After beating Akron 42-0, we thought it might be all right. After struggling with Toledo, there was concern. Saturday’s disaster in South Beach removed any and all illusions of another successful season for Ohio State football. The Buckeyes were manhandled on both sides of the ball and showed that this off season’s turmoil has, in fact, hurt the program.
Miami rushed for over 200 yards against the Buckeyes’ defense. Not since Tim Biakabatuka has the Ohio State defense been gashed for chunks of yardage the way the Hurricanes did Saturday night. The Buckeye linebackers and secondary missed tackles all night. The only saving grace was Miami quarterback Jacory Harris’s propensity to throw to Ohio State DBs.
Speaking of that, perhaps Luke Fickell might want to suit up a few defensive backs at receiver while he waits for DeVier Posey to return from suspension. While Joe Bauserman conjured up images of Austin Mohrman, he didn’t get a lot of help from his receivers who appeared to have coated their hands in silicone. Not that Bauserman found many of them in position to catch the ball. The leading target for Bauserman seemed to be sitting in row four as he threw the ball away all evening. Head coach Luke Fickell appeared dumbfounded as to what to do with his quarterbacks, taking a page out of John Cooper’s playbook by alternating Bauserman and freshman Braxton Miller not just on series, but on downs. It worked about as well for Fickell as it did for Cooper.
Fickell’s deer-in-the-headlights sideline demeanor is perhaps most disconcerting. In his first game under the bright lights as head coach, Fickell wilted. Faced with whether or not to call a timeout with Miami leading 17-6 and the clock running with little over a minute left, Fickell stood paralyzed on the sideline with hands poised to call a timeout that he ended up taking home with him. Not that that decision impacted the outcome, but it was instructive of Fickell’s overall fecklessness as the leader of the team. When asked afterwards about his decisions about Bauserman and Miller, Fickell deflected that responsibility to offensive coordinator, Jim Bollman. Really? The head coach is ceding personnel decisions in a big game to an assistant. Somehow, I don’t see Jim Tressel doing that.
Ohio State is in trouble. Bauserman can’t make the throws and Miller is still wet behind the ears. Getting back Posey and tailback Boom Herron will help, but not enough to save this team from at least three or four losses. I can’t see last night’s team stacking up in Lincoln, against Wisconsin, or possibly (gasp!) in Ann Arbor.
If the latter happens, and the Buckeyes limp into the Insight.com Bowl or some such pre-New Year’s exhibition, the Urban Meyer rumors might just turn out to be more than that.