Thursday, September 24, 2009

How a Soft October Schedule Will Ultimately Help the Buckeyes

by Tim Bielik
BlockONation Analyst
OSU Featured Columnist

Many people still aren't sure what to make of the Ohio State Buckeyes in 2009, after falling just short of beating USC, then shutting out Toledo.

What confuses so many others is how, or why, Ohio State actually dropped in the AP poll after the 38-0 shutout win over the Rockets.

I was recently approached by FC Coordinator Trey Bradley who gave me a great thought and theme for the next few weeks: "If you don't hear from the Buckeyes for awhile, it's a good thing."

I looked at the upcoming schedule for the Buckeyes, and anything less than a 5-0 October would be considered disastrous in Columbus.

When the toughest game in the next few weeks is at home against Wisconsin, that is something the Buckeyes can build off of.

And this young team still needs to get some seasoning. The defense is one of the better units in the nation, but the offense still needs work.

And only one thing can fix what ails this offense: reps. For these next six weeks, that will be exactly what the OSU offense will get.

Terrelle Pryor has shown great improvements as a passer, though his decision-making needs some serious work.

Running back has become a serious problem, as Dan Herron has struggled to be effective, and Brandon Saine has inconsistencies of his own as a runner.

If the Buckeyes offense wants to be successful this season, it will have to become an air attack squad, anchored by stud wideouts Dane Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey. Both receivers have shown tremendous big play ability and separation speed.

Saine and true freshman Duron Carter have also become solid targets in the passing attack. Not to mention that this type of attack will play towards the strength of the offensive line, which is better as a pass blocking unit.

Defensively, this might be the most athletic group in recent years, anchored by a great defensive line with Thaddeus Gibson and Cameron Heyward as superstar bookends. One surprise this season, freshman DT John Simon, has played tremendously and been a force in his short time.

As for the schedule, Ohio State has two road games in October, both against Indiana and Purdue, which on paper should be big wins for the Buckeyes.

The two conference home games might be closer, with the Badgers and Minnesota Gophers coming to town. They end the month with a home OOC game against New Mexico State, a team considered by most to be one of the worst teams in the country.

A perfect 5-0 in the month of October is easily attainable, but Buckeye fans will want more in the coming weeks. They will want to see a more efficient offense and the defense continuing to play outstandingly.

They want to see these improvements happen because November is not a kind month for the Buckeyes, with road games at Penn State and Michigan, and their only home game that month against the Hawkeyes.

If Ohio State looks great and shows more improvement throughout October, people will be looking at them as potentially running the table in the Big Ten and possibly a trip to Pasadena.

Regardless of how they are ranked, they are still in a position to make some noise in the BCS and hopefully end their three-game bowl losing streak.

If they win in October, OSU can quietly sneak up on teams in the polls as other teams should get knocked off in a similar pattern to the previous three weeks.

If that happens, don't be surprised to see the Buckeyes playing in a big bowl game once again in January. For this young brand of Buckeyes, a "Red October" could be the start of turning fortunes around in Columbus.

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