consequence. They’ll have some new faces on the offensive line, but that unit wasn’t great anyway so they can probably get by with an average front again this season all things considered. Teams may play them differently now that Connor Cook is a known commodity, though. How he responds to that will tell a large part of the tale this season. Recent conference history is littered with quarterbacks who looked good early in their career but plateaued. Big Ten logo

Michigan State is, pardon the pun, green in some spots on defense, and it is unlikely the Spartans will be as tough there regardless of how good coaches Mark Dantonio and Pat Narduzzi have proven to be on that side of the ball. The same can be said of Ohio State’s offensive line, though, so it all could be a wash when the teams play Nov. 8. Continue reading 2014 Big Ten football picks

Big Ten East spring football review

I am going around the league recapping spring football around the Big Ten for BuckeyeSports.com. Big Ten logo

While we’re still rolling out the reviews from the new West, the East is complete.

The race for the first East division crown figures to be interesting as Michigan looks to pick up the pieces from a lost season, Michigan State tries to maintain its defensive strength while growing on offense and Penn State adjusts to another coaching change and the continued effects of scholarship reductions.

Can someone play spoiler out of the group of Rutgers, Maryland and Indiana? The Hoosiers seem like the biggest possibility.  Continue reading Big Ten East spring football review

‘O’ has been optional for OSU to score against Penn State

By now you’re probably familiar with the pick-six tradition Ohio State has established with Penn State in the past decade, but that really only tells part of the story.

In the past 15 games against the Nittany Lions, the Buckeyes have 14 non-offensive touchdowns. That includes nine interceptions returned for touchdowns, three fumble recoveries for touchdowns, a punt return and a blocked punt return.

Continue reading ‘O’ has been optional for OSU to score against Penn State

Overheard at Ohio State Football: Penn State Week


(For personnel updates, check BuckeyeSports.com)

For about the 100th time, he said they know the offense needs balance and they have to figure out some more ways to move the ball through the air to keep pressure off the running game. The game situation compounded troubles last week as they had to go into the wind to start the game, but they have to deal with it, whether that means more short throws, screen passes or draws.

Youngsters are usually resilient and the team seemed upbeat Sunday after the loss. They showed passion to improve.

Asked about the tight end’s role in the offense, he seemed to be referring to the passing game as a whole when he said sometimes guys have to get open and other times the quarterback doesn’t see them when they are open.

He wouldn’t say if DeVier Posey will start this week with his suspension over, but he acknowledged they hope to get a mental boost from his presence in the same way Boom Herron brought something extra to the huddle. The team seems to respect the way he handled himself during his time out. He hopes the rest of the huddle can feed off his confidence.

Fickell can’t control how the crowd will react to the players who were in trouble with the NCAA when they are acknowledged on senior day, but he hopes they will praise them. They paid the price and handled themselves well, even if not all of that is seen by the public.

Ryan Shazier did a good job filling in for injured senior linebacker Andrew Sweat last week. He ran around and made some things happen even though he made some mistakes.

He said to judge the Ohio State seniors playing their last game at Ohio Stadium on Saturday by their body of work, not just their final season even though he told them earlier that everyone is remembered first by their senior year. There will be time to worry about legacies later. They have battled through a lot and he has a lot of respect for them. They have handled everything the coaching staff has asked of them in the past six months.

Asked about the coaching staff considering its own fate, he acknowledged it is not easy operating within such uncertainty but no one said life is fair. As an example, he pointed out former quarterbacks coach Joe Daniels is fighting cancer, something he certainly never did anything to deserve. Adversity is part of life and they have to continue to move forward.

He brushed aside a question about his thoughts on playing Penn State without Joe Paterno or Jim Tressel at the game.

He thinks since joining the Big Ten it has been a big bonus to play Penn State every year thanks to all the history and great fans and huge alumni associations of both schools. They are similar on the field, too.

Penn State’s defense excels against the pass and brings pressure with its front four. The whole front seven does a good job of setting the tone for the group. They are always sound and won’t do much to try to confuse anyone.

The Nittany Lion offense is based off being able to run the ball. He was later asked about what different looks each quarterback brings to the game and said they’ll prepare for both the same (PSU subsequently indicated Matt McGloin is the full-time guy for them).

The key for Ohio State to improve its third-down defense is to make plays, but it would help to make sure they can stay out of third-and-short. Tackling is still the No. 1 issue for the defense. They want to put their best 11 tacklers on the field regardless of what positions those guys play. Working on tackling does get tougher later in the season when they have less contact in practices. The staff has to continue to focus on having the defensive players do what they are comfortable with and not more. They have to play hard and be put into situations in which they are most likely to succeed.

He said he has never had the intention of putting his stamp on the program but just planned to stay true to what it has always been about and what is best for it.


Boom Herron said it is kind of sad he will be playing his last home game, but he always gets emotional when he plays at Ohio Stadium.

