Monthly Archives: September 2015

Pro Buckeyes! Scarlet & Gray Standouts from Week 3

It was a historic day in NFL for a former Buckeye great on the defensive side.

Linebacker James Laurinaitis collected 8 (4 solo) tackles and became the St. Louis Rams all time leading tackler in the Rams 12-6 loss against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The “Lil’ Animal” now has 759 tackles in his 7 year career.

In the same game, safety Will Allen had 7 (4 solo) tackles, a pass deflection, and a key interception and return late in the 4th quarter to set the offensive up for a key field goal to help salt away the game.

Offensively, a couple of former Buckeye burners at wide receiver had big days. Ted Ginn Junior had 4 receptions and 93 yards for the Carolina Panthers in their 27-22 win over the New Orleans Saints to remain undefeated at 3-0. Brian Hartline of the Cleveland Browns had 5 catches for 96 yards in their 27-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders.

Running back Carlos Hyde had another rough outing for the San Francisco 49ers. Hyde had 15 carries for 51 yards and 1 catch for 10 yards in the 49ers 47-7 loss at the Arizona Cardinals. Since his career high 168 yard 2 touchdown performance in week one on Monday night football, Hyde has only rushed for a total of 94 yards on 28 carries in two losses for San Francisco.

A couple of other former Buckeyes contributed on Sunday…

Rookie wide receiver Devin Smith of the New York Jets made his season debut grabbing 3 catches for 39 yards in “Gang Green’s” 17-24 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. On the other side of the ball in the same game, safety Malcolm Jenkins had 8 (7 solo) tackles and 2 forced fumbles to help the Eagles get the victory.

Linebacker A.J. Hawk had 6 (5 solo) tackles to help the Cincinnati Bengals beat division rival Baltimore 28-24. His teammate, kicker Mike Nugent, made 4 extra points to help the Bengals stay undefeated. They’re now 3-0.

On the injury front, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier sat out Sunday’s game with his right arm in a sling, he’s expected to return to the lineup Thursday night when the Steelers host the Baltimore Ravens.

 

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Steelers Lose Ben; Bell & D Step Up

Bell made his first appearance of the 2015 season after serving a two game suspension. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

A win never hurt so bad. Extending a two game winning streak never looked uglier.

The Killer B’s offense lost their sting Sunday when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was carted off the field in the second half, after sustaining an ugly left knee injury.

Roethlisberger carried his hot start in 2015 into the game, when he connected on his first 7 passes for 71 yards on the opening drive that led to a field goal. He was 20-24 for 192 yards on the day, before doom came midway through the third quarter, when Rams safety Mark Barron sack Roethlisberger low on his left knee.

Right now all the Steelers are saying is #7 will have an MRI when the team gets back to Pittsburgh. The Steelers All-Time leading passer was completing 72.3 percent of his passes for 720 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first two games.

It was a weird day all around. The way the pre-game ended should’ve signaled something gloomy would eventually happen. The opening kickoff was delayed for over twenty-five minutes after the fireworks from the Rams pregame entrance caught the Edward Jones dome turf on fire.

Before the Roethlisberger injury, the defense was the story of the game. Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler’s group held quarterback Nick Foles and the Rams offense to 2 for 12 on 3rd and 4th down conversions. They also got 2 sacks and an interception of Foles, while holding St. Louis to 258 total net yards. I said after last week’s game, that against teams that prefer to run the ball first to set up the pass, this defense will be alright. Even without emerging star at Linebacker, Ryan Shazier, who sat out Sunday’s with a shoulder injury.

Brown extended his NFL Record 5+ Receptions, 50+ yards streak to 35 games. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

The loss of Big Ben also overshadowed another outstanding performance by my vote as the NFL’s best wide receiver, Antonio Brown. Brown extended his NFL record 5+ catches, for 50+ yards streak to 35 games on the first drive. He finished the game with 11 receptions and 108 yards.

Bell wasted no time showing how valuable he will be, especially if Roethlisberger misses significant time. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

Le’Veon Bell returned from his two game suspension and reintroduced the League to the guy many considered the “best all-around running back” in the NFL last season. Bell finished with 62 rushing yards on 19 carries and 7 receptions for 70 yards, but had several spectacular plays that showed his explosiveness and superb agility. Without Roethlisberger, you can expect Bell’s number to get called more.

Last week I was critical of the offense for losing the time of possession battle almost 2 to 1, this week the Steelers won what I believe is one of the top keys to every game, 32:19 to 27:41. Going forward, regardless of Roethlisberger long term prognosis, this will need to be the norm in order for the Black and Gold to get W’s. Having Bell back in the fold, along with DeAngelo Williams should help tilt this in their favor week after week.

