Well Buckeye Nation, we are finally on the lip of the cup ready to drop it in, ten days away from kickoff 2011. It's been a long off-season, to say a lot has happened is selling it short by a mile. But we've persevered, we plowed through and have came out on the other side ready to get this party started in The Shoe next Saturday vs Akron.
There's no need to recap the off-season. All of you were there. You all sat through it, you read about it and were told horrible stories that were just that, stories. So, I'll wrap up our "summer of discontent" briefly and move on. One word from me to sum up Labor Day until now? Tough. It was tough to go through. It was tough to watch cable sports programs and in one case an entire network. It was tough to read sports websites. We found out that some of these alleged sports sites are merely "TMZ for the sports fan".
Something else that is tough? These players on this team and their resiliency. Any one of them could have jumped ship (pass a nasty glance toward Kyle Kalis) and transferred or quit. Very few did. And the ones that are gone, we may very well find out that we're better for it.
And lastly, to my friends at the worldwide leader, aka the mother-ship, aka the sporting worlds FOX News, but better known as ESPN, tough! Guess what? We're here and we aren't going anywhere! As much as you may have wanted to smear us, turn everyone against us, ruin the reputations of great men and twist the arms of some of our favorite alumni and force us to have issues with them, Buckeye Nation still stands tall. This Buckeye thing is bigger than any one player or any one coach... or any one network.
PS: Good luck setting up that pop tent for Gameday behind St. John Arena, and I'd get a thicker/stronger net to surround the on stage "talent".
So now that we're ten days out, what about actual football? There's a few brewing stories and players I'm very interested in following over the next week and a half and into the beginning of the season.
Who will be the starting quarterback? We've debated on this site, discussed on the twitter machine, everyone has a different opinion. Consensus from us fans, at least in the responses I receive, are that everyone expects Joe Bauserman to start with Braxton Miller seeing spot duty when the coaches feel comfortable throwing him in. To be honest, that sounds like a pretty solid plan to me. Unless Luke shocks us and comes out early next week and says "Braxton (or Kenny or Taylor) really came out and knocked our socks off and won this competition to be our starting quarterback", I'd expect Joe behind center on play one September 3rd. Though it's not out of the realm of possibility, if one of these guys were clearly standing above the other three, someone in our local Columbus media or the various websites that cover the team would have picked up on it and written about it. So far that hasn't happened.
Something interesting I read from LeCharles Bentley on twitter today (@LeCharlesBent65) about 6'-3" 280lb freshman defensive tackle Michael Bennett from Centerville: "Michael Bennett has the potential to be one of the best int D Linemen to play at osu. What he brings to the table..not ever seen at osu" and later says, when asked if Bennett was in the category of former LSU star Glenn Dorsey "I'll say this,kids like Mike Bennett choose the SEC-BIG12 will raise hell n BIG10". That's pretty high praise from a guy who knows a thing or two about interior line play at every level of the sport. If you're wondering what he means, especially with the SEC-BIG12 comment, it's that Bennett has the rare combination of size, feet, speed and strength to dominate the interior of the defensive line. He can command a double team in the middle and beat it, or he can drive center straight into a quarterback at the snap of the ball. Check out some highlights of Glenn Dorsey in his LSU days, John Henderson at Tennessee or Richard Seymour at Georgia. More recently look at Nick Fairly at Auburn and Marcel Dareus at Alabama. They're freaks of nature, almost like 'linebackers that are too big to play linebacker but probably could in a pinch' they're that special of an athlete with massive size and speed to support it. This is high praise for Mr. Bennett and should put a smile on the faces of Buckeye fans across the country. If Bennett turns out to be this good, losing out on Jadeveon Clowney will be a long, distant, forgotten memory.
I think the Buckeyes are absolutely loaded in the secondary, and that's good news considering how thin things got in the second half of the Sugar Bowl that didn't happen this past January. Travis Howard and Dionte Allen (transferred in from Florida State) are being reported to having lockdown-type potential, and Doran Grant (true freshman from St.V&M in Akron... yes, the same St. V&M that King Nothing the quitter made famous) is chasing them down and playing well behind them. Ohrian Johnson is back. So is CJ Barnett, who was becoming a force prior to his season ending injury in the Miami game last year. Christian Bryant has a full year of experience, so does Corey Brown. Nate Ebner and Donnie Evege provide senior backups with some under fire playing experience on their resume. The back end of the Silver Bullets is loaded.
Etienne Sabino broke his hand but is expected to be ready for the opener. I asked the Ozone's Tony Gerdeman if this opened the door at all for highly touted freshman middle linebacker Curtis Grant to step into the role. In typical Gerd fashion, he eloquently replied "no". So while Grant may not, in Gerd's opinion, be in the starting eleven, expect him on the field. A lot. several reporters at practice have commented in the articles how Mike Vrabel is taking extra working with Grant, almost like he is his own project to mold. That can't be a bad thing.
Folks, we made it. Rejoice. Smell the air, fall is coming. The nights will be getting colder, the days less humid and soon that breezy fall chill will be in the air making you feel ready to get out the Halloween decorations. It's that time, football time in Ohio!
Metallica track of the week
I've been listening to the black album a lot recently, mostly in celebration of it's 20 year anniversary on this past August 12th. So our track of the week is "Wherever I May Roam", perhaps one of the more under appreciated cuts on the album. And the road becomes my bride... carved upon my stone "my body lie, but still I roam!"