He said Posey is definitely a leader on the team. It will be good to get him back with the rest of the guys. He expects Posey to jump right into the mix and make plays. It will be hard for him to hold back everything he is feeling.

Someone asked if the punishments the guys have gotten have been fair, and he just said they learned to make smarter decisions and think before they act. They learned from what they did and were man enough to take the penalties. The length of the penalties are what they are. They can’t be changed now.

He can’t imagine what it would be like to be out so long as Posey has been.

Defensive end Solomon Thomas said the players taped a video message Monday for fans to be respectful to the Penn State players and fans when they are here this weekend. He feels for them and does not wish adversity like that on anyone. He recalls a lot of the Ohio State players having a lot of respect for Joe Paterno and wanting to shake his hand on the field in 2009 when the Buckeyes were at Happy Valley.

PSU tailback Silas Redd is a shifty back who is good at seeing cut-back lanes. He’s patient and reminds Thomas of Evan Royster.

Senior Day is going to be amazing for him. His mother will be in from San Diego and it will be her first football game. She doesn’t know anything about the sport.

He is amazed by what Michael Bennett is able to do as a freshman considering how long he has personally had to wait to be a contributor. Bennett reminds him some of Cameron Heyward. He has a knack for rushing the passer and getting to the football.

If two freshmen are starting on defense – Bennett and Ryan Shazier – that won’t bother him. They can handle it.

Center Mike Brewster said his career has been a great journey even with the hard times this year. He would not do anything different.

He hopes to get J.B. Shugarts back on the field this week. He practiced some Tuesday. Jack Mewhort did a good job filling in for him at Purdue.

Running into a stacked box is a challenge but they have to grind and figure out how to make it work anyway.

Penn State is having a good year on defense, so the Buckeyes need to be on point.

His heart goes out to the people who have suffered in the Penn State situation.

He was asked if it would be easier to run from the spread and replied he wasn’t sure. (Odd question because they’ve run the ball fine in the power sets. It’s the passing game that’s been a problem…)

Purdue had a safety as the extra man in the box, something Penn State will probably do, and he hopes Posey can be a presence who helps them get that to change.


Safeties coach and assistant defensive coordinator Paul Haynes said Penn State is always physical and wants to establish the run. They have good wide receivers and a quarterback who is playing well. The receivers are big and have good speed. The safeties have to maintain eye control to avoid giving up the big play to a guy like Derek Moye.

He thinks the Nittany Lions will feel comfortable once they get on the field and be ready to play, not overwhelmed by emotion from the scandal taking place there.

He is not worried the planned pregame handshake could take some of the juice out of the team like some think it did before they played Navy a couple of years ago. There should be plenty of emotion because the teams play regularly and have developed a rivalry. Penn State is always a big game, and the Buckeyes could be more focused coming off a loss.

The OSU players do not feel added pressure because of the unknown future the coaches face. Once they are in the football facility, it is all about work. The players might hear it outside the facilities, and that might be hard, but overall it’s not a big deal. They’ll play their best football regardless.

The loss of five scholarships over the next three years probably won’t change their general approach to recruiting. They’ll see down the road how they have to adjust things.

They will miss Andrew Sweat’s leadership on Saturday, but he has been helping Ryan Shazier, who will start in his place at linebacker. Shazier is a playmaker, and he flashes a lot when he’s out there. He is fast, but he needs to get bigger for the position. he is electric and they expect him to know what to do and be productive.

Haynes said Johnathan Hankins should be ready to go this week after suffering a knee injury last week at Purdue. Hankins is important to the defense because he is a playmaker like John Simon. They can dominate up front, and that’s where games like this one are won.

He thinks the presence of DeVier Posey could change the way Penn State approaches them defensively.

Penn State will try to lull a team to sleep with the running game then hit a big play over the top.

He is discouraged to see the pre-snap miscommunication that led to an open receiver on the third-and-12 that set up the Boilermakers’ game-winning touchdown in overtime last week. It was hard to take because he preaches about it all the time. Being young is no excuse. It is an unfortunate learning experience. They need to match up with the WRs when the quarterback scrambles.

Tight ends coach John Peterson said defensive linemen Devon Still and Jack Crawford are good players for them. Still is powerful and explosive, a bona fide Big Ten defensive lineman who can cause havoc inside.

OSU offensive tackle J.B. Shugarts has practiced this week, but his playing status remains unknown.

Braxton Miller has been very careful with the ball as a freshman starting quarterback, and they understand his game will expand as he understands more. Peterson recalled seeing Miller throw the ball all over the place in the state championship game last season in the snow in Canton.

He hopes the seniors have learned a lot in their time at Ohio State and can leave with a degree and some rings.

