"The Buckeyes take the field and grind out a hard fought victory."
You could use that phrase for nine of the last eleven games during this 18-game win streak, which by the way is the longest in the country. We don't overwhelm opponents. We don't shine in front of the media. We don't dazzle the fans. We just score more points than the team we are playing. If you want lopsided games, this is not the team to watch. If you want a resilient and mentally tough performance, then this is your team. The Buckeyes are 4-0 thus far. Let's scratch off the non-conference portion of our schedule.
The running game looked much better against the BGSU defense. Hall and Ross combined for 201 yards on Saturday, whereas they combined for 211 yards through three games and three overtimes entering week four. My guess is the coaches had a heart-to-heart talk with our guys up front. We definitely controlled the line of scrimmage against the Falcon defense, and we seemed to fire off the ball much lower and faster than in previous weeks.
In addition, the coaching staff mixed in some outside runs that loosened up the defense. If Hall and Ross run downhill, they will make first downs. It still comes down to blocking, and the linemen had a better game. Blocking in space on a pitch play is tougher than rushing straight at a team. Our guys responded well to the more diverse running game, and they should have. You come to Ohio State and you are expected to handle any blocking scheme and situation you are handed. We do not recruit one-dimensional linemen at Ohio State.
The defense was awesome in the sudden change situations. First off though, we need to take better care of the football on offense. An interception and four fumbles (two lost) are not acceptable. That puts our defense in a tough situation. It affects field position, momentum, and conditioning. The defense responded very well to this on Saturday. With the Jenkins fumble, Fox picked the ball off three plays later. With the Hall fumble, the defense forced a punt 4 plays later. With the McMullen interception early in the second half, Hawk picked the ball off two plays later. The defense did a GREAT job against the sudden change.
I am done saying AJ Hawk is "a hard-nosed, blue-collar player that is going to have a great career." AJ Hawk is not the future…he is the present. He is an All-American. He is consistent. He makes plays. He scares opposing players. He scares opposing coaches. Guess what, he will play just as good next week as he did the first four weeks. The trend will continue.
It was a tough non-conference road for us this year. It's hard to believe the easiest game was Washington (I wouldn't have believed that in mid-August). I need to give some praise to the MAC. BG beats Purdue and gives us all we can handle. I am just glad Miami, Toledo, Marshall, and Northern Illinois are not on our schedule.
Bobby Carpenter - Playing special teams and defense with passion. Now that he has confidence, his athleticism will shine.
Maurice Hall - 5.6 yards per carry
Tight Ends - Hartsock doing a fullback's dirty work. Hamby with a 12-yard average on his three catches. Irizarry did a nice job with his first true game action. That is the most two tight end sets I have ever seen Tressel/Bollman use. That puts a lot of pressure on a team. Will they split them out as receivers? Will they use them as a fullback? Teams will not be able to scout our tendencies with this package of tight ends.