Special Teams Hurts Hoosiers In Loss

BLOOMINGTON-There was little that was special about Indiana's special teams play on Saturday.

BLOOMINGTON-There was little that was special about Indiana's special teams play on Saturday.

OSU sophomore Ted Ginn, Jr., utilized good downfield blocking and better moves to run through the Indiana special teams for 220 return yards, including a touchdown, to play a big part in Ohio State's 41-10 win over Indiana.

Ginn, who had four returns for touchdowns last season but none in '05 heading into the IU contest, had 110 yards and one 62-yard touchdown on five punt returns and 110 yards on three kickoff returns.

"We knew he was a very talented player coming in and we have a lot of respect for him and what he can do," said Jake Powers. "But at the same time special teams is something that gets a lot of guys on the bus. We take pride in what we do on special teams and every guy on that unit suits up knowing we can put anybody on the ground."

Ginn appeared to also have a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second quarter. However, the play was called back on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after an OSU blocker hit a defenseless Hoosier who was walking to the sideline. The play not only cost the Buckeyes a touchdown, but with the 15-yard penalty occurring at the 25-yard line, OSU was spotted on the Indiana 40-yard line. The Buckeye drive stalled, and OSU was forced to punt four plays later.

"I think the return team gives the returner a lot of credit," said Powers. "They had a pretty good return team and that complements the way Ginn can play. He made a great move on the one he took back and he showed his athleticism on the one he took in that they made a costly penalty on. He's a great returner and definitely up there with the top guys we have seen so far this year."

The special teams also had a mental lapse on the return side of the ball. In the first quarter, the defense held produced a three-and-out, only to have the ensuing punt fumbled by kick returner Troy Grosfield on an attempted fair catch. OSU recovered the ball on the Indiana 28-yard line and scored the first points of the day three plays later.

One of the most curious calls of the day happened again on special teams when it appeared Indiana had recovered a fumble on the opening second half kickoff. On a short Austin Starr kickoff, Mike D'Andrea called for a fair catch but fumbled and the ball was eventually recovered by Powers. But the officials negated the play, saying they had inadvertently blown the whistle, ending the play.

"It was the second of what I thought was two inadvertent whistles on the day," said Indiana Head Coach Terry Hoeppner. "They said there was a whistle blowing on Troy Grofield's fumble, but they couldn't figure out who blew the whistle, so that one didn't count.

"On the second one, one of the officials blew the whistle, so the play was over at that point. I think it's called a do-over. All I know is we had the ball and we didn't get it."

The Indiana special teams players thought they had the momentum turner with the apparent fumble to start the second half, as Indiana would have taken over inside the OSU 20-yard line trailing 17-3.

"I thought that was our ball," said Powers. "You can't go back in time and get those opportunities back. That could have been a huge momentum swing for us. That's why we play so hard on special teams, to make big plays and give our team the momentum. We thought we had that ball and it would have given us a chance to kick start our offense and get things going. It's a shame we didn't get that ball."

Indiana will have to regroup before heading to Michigan State next weekend. Coming into action on Saturday, OSU had no returns for touchdowns in six games and had the second-worst kickoff return average in the Big Ten with just 19 yards a return. Ginn – who entered the game averaging only 18.8 yards on kickoff returns and 6.1 on punt returns - averaged 36.6 yards a return against the Hoosiers.

"The thing is they didn't do anything spectacular," said Powers. "The plays they made came off our mistakes. Those are our miscues. We can go into film and make the corrections. We'll get the right group of guys on the bus next week who want to play on special teams and take pride in the special teams because it's a huge part of this team."

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