Sander Coming Through As Senior

Through three games, B.J. Sander has been one of the pleasant surprises as OSU's punter.

One of the pleasant surprises for Ohio State so far this season has been the punting of senior B.J. Sander.

Through three games, Sander has averaged 42.9 yards on 19 punts. He has put nine of his punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line. The Buckeyes rank 17th in the country in net punting at 42.9 yards.

"So far I'm pretty happy," Sander said. "There are still some things I need to work on, but I think it's going pretty well."

Sander and the punt team came through in a big way against N.C. State. He averaged 49.4 yards on five attempts, placing four of those down inside the 20. Most importantly, the Wolfpack -- which has a reputation as a punt block team -- never blocked one against Sander and the Buckeyes.

"Our punt team did a great job," Sander said. "They came with so many different rushes and our punt team did a great job of picking everything up. My long snapper has been great all year.

"If they're going to bring it, I'd like to hit a big one just because I know our coverage team will be able to get down there."

Sander sent his first punt of the day out of bounds at the NCSU 18. Then, he came up big in the second half. He had punts downed at the NCSU 12- and 13-yard lines in the third quarter. Finally, he got a huge roll on his last punt, a 57-yarder, that rolled dead at the NCSU 14 with 3:18 left.

Obviously, the Wolfpack drove the 86 yards they needed to tie the game, but it certainly wasn't Sander's fault.

"That's a great feeling to put it inside the 20," Sander said. "Coach Tressel picks on me sometimes. He wants them inside the 10. He goes, 'That's good, but we need it a little bit better.' So there are more things I need to work on."

In overtime, Sander had to handle two pressure packed extra points as the holder for kicker Mike Nugent.

"It really wasn't any different," he said. "I go out and hold the ball for Mike, and he's the guy who has to put it through. It wasn't any different for me.

"We worked a lot on that during the off-season. Coach Tressel stresses the special teams a lot. If our special teams is great, we know we have a good chance to win the game. That's something Mike and I have prided ourselves on."

Sander is not content to rest on his laurels. He is hoping to follow in Andy Groom's footsteps as a postseason award winner for the Buckeyes.

"As long as I do what I'm capable of doing, I know we'll be all right," he said. "I know if I'm able to hang the ball up, our coverage guys will be able to go down and stop them.

"I need to work on my consistency a little bit. I got lucky on the last one with a good roll. I just need to consistently hang the ball up the little higher and do the best job I can."

Prior to this year, Sander's only action came in 2000, when he split time with Dan Stultz as the punter. But he never got down as Groom, a former walk-on took the job the last two years.

"I knew my time would come," he said. "But it was tough. I knew I had made a commitment here and I was going to get my shot after Andy was gone. There were people questioning whether I could do the job or not. I knew all along I could do it. I just wanted to go out and do what I was capable of doing."


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