Friday, August 21, 2009

Buckeyes Overcome Weather, Beat Boilers 42-6

The Buckeyes went into a wet and rainy Ross Ade Stadium Saturday, and came out with their seventh win of the season. On the kind of day when weather can become the great equalizer, the Buckeyes just kept right on rolling, never being in much danger of an upset.

After a rather rocky start, Terrelle Pryor seems to have found some comfort in the Buckeye offense. He threw 32 passes on Saturday, completing 17 for 149 yards and three touchdowns. More importantly, he didn't turn the ball over at all, and the Buckeye offense put up a lot of points as a result.

But once again, it was the Buckeye defense that led the way. The Silver Bullets are currently ranked second in the Big Ten in total yards, and have given up only 72 points in their first seven games.

Next week, the Buckeyes bring in the Minnesota Golden Gophers. A number of highly rated recruits will be in the stands, including the Kentucky safety duo of 4-star recruits Mike Jordan and James Curry, who many expect will sign during the visit.

Superman Arrives

That's right, folks - Kasey Gilbert is officially a Buckeye!

The 6'2", 248 pound middle linebacker (#1 MLB, #7 OVR) from Strongsville signed his letter of intent today, and the Buckeyes instantly became a better team. This kid is an absolute monster - speed (B-), tackling (B+), block shedding (B), hit power (B), stamina (B) ... and he isn't even a freshman yet. Here's what Coach Griffin had to say:

"Well, Kasey's been the top guy on our board for quite some time now, and we couldn't be happier to have him. With Austin (Spitler) graduating, we need help in the middle, so Kasey might just play right away. Freshmen don't do that very much here at OSU, but Kasey's got something special. Anyone who's seen him play can tell you that."

The signing couldn't come at a better time for the Buckeyes. With the recent change to a 3-4 defensive scheme, and only sophomore Etienne Sabino slotted in the MLB spot for next year, Gilbert might just walk into a starting job, though most expect fellow frosh Justion McConnell from DC to challenge for the job. Also, fellow potential Buckeye and Brook Park native Shawn McCarty (#13 MLB, #220 OVR) might just have enough to make it a three man race, but he'll have to sign before he can take a shot at Superman.

Expect to hear the Buckeye faithful chanting KG's name for the next four years or so.

Buckeyes Win Again, 31-14

Coach Griffin was all smiles after the game:

"Well, we did what we had to do. And let me to you - if we would have played this one like we played our last couple, the Badgers woulda whooped us good. They got a helluva team, and I bet they give the rest of the Big Ten fits. We needed our best game of the season, and that's what we got."

What probably has coach so happy is the fact that not only did OSU play their usual tough defense, but they also managed to pass the ball a little against the Badgers. Terrelle Pryor was a very efficient 13-15 for 154 yards and a touchdown. He threw a pick also, but that came as a result of a hit taken in the act of throwing rather than the bad decisions Pryor has been prone to make lately.

The Buckeye offensive efficiency was likely due to Coach Griffin's play-calling, as he spread the ball around throughout the game. Three different runners got ten carries or more. Six different receivers caught passes. And Terrelle Pryor ran and passed almost equally (13 run/15 pass), keeping the defense guessing the entire game.

The Game Ball went to right guard Jim Cordle, who racked up a whopping 6 pancake blocks in this one, while allowing no sacks. When asked why his two touchdowns weren't enough to earn the ball, HB Boom Herron said "You kiddin' me? Jimmy was blowin' guys up all over the place. Without him, I don't score any touchdowns."

And with that, he adjourned to the film room with the rest of the team.

BUckeyes win in Bloomington, 31-7

The Buckeyes traveled to Bloomington, Indiana and handed the Hoosiers their fourth loss of the season. Once again, the Buckeye passing game was lackluster at best, as Pryor seemed to hit Hoosier defenders more often than Buckeye receivers. The receiving corps didn't help much, though, dropping a number of balls that should have been caught. Even the sure-handed Dane Sanzenbacher dropped two, one on a wide open third down pass over the middle.

And once again, the Buckeye defense and the running game got it done. The play of the game came when Buckeye defensive tackle Dexter Larimore sacked Hoosier QB Ben Chappell, who coughed up the ball right in front of linebacker Tyler Moeller, who scooped it up and ran 78 yards for the score.

The Buckeyes ran the ball late, and secured the win. Next week, the Badgers of Wisconsin come to town.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

McConnell Chooses Ohio State

The Buckeyes snagged a big one this week, and we mean BIG.

#57 - Joey McConnell, from DC, is listed as the #3 middle linebacker in this year's recruiting class. The Buckeyes are short on inside linebackers, with Austin Spitler graduating at the end of the year. McConnell hopes to start sooner rather than later, and the gap leaves him the opportunity. McConnell is a run-stopping monster - at only 5'9" tall, but a whopping 252 pounds, he's built more like a nose tackle than a linebacker, but when coach Griffin saw him run (B- SPD) he knew he had to get the DC native to come to Columbus. Though the Buckeyes are also very close to signing local celebrity and five star recruit Kasey Gilbert at the same position, McConnell saw it as an opportunity for he and Gilbert, in the Buckeyes new 3-4 system, "to be the best linebacking corps in the country, no doubt."