Next up for the Steelers, the Terrell Sugg-less Baltimore Ravens Thursday night by the banks of the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh. Baltimore is 0-3 for the first time in franchise history.  A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals exploded on that defense for 227 yards and 2 touchdowns, Steeler Nation can only hope Antonio Brown can expose that weakness, even without his main gunslinger.

Week 4 College Football Takeaways

Let’s overreact to another week of College Football.

It’s Sunday, so here’s my overreaction to week four of the college football season.

The B1G should replace a few of its schools with teams from the MAC, and would become a better overall conference. Northern Illinois got all the headlines for playing the defending National Champion Buckeyes close last week, but several of their conference brethren have given Power 5 schools headaches. Bowling Green has two wins against B1G schools (Purdue & Maryland) and played Tennessee out of the SEC close until succumbing 59-30. The Ohio Bobcats pushed the Minnesota Gophers to the final seconds this week, before losing 27-24. Kent State also only lost to the Golden Gophers by 3 points a week ago.

It’s clear the top teams in the MAC have caught up. My guess is that many of the top recruits from the Midwest who don’t accept or receive scholarships to power 5 schools–where they’ll have to sit for two years, behind upperclassmen who are also former top recruits–are getting on the field sooner at the mid major program’s, and it’s finally paying off for those programs. Illinois, Maryland, Rutgers, Purdue are a few that come to mind that don’t help the B1G case when it comes to football. Check back with those schools later this fall when hoops tips-off.

TCU is not a top 5 team. Look at their defense. They gave up 52 points and 607 total yards, and needed a fluke tip drill to score a touchdown on 4th down in the following seconds to beat Texas Tech. Last week they gave up 37 points and 508 total yards to SMU. Minnesota, a mid level team in the B1G, gave them a scare in week one. The Horned Frog defense will have circles ran around it against their major in conference challenger, Baylor. Who, by the way, just put up 70 points against Rice on Saturday. Number fifteen ranked Oklahoma, number twenty-three ranked West Virginia and number twenty ranked Oklahoma State may dash their playoff hopes soon enough.

Which brings me to this point, if the College Football Playoffs started today, the top 4 teams would be from the B1G Champion (Ohio State or Michigan State), the SEC champion (Georgia or LSU), Notre Dame and Utah. To me those are the four teams playing the best football, even though they aren’t ranked that way in this week’s Associated Press Top 25 Poll.

This means the Big 12 would get left out of the playoffs again. The Big 12 has become Arena Football with their focus on high volume passing offenses. Any champion from that conference would be physically dominated by the top teams in the B1G, SEC and PAC-12. The PAC-12 winner could have two losses because they best teams in conference and beating up on each other. However, the champion from the PAC-12 would still be highly impressive with two losses.

The Heisman Trophy race is a now two-man race between LSU’s Leonard Fournette and Georgia running back Nick Chubbs. I said last week Fournette should win hands down, but Chubbs is making a case while chasing history at Georgia. He just tied 1982 Heisman winner Herschel Walker’s school record for most consecutive 100 yard rushing games. The winner of the 2015 Heisman may be decided the night these two face off in the SEC Championship game. That is, if both teams continue winning.

Michigan just made the B1G a three team race. The “Fighting Khakis” are back in the Associated Press Top 25 at number 22. The FPI gives head coach Jim Harbaugh’s team a 25% chance of entering the bowl season with 10+ wins and a 56% chance to beat in state rival Michigan State. It was only 34% in the preseason. The Spartans and Buckeyes schedule just got a little more difficult. You happy Brett Bielema? I’m going to stay on his case all season.

The Razorbacks are 0-3 since Bielema called out the Buckeyes schedule.

Week 3 B1G Takeaways  


The NFL has overreaction Monday, in college football its overreaction Sunday. Here’s the biggest takeaways from week three in the B1G.

Michigan State is the best team in the country. Sure the Buckeyes are ranked number one in the Associated Press Top 25 Poll, but after stealing two first place votes last week after their victory over then ranked #7 Oregon, the Spartans once again showed why they deserve more consideration this week.

The Green & White earned 7 first place votes this week after their victory over Air Force (Ole Miss got 11 first place votes).

The 35-21 score might not reflect it, but Sparty was dominant in the win, especially in the passing game. Connor Cook went 15-23 for 247 yards and 4 touchdowns, 3 of them to Aaron Burbridge to go along with 156 yards. The defense also forced 3 Air Force turnovers.

Next up, Central Michigan of the MAC in East Lansing. Hopefully for MSU fans, they can avoid a similar scare as Ohio State did this past week.

