Home » Sports » Football » Time to tweak Tresselball

Time to tweak Tresselball

Expectations run high at Ohio State. Just ask Jim Tressel. The Ohio State football coach, under unprecedented scrutiny after another big-game letdown, is feeling the heat for the first time during his nine-year tenure in Columbus.
“You felt like it’s been a nine-year honeymoon?” Tressel asked a reporter. “You must not have liked your honeymoon.”
The Buckeyes have lost their past six games against opponents ranked among the nation’s top five. If the Buckeyes are to match the lofty expectations set forth by years of tradition, then the days of being the big boys’ punching bag must end.
A key to anything in life is adjusting to external forces, or, in football, one’s opponent. Coaches make changes in personnel and scheme at halftime.
These modifications may or may not work. When they don’t pan out for a period of three years — Ohio State last knocked off a top-five adversary in 2006 — more grand-scale fine-tuning must take place.
The unrest in Buckeye nation comes from the lack of adjustments from Tressel and his staff. Football is undergoing a temporary face lift, especially on the college level. All sports endure periods of varied gameplay, from the recent home run era in baseball to the early days of basketball when centers dominated the ball.
Now, the name of the game in college football is speed and athleticism. Spread offenses, popping up around the nation like unwelcome groundhogs, are forcing defenses to get smaller and quicker. Athletic, versatile quarterbacks are the latest fad.
OSU has its multi-faceted signal caller in Terrelle Pryor, the No. 1 high school recruit in 2008. But instead of making adjustments to accommodate the 6-foot-6, 235-pound quarterback, Tressel has squeezed the rare breed into his vanilla, run-based offense.
The results haven’t pleased many; Pryor has seldom demonstrated the ability to excel in the Bucks’ offensive system, one Tressel refuses to alter. Rich Rodriguez instituted the spread offense last year at Michigan with players unsuited for the new scheme. A 3-9 record ensued.
Now, with athletes at his disposal recruited specifically for the spread approach, the Wolverines are off to a 3-0 start.
Recently, Tressel has targeted more players blessed with unparalleled speed to match the likes of Florida, USC or Texas. However, it’s the Buckeyes same old plan of attack that has prevented the program from reaching new heights.
The Gators stymied the heavily-favored Buckeyes in ’07 with their athletic defense, limiting Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith to four completions for 35 yards. OSU couldn’t contain LSU’s plethora of speedy receivers the following year. The Trojan defense held OSU to fewer than 275 yards in each USC victory. And the Longhorns’ spread passing attack broke the hearts of Buckeye backers everywhere, as Colt McCoy threw for 414 yards.
To catch up to the rest of the college football world, Tressel and Co. must implement changes on both sides of the ball. They must design an approach that suits the strengths of the athletes they have collected.
Pryor is probably best equipped for a spread attack, which would give him space to operate with both his developing throwing arm and his nimble feet. He needs the instruction to focus on scoring touchdowns, not controlling field position.
If Ohio State is to be recognized among the nation’s college football titans, the Buckeyes must prove they can beat bona fide competition. That signature victory has eluded the program for several years now. Tresselball needs a change to keep up with the rest of the best.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.