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Monday, November 14, 2011

BCS Standings-Players to weigh CBA offer Monday-OSU vs Purdue Thoughts-

10 Things We Learned Another Tough Loss at Purdue
By Brandon Castel
1. Purdue expected to win this game. Forget the fact they beat Ohio State here just two short years ago, this Purdue team expected to win again Saturday. They knew they played well at home and with a fast start, they felt like Ohio State was very vulnerable early in the game. They were right. Just like they did against Indiana, the Buckeyes fell behind 10-0 and trailed 17-7 at the half. They battled back to tie the game, but the Boilermakers never stopped believing. They kept attacking. It cost them at the end of regulation, because Robert Marve was intercepted by Orhian Johnson, but it definitely paid off in overtime. There is nobody who is afraid of this OSU team the way they were in years past. They are no longer the bully on the block, and teams like Purdue are rising up to get their revenge for seven years of dominance by the Buckeyes.

2. This is a very average Ohio State defense. It seems very unfair to put this on the defense, especially considering the fact they held Purdue to just three points in the second half, but this is not the typical OSU defense. They don’t seem to play their best with their backs against the wall. They don’t make the big play exactly when this team needs it most. In fact, they do the opposite. They blew double-digit fourth quarter leads against Nebraska and Wisconsin and gave up a pretty ugly 3rd-and-12 conversion in overtime that cost them this game. Forget all that for a moment. The worst thing they have done is put this offense in a 10-0 hole the last two weeks. As Luke Fickell so aptly said after the game, this is not an offense that is built to play from behind. They need the lead so they can grind it out on the ground. This defense isn’t terrible by any means. They still have a pretty good defensive front, but they aren’t the kind of defense that can go out and win a game for Ohio State the way most of Jim Heacock’s defenses have since he took over as defensive coordinator in 2005.

3. The offense wishes it could be called average. Don’t think for one second that the offense was going to get a free pass for this mess. If they had any semblance of a normal offense, the defense wouldn’t have to play lights out every week. They are the most one-dimensional offense Ohio State has had in years—even mores o than Pryor’s freshman year because this team doesn’t have the receivers. They cannot get DeVier Posey back soon enough, especially considering the latest injury to Corey Brown—but even that may not be enough. This team—meaning the coaches—thought it could just run the ball over anyone, regardless of how many people they put in the box. Unfortunately, football doesn’t work like that. Purdue took a page out of Michigan State’s book Saturday and the Buckeyes had no answer. Their only prayer was that Braxton could connect on some deep balls with the wind at his back. When that didn’t work, they just had him scramble on every big play. There wasn’t really one coherent attempt to attack Purdue with anything that might have worked in this game.

4. Braxton has the heart of a champion. That’s not a bad idea entirely because Miller can do some special things with his legs. There was one play where he put Purdue linebacker Joe Holland flat on his back with a juke move in the open field. Miller didn’t have a great day throwing the ball—although his 132 yards were the most since the season-opener against Akron. He also threw a pair of touchdown pass to Jordan Hall, but it was the guts Miller showed in the fourth quarter that really stood out in this game. Despite the fact he was vomiting on the sideline, Miller stepped up when the game was on the line. He refused to lose, and reached deep within himself to find the winning effort. What more could you want from a young quarterback? It paid off, as Miller led what should have been the game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter. His 13-yard pass to Hall on 4th down was just another example of how Braxton seizes the big moment.

5. Not sure about the rest of these guys. I’m not sure you can say the same about many of Miller’s teammates. Give T.Y. Williams credit for making a few nice catches down the stretch, but it just doesn’t seem like the rest of these guys have a lot of fire, or a lot of heart. How else do we explain the fact they came out flat for the second week in a row, even though they knew what this team was capable of at home? Where was the energy? Where was the passion? Certainly that starts with the coaches, but this team just doesn’t have the type of leadership it had in the past with guys like Cam Heyward, Kurt Coleman, James Laurinaitis and Malcolm Jenkins. Those guys showed up to play every single week and they made sure everyone around them was ready to play. With the exception of Braxton and Carlos Hyde, these guys seem to be getting comfortable with losing. Jordan Hall was even smiling at the podium after the game. He earned that right with a big game, but I’m not sure anyone should be smiling after this team fell to 6-4 on the season.

6. Don’t give the coaches a pass. There is an obvious void of leadership for this group, but these coaches have not done a good job getting them ready to play. They don’t put them in a position to be successful either, especially on offense. Running toss plays to Carlos Hyde and iso plays up the middle with Jordan Hall. It’s like they don’t even know the strengths of their own players. Tight end Jake Stoneburner had four touchdown catches the first two weeks of the season and a total of four catches since. Are defenses really scheming him that well? That doesn’t even seem possible, and he’s about the only guy they have right now who can catch the football. But this staff continues to show a stubbornness to do anything different until they are absolutely backed into a corner. The reality is, the entire staff has been in a corner all season, they just haven’t shown the type of urgency that comes with it. Some of it is the fact they have a young football team, but it’s clear that Braxton is a playmaker and it’s clear that there are other ways to get guys like Hall and Boom Herron in space. Just look at how Purdue uses their guys, or Indiana for that matter. Are their guys that much better than the ones Ohio State is putting out there? If so, then what is the point of even writing this column. The fact is, Ohio State still has as much more talent than any of these teams. It’s just not quite as lopsided as it was in the past, which means the coaches actually have to do a little coaching.