The B1G Conference as a whole isn’t as bad as original thought.  For the first time since November of 2006, the top two teams in the AP poll hail from the B1G.

The Northwestern Wildcats came into Saturday ranked #23 in the nation and improved to #17 after their 19-10 victory over Duke. Also, with Stanford’s win over then ranked #6 USC, the Wildcats win over Stanford week one looks even more impressive.

The B1G conference went 9-3 in non-conference games. Penn State beat Rutgers 28-3 in the only game between conference opponents on the schedule.

Matter of fact, the B1G has 4 teams in the top 25 this week (OSU, MSU, Northwestern & # 22 Wisconsn). What do you think about that Brett Beilema?

Bielema’s Arkansas Razorbacks on 0-2 since he called out Ohio State’s schedule. Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt

None of the Buckeyes quad of Heisman Trophy candidates will win the award. The internet exploded week one when Braxton Miller made his case for the “Bronze Stiff Arm” with the spin seen around the world against Virginia Tech. Ezekiel Elliott and Cardale Jones, fresh off their performances in the College Football Playoff, entered the season as heavy favorites for the award. But, after three weeks, the stats and signature moments aren’t there.
Plus, there’s this guy in Baton Rouge, named Leonard Fournette, who has the stats and enough Heisman moments that producers of the award show won’t have enough time to show highlights of the other candidates.

J.T. Barrett is the better option for OSU at quarterback. Barrett didn’t play on Saturday like folks in Columbus are used to seeing him play in 2014 (11-19, 97 yards, 1 INT). However, he did throw a touchdown pass and led a drive to get the offense somewhat going.

But, it’s now clear why Barrett, not Cardale Jones, got the call last season when Braxton Miller went down to injury. On Saturday, Jones was 4-9 with 2 interceptions against Northern Illinois before he was pulled. 

If you really watch the game film from the first two games, he showed signs of erratic play then, especially not setting his feet on several throws. It just didn’t show up in the results because his teammates made great plays for him.

The time is now for Coach Urban Meyer to choose one QB to start, and allow that guy to take the majority of practice snaps. After Saturday’s game, Meyer said he didn’t know who would be his quarterback to start next week. I think that non answer says it all.

Jones even changed his Twitter bio that might signal what’s to come…..

He later took this update to his bio down, but the firestorm has already begun. Trouble in Buckeye-land?

Steelers D Steadily Improves; Offense Looks Unstoppable

Steelers offense leads the way to first W in 2015. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

What a difference a week makes, or in this case ten days. The Steelers defense looked like they had no clue against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots opening night. On Sunday afternoon against the San Francisco 49ers, they looked similar to what Steeler Nation is accustomed to seeing in “Blitzburgh.”

Defensive Coordinator Keith Butler’s D forced one turnover that set up a touchdown, while also sacking Colin Kaepernick 5 times. Most importantly they only gave up one score on four tries in the red zone, while causing the 49ers to go 7/17 on 3rd down.

My biggest take away from the defensive performance is that they should play very well against teams built on power running. They held Carlos Hyde down to 43 yards on 14 carries, coming off his career high 168 yards and 2 touchdowns on Monday night against the Minnesota Vikings. 

The D also showed they can contain dual threat quarterbacks, like Colin Kaepernick, who aren’t going to sit in the pocket and throw 30-40 times a game, like Tom Brady or Drew Brees. The style of play of the offenses in the AFC North should benefit this defense. Joe Flacco of the Baltimore Ravens is the only QB in the division that could possibly take advantage of this secondary. Pittsburgh won’t face an elite QB who likes to sling it around until October 12th at Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers; then the following week at home against Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals, and Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts on December 6th. One would hope they’ll have their passing defense figured out by then.

Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and the offense got their 30 points they hope to average per game this season. 43 to be exact. Roethlisberger was 20/26 for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns, and no turnovers. 4 of Big Ben’s completions were for over 40 yards. Brown hauled in 9 receptions for a career high 195 yards and a touchdown.

Roethlisberger passed for 369 yards and 3 TDs. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

The Killer B offense looks as unstoppable as Bo Jackson on Tecmo Bowl. My only knock is they lost the time of possession battle 36:59 to 22:21. Even with the huge splash plays leading to points, you don’t want to continue to put a young inexperienced defense with a new play caller on the field so much.

Brown is successfully making his case as best WR in the NFL. Photo Credit: Steelers.com

This offense will continue to keep the Black & Gold in games. If the defense can bottle up this performance and carry it week to week, the Steelers will have a better shot at holding on to their division title from 2014.

