Ginn Discusses His Three-TD Performance

We have comments from OSU freshman Ted Ginn Jr., coach Jim Tressel and others after Ginn scored three touchdowns to help the Buckeyes defeat Michigan State 32-19 Saturday.

In the first eight games of this season, Ohio State freshman Ted Ginn Jr. had only scratched at the surface of his potential. He had shown flashes of his brilliance with three touchdowns in excess of 50 yards -- a catch and two punt returns.

But Ginn turned the corner from novelty act to dominant player in OSU's had-to-have 32-19 win at Michigan State Saturday. Ginn scored three touchdowns in the win, one on a reverse, one on a punt return and another on a catch that gave the Buckeyes the lead for good with just 1:37 left.

As he appeared at his postgame press conference, OSU coach Jim Tressel scanned the stat sheet for a look at the damage perpetrated by his precocious freshman.

"I think you just have to look under the category that says Ginn," Tressel said. "Teddy came up with some huge plays for us today.

"I think he is comfortable with what we're doing and how we've got him lined up. We're getting the ball to him out in the open. He can go. He loves to compete. I would suppose you could say he is also getting more opportunities."

Ginn, humble as ever, was just glad to help out.

"I was just glad they gave me the ball," Ginn said. "It was a great feeling. I was just going out and having fun with my team."

Ginn's fun began shortly after teammate Ashton Youboty made an interception and returned it to the MSU 17-yard line. On second down there, Ginn came on an end around from the right side. He took a backward flip from quarterback Troy Smith, ran around an advancing MSU contain man and rolled around the left corner for the easy 17-yard touchdown and a 7-0 OSU lead.

"The reverse is always part of the package," Tressel said. "On the reverse, it was covered with a defensive end and that was a (speed) mismatch."

Ginn added, "It was definitely a mismatch. All week, we worked on that play and letting the defensive end come upfield so I could run around him. But then we had to perfect it in the game."

But the fun was just beginning. OSU then forced an MSU punt. True to form, MSU's Dave Raynor tried to hit a low line drive away from Ginn. But Ginn was ready. He fielded the punt on the bounce and hit full stride quickly. He split a pair of MSU defenders, cut to his right and was gone on the 60-yard punt return that put the Buckeyes up 14-0 with 8:15 left in the game.

"We practiced all week on picking up the ground ball punts," Tressel said. "They were like shortstops back there all week. When it came time to do it in the game, it was just like practice."

For Ginn and fellow returner Santonio Holmes, practice made perfect.

"I was going after that ball," Ginn said. "All week we worked on fielding the bouncing balls.We just wanted to attack them and get it to the house. All week, we were tackling balls and trying to catch them on the squib and while they were bouncing. We wanted to come here and field those balls and just do it as we had in practice and you see what happened."

This was Ginn's third punt return for a score, following similar plays against Wisconsin (65 yards) and Penn State (57). That is a new OSU single-season record and Ginn, just nine games into his OSU career, has already tied Garcia Lane (1981-83) and Jeff Graham (1989-90) as the school's career punt return touchdown leader.

Coupled with Holmes punt return for a score against Northwestern, OSU has returned four punts for touchdowns this year -- also an OSU record. The previous team mark of three was set four times, most recently in 1998.

OSU eventually moved ahead 17-0. But after the Spartans rallied for a 19-17 lead late in the game, the Buckeyes again turned to their new big play man.

On second-and-5 from the OSU 42, Ginn lined up wide right. He ran a simple slant pattern -- a pattern Ginn has been open with but could not catch over the past several weeks. But Smith hit him in stride. Again, he split a pair of defenders and was gone on what became the game winning 58-yard touchdown.

"On the slant there at the end, they decided to go two over one on both the outside guys," Tressel said. "That allows you to throw some slants."

Ginn said the Buckeyes were in an urgent situation and needed a big play to help pull the game out.

"When we fell behind like that, we just had to come back, get on the sidelines and get the team back up," Ginn said. "It was called a slant. We executed it and the ball was there and I took it to the house. I think they were setting it up. We were running plays. I was just being patient and poised and then you see what happened."

Ginn's final tally for the day: Two carries for 21 yards and a touchdown, four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown and two punt returns for 71 yards and a score.

His three-touchdown day allowed him to tie Holmes for the team lead with six touchdowns scored on the season.

For the year, Ginn has now scored on six of his 24 touches this season. He now has three carries for 26 yards and a score, 11 catches for 187 yards and two TDs, eight punt returns for 231 yards (28.8 average) and three scores and two kick returns for 40 yards.

Tressel said OSU has made more of an effort to get Ginn involved.

"We felt not only in our three and four wides but also in our two-wide stuff that we could make some things happen with him in the game," Tressel said. "It's hard to double both he and Tone."

Ginn spent the preseason on defense before moving to receiver exclusively early in the year. Making that transition has taken some time, Tressel said.

"That was his biggest thing," Tressel said. "He missed the preseason work of getting jammed and pressed. He is showing some growth in that area. Whoever is jamming him had better make sure they jam him or he'll be gone."

Reporters asked Tressel if he had seen Ginn live as a high school player.

"I never saw him live," the coach said. "I saw him on film."

Tressel was asked what impresses him about Ginn.

"The thing that impresses me the most is the way he catches the ball with his hands," Tressel said. "It is way beyond what I've seen with a lot of very good receivers. You take for granted that he is faster than anyone maybe in college football. He is not just a track guy. He is a football player."

The OSU offense mustered just 140 yards in the first three quarters. But Ginn and the Buckeyes hope the offense took a step with the 167 yards it put up when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter.

"We gained a lot of confidence," Ginn said. "Everybody was doubting that we couldn't win on the road. To pull this out today was great."

Ginn was asked if his first multi-touchdown game was his biggest athletic achievement.

"I'm not going to say the top because I've still got to work at everything," he said. "It was a good day, but the day is over with. I need to rebound and come back and see what I did wrong and get it back right."

Ginn's development as a receiver has been a slow build -- along with OSU's much maligned offense.

"I wasn't frustrated," Ginn said. "You just have to go with your row. I was a freshman. I just had to show them what I could do and after I did that, they found ways to get me the ball."

After running away from the Spartans most of the day, Ginn was asked if he has ever been caught from behind.

"No, not in a long time," he replied.

When asked about his favorite part of the day, he said, "The victory."

More Viewpoints

Here were some more views on Ginn after his big day:

* Linebacker A.J. Hawk -- "Having an athlete like Ted is unbelievable, what he can do for your team. He just brings so many different things to your team that the other team has to worry about. They have to think about it when they punt to either Santonio (Holmes) or Ted. They should just punt it out of bounds just to play it safe. As you see, he has unbelievable speed. He runs by everyone. I don't think he'll ever be caught.

"It's a huge lift, especially to jump out 14-0 like that. That really got some momentum our way."

* Cornerback Ashton Youboty, who checks Ginn in practice -- "Yeah, I catch him sometimes when we go one on one. Like I said last week, he's another receiver. He's a fast kid. It's flat out speed. He's a player. He gets the job done."

* Troy Smith -- "He means a lot. To take back three touchdowns, that's huge. He meant a lot to us today."

Smith was asked if Ginn has ever ceased to amaze him.

"No, because I know what he's capable of," he said. "He might surprise you, but he doesn't surprise me. He tells me all the time, 'If I get a chance to touch the ball, I'm going to try to do something with it.' I know there is a good possibility he can do it."

* Tressel -- The coach may have summarized Ginn's contributions best when he said, "It is a simple game."

Yes, Coach, it is when you have a guy like No. 7 on your side.

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