Captain's Corner: Is This The Year?

2005 should be a great season for OSU football, but will it wind up being THE season? That's what so many fans are wondering, and that is what 1998 captain Jerry Rudzinski discusses in this week's Captain's Corner. What will need to happen for the Buckeyes to win it all? Jerry's answers to that question are all too familiar but all too true.

A wise man once said (actually, it was Coach Tressel), "All those cliché's you always hear…well they are true." During interviews in all different sports, athletes and coaches often turn off fans and media by spouting off a line like, "We didn't make plays" or "We made too many mistakes" or "Our opponent did a great job executing their game plan." Why didn't Tiger win that tournament? Maybe we should believe him when he says he felt pretty good but the putts just weren't falling. So this is my chance to be the master of the obvious.

Many people ask, "Is this the season for the Buckeyes?" It will be the season instead of a season if…

They win the turnover battle. The offensive poetry of Smith, Ginn, and Holmes won't mean a whole lot if they fumble the ball in the Longhorn's red zone. Three touchdown passes won't mean a whole lot if they throw four picks which set up a short field for an Iowa offense. Youboty and Hawk need to score touchdowns or set up touchdowns if the Buckeyes hope to put up many points under the lights in Happy Valley. Sacking Henne is one thing. Sacking Henne and knocking the ball the loose will probably mean a win or a loss in Ann Arbor.

They play with energy. Energy and momentum can get a team through some tough times. When Ginn takes a reverse in for a score, the linemen had better look and act like they just scored. When Pitcock lays out Vince Young, the safety that is covering the deep third of the field had better sprint up to the big man and give him a bear hug. "Act like you have been there before" is baloney. Act like you are trying to win the national championship and you just made a big play that could win you a ball game. Flat teams don't reach their potential.

They win the games they are supposed to win. Yeah, Texas, Iowa, and Michigan had better be "W's" if the Buckeyes are going to the Rose Bowl. What about Minnesota? What about Michigan State? What about Penn State? Those games you are supposed to win, but the Buckeyes had better show up after a great week of practice and actually win them. We have all watched the 12:00 Ohio State game only to turn on the 3:30 game in our living room or tailgate and watch a Big Ten upset take place in October or November. The Buckeyes can't let it happen to them.

They stay healthy. One injury won't ruin Ohio State. However, too many pulled hamstrings, stingers, high ankle sprains, and hip pointers could cost them a game. What if Ginn was missing in East Lansing last year? What if Smith was out for Michigan last November? I think Hawk kept some 25-yard gains to 5-yard gains. Injuries don't always mean so-and-so blows out their ACL and ends their post-season award campaign. An injury could simply mean a second- or third-teamer is put in a situation they don't win. The Buckeyes would have won at Purdue last year if their defensive backs were healthy.

Please excuse the generalities, but I can't start the season if I don't get them off my chest. Is this the season for the Buckeyes? It could be if they take care of those things Coach Tressel talks about at his press conferences.

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