Next up for Pittsburgh, the Rams in St. Louis (1-0); they lost to Washington 24-10. A bonus for the Black & Gold, All-Pro running back Le’Veon Bell returns from at 2 game suspension.

Buckeyes in the NFL (week 2)

Roby returned the fumble for a TD to complete the Broncos stunning comeback. Photo Credit: AP photo/Ed Zurga

It was a big weekend in the NFL for OSU Alumns. Especially on defense where a couple of Former Silver Bullets made the biggest splashes in week two.

Thursday night Denver Broncos cornerback Bradley Roby returned a Jamaal Charles fumble 21 yards for a touchdown with 27 seconds in the fourth quarter to break a 24-24 tie against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Sunday, the former Silver Bullets duo of Cam Heyward and Ryan Shazier, led a much maligned Steelers defense after their poor performance in the season opener at the New England Patriots, to victory in Pittsburgh.

Heyward had 5 (4 solo) tackles and a sack of Colin Kaepernick, while Ryan Shazier was the star of the game for the Steelers D with 11 (7 solo) tackles, 1 sack and a fumble recovery to help the Steelers get their first win of 2015, 43-18 over San Francisco.

In that same game, Carlos Hyde of the 49ers came back down to earth after his career night on Monday. He only had 43 yards on 14 carries, and 4 catches for 18 yards before leaving the game with a leg contusion.

Another Buckeye duo helped the Carolina Panthers move to 2-0. Wide receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and Corey “Philly” Brown each caught at touchdown from Cam Newton to help the Carolina Panthers beat the Houston Texans 24-17. Ginn Jr. caught 4 passes for 41 yards, while Brown caught 3 passes for 57 yards.

Donte Whitner of the Cleveland Browns also represented well for the former Silver Bullets. He had 8 (4 solo) tackles and half a sack to help the Browns cool off Tennessee Titans QB Marcus Mariota, beating them 28-14.

Tight end Jake Stoneburner of the Miami Dolphins, just got promoted from the practice squad this week and caught two passes, one of them a 5 yard touchdown in the Dolphins 23-20 loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Kicker Mike Nugent scored 6 points on 3 extra points and one field goal to help the Cincinnati Bengals beat the San Diego Chargers 24-19. The Bengals are 2-0 and in first place of the AFC North division.

Monday night, 4 more Buckeyes face off when the Indianapolis Colts host the New York Jets; running back Boom Herron and offensive lineman Jake Mewhort for the Colts, center Nick Mangold and rookie wide receiver Devin Smith of the Jets.

Buckeyes on Sunday (Monday & Thursday)

It’s a special fraternity for former Bucks. Photo Credit: elevenwarriors.com

The National Football League is filled with talented players from “THE” Ohio State University. The program has produced the second most first round draft picks in the NFL History (USC is number one). 32 former Bucks began the 2015 season on the active roster. Here’s a look at some of the top performances from Buckeye pros in week one.

Running back Carlos Hyde started his second season in the league taking over for departed San Francisco 49ers franchise leading rusher Frank Gore. And Hyde did his best impression of his former teammate at OSU, Braxton Miller….

  
Hyde overshadowed Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson in his first game after a suspension ended his 2014. The former Buckeye bruiser earned the first—of many—100 yard rushing game with 26 carries for 168 yards and 2 touchdowns to help the 49ers beat Minnesota 20-3.

Safety Will Allen of the Pittsburgh Steelers had 8 tackles and a sack against the New England Patriots Thursday night. His Steeler teammate, linebacker Ryan Shazier, also had 7 tackles against New England.

Cornerback Chimdi Chekwa had 16 (15 solo) tackles and 2 passes defended for the Oakland Raiders in their 33-13 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

7 year pro Malcolm Jenkins of the Philadelphia Eagles, had 7 (6 solo) tackles and 3 passes defended in their 24-26 loss at the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night. 

Another 7 year pro, linebacker James Laurinaitis, had 7 (4 solo) tackles to help the St. Louis Rams beat the defending NFC Champion Seattle Seahwaks 34-31. 

Mike Nugent scored 9 points on 2 field goals and 3 extra points to help the Bengals rout the Raiders 33-13. 

Strong Safety Donte Whitner made 10 (4 solo) tackles in the Cleveland Browns 10-31 loss at the New York Jets.

Some other notable Buckeyes in the NFL; All-Pro Center Nick Mangold started his 10th season for the New York Jets. Kettering native, linebacker A.J. Hawk, had 4 tackles in his 10th and first season opener for his home area team the Cincinnati Bengals. Another Ohioan, Canton native Brian Hartline, started at wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns and had two catches for 20 yards.