Captain's Corner: Buckeyes Win Out?

The win over Michigan State kept Ohio State in a position to battle for the Big Ten title, but the Buckeyes' turnover margin continues to plummet as they are now last in the Big Ten (-6). Ex-Buckeye captain Jerry Rudzinski says OSU isn't that far away from being the team people think they can be -- it's going to be about fixing that turnover stat. Jerry discusses that and more in the Captain's Corner.

If the Buckeyes can fix the turnover situation, I believe the 2005 Ohio State team will win each and every remaining game by a landslide. That doesn't just mean the offense avoiding four lost fumbles. It also means the defense creating momentum, touchdowns, and a short field for the offense by taking the ball away from opposing offenses.

The play-calling questions and offensive philosophy questions from last week were bound to happen after some inconsistent performances from the team in the early stages of the season. However, two things will determine how the Buckeyes finish. First, the offense can't throw interceptions or fumble the football. Second, the defense needs to create fumbles and interceptions. Those two factors will outweigh any conversation about throwing long or throwing short. Those factors are the key. Whether they run inside or outside on 2nd and 5 is not the key to the season. Turnovers need to swing OSU's way. It will be a VERY HAPPY finish if they make that statistic right.

The game started very shaky for OSU. The first quarter alone saw the two fumbles leaving MSU with 10 points off turnovers. The 3rd down roughing the passer call was a four-point swing. They even blew a timeout due to inadequate personnel on the field. The first quarter put OSU in a bad position, but they hung in there. The key to winning this football game was fighting until the end.

Drew Stanton was awesome. You can take Vince Young…just give me Drew Stanton. That was a special player we saw in green on Saturday. He is a big-time NFL quarterback in my mind. Javon Ringer sure was a nice player.

Playing soft at the end of the game would have cost OSU. They finished and finally won a game that came down to the 4th quarter. Coach Tressel has us pretty spoiled with winning those games that come down to crunch time. It is good to see the Buckeyes recapture that magic in 2005.

The offense needs chances. Ginn and Holmes showed us some remarkable plays; you just don't know when those guys will strike. The opening series showed us why the Buckeyes don't always put more points on the board. With 3rd and 1 early in the first quarter, they were unsuccessful in moving the chains. Give them three more downs, and maybe Ginn or Holmes strike on those extra plays.

I know their chances have certainly increased. Now, I am not blaming the 3rd and 1 play early in the Michigan State game for every offensive struggle, but maybe they strike it big if they converted. What if the Buckeyes missed a 3rd and 1 before Holmes' big touchdown? What if they missed a 3rd and 1 before Ginn's big touchdown? When these coaches say it is a play here or a play there or the offense is actually much closer than some may think, I tend to believe them. Had they got the 3rd and 1 on the opening series, maybe they would have scored. I simply say that to point out that a play here or there can change everything.

The most important play in football is the next play. That is why every great football coach critiques and grades every play from every practice. You just don't know what converting a 3rd and 1 early in the game can do. You just don't know what staying alive and creating more chances will do. What if they didn't fumble the ball? What could they have done with those offensive plays that never happened? Moral of the story: do the little things right and we would all be surprised with what follows.

Ohio State has has some big time players. Holmes will do very well in the NFL. Carpenter and Whitner are absolute studs. And AJ Hawk…that is the best I have ever seen an Ohio State linebacker play. He wasn't perfect, but in my lifetime, I have never witnessed a better linebacking performance in the Horseshoe. What is really scary is that it was just another game for AJ.

The Buckeyes should beat Indiana by a few touchdowns, but we shouldn't be disappointed if they don't beat them by 40 points. Indiana has hung in some ballgames this year. They will be very well coached and the Hoosiers will play OSU very hard. Those "Miami (OH)"-type games always scare me, especially on the road. Indiana has Miami's old coach and has better players now than he would have had at Miami. The Buckeyes win, but I don't plan on seeing the starters get pulled by halftime.

Buckeye Leaves

AJ Hawk - see above

Antonio Pittman - When he climbs over 100 yards, things seem to turn out okay. He made a nice play on that late screen pass. Pounding Pittman and respecting Pittman helps on those long Holmes touchdowns.

Bobby Carpenter - I think his pass rushing inspired the other defensive linemen. He raises the pass rushing bar.

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