7. Never underestimate special teams. Even after all that, the Buckeyes should be talking about another last-minute victory. After all, Miller threw a touchdown pass with 55 seconds on the clock to tie the game. An extra point—often considered a formality—is all that stood between Ohio State and sweet victory. But extra points should never be considered a formality. Nothing on special teams should be anymore. It is every bit as important as offense and defense. If you don’t believe that, just look back at the last two seasons for Ohio State. How many times have special teams played a critical role in the outcome of the game? This was just the latest example and it prevented the Buckeyes from stealing a game they probably didn’t deserve to win.

8. Shazier is as good as advertised. One of the few bright spots for the Buckeyes Saturday was the play of Ryan Shazier. The young freshman linebacker stepped in after Andrew Sweat was lost to a concussion and he actually outshined his senior counterpart. What’s not to love about Shazier? He flies around the field and he loves to hit people. It cost him one time Saturday on a late hit against the quarterback, but there is no way to fault this kid for being aggressive. He has great speed and seems to have the kind of motor coaches only dream of in a guy this talented. It will be fun to watch him develop over the next three years, but Shazier may have come along quicker than expected. If Sweat has to miss any time, Shazier immediately becomes a mainstay on the defense. He probably should be anyway.

9. Underwood wasn’t ready for all this. On the other side of the ball, it was a rough day for Antonio Underwood. The freshman out of Shaker Heights was making his first start at right tackle in place of the injured J.B. Shugarts (knee) and he really looked out of place. It’s unfair to pass sweeping judgments on the youngster just yet, but he was completely overmatched in the first half. His pass blocking nearly got Braxton killed once or twice and often times he was forced to grab his man to keep him from getting through into the backfield. It really threw off the rhythm of this offensive line, so much so that they made a change a the end of the half, moving Jack Mewhort out to right tackle and putting Corey Linsley at guard. That seemed to work wonders for the Buckeyes, and Linsley had a great game opening holes for the running backs. Michael Brewster even said after the game that they probably should have gone to that look earlier.

10. This team has some soul-searching to do. The good news—or bad news, depending on how you want to look at it—is that the season is not over, not by a long shot. The Buckeyes are probably out of the Big Ten title race—they would need to win out plus a Wisconsin loss at Illinois and a Wisconsin win vs. Penn State to have a shot. That doesn’t mean they should turn out the lights at Ohio Stadium until next year. The Buckeyes still have two big games left against Penn State and Michigan. If they can win those two games, they would be 8-4 and probably looking at a pretty decent bowl game. It’s not what Ohio State fans are accustomed to, but what did you expect after this team lost Jim Tressel and Terrelle Pryor? The players themselves have some soul-searching to do if that’s to happen. The Nittany Lions and Wolverines are better than any team OSU has beaten this year save for their last-minute upset of Wisconsin.