McConnell was being intensely pursued by the Auburn Tigers, but a week four visit and a big win against rival Illinois helped him to make his decision. He signed his letter of intent right after the game.

OSU wins Big Ten Opener 35-21

Heyward recorded two sacks and four tackles for loss on the day

Terrelle Pryor had another bad day throwing the ball, but the Buckeye Running game was enough to win this one. Herron ran for 113 yards on 18 carries, scoring twice. Pryor added a sneak from the one, and Brandon Saine topped the hundred yard mark on only 10 carries, going for 107 and a score. Coach Griffin seems to have abandoned the passing game in the past couple weeks. Hopefully, recent changes will lead to more opportunities for Pryor to air it out. We'll have to see what coach Griffin has in store.

The Illini offense made a number of plays, but in the end, the Buckeye defense was too much. Williams couldn't get out of the pocket to run, and when he passed, he couldn't get the ball to Regis Benn, his number one guy, due to almost constant double coverage. Add an interception by linebacker Austin Spitler, and a defensive touchdown on a fumble recovery by corner Andre Amos, and the Bucks had all the cushion they needed to ride this one out. A late score one a Juice Williams pass made it look closer than it really was. The Buckeyes handled the Illini with relative ease.

OSU 45 - Toledo 7

Saine and the Running game were too much for the MAC school

Terrelle Pryor was awful today. Just awful. He threw picks - 2 of them - he missed open receivers, and he just didn't play a smart game. Sure, he managed to talent his way into a short touchdown run, but it was the OSU running game and the Silver Bullet defense that got it done today. There was even a moment when Jeff Bauserman was asked to warm up.

Running backs Boom Herron and Brandon Saine complemented the defense with disciplined running (no turnovers) and effectively controlled the game. Saine had the biggest day (17-146-1) but Herron ran for 63 yards on 10 carries, scoring twice.

Also, Freshman cornerback Travis Howard showed signs of future greatness in this one. The pass-oriented Toledo offense called for a number of different coverage looks, so Howard saw a great deal of time on the field. He made the best of it. Seven tackles (one for loss) his first interception, and a touchdown to boot. Great game from the youngster.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Slugfest in the 'Shoe

Everyone knew this would be a tough on to win. no one had any illusions about that. But just how resilient the Trojans could be - well, no one quite understood until now. USC gave the Buckeyes all they could handle, and almost more than they could handle, but the Buckeyes proved too tough at home, and pulled out the narrow 17-14 victory.

USC came out tough early, forcing consecutive fumbles in the first two Buckeye possessions, and recovering both. The Buckeye defense held firm, but when preseason Thorpe nominee Kurt Coleman missed a tackle, USC's Joe McKnight made the Buckeyes pay dearly. Coleman had little to say about it after the game. He simply said "It won't happen again," and walked away. The Trojans missed the extra point, but led 6-0.

After watching their offense fumble on consecutive possessions, and their defense give up a big play reminiscent of last year's thrashing in the Coliseum, Buckeye fans might have felt as if they were in for another big Trojan victory, but the team had something else in mind. The Buckeye offense drove the length of the field and capped the drive with a TD on a pitch play to Sophomore Boom Herron. Senior Aaron Pettrey added the point after, and the Buckeyes led 7-6.

The third quarter passes as the defenses tried to control field position, but the Buckeyes were able to add a field goal as the quarter closed, making the score 10-6.

The fourth quarter of this game was something no football fan should ever miss. The defenses slugged it out, gaining and losing yards as if locked in a game of tug-of-war. Southern Cal would make a play, and the Buckeyes would counter with one of their own. But the play of the game happened just after the Buckeyes managed to drive to the five yard line of USC. Boom Herron manged to break a big run late, but he couldn't outrun Senior All-American Free Safety Taylor Mays. It was OSU's ball on the USC five yard line.

The Buckeyes were stuffed on the next two plays, gaining only two yards total. And then it happened. In a clutch situation, star players make big plays. Coach Griffin called the play-action pass on third and goal, the defense sold out on the blitz, and Terrelle Pryor showed us all just how great he might become as he hit the wide open man - (RS)FR TE Jake Stoneburner - in the end zone to put the Buckeyes up 17-6.

With only 2:15 remaining, everyone thought the game was over. But USC wouldn't go away so easily. Quarterback Aaron Corp led the Trojans on a quick drive down the field, but was knocked out of the game by Junior defensive end Cameron Heyward, who racked up three sacks in the game. Backup QB Mitch Mustain hit Junior wideout David Ausberry for a seven yard score with 49 seconds left, and after adding the two-point conversion, the Trojans had a chance. Ohio State 17, USC 14.

On the ensuing onside kick, junior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher, who all say has the best hands on the team, recovered the high bouce and fell on it to secure possession and the win.

Or so we thought ...

It was just a simple pitch play. The Buckeyes have run it thousands of times. But this time, sophomore defensive end Malik Jackson did something none of us have ever seen before. He stole the pitch. It happened so fast, the camera guys even missed it. Were it not for the heads-up play of running back Brandon Saine, Jackson might have scored the game-winner.

But the Buckeye defense held firm yet again, and the Trojans were not able to advance into field goal position in time. The game ended with the Buckeyes winning 17-14, but it was a nerve-wracking game right to the end. It was a great one, but the Buckeyes might not schedule the Trojans again for a few years.