I started off writing this article each week because it seemed like a fun concept. I wasn’t sure if it was going to stick. Now after four weeks I know that I have to keep putting this out there, if nothing else to be the voice of dissent.
I don’t want to get too preachy, and I don’t want to open this column bashing Buckeye fans every week. But man, it is almost unbearable to follow along on Twitter during Buckeye games. It’s like my timeline turns into a running commentary on what each and every player does wrong. Where some might say “I hope we can pull this out,” Twitter says “We had better not choke this away” This week, some people got upset with me because I dared to comment that this team didn’t “suck.” I swear, sometimes it seems like people are rooting for the team to fail so they can have something to complain about. I think a lot of it is related to the Twitter itself. It’s an instant-reaction medium and during games, I get the feeling that a number of people are hunched over their computers just waiting for the first opportunity to point out something that went wrong. It’s a mindset that I just don’t get and it drives me crazy. This week, I can’t deal with it. I’m self-imposing a three-hour Twitter hiatus during the game. I’m not going to read my timeline and I’m not going to Tweet anything out. The benefit for all of you will be that you won’t have to read me whine about Twitter next week.
Ok, that’s way too much negativity for an “optimism” post, so let’s get going with the good stuff. Here they are, the three things that I liked from this week’s game:
1. Jordan Hall is quietly rounding into form. Way back in early spring when Urban Meyer was still getting to know his football team, he lamented early and often about a lack of “playmakers” on offense. In fact, he said, there were only two on the whole team. They were Jake Stoneburner and Jordan Hall. Well, for the first two games of the season, the Buckeyes were without one of those two. Carlos Hyde did an admirable job filling in, but when he went out with an injury, it was up to Hall to get back and get up to speed fast.
Well, two weeks later, he has done just that. After putting up 87 yards on 17 carries against California, Hall once again carried the ball 17 times – this time for 105 yards (6.2 ypc). That means after two games hall has carried the ball 33 times for 192 yards at an impressive 5.6 ypc. That’s more than a full yard better than Carlos Hyde, who put up a very respectable 4.5 ypc. Throw in Braxton Miller and his 6.6 ypc and that’s a 3-headed rushing attack that will have Big 10 Coordinators staying up all night.
2. The Offense is lightyears ahead of last season. All of the complaining this season brought be back to last season, and I had forgotten just how ghastly the offense was. To put things in context, through four games Devin Smith and Philly Brown both have more receptions than last seasons’ leader. Remember that 10-7 MSU game or that 4-pass Illinois performance. Even when this offense struggles, it is still light-years ahead of Bollman’s bunch.
Speaking of light years ahead of last year, ladies and gentlemen I present to you: Braxton Miller. Last season Miller put up 1159 yards passing and 715 yards on the ground while scoring 20 touchdowns (13 passing, 7 rushing). Four games into 2012 and he’s already approaching those numbers. So far Miller has thrown for 754 yards and rushed for another 441. He has also registered seven touchdowns each rushing and passing. He’s going to pass last year’s numbers in early October. It’s ridiculous how far he has come. What’s even more ridiculous is how much further he still can go once he’s more experienced in the offense.
3. Jonathan Hankins is special, very special. I was too young to appreciate Big Daddy Wilkinson when he played for the Buckeyes. That being said, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anyone do quite what Jonathan Hankins does for an OSU defense. Coming off an incredible performance last week against Cal, Hankins again put up great numbers. This time he racked up 10 total tackles (4 solo, 6 assists). On a mediocre defense, Hankins had been a saving grace. 6’3” 325-pound defensive linemen aren’t supposed to put up numbers like that. They’re supposed to eat up space and fall into the ball carrier three or four times per game. Not Hankins, though. He’s a game-changer. John Simon is the bigger name, but Hankins is the best player on this defense by a significant margin. There is a reason he’s already at the top of many experts’ draft boards. With LeVeon Bell and MSU’s run-heavy offense coming to town this week, Hankins is going to have a fantastic opportunity to show the world what he’s made of.