If you were one of the millions that praised the Buckeyes after dominating Washington, don't feel bad about it. The Ohio State Buckeyes were all that and then some in the opener. No silly penalties, huge emotion, balanced offense, physical defense… heck, I was ready to book a room on Bourbon Street.
The feelings are a bit different this week. We saw a very average San Diego State team come into our house and give us everything we wanted. In fact, 13 points off of turnovers was the only thing that kept our perfect record in tact. Looks like we have our hands full as we dive deeper into the schedule.
The Buckeyes are known for a dominant running game. If it wasn't Smith or Harris or George or Pearson, it was Wiley or Combs or Wells or Clarett. Go ahead and stack the line of scrimmage. We will run anyway. That wasn't the case against SDSU. A suspended Clarett and a dinged up Ross gave us only one real threat at tailback. Hall ran for a nice average, but the running game never took over like we have seen in the past. While shoddy passing, injuries, and a nice SDSU scheme all played a role, it usually boils down to being physical. Control the line of scrimmage and we control the game.
No one person is to blame. We need three great running backs rotating in and out. We also need an opposing defense that is scared of our passing game. Finally, we need an offensive line that that is clearing holes. The coaching staff will have this fixed; Tressel will make sure of that. He has and always will run the football with authority.
While players always say it, Krenzel really means it when he says he puts more pressure on himself than any coach, reporter, or fan could put on him. He is upset with 18 of 20, not to mention 5 of 20. He was out of rhythm, nothing more or nothing less. He will get back to the form that made him 2-0 against Michigan and a National Championship quarterback. His receivers will help him shine.
In the end, you create your own luck. It isn't luck that Gamble has better quickness and instincts than opposing receivers. It isn't luck that Allen learned from great OSU safeties and always flies around the ball. It isn't luck that A.J. Hawk was recruited for his passion and blue-collar style which ended up springing the final block on our lone touchdown. We recruit these players for a reason. We recruit them so they will go win a game for us.
We should feel good about Smith and the defense playing at such a high level. We should have concern for the 76 yards passing. Many will ask "Did we have enough intensity and emotion on our sidelines and in our huddle?" The A#1 goal each and every year is win all games played in the Horseshoe. They played good enough to win, but they certainly made it interesting. Look for a GREAT week of practice and team that plays like their backs are against the wall next week.
Will Allen – Will get post-season honors. He's a "yes sir, no sir" type of guy that will continue to make plays that affect the outcome of the game. How about a 100-yard interception return (you owe Gamble and Hawk a milkshake or hamburger or something).
Will Smith – Unblockable
Maurice Hall – Not many highlights, but he took care of the football and averaged just under 5 per carry.
Mike D'Andrea – Made a hit, which caused a fumble, which caused the game winning field goal.