Answers To Questions

By: Kenny Roda

I went into Halloween weekend with plenty of questions about both the Buckeyes and the Browns, and both teams gave me the answers I was looking for.

  • OHIO STATE

Yes the Buckeyes are making progress. In fact they are making a lot of progress.  After a 3-3 start, the Buckeyes have posted back-to-back wins over ranked opponents in Illinois on the road, and Wisconsin at home. Of the two most recent wins, the one over the Badgers this weekend really stands out.  This was a team that was ranked as high as 4th in the polls just two weeks ago. Wisconsin on paper has far more talent than Ohio State this year.  However, head coach Luke Fickell and the Buckeyes were not intimidated by Brett Bielema’s squad. Ohio State went toe-to-toe with the heavy weights from Madison in the first half and only trailed by 4.  Credit Fickell and the O.S.U. coaching staff for making some halftime adjustments and then the Buckeyes proceeded to come out of the locker room and put up 30 points in the final two quarters to post a thrilling 33-29 upset win over Wisconsin.  Ohio State ran the ball with ease and threw when they needed to.  Freshman quarterback Braxton Miller was the difference.  He ripped of TD runs of 1 and 44 yards, while also throwing the game winning touchdown pass of 40 yards with just :20 seconds remaining.  Miller’s toss was a thing of beauty, showing how much he has grown in the last 4 weeks.  He took the shotgun snap, side stepped a would be tackler, and then while running to his right, surveyed the field, located a wide open receiver in Devin Smith, then off of one foot while falling out of bounds, lofted a perfect pass to Smith in the end zone for the game winner.  Against Michigan State on October 1st what did he do in that late game situation?

Nothing, because he wasn’t even in the game.  He was benched for his ineffectiveness.  That’s how far Miller has come. From watching crunch time on the bench, to winning in crunch time and on prime time TV.  It also helps when you have senior running back Boom Herron to hand the ball of to 33 times for 160 yards, and a defense that held the vaunted Badgers running game to just 89 yards.  But make no mistake about it, the 33-29 win over Wisconsin was all about “Miller Time” and then celebration time. On Halloween weekend in Columbus, after that performance, it is indeed scary to think how good Braxton Miller can be, wearing the “Scarlet and Gray” over the next three years.

  • CLEVELAND BROWNS

They are who I thought they were, “Fools Gold!”  They can beat up on the cellar dwellers in the NFL: Miami, Indianapolis and Seattle. But look over matched against the plus.500 teams in the league in: San Francisco, Oakland, Cincinnati and Tennessee.  In fact, the Browns 3 wins have come against teams with a combined record of (2-20). They’ve beaten one team who has a win this season. The Browns 4 losses have come against teams with a combined record of (19-9).  Pat Shurmur continues to struggle as a 1st year head coach and offensive coordinator.  Shurmur’s offense through 7 games has been out scored 44-3 in the first stanza.  That’s right, the Browns have scored a total of 3 points all season long in the 1st quarter.  Quarterback Colt McCoy continues to struggle and regress at the most important position in sports.  Most of McCoy’s big passing numbers are being posted in the 4th quarter when teams are comfortably ahead, and play a softer defense to allow the opposition to use up clock.  I’ve had my questions about McCoy since Mike Holmgren drafted him, and now through 15 NFL starts (a 5-10 record), those questions still remain.  Will his size be a hindrance (6’1 supposedly)? Can his body (reportedly 215 pounds) withstand the punishment that an NFL starting QB takes on a weekly basis, especially in the rugged AFC North division?  Does he have the arm strength to throw it down the field and in the windy, cold weather that takes over Browns stadium in November and December?

So far the answers to those questions are Yes, Maybe and I Don’t Think So, and that’s not good.  While the defense has made some improvement over the last two years, with the additions of Joe Haden, T.J. Ward and Phil Taylor, it’s not enough to offset the continued poor performance of the offense.  So until there is better overall balance, a more powerful offense and better coaching, the Browns will continue to be “Fools Gold”.  A team that is good enough to beat teams that are worse than them, sneak out an upset win here or there, but when it is all said and done, be drafting in the top 10 every April.  And you die hard, passionate fans in Cleveland deserve far better than that!

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