A year ago, Ohio State's football program was in a state of upheaval after the scandal-forced resignation of legendary coach Jim Tressel. Things have turned around nicely since then. Luke Zimmermann, who is a higher-up at SB Nation in addition to the lead writer at Land Grant Holy Land, was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the Buckeyes. My answers to his questions are here.
1. Well, the OSU program seems to bouncing back nicely from a scandal that seemed like a big deal at the time. How angry are you and other OSU fans that the AD didn't self-impose a bowl ban last season?
Pretty indignant. I suppose most of that is aimed squarely at athletic director Gene Smith and his arrogance in completely mismanaging the situation, but the more wins that keep adding up, the more frustrated we get. Further, situationally given that an AP national championship is pretty much impossible even if the Buckeyes run the table, I imagine if that goes down, Gene Smith's stock in Buckeye country isn't going to get much better.
2. Braxton Miller has managed to increase his completion percentage while his passing has become a much bigger part of the offense, and he's running even better than last year. To what do you attribute his improvement? Are there any weaknesses that don't jump off the stat sheet?
Having an actual tangible flesh and blood quarterback coach has been a nice start. Seriously, the guy who did the job before current quarterbacks coach (and offensive coordinator) Tom Herman's highest level of FBS qualifications was as a student video coordinator at Oklahoma. When the coffee boy is tutoring your gifted five star signal callers, you get what you get. Miller's actually doing quarterback things now, like reading the defense at the line of scrimmage, and learning how to go through his progressions like a big boy. Herman and Urban Meyer keep saying they want Miller to be a passer first who runs. If they keep it up, he just might be that come next season.
3. The Buckeyes flirted with disaster against Cal and UAB. What problems in those games might give Hoosier fans some faint hope Saturday?
Ohio State is super vulnerable against the bubble screen and any dink and dunk type passes. They weren't a ton better in that regard against Michigan State and Nebraska (though they were better) so it's still something Indiana and their spread offense can find success with. If the defense gets dialed in, it could be a long evening for the Hoosier faithful. But as for now there's no real reason they shouldn't have at least some hope springing eternal knowing that Ohio State's back 7 are the worst they'll see wearing the scarlet & gray for probably the next decade.
4. How do you think the season is going to turn out? Will the Buckeyes run the table?
I was a firm 9-3 guy who let early season emotions get the best of him and caved to being okay with the optimistic idea of going 10-2. Each win over a then ranked Big Ten opponent is giving me personally more and more hope that going unscathed isn't out of the question (plus seeing their remaining opponents continue to play inconsistently doesn't hurt that line of thinking). I suspect the Buckeyes will still find a way to lose a game they shouldn't and finish 11-1, but hell, a year removed from a 6-7 debacle that included Joe Bauserman under center at any point in the season to where they are now? Even without a post season to look forward to, that would really be something.