For the second straight week a Buckeye opponent dropped back to punt with Ohio State setting up a return that would energize the crowd and the home team. That’s where the similarities ended.
After a week highlighted by the mistakes he made against Minnesota, most notably a muffed punt in the fourth quarter that kept the Gophers in the game, Marshall responded with his best game as a Buckeye on Saturday against Indiana. His 54-yard punt return touchdown late in the third quarter invigorated the team and gave Ohio State the lead for good.
“Oh yeah, it’s definitely a little bit of redemption,” the redshirt freshman said. “It is very satisfying, but I’m not satisfied with the season yet. But it does feel good to have that off my back and all the negatives, the things that were said toward me, it’s satisfying that I got that off quick.”
As he alluded to, Marshall was lambasted on social media for his day in Minnesota, one that featured a fumble on the way into the end zone on offense in addition to his muffed punt. A week later, it was all positives.
The H-back had four touchdowns Saturday, three through the air and one on the punt, doubling his career total. All four scores came in the second half as part of 28-0 Ohio State run that secured what had been a closer-than-expected contest. The team was happy to see Marshall rebound from a poor performance last week, safety Tyvis Powell said, but was even happier that he contributed so significantly to the Buckeyes’ ninth straight win. “It seemed like he played like he had something to prove,” he said. “I know he definitely wanted to come here and show the fans he’s not what they thought he was, he just made a couple of mistakes last week. He definitely capitalized today.
“Jalin took the punt back to the house, that’s probably the one that sparked it up."
Ohio State was trailing 20-14 when Indiana punter Erich Toth took the snap five yards deep in his own end zone and sent the ball toward Marshall waiting at midfield. After backpedaling, Marshall fielded the ball at the Ohio State 46-yard line between the hash marks and Indiana’s bench. He cut toward the center of the field, stopping abruptly on the Block "O" and turning back to his right. The seas parted and from there Marshall just had to shake Toth’s arm tackle to reach the end zone.
When asked after the game what the keys to making that play were, Marshall said that securing the ball was the most important thing. Everything else was a bonus.
“They were pinned real deep and I felt like I had to make that play to turn the game around for the team, and it felt real good after that,” Marshall said.
The Middletown, Ohio, product was out fielding punts on his own in the snow the Monday following the Minnesota game, a process that helped him rebuild his confidence, he said. It seemed to help against the Hoosiers as the return touchdown was just the start.
On the very next Ohio State possession the team drove down to the 6-yard line before Marshall again made his presence felt. This time it was a shovel pass on a jet sweep, the same play that Marshall fumbled on at the goal line against the Gophers. Against the Hoosiers it resulted in a 6-yard score.
Marshall then showed off his receiving skills with a one-handed grab on a 15-yard pass with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter. He capped his day with another score on the jet sweep, this one from 54 yards out.
“Jalin believes he can dominate on the field whenever he gets the ball in his hands, and that’s the type of mentality we need,” quarterback J.T. Barrett said. “He always does his job and he busts his tail and works hard. He’s a hard worker. Coach (Zach) Smith has those receivers going. They’ve been having a much better year than they’ve been having in the past. Jalin, like I said, he’s not listening to anybody out here. He just come in and does his job.”
He did his job Saturday, setting up shop in the end zone.