Captain's Corner - Northwestern thoughts

Jerry Rudzinski checks in this morning with his weekly look at the Buckeye Saturday performance.

You gotta love a shutout. Whether we are playing Northwestern or Case Western, it is a big deal to keep the opponent off the scoreboard. The kicking game did a great job setting up our defense for success. It was a great team effort by our defense. The players tackled well and played sound assignment football.

Nugent and Sander made our special teams very special. Think about how hard we work on offense to move the chains. Think about how loud we cheer when the defense goes "three and out." With Nugent and Sander pinning teams deep in their territory, we are taking pressure off the Buckeye offense and defense. It puts heat on the opponent. When Gamble returns a punt for a 20 yard gain, that is two first downs we don't have to get. When Sander drops one inside the 10, that makes the opponents offense battle our defense for that yardage they just lost. Special teams are one-third of the National Championship equation. Sander and Nugent were awesome on Saturday.

Coach Tressel did a nice job getting some of our younger players quality playing time. Whitner, Guilford, Patterson, Zwick, Smith, Irizary, and Richardson are just some of the young football players that are OSU's future. These players all got in for some Big Ten game action. There is no substitute for game experience.

I have no problem with the timing of Zwick entering the game. Zwick knows the playbook. Zwick has looked good at practice. Zwick should be able to call the play, make his reads, and hit the open receiver. We had a 10-point lead over a team we were overpowering, and we never lost the momentum. For us to lose the momentum, that would mean Northwestern took it over, but Northwestern never had the momentum of that football game.

If you want Zwick to get quality playing time, throw him in there. In fact, there is no better time than when Krenzel is down. Is it okay to throw him in with a 17-point lead? Do we need a 24-point lead? Everyone draws the line at a different point. Tressel drew the line at a different point than many fans, but had Justin entered the game and the offense shined the way they are coached, nobody would have questioned the decision. Whether Zwick plays again at Wisconsin, Michigan, or next year, he will be a better quarterback after picking up some experience against Northwestern. We need to play our young receivers, our young linemen, our young defensive backs, and yes, our young quarterbacks.

Well, the winning streak will not end next weekend. The Buckeyes get some well-deserved time off. Stepanovich, Krenzel, and Scott are key pieces to the puzzle, and a bye week will make those players healthier. Look for the Buckeyes to add some new wrinkles with the extra practice time. That game plan should be tuned up for the Badgers. May the best team win.

Buckeye Leaves:
BJ Sander – Hang time. Wow!

Northwestern's field goal unit

Drew Carter – His 13-yard per catch average was good. The fear he put in defensive backs with his speed was great.

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