Buckeyes Looking For Better Start At Purdue

The Ohio State football team has seen its share of first-quarter problems this season, including letting Indiana race out to a 10-0 lead last weekend. The Buckeyes will have to have a better start Saturday afternoon if they hope to win at Purdue.

After Ohio State's 34-20 victory over Indiana last weekend, OSU head coach Luke Fickell suggested that his team did not come out with the necessary poise and energy against the Hoosiers. That was evident in the fact that IU scored the game's first 10 points and took advantage of a Buckeye team that looked to be sleepwalking early.

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, slow starts have been a trend during the 2011 season.

Ohio State has won its last three games to move to 6-3, but the Buckeyes have started slow in both wins and losses. They have been outscored 56-44 in the opening 15 minutes this season – the only quarter in which Ohio State has been outscored. The Buckeyes trailed Toledo 15-7, Miami (Fla.) 14-0, Michigan State 7-0, Wisconsin 7-0 and Indiana 10-7 after the first quarter.

OSU senior center Michael Brewster said after the Indiana victory that starting slow will not be a luxury his team can afford Saturday afternoon at Purdue.

"It was bad to have a slow start, but I think it was a good thing to remind ourselves that next week at Purdue – where we've had problems – we can't have a slow start," Brewster said. "We have to come out of the gates fired up. (The Indiana game) is going to be a good reminder for us."

Brewster remembers what happened the last time Ohio State went to West Lafayette to face the Boilermakers at Ross-Ade Stadium. The then-No. 7 Buckeyes trailed 3-0 early in the game and went into halftime down 9-7 en route to losing 26-18 in 2009.

Much like in that matchup, the Boilermakers come into the game with a sub-.500 record. Purdue takes a 4-5 mark into Saturday, but all four of those wins came at home. Both of PU's Big Ten victories came in West Lafayette, and in both the Boilermakers got off to quick starts. On Oct. 8 against Minnesota, Purdue led 24-0 after the first quarter on the way to a 45-17 victory. Two weeks later, the Boilermakers upset then-No. 23 Illinois, 21-14. They led 7-0 after the first quarter and 21-0 at halftime.

"I think if there's one thing going into this week it is starting fast," junior fullback Zach Boren said on Tuesday. "We have to get out there and get going right away, and if we don't do that we'll have trouble. Purdue is 4-1 this season at home. They're the home team and they play great at home. That's the one thing we have to do."

Boren wasn't the only player to echo that feeling.

"It's definitely important to go out there and start fast," sophomore offensive guard Jack Mewhort said. "I think last week we came out a little flat, and that can't happen – especially in the Big Ten. Everybody is physical. If you let teams in games, they'll creep back and you'll drop one. You have to start fast, finish games and play 60 minutes."

Fickell was also asked about the issue during his weekly media luncheon. He said the solution will come from the shoulders up.

"It's a mental thing," Fickell said. "Sometimes those are the things you're seeing now with offenses and defenses. You're going to get something different every week. Being able to react and adjust to it, hopefully before you get to the sideline … is to me one of the biggest things.

"It's about having confidence in what you do. It's about having a system. Even though you're getting something different, you've got to be able to play within the system that you can handle some plays that you might not have repped 10 times that week."


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