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Posted Sept. 13, 2009
THE Choke State University
I asked my friend Norm Haney, a die-hard Ohio State fan, why Ohio State has choked so much lately in big games.
He didn't know. I didn't know.
On Saturday night, I found out.
The national championships against Florida and LSU, and last night's contest against USC all show the same thing:
Ohio State is soft.
Ohio State was soft on the offensive line. They were mauled by USC's defensive line, which doesn't have amazing talent at defensive tackle.
Ohio State didn't get enough explosive plays in the running game to make a huge difference in field position, and they let USC hang around.
Defensively, Ohio State should have been much better. USC's play-calling is so ridiculously conservative and predictable.
Pete Carroll didn't have any balls aside from going it on fourth downs. USC is known for their dink-and-dunk West Coast offense. They didn't take any shots downfield, often calling plays for slants, hitches, and digs - short routes. They wanted to stretch Ohio State's defense horizonatally; not vertically. Hey Pete, you have the best receiver in the country that can separate from any corner. F***ing use him.
Ohio State simply let USC hang around for too long - period. This game shouldn't have been close either way.
If USC had taken more shots down the field forcing Ohio State to respect Matt Barkley's arm, USC would have won this game by at least 10 points.
If Ohio State had dominated the line of scrimmage on defense, gotten more of a pass rush on Barkley, and created a few more turnovers, then they would have won by at least 10 points.
Instead, Cameron Hayward, Thad Gibson and Dexter Larimore were simply there without stepping up. When they should have gotten pressure on Barkley and beaten their man, they didn't.
These three players were soft for four quarters. They didn't intimidate USC's offensive line, though they had the talent to do so.
Ohio State also lacked on-field leadership on defense and on the offensive line. Nobody made any big blocks to break a big run. Nobody disengaged their offensive lineman and limited a running play to just a few yards. Nobody ran around an offensive tackle to make a huge sack.
It didn't happen. Why didn't this happen?
I am not at Ohio State's practices to say I am dead on here, but to me it looks like this team doesn't work hard enough during training camp to get ready for the season.
Mike Tomlin used pads-only training camps to create a more physical Steeler team when he became the coach. It worked. Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris did the same thing with Tampa in training camp this offseason to create a more physical team.
I don't think Ohio State is physical because I don't think Tressel challenges the players enough before the season starts, and it affects them later on.
I thought Tressel's play-calling ability was fine. I thought he managed the game well. I was impressed with his game plan on offense, and he dared Barkley to throw on defense.
Tressel isn't 100-percent responsible for making plays on the field - the players need to be held accountable.
I'm starting to question how badly the Ohio State players want to be great because they sure don't step up when it counts.
I don't want to hear "THE Ohio State University" anymore because lately you have nothing to be proud of. Ohio State fans will go to work on Monday with a tail between their legs.
What this football team needs is a kick up their a** in training camp, but I don't think Tressel is willing to do that.
Is it time for a change in Columbus? I don't think the Ohio State boosters are willing to do that - yet.