Colin: Have we witnessed the end of the Cardale era at Ohio State?
Baver: If JTB stays healthy, I think you have indeed seen the end of Cardale, except in mop-up duty. But Barrett hasn’t finished a football season healthy since 2011, his junior year in high school. So, we’ll see.
Colin: Cardale never came close to looking like the same player he was last season. Where did it go wrong?
Baver: The OSU coaches limited Cardale’s choices in the trilogy run and catered the offense to his strengths. After viewing 3 games of film, OSU’s 2015 opponents chose to make Cardale beat them vertically, and he hasn’t been able to do it. They all but eliminated Cardale’s running threat, often using an LB as a QB-spy. Also, there has been no deep threat for OSU now that Devin Smith has moved on. Smith bailed Cardale out on several deep balls last year that helped mask some of Cardale’s deficiencies. And Cardale seemed overwhelmed having to learn much more this year. In fairness, the WR injuries have hurt Cardale’s production big time and the coaches haven’t done him many favors with the offensive schemes this year. Also, the O-line has not protected Cardale like they did in the post-season run last year.
Colin: It appears that the demise of the read option was greatly exaggerated. Is this our bread and butter from here on out?
Baver: Yeah….the Buckeyes are going to ride it going forward. It’s certainly JTB’s bread and butter. This is despite what Urban Meyer has said publicly about the read option.
Colin: If you were Offensive Coordinator, what would be your ideal amount of touches for our top 6 offensive players?
Baver: Zeke 22, JTB (as a runner) 8, M Thomas 6, Braxton 6, Jalin 5, and Samuel 3. This is prior to Sparty coming to town. Against MSU, they will need to get Zeke more touches and JTB will need to run the ball more. But for now, they need to limit the wear and tear on Zeke and JTB. With Braxton, as they learn how to use him, his touches will need to increase.
Colin: Why does Joey Bosa hate Penn State so much?
Baver: The kid is an absolute force. He was probably a bit more dominant against Penn State than other opponents, but Bosa has been almost unblockable in every game he’s played this season. And State Penn will certainly be happy when Bosa goes pro after this season.
Colin: I can't think of anything to ask about Rutgers except, Should they even be in the Big Ten?
Baver: No….but the almighty dollar always rules the day. Shifting to some quick thoughts on the game….Rutgers WR #4 Leonte Carroo is about as good as it gets. He’s only played in 4 games, yet has 9 TD’s. The Bucks will have problems keeping Carroo in check. On the other side of the ball, with JTB now at the helm, Rutgers will have a tough time keeping the Bucks under 45 pts. I like the Bucks to cover the 21….will call it OSU 52 Rutgers 24.
Colin: Can you give us a quick recap of your picks to date and what games and lines will you be watching this week?
Baver: 14-6-1 against the spread, which includes 5-2 ATS in the Ohio St games. Predominantly picking dogs has been a good move so far. While I understand USC being favored at home against undefeated Utah, I think you have to take Utah getting 3 ½; I foresee a tight game. And as bad as Auburn has been, the 6 point spread at Arkansas is too high; I like the Tiger plus the pts. As mentioned above, I’d say lay the 21 with OSU. And to add to the comments above, I think Urban may want to start earning some style points that he didn’t care about early in the season.