Congratulations to the Buckeyes on beating the ninth best football team in the country. We can talk about the 56 rushing yards later. We can talk about the lack of touchdowns from the offense down the road. OSU doesn't need to apologize for this past Saturday. When you beat #9, it is a "great" win, not a "good" win.
We always say special teams are 1/3 of the game. There is a reason Chris Gamble, Will Smith, AJ Hawk, etc. are out there. We saw why the punt is the most important play in football. The punt can create a long field for an offense. The punt can create a short field with a big return. The return man can fumble. The punt can get blocked. The punter can get roughed. The return can go for a touchdown. Many scenarios exist.
Michael Jenkins, first and foremost, is sure-handed in catching those punts. In addition, he gets up field immediately. A key block, a missed tackle, a sprint towards the end zone, and OSU was in charge of the ballgame.
It continued when Roy Hall blocked a punt in the third quarter to make it a 17-3 ballgame. It is great to see our top players competing on special teams. These players are committed to doing whatever it takes to win. If Gamble needs to return kicks…fine. If Gamble needs to block Iowa's gunners/rockets…fine. By the way, it will only help these guys down the road. NFL teams want our superstars to play offense, defense AND SPEACIAL TEAMS. There are not many guys like Randy Moss, Marshal Faulk, and Marvin Harrison in the League. NFL rosters do not have many spots. You better be a proven performer on special teams.
The red zone defense was terrific. 1st and 9 in the first quarter resulted in a 36-yard field goal. 1st and 4 in the fourth quarter resulted in a 45-yard field goal attempt that Iowa faked. Giving up three won't kill us. It might hurt us, but it won't kill us. The defense picked it up when it got deep into our territory. We will definitely win the Big Ten if that trend continues the next fivegames.
As for the offense, it was another tough day. They did a nice job in contributing to a +2 turnover margin. In addition, they had the ball longer than Iowa's offense. I didn't complain against Penn State last year with zero touchdowns. I won't complain this year with zero touchdowns against Iowa. Both teams have outstanding defenses. (Didn't we fumble in both games at the goal line?)
All blame should not go to Bollman. He does not recruit every offensive player. He does not coach running backs, quarterbacks, wide receivers, and tight ends. In addition, this offense is as much or more Tressel's as it is Bollman's. I may be very "1950-ish" in my thoughts about players needing to execute whatever play is called, but I think Bollman is taking way too much criticism for an offense that is 20-1 against excellent defensive opponents.
We need to use Indiana as a springboard. Forget playing young, inexperienced players. Forget resting our injuries. These offensive players need confidence. Let's force-feed the running backs. Let's remember what 250 yards rushing feels like. Let's over-power a very vulnerable, weak Indiana defense. I think we should lead with the pass against a Purdue or Michigan. I think we should lead with the run against this Indiana team so we can build on something for the last four big games. We will need 100-150 yard rushing performances down the road.
Alex Stepanovich – Played with great attitude. Trying to do everything in his power to spark the offense. Would start on any line in the country.
Nate Salley – I believe his big hit on third down played a role in Jenkins's return on the fourth down punt. His hit sparked the defense, sideline, and stadium. An electric stadium excites our return team and demoralizes the opponent.
Mike Nugent – 53-yarder
Fred Pagac, Jr. – Great play from the middle linebacker was one of the many reasons the Iowa offense didn't score. His crucial fumble recovery early in the second half was one of the bigger plays of the game.