Captain's Corner: So Far, So Good For OSU

There was plenty of concern that Ohio State might overlook Miami (Ohio) in yesterday's opener, but the Buckeyes came out and took care of business. Jerry Rudzinski says the 2005 Buckeyes are looking good so far. Read on for this week's Captain's Corner.

The 2005 version of the Buckeyes looked terrific based on the opener. They have a very veteran and very athletic team that is certainly well-coached. What a great position to be in.

My first thought after the game was about the depth. Sure, Miami scored when OSU had the backups in the game, but OSU's playmakers are deep. Depth doesn't always mean the 3rd string offensive tackle is almost as good as the starter. It can also mean Ohio State has a lot of playmakers. All Division I schools recruit good football players, but the USC's, OSU's, and Michigans of the world always send a few playmakers onto the field. These guys can change a game on any given snap. If so-and-so goes down with an injury, I just get the feeling that OSU will be okay, unlike some years in the past when two or three guys made such a big impact.

Salley made a big hit. Whitner had the interception. Schlegel, Carptenter, Hawk were all sacking the quarterback. Gonzalez was everywhere. Pittman made guys miss. Holmes and Ginn keep defensive back coaches honest. The list goes on. Ohio State has depth in weapons. It almost looked like that team was competing against each other with "who can make the biggest play on this particular snap." That is when football is fun. That is when you win a lot of games.

Miami will win some games. I give Coach Montgomery credit. He kicked the opening kickoff straight to Ted Ginn. He made a statement with that. If they were going to win this game, he knew he had to hit the Buckeyes in the mouth. You don't skate around a victory in the Horseshoe. You have to go straight through them.

I am not too worried about OSU's two biggest mistakes. Things like the Zwick interception in the red zone will happen in an opener. I realize a red zone interception is a red zone interception, but deep down I can't blame Zwick for putting one up for Holmes in the endzone when he was one-on-one with a defensive back. That seemed to work okay on the opening drive. The Buckeyes went to Florida and scholarshipped Mr. Holmes for him to win in the endzone in one-on-one situations. That ball wasn't catchable, but the quarterbacks this year will face times when they need to pull the trigger. There are times to tuck it and take a sack, and there are times to let the playmakers make plays.

The Whitner roughing call was forgotten about pretty quickly when he picked the ball off for a late first half touchdown. The coaches harp on avoiding the punter when going for the block all day every day. However, the lesson sometimes isn't learned until you blow great field position in a nationally televised game. I am quite sure every player on that punt return team said, "Wow, I now see why the coaches talk about that everyday. We just blew a good opportunity." (By the way, you can count on the coaches having a few comments on that in the film room.) In the end, Donte made things right with his TD. Good for him. I predict an All-Big Ten performance from him this season.

The offense looked "opened up." In reality, the OSU team has had multiple receivers on the field many, many times the past few seasons. We've seen those empty set shotgun formations, but what made things seem more opened up was the execution. The line was not giving away playcalls and they blocked well. The receivers were crisp and fast. The quarterback made good reads. The running game was working. The playcalling was as good as it's been in the past. The playcalling, talent, and execution looked better than the past.

Will we see a lot of new plays and new formations for the Texas game? Probably not. That isn't always a bad thing. What you will see is plenty of new wrinkles and twists to the formations and plays shown last Saturday. A big part of scouting an offense is about, "This personnel group, in this formation, in this down-and-distance, on this part of the field has a tendency to do this."

Well great, now we bait them into that and tweak it. They expect a certain play and a certain man to block them. They are right about the play, but they aren't right about the man blocking them. To the fans, it appears like the Miami game, but the Texas linebacker now has a guard on him instead of a fullback. Sometimes a brand new play with a brand new personnel group is easier to stop when compared to a play that is just tweaked. In that case, you are completely baited into thinking something else will be happening.

Buckeye Leaves

Josh Huston - Following a legend isn't always a bad thing. You watch that legend's practice habits, psyche, mental preparation, coaching/teammate interaction, etc., etc., etc. Houston looked terrific with his kickoffs and field goals.

Anthony Schlegel - I was surprised how much base defense OSU played even when Miami was bringing in additional receivers. I expected to see nickel almost every play. That is confidence in Schlegel. He understands spacing, coverage, and the game plan. More importantly, his knee is healthy.

Antonio Pittman - We knew he could shake and make guys miss. Was he a physical back though? Without question, he is willing to deliver hits and take hits. A piece of that first touchdown on the opening drive belongs to Antonio. The 3rd and 4 catch on the swing pass where he carried the defender 1 ½ yards for a first down was the difference. Right there I knew OSU had a running back.

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