Big Ten Division Overview: What should be the East

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We might also call this the Division Formed To Accommodate Ohio State (DFTAOS), but I’m still working on proper titles for the new divisions. At any rate, here’s how I judge the teams on talent/experience/etc. without consideration of the schedule just yet:

Waning minutes of Wisconsin's last trip to Ohio Stadium
  1. Wisconsin
  2. Ohio State
  3. Penn State
  4. Purdue
  5. Illinois
  6. Indiana

As with the other division, I am pretty torn at the top. Ohio State and Wisconsin both have holes to fill but seem to be the most talented on paper in a division that should never have been allowed to take this form (but that’s for another time).

The Buckeyes have been outrecruiting the rest of the conference for years, but Wisconsin has done a nice job finding players who fit its specific needs as well as grabbing diamonds in the rough from recruiting hotbeds such as Ohio and Florida.

How crazy a year is it at the top in the Big Ten?

The favorites in this division might both be quarterback by players who have never taken a snap for their respective schools before this season. That means two drastically different things for Ohio State and Wisconsin, however. While the Buckeyes might turn to a youngster such as Braxton Miller or Taylor Graham if less-talented veterans Joe Bauserman and Kenny Guiton don’t impress in preseason practice, Badger fans are hoping N.C. State transfer Russell Wilson will give them reason to jump around all afternoon and into the night. He’s a great talent, but his time to work with his new teammates will be limited before the bullets start flying – and there will be a particular set of silver ones hoping to unleash hell in Columbus one evening in October.

Of course, both quarterback situations could turn out to be mediocre and both offenses might still be pretty good because both look like they could have stellar lines and deep backfields.

What either team gets out of its wide receivers is a question mark heading into the season, particularly with OSU senior DeVier Posey suspended for the first five games. Badger senior Nick Toon is the only other player from either unit to bring much name recognition into this campaign.

Defensively, there will be many new faces, but I am giving the nod to Ohio State at all three levels of the defense.

The OSU line got pushed around in Madison last season, but 3/4ths of Badgers’ defensive front wasn’t all that intimidating for the majority of the year. Without stud J.J. Watt this year, I am having a hard time anticipating this Wisconsin group being better. Ohio State lost an all-conference performer itself in the form of Cameron Heyward, but there is hope sophomore Johnathan Hankins can become a true force this year after brief flashes during his sophomore season, and Nathan Williams and Johnny Simon both look ready to break out in their second seasons as starters.

Linebacker is a push. Andrew Sweat of Ohio State should be one of the best in the conference, as is the case with Wisconsin’s Mike Taylor. Then we have both units figuring to depend heavily on getting big plays from players who missed most of last season with upper body injuries. Can Badger Chris Borland (shoulder) and Buckeye Tyler Moeller (pectoral) hold up this season? They will be crucial.

Both teams like to play bend-but-don’t-break in the secondary, but I’m giving the early nod to Ohio State based on the standout play of its new cornerbacks in spring ball (This is of course an example of some of the limitations of previewing an entire conference while specializing on one team, but this is all pretty much for fun anyway, right?).

Ultimately, I gave Wisconsin the overall nod in the preseason rankings because it’s probably better to rely on a new veteran quarterback than a new young one.

Moving on: Penn State could be a darkhorse here. The Nittany Lions have two quarterbacks with experience back, but they might end up confirming one of John Cooper’s favorite sayings: A coach who thinks he has two quarterbacks often has none.

The more talented of the pair looks to me like Rob Bolden, but can he beat out Matt McGloin? We shall see. Signal-caller figures to be the key to success there because there is a lot to like about new starter Silas Redd at tailback and there are several receivers with the potential to be productive players. The offensive line has some questions but brings back three starters, and contributions from the tight ends should be improved this year with better health and more experience.

Defensively, there were few offseason signs a sub-par front will be better this year, but linebacker could improve thanks to the graduation of a pair of starting stiffs from last season and the potential of a healthy Michael Mauti. The secondary has solid corner D’Anton Lynn and a potential standout in young Malcolm Willis to build around.

I am willing to believe Purdue could be significantly better this year, but I don’t think the Boilermakers can overtake PSU. Head coach Danny Hope’s team has to be due for some better health, right? He says he feels good about all his quarterbacks, but they have to stay out of the training room before they can prove him right.  They should get help from a running game that welcomes back Ralph Bolden. Defensively, Purdue was surprisingly competent last year and despite the loss of super end Ryan Kerrigan has three good-looking players to build around in tackle Kawann Short, linebacker Joe Holland and cornerback Ricardo Allen.

Illinois had a nice comeback last season, and I like young quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase, but I’m not convinced the Fighting Illini can overcome the heavy losses they suffered to early entry into the NFL draft, especially on defense.

The future might be bright with Indiana under new head coach Kevin Wilson, but breaking in a new starting quarterback, finding a No. 1 running back who can stay out of trouble and rebuilding what was an awful defense last season is a lot to take care of in one year.

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