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The Rope-a-Dope

As I discussed yesterday, it was pretty apparent that Jim Tressle probably kept a lot of cards close to his vest in not wanting to "show" SC anything special before the big game this coming Saturday. I understand the thought process but I am not sure how accurate that is.

Doc Saturday seems to think that Tressle was doing a rope-a-dope.

But I got a distinct sense of rope-a-dope, which strikes me as part of Jim Tressel's M.O. -- his best teams in 2002 (against Purdue and Illinois) and 2006 (Illinois) had god awful, skin-of-the-teeth performances against much inferior teams immediately prior to winning their biggest games, and by the time I turned this one on in the second half, the jig was most definitely up. When the Buckeyes decided they needed to go ahead and roll out of bed for this team, they handled the Bobcats pretty easily: see 20 unanswered points...

I don't necessarily buy it.

I can't believe that Tressle would tell his players to allow Ohio to get 3 sacks on Boeckman. That's a matter of pride. Nor can I beleive that the Defense as stout as they are would allow Ohio to rack up 145 rushing yards just to keep it vanilla. tOSU just looked sloppy yesterday. I would believe that they were looking ahead but I can't believe the sloppy play was by design. When they needed to, Tressle opened the flood gates but a lot of that was on Ohio miscues that gave the Buckeyes great field position.

I have never completely bought into the notion that holding back the playbook the week before a big game doesn't give your upcoming opponent anything significant for that upcoming game. It would seem to me that any coaching staff worth its salt would have compiled significant film on the opponent, especially one as big as tOSU, in the off season to look at how they approach certain situations. This is even more true with a team like tOSU who are bringing back most if not all of their starters. If its Tressle's M.O. to dumb down things before a big game that would indicate that he is a creature of habit. The only "NEW" wrinkle on offense is Pryor and SC has seen that type of player in the past. So I wouldn't expect any earth shattering looks.

To support my thoughts that this really isn't a rope-a-dope even the players are disappointed by their effort.

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel would never admit it, but the Buckeyes’ lackluster victory against Ohio University might make his job a little easier this week.

No doubt he’ll have his players’ complete attention and they’ll be even more eager to wipe away the memories of that ugly performance as they prepare for the nonconference game of the year at No. 1 Southern California on Saturday.

“I don’t want to read too much into it because everyone has (bad games), but I have a tough time believing a lot of those other top teams in the country would’ve played like we played today,” an angry wide receiver Brian Hartline said after Ohio State’s 26-14 victory.

Of course players can say anything but these kids are such competitors that I have a hard time believing that it was all staged. They take a lot of pride in their level of play and it was not up to par on Saturday. Not team wants to be the next victim of an App. St. or Stanford and this win was a little too close for comfort. So, while Tressle was probably holding some stuff back and with the players looking ahead to the 13th its not inconceivable that it could result in lackluster win.

The one thing that keeps nagging me is that I know that tOSU can get up for big games but we have also seen how they have performed when their opponents have top talent in those big games as well.

Just a thought, and I haven't even brought up the Beanie factor....