pulls a glorious Vince Young imitation and defeats the mighty Longhorns it will be time to give Mr. Smith his due. Troy has been running a distant second in early season QB-hype behind Notre Dames’ Brady Quinn. Smith, you may recall, led Ohio State to decisive wins over my old school (Michigan – Go Blue!) and Quinn’s Notre Dame squad last year. Troy Smith was not alone on last year’s team. He had current Pittsburgh Steeler Santonio Holmes, fastest player on the planet Ted Ginn and others to stretch a defense.
I can’t help thinking that Troy Smith is going to be the man at the end of this year. I’m firmly convinced Michigan has no answers for him. Ohio State can still run the ball with power up the middle. To stop Smith, it may be important to stop the run early and hope that Jim Tressel holds Smith back until he’s really needed. Smith is a much better passer than much of the national media recognizes. He can throw the deep ball with touch and accuracy. He seldom misses his receivers on crossing routes and he makes tremendous throws on the run. These qualities only enhance his escapability. Smith makes you respect every fake – which makes you play slower – which makes him faster – which makes you nervous – which gives him confidence – which forces defenses to press, and so on. If Ohio State can beat Texas (something many in Columbus argue he would have done last year vs. Vince Young if Tressel hadn’t held Smith on the bench for so long), Smith will emerge as the leading candidate for that prestigious piece of hardware.
Brady Quinn is a baller. He can make all the throws and he can run. He also plays with composure – generally. It will interesting to see where this race ends up. I have not been impressed with Notre Dame much over the past two years. Ohio State’s beat down simply confirmed the mediocrity which was so apparent to me as the season progressed. I thought the Irish would lose five or six games this year. The schedule is brutal. Still, Darius Washington (if used more often) provides this team with an essential dynamic offensive weapon. I am still not impressed with ND’s defense. Having said that, I’m sure that Michigan will score all of 10-14 points and lose the game, again.
Ohio State (ouch! this hurts) is another matter entirely. Smith is the single most dangerous quarterback in college football today. Quinn is dangerous because he can hand off to Washington or throw the ball to 2 receivers who are 6’4″ or better. Samardjiza and McKnight are NFL caliber receivers. Smith is dangerous in the way in which Vince Young was dangerous. And, if you have any doubts, ask the folks in Columbus who sent hate mail to their own tight end who dropped an end zone pass that would have put OSU in the big game instead of Texas.