Defense holds on for Buckeyes

Bowling Green made a late comeback today against the Buckeye defense, but once again, they held off the push. Dave Biddle has some defensive notes.

For the second consecutive game, Ohio State's defense was staked to a 24-7 fourth quarter lead.

This week, the Buckeyes were able to close things out in regulation - barely.

Bowling Green's offense - ranked No. 1 in the country in total offense and No. 2 in scoring - was overmatched for most of the day. But, the Falcons kept coming after the Bucks and were able to make the final score a respectable 24-17.

Bowling Green finished with 366 total yards (326 passing; 40 rushing).

Quarterback Josh Harris was 33-of-54 for 326 yards. He had two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Harris, who did a lot of damage as a runner last season, curiously is not being used much in that role this year. Against OSU, he finished with eight carries for minus-14 yards (including four sacks by the Buckeyes).

"He's a good player," Ohio State's Quinn Pitcock said. "Today, he didn't seem to do as much as he usually does. But, we tried to keep him in the pocket and I think we were able to do that. He's a good playmaker. He's fast - slippery and everything. I thought we did a good job of keeping him in the pocket and keeping pressure on him."

Senior captains Will Smith and Tim Anderson also came away impressed with Harris.

"We knew coming into the game that he was going to control his offense and make plays when he needed to make plays," Smith said. "I think he did that, but I think we also forced him to make a lot of mistakes. He had a couple turnovers, which I think turned the game around."

Anderson elaborated on those comments.

"I think he's obviously a great player and he's going to lead that team to a lot of wins this year, but I think we did a good job containing him for the most part," he said. "I don't know how much rushing yards he had, but I don't think it was a whole lot. So I think at least up front we did a good job of staying in our rush lanes."

The Falcons leading rusher was tailback PJ Pope who had 11 carries for 47 yards.

For most of the day, Ohio State was in its nickel defense against BG's spread attack. This meant there were only two linebackers on the field at the same time and it was basically a four-man rotation of Rob Reynolds, AJ Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Mike D'Andrea. Hawk led the team in tackles for the second straight week with seven.

Nate Salley got quite a bit of playing time as the nickel back and did a good job. He was second on the team with five stops.

As for the defensive line, it applied good pressure on Harris throughout the game. In addition to the sacks, the group had numerous hurries and pretty much had its way against BG's offensive line. The D-line was especially tough against the run. There was usually a defender waiting for Pope in the backfield.

Unfortunately for the Bucks, tackle Darrion Scott went down with an ankle sprain early in the first quarter and did not return. We tracked down Scott's brother, Cedric, after the game and he gave an update on Scott's condition.

"He said it's pretty bad," Cedric Scott said. "He said he could barely walk - can't push off on it at all."

In Scott's place, the Buckeyes rotated several defensive tackles in the game. They always have a rotation going on the D-line, but it was especially deep today.

Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson got by far the most playing time of their young careers and both seemed to fare pretty well. Pitcock estimated that he and Patterson played about 20 snaps each.

Marcus Green also got a considerable amount of playing time in Scott's absence. He has been playing a lot this season, but not quite this much.

Ends Mike Kudla and Jay Richardson also made some nice contributions. Richardson seems to have passed Joel Penton as the fourth end (unless Penton has an injury we don't know about).

Smith said that the defense stayed with its game plan, even with Scott out and a lot of young guys in.

"No, we didn't change anything," he said. "We had guys that stepped up. Marcus Green stepped up and made a couple plays out there. So, we missed Darrion, but we had guys that filled in for him and did a good job."

As usual, strong safety Will Allen ended the game with a big play. With Bowling Green at OSU's 47 with just a few ticks left on the clock, Allen picked off Harris and secured the win.

"Will's where he's supposed to be," head coach Jim Tressel said. "He's poised and patient, even when the game is harried. He knows what he's supposed to do, gets himself in position, slows the play down, and makes good decisions."

Allen thought OSU's defense played well, except for the fourth quarter.

"I think we had them bottled up pretty good for most of the game," Allen said. "But they are a good team - a good offense - and they played hard and stayed in there.

"What we have to do as a defense is make sure we don't let teams hang around like that. When we are up 17 points in the fourth quarter - like this week and last week - we have to seal the deal and not make things interesting."

As some of the defensive linemen mentioned, the game plan against the Falcons was to pressure Harris and keep him in the pocket.

As for the defensive backs, they were trying to prevent big plays, while still not giving up too many cheap yards underneath.

"We were just trying to keep everything in front of us and come up and make the play," Allen said. "They had the one receiver that had a pretty good game, but for the most part, I think we did a good job."

The receiver that Allen was referring to was Cole Manger, who burned the Buckeyes for 13 receptions for 168 yards.

"That 21 (Manger) was sure impressive as a receiver," Tressel said. "I thought they did some good things. But again, we usually evaluate ourselves and we gave them too many opportunities."

The Buckeyes have gone up against a lot of good quarterbacks over the last year and half and Harris is right up there with the best.

"Josh Harris is a first class guy," Tressel said. "I don't know how it was out on the field, but he was tough. It looked like he was tough and wasn't going to give up. A big, strong guy; threw the ball in there. Especially down the stretch there, he threw a couple real good balls. He's a good quarterback."

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