It was great to see the Buckeyes dominate. The squad seemed to blend a sense of urgency with a relaxed mindset. They mixed a business-like approach with a game that is a lot of fun to play. Sports psychologists talk about being in the "zone", and I think it is safe to say the Buckeyes found that athletic utopia in Bloomington, Indiana. You accept a scholarship to Ohio State to play in big games with a national audience. You also accept a scholarship to dominate inferior opponents like Indiana.
I think the confidence we picked up is legitimate. It is not a false confidence. I remember getting mop up work against Illinois or Indiana or Minnesota as a young Buckeye. If we ever got a sack, interception, or big hit, it definitely gave us a huge confidence boost for the next time we were out there. It gave us confidence even as we took the practice field the next week. Confidence doesn't only come from playing Michigan or Florida State. Tiger Woods gains confidence winning the US Open as well as the Buick Open. A good performance is a good performance. We need something to build on. We need to get used to that feeling.
The defense looked awesome. It appeared the Silver Bullets knew the snap count while the IU offense was just waiting for movement. The defensive line fired off the ball with low pad levels. They played fast. They played great assignment football. They made plays. They tackled well. They ran to the ball. I don't think there is much more we can ask of them. Will Smith is the most dominant defensive lineman I have seen all season.
Last week, we talked about Whitner and Hall making huge contributions towards the Iowa victory. The new regime was making an impact. As I watched the end of the 3rd quarter, I saw a television shot of our defense between plays. I saw Pitcock, Hawk, Patterson, Salley, Kudla, and D'Andrea all on the field together. Yes, we had a nice lead at the time, but those guys also play early in games. This great defense is not all about Will Smith and Darrion Scott and Will Allen. We have young, talented impact players that are going to be around for a long time. Anderson, Reynolds, Pagac, and other veterans will lead the way. These young players will learn and eventually lead the way for future blue-chip recruits that are running around high school fields as we speak. The defensive pipeline looks strong.
My insides hurt for Drew Carter. All he has done is work hard and show patience. He works and works and works on living up to the high standard of the OSU wide receiver tradition. He was supposed to be a star years ago. He got injured and watched as other players took the headlines. In the meantime, he rehabbed and kept a positive attitude. He was on his way to a remarkable season. He was finally a key piece to the puzzle and he gets banged up. Why does that always happen to the good guys?
We made some mistakes against the Hoosiers. Red zone fumbles, a red zone interception, red zone penalties, and a missed field goal are things we need to work out. The beauty is that those are things that can be worked out. What you cannot work out is a lack of intensity or team that doesn't play physical. The Buckeyes were not perfect in Bloomington. There is a lot of work to do this week in practice, but it is comforting to see it is in areas that are easier to fix. You can't fix a team that has a talent problem.
Please, please, please don't take the Nittany Lions too easy. This team that can't seem to win a Big Ten game will put on their best show against the Buckeyes. While they are not as good as our final three opponents, the Lions are on the same level as SDSU, BG, and Northwestern. Those opponents gave us everything we wanted. Those games were at home. This is on the road at a stadium that makes Camp Randall look small. We won't get any calls. The crowd will be a factor. We need to be ready this week. We need to treat Penn State like they are a Top 10 opponent. If we do that, we will win convincingly. Get on them early. Don't let the game be even after the first quarter and a half.
Lydell Ross – The 19 year old put on a good show. Hey Lydell, you are responsible for carrying the running game these final games.
Will Smith – Great football players are consistent. Mr. Smith will destroy o-linemen next week and the week after and the following week and so on. If you ever wonder what a good NFL lineman would do against college kids, just watch Will Smith on a play.