Just kidding. Team captain, All-American, and as valuable as anyone we've had in winning 27 of 29. Some guys talk a big game about "I want to take the last shot. Give me the ball coach." In reality, it is usually a false confidence with the large majority of players. They are frightened deep down into the core of their bodies in those situations. They just make those comments so they look calm and "big time" on the outside. Mike Nugent on the other hand, has no problem shooting free throws with one second left and down by two. He was 100% sure he would nail that kick. That wasn't a 5-foot putt, that was a 20-footer. His leg had nothing to do with making that kick. His confidence and maturity put that through the uprights.
We all talked about a "creepy" preseason schedule, and it is turning out to be just that. We will play great defense, Lydell should pick up some yards, but if a young quarterback throws a few to the wrong colored jersey, things could come down to the 4th quarter. I give Marshall a ton of credit. Put them in the Big Ten and they don't finish as one of the top teams. They don't finish last though.
I unofficially had Marshall starting their first half drives on the 46, 20, OSU 48, 20, 28, 43, 16 and 5. The defense did a real nice job keeping the Marshall offense to only one touchdown in the first half. We didn't give many big plays up. The longest Marshall pass plays were 23, 12 and 11. The defense tackled well and kept things in front of them. It was surprising to see the Marshall offense come out in the third quarter and run the ball 14 of 16 plays. It was a great move by Pruett. They controlled the clock, rested up their defense, and tested our defense's conditioning. We bent, but we didn't break. Marshall and Michigan will move the ball on us; just don't let them in the end zone. The defense was good enough to win.
Much has been made of Zwick's fumbles and interceptions the first two games. Sure, we need to get that right. We all agree on that. Yet we are not in search of an "even" turnover margin. We have won 27 of 29 because of our defense forcing turnovers. We spook the confidence of our opponent, and we set up great field position for Coach Bollman with turnovers. The Silver Bullets need to be ball hawks. We need to knock the ball out. We need interceptions. We are not looking for three-and-out; we need turnovers and scores by our defense. How do you do that? You play faster. You play angrier. You get off blocks quicker to pressure a quarterback or strip the ball while AJ or Bobby has them tied up. You work on drills in practice that simulate stripping the ball out 20 minutes longer than you should just to prove a point. You dial up the tone in your voice in the film room. I am not saying anything the coaches haven't said with much more intensity, but we will not win games if we don't create turnovers. The offense's interceptions are only half of the conversation.
All in all, a game I will remember the rest of my life. 27 of 29 is no accident. We didn't dodge a bullet; we beat a feisty opponent that stood toe-to-toe with us for 59 minutes and 58 seconds. Marshall had athleticism, great coaching, and football tradition on their side. Yet in the end, the Buckeyes walked away with another great victory. The poise of Jim Tressel has rubbed off onto his players the last 29 games.
Santonio Holmes - We talk about the 4.3 player running a 4.4 when he lacks confidence in his football pads on Saturday afternoon. Reverse that for Santonio.
Ashton Youboty - A focused and productive spring and August paid off when Captain Dustin Fox went out with a broken arm. It is nice recruiting guys that go out to practice every day and work their butt off.