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Monday, October 19, 2009

Who Can Help Jim Tressel Point The Way For Ohio State's Offense?

Following the 26-18 Purdue victory over Ohio State on October 17th, I wrote some short-term suggestions on what Jim Tressel and his offensive staff could possibly implement immediately this season to generate some type of offensive momentum. Ohio State fans will see this coming Saturday against Minnesota what changes, if any, Tressel and his coaching staff have made.

The focus of this article will be on long-term suggestions for the offense Jim Tressel may need to contemplate this coming off-season. These are ideas that would not only benefit Ohio State offensively, but could also benefit Ohio State's recruiting efforts going forward.

Before I make any suggestions, there are a few things that Ohio State fans need to understand and grudgingly accept:

1. Jim Tressel does not fire his assistants: Loyal to a fault, Tressel's staff on both sides of the ball has stayed relatively intact during his nine year tenure in Columbus. Assistants who have left Ohio State (Mark Dantonio, Mark Snyder, Tim Spencer, Bill Conley, Mel Tucker, Tim Beckman, Joe Daniels) have left on their own accord for better opportunities at other schools, the NFL, or in Bill Conley's case, retirement into a consultant role.

Joe Daniels has been battling cancer the last few years, and was moved into an administrative position prior to this season. Nick Siciliano, who previously served as Ohio State's offensive quality control coach, was promoted to the quarterback coach position prior to the 2009 season.

Looking at Siciliano's resume, one will see that Siciliano has relatively little experience coaching the quarterback position. Another important thing you will see - Siciliano formerly coached under Jim Tressel at Youngstown State from 1997-1999. Remember what I wrote up above - "Loyal to a fault" when you think of Tressel and his assistants.

2. Jim Tressel will never relinquish the play-calling: As frustrating as this point is for Ohio State fans to accept, Tressel has openly stated on previous occasions that he needs to be involved in the play-calling. On his call-in radio show last week, Tressel freely used the term "micro manager" to describe himself when it comes to his work with the offense.

Now that I have presented what I consider to be the facts as they relate to Jim Tressel and the Ohio State coaching staff, let me present some scenarios that I believe could possibly unfold after the conclusion of the 2009 season.

Long-Term Suggestions:

1. Bring In A New Offensive Coordinator: There are rumors that Jim Bollman, long the whipping boy of Ohio State's fans, will follow the lead of Joe Daniels and take an administrative position. This would open up an opportunity for a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach.

Who could possibly enter into a situation as I described up above? A few weeks ago, I suggested bringing back former Ohio State offensive coordinator Glen Mason, as he previously worked with Jim Tressel years ago. Mason would fit into the criteria I described up above (loyal to Tressel, would allow Tressel to make the play calls).

Another possibility I believe is worth entertaining would be Lee Owens, the current head coach of Ashland. Similar to Glen Mason, Owens formerly served as an offensive line coach at Ohio State and has designed offenses comparable to what Tressel prefers - a strong running game, with an efficient passing game that limits mistakes.

Again, keep in mind what I wrote up above - Jim Bollman serves as both the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. With their respective backgrounds, either Glen Mason or Lee Owens could serve that dual role going forward into 2010.

2. Recruit Quarterbacks Of Comparable Style Consistently: During Tressel's career at Ohio State, these are the players he has recruited at quarterback - Justin Zwick, Troy Smith, Todd Boeckman, Joe Bauserman, Rob Schoenhoft, Antonio Henton, Terrelle Pryor, and Ken Guiton. Looking at that list, I would classify Zwick, Boeckman, Bauserman, and Schoenhoft as traditional drop-back passers, while Smith, Henton, Pryor, and Guiton would be classified as dual-threat quarterbacks.

The reason I bring this up is it seems as though Ohio State under Tressel has failed to establish what their offensive identity is, and one needs to look no further than the important quarterback position. When it seems as though every other recruiting class has different styles of quarterbacks, how can one expect to establish an offensive identity or rhythm?

While I respect Jim Tressel's style of building his teams around the talent he recruits, perhaps a new offensive coordinator can definitively recruit a mobile quarterback who can run Tressel's ball control offense. The logic of this approach would be that Ohio State would be able to essentially run the same offense, no matter if the quarterback suffers an injury or is ineffective.

In his book The Winners Manual, Coach Tressel wrote, “Success is the inner satisfaction and peace of mind that come from knowing I did the best I was capable of doing for the group.” At the conclusion of the 2009 season, it will bear watching to see what decisions Coach Tressel will or will not make that he believes will be best for his group, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

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