All of the sudden the 260-yard drive down the middle of the fairway looks better than the 305-yard rip that sits in four inches of rough behind a tree. Shooting par won't always win you a major, but it will win you a football game against a highly athletic and skilled team that lacks discipline in all phases of the game. NC State is looking themselves in the mirror saying, "We beat ourselves." No arguments or fancy rebuttals from the Ohio State folks. We really don't care "how." We care about "how many."
The mediocrity of our first two opponents along with home field advantage allowed the Buckeyes some get-out-of-jail cards. We were somehow 2-0 despite our -7 turnover ratio. Maybe that is the sign of potentially very good team? If you can be undefeated despite giving the ball over to your opponent 3.5 times per game, you might be strong in some other key components of the game.
I still contend turnovers are created. There is no such thing as patience when it comes to a defense creating turnovers. If you are not creating turnovers as a defense, you need to play faster and more physical. That is what Mike D'Andrea and Simon Fraser did with a blistering pass rush to force those floated passes into our defensive backfield. The gunners on our punt coverage shed their blocks and made every inch count the punt was bobbled. Had Sirjo Welch been a few yards further away, I bet the Wolfpack return man catches that punt easily.
I've seen many coaches post the sign in their meeting rooms stating, "You can judge the character of a defense by how many defenders you have on the screen when the whistle is blown." Fast and physical pursuit makes a great defense. The Buckeyes showed this unit can be as special as any group of Silver Bullets. I would argue that both NC State scoring drives would have had different results if it weren't for OSU personal flag penalties that advanced the Wolfpack's drives. Outstanding effort by our defense. They don't get a Buckeye Leaf. They should get a game ball.
Some of the prettiest offensive plays we had probably involved a few passionate Buckeye fans screaming at our offensive line. How could we be excited about a blocking breakdown? Because Justin Zwick simply pulled it down and took the sack. There is a time to throw it into the fifth row. And there is a time to take a sack. If you have our defense and special teams, end the series with a punt. We came out victorious largely because of field position. Justin Zwick made some great decisions in tucking the ball and avoiding the sloppy turnovers. I think Jay Davis wishes he was sacked three more times.
A great victory for a focused football team. The running game needs improvement. The passing game needs improvement. What doesn't need improvement is the record.
A few extra Buckeye Leaves to rub it into Las Vegas' face…
Donte Whitner - You can just tell he is the leader of that young crop of defensive backs. He is not waiting for his break to happen. He is going out on Saturday afternoons and creating his own breaks.
AJ Hawk - Two interceptions although the stats will only show one of them. A performance worthy of 1st Team All-American status and even a potential Butkus.
Mike Nugent - While we are talking about the Centerville Elks…how about our kicker. Hey Mike, a high position in the NFL draft buys a lot of house back in Centerville.
Sirjo Welch - Outstanding job covering punts. As a rocket/gunner on the outside, it is critical to disrupt a return team.
Doug Datish - Only the coaching staff will study the film and determine his exact grade, but he seems to love getting downfield and finishing blocks.
NC State's Complete Lack of Discipline - Just keep swinging that driver with lots of clubhead speed when you are playing on these tight fairways.