Game notes - Offense

OSU's offense definitely stepped up when it counted today, particularly the TEs. Dave Biddle has a look.

Ohio State's offense sputtered for much of the day against NC State, but with the game on the line, the Buckeyes' stepped up and got the job done.

The offense scored touchdowns in all three overtime periods, leading the way to a thrilling 44-38 victory over the Wolfpack.

Ohio State finished with 317 total yards, including 273 passing and just 44 rushing.

Wide receiver Michael Jenkins had a fantastic game with seven receptions for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winner.

Quarterback Craig Krenzel was 26-of-36 for 273 yards, with four touchdowns and three interceptions. He was also the Buckeyes' leading rusher with 13 carries for 37 yards and a score.

Much like the win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl, the Bucks called several quarterback draws. But head coach Jim Tressel said that was not necessarily the game plan coming in.

"I don't think so," Tressel said. "We had hoped that both Mo Hall and Lydell Ross would share some time and we also planned to run from the quarterback position as well. I don't know how many times we ran the quarterback play, maybe four or five. It wasn't an extraordinary amount, but we wanted that to be part of things."

The rest of OSU's running game was null and void. Hall finished with 13 carries for two yards and Ross had four totes for one yard.

"One thing we did not do a good job of today was running the football," Krenzel understated. "Obviously, that was something when you don't run the football well, it's hard to sustain a drive; it's hard to keep a drive going. It's something we need to work on and get much, much, better at."

Were the Bucks struggling in the running game because NC State was stacking the line, daring them to throw?

"I wasn't really paying attention to what they were doing," Ross said. "I was just thinking about what we were trying to do as an offense. The running game just wasn't clicking for us at all today. We couldn't get anything going."

Tressel plans on taking a long look at how to improve the running attack. Thirty-two attempts for 44 yards is not going to cut it.

"When we evaluate anything, we start with design," Tressel said. "Should we design things differently? Then we talk about personnel. How should we use our personnel a little bit differently? You know, both up front and the running backs. And sometimes, when things are lined up the way they are lined up (eight men in the box), you have a hard time getting it going. But, we certainly need to get the running game going better than it is."

Although the Buckeyes were unable to move the ball on the ground, the passing game was as good as it has been during Tressel's brief tenure at OSU. Aside from Krenzel's interceptions, the Bucks moved the ball well in the air.

"I think in the passing game, we played pretty well," Krenzel said. "We made some big plays."

In the overtime sessions, Krenzel threw touchdown strikes to Ben Hartsock (10 yards), Ryan Hamby (2 yards) and Jenkins (7 yards).

The winning toss to "Mr. Clutch" came on a 3rd-and-4 play. Jenkins downplayed it afterwards, but it was a tough catch. He had two defenders draped on him and if he didn't come down with the ball, the Bucks would have been forced to attempt a field goal.

"That was just a kind of play we were running early; we were running slants on them," Jenkins said. "It was just the same play. Craig threw a perfect ball so I could catch it and score a touchdown."

As for Hamby, he will remember his TD grab for a long time to come.

"Yeah, I think it was the biggest play I've ever made playing football," Hamby said. "Either that, or the winning touchdown in the Fiesta Bowl (when I made a block to spring Maurice Clarett)."

Hartsock finished with a career-high seven receptions for 65 yards. Fellow tight end Hamby likes seeing so many balls thrown to the big guys.

"I never thought Hartsock would have so many receptions in a game," Hamby said with a laugh. "That was like a year's total for a tight end. We like it like this."

Tressel gave some insight on why the offense was finally able to get things rolling in the overtimes.

"I thought our guys stepped up and made plays," Tressel said. "We came up with just a little bit more protection (for Krenzel). That extra half second, the quarterback made some great decisions, the kids caught the ball well and just kept coming after them.

"I think our guys had a better feel for them. We played against them all afternoon, and that gives you a little bit of an advantage as an offense. But our guys stepped up and made plays."

Krenzel and Jenkins are known as cool customers and even a three-overtime barnburner couldn't make them nervous. In fact, Krenzel said the offense found its comfort zone late in the game.

"I think there was a comfort level in our ability and our confidence in the overtimes," Krenzel said. "Especially given the ball on the 25, we felt that we were going to score touchdowns. Fortunately, we went out and we pass protected very well and had some great catches. Receivers ended up making some great catches in overtime and we did what we had to do to win."

Jenkins was confident that the Bucks could take advantage of the short field in the overtimes.

"When we get the ball on the 25, we know we're going to put it in the end zone," he said. "Some of the guys we have, they can do big things out there. We just have to go out there and do our job and we're really confident we can do our job."

With his big day, Jenkins now has 2,292 career receiving yards - leaving him just 563 behind David Boston (2,855) for the school record.

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