Players to weigh CBA offer Monday

MIAMI (AP) -- Decision day for NBA players may have arrived. And on the eve of perhaps the biggest meeting of the lockout, the league took its talking points to the public.
The players' association will meet in New York on Monday morning, a session that could lead to the end of the lockout or send it into a bigger tailspin. Representatives from all 30 teams are expected, as are other players, to examine and discuss a seven-page summary of the NBA's latest collective bargaining proposal to the union.
The proposal, which was obtained by The Associated Press, was dated Friday and addressed to union executive director Billy Hunter. Some who will be in the NBPA meeting said Sunday they had not yet seen it, creating some confusion over what exactly is on the table.
"We haven't asked for anything more than what we had," Miami player representative James Jones said Sunday. "We understand the times. We understand the economy. We just want a fair deal where both sides are bearing the weight of the present times and with an eye on the future of the game of basketball."
Sounds so simple. But it's not.
By Monday, things could finally become clear - because this union meeting may decide if basketball will be played this season.
But first, the NBA tried reaching the masses directly Sunday night.
Commissioner David Stern and Deputy Commissioner Adam Silver went on Twitter and talked everything from contraction (which has been discussed) to sending players to the D-League at slashed salaries (which isn't in the proposal).
Among those asking: Miami's Dwyane Wade and Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes. One of Hawes' questions was "since we have covered all of your alleged losses(and more)why am I not getting ready for a game tonight." The league said it disagreed with the premise.
Wade asked, "why are all your "system solutions" only impacting the PLAYERS?? What have the owners (given) up of significance??" The NBA responded, "The economics & system favored the players in prior CBA," then again said team losses topped $300 million last season.
Someone asked if the league would consider replacement players. The answer: "Our goal is a season with our current players." Another wanted to know if contracts would become void if the NBPA decertifies, and the league said yes.
Next came a 92-second video the NBA posted to YouTube, which showed projections for a $7.7 million average salary for players in the 10th year of the current proposed deal and even had a hypothetical breakdown of what a team may look like in 2013-14, with a "superstar" making $17 million, an "All-Star" making $14 million, other starters making between $8-10 million and with a total payroll of about $77 million.
That projection means team payrolls will in theory top $115 million by the proposed deal's end, which could come to the chagrin of many owners. On Saturday, Stern said again if the current offer is rejected, a harsher one - where owners would keep about another $120 million of basketball related income annually, along with other system issues players didn't want - will take its place.
"We're not going to cancel the season this week," Stern said. "We're just going to present them what we told them we would."
The NBA wants a 72-game season to begin Dec. 15. For that to happen, a handshake deal would be needed this week, given that Stern said it will take about 30 days to get the season after an agreement is reached.
There are 17 topics in the memo, including how teams paying a luxury tax cannot acquire free agents in sign-and-trade deals after the 2012-13 season. One of the key points comes on Page 5, where the NBA says "there will be no limitations on a player's ability to receive 100% guaranteed salary in all seasons of a contract."
Players have repeatedly said they will reject any deal without guaranteed contracts.
"I'm going to sit down take a look at the deal and analyze it," Minnesota player rep Anthony Tolliver said Sunday, the lockout's 136th day. "Not like it's the first offer or the last offer, but just as one where I'll say `Would I or my teammates want to play under these conditions?"'
Among the other points outlined in the summary sent to Hunter by Silver:
-The union will choose between accepting either a 50-50 split of BRI or a band where they may receive between 49 percent and 51 percent, depending on economic projections;
-All teams may still use a mid-level exception, though rules vary on whether a franchise is above or below the luxury-tax level;
-Minimum team payrolls would be at least 85 percent of the salary cap in 2011-12 and 2012-13, and 90 percent starting in 2013-14;
-Luxury tax rates would rise after the third year of the deal;
-Maximum contract lengths would not exceed five years, and annual raises would be cut significantly to a maximum of 6.5 percent;
-There would be an "amnesty" provision where a team may waive one player before any season, if that player was under contract at the inception of the CBA, and have his salary removed from the team's totals for luxury-tax and salary-cap purposes.
"I was a little bit more hopeful last week than I am this week," Tolliver said. "I'm trying not to be too negative but it's kind of hard not to when it's been this long and this many meetings. It's hard not to get continuously more pessimistic by the day. Hopefully this deal will blow me away in a good way. But it's hard to believe that's going to be the case."
Meanwhile, talks about decertifying continue - even though the NBA said deals would become void if that happens.
An agent who spoke with the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the ongoing dispute said "a lot of petitions have been signed already," but acknowledged some players aren't sure that move would get owners to relent on any issues.
"I would say the thing I don't like the most isn't about the deal specifically, but is the lack of information on what's actually on the table," the agent said. "That's the most frustrating thing. ... I think that the guys should actually know what's being proposed and decide from there."
Another person directly involved with the negotiations told the AP the NBA side is frustrated that the league's current offer is already being poorly received, even though most players have not seen the proposal.
That person reiterated Stern's words: The next offer will be much worse.
"It's time to think rationally about what we're talking about here," the person involved with negotiations said. "This is the deal. We've come too far. We've talked it out. This is the deal and there are things in this deal that neither side will like. Everyone made concessions. It's time to decide. We all talk about these arena workers and the effect this has on the local economy, all those things. If we mean what we say about those workers, this deal gets done and the season starts Dec. 15."

BCS Standings
November 13, 2011

1 LSU .9933 1 1 2875 1.0000 1 1475 1.0000 1 2 1 2 2 1 1 .980
2 Oklahoma State .9642 2 2 2750 .9565 2 1410 .9559 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 .980
3 Alabama .9099 3 3 2620 .9113 3 1340 .9085 3 3 4 4 3 3 3 .910
4 Oregon .8755 7 4 2545 .8852 4 1300 .8814 4 5 3 5 7 4 4 .860
5 Oklahoma .8400 6 5 2379 .8275 5 1228 .8325 4 4 5 3 4 6 5 .860
6 Arkansas .7974 8 6 2297 .7990 6 1170 .7932 6 6 7 7 5 5 6 .800
7 Clemson .6935 9 8 2024 .7040 8 1042 .7064 8 12 9 9 8 11 8 .670
8 Virginia Tech .6755 10 9 1949 .6779 7 1045 .7085 9 9 11 10 10 18 9 .640
9 Stanford .6747 4 7 2041 .7099 9 1024 .6942 11 10 6 12 14 10 10 .620
10 Boise State .5959 5 11 1766 .6143 11 831 .5634 12 11 8 8 13 14 11 .610

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