Captain's Corner: Tough Challenge Ahead

The Buckeyes took some steps forward against Indiana on Saturday, says ex-OSU linebacker and captain Jerry Rudzinski. However, things won't be as easy next weekend as the Buckeyes travel to Minneapolis to take on the Minnesota Golden Gophers and their powerful running game.

While the Buckeyes showed some minor lapses in Bloomington, I think the team showed major steps forward as well. I realize illegal blocks, a personal foul, roughing the passer, a redzone interception, and getting the ball stripped will not be minor if they happen against the Golden Gophers. However, the big picture looks much prettier.

The mistakes we made were so noticeable because of when they were happening. They had a personal foul after Ted Ginn took a kickoff into the endzone. The redzone interception followed a nice drive. The roughing the passer call followed an incomplete 4th and 3 attempt. Even the first illegal block came right after Antonio Pittman ripped a first down carry.

How do you stop those mistakes? We need to realize the Buckeyes will have another fumble and they will have more flags thrown, but I think the trend we saw on Saturday will not continue. I can't imagine looking Ted Ginn in the eye after he returned a kickoff that was called back because of my personal foul. I can't imagine heading back to the defensive huddle after a 4th down roughing call knowing the shutout might be in jeopardy. I have done more bone-headed mental mistakes than anyone, but believe me, you only do them once when you let your teammates down. The feeling is awful. The look in your coach's eye after they had the perfect call with 10 of 11 people executing flawlessly. I have been that 1 of 11 that made the mistake. Sometimes the only way you will learn is by being that 1 of 11.

A few random thoughts heading to Mason's House…

· Good things happen when Pittman climbs over 100 yards.

· Execution over strategy. If you can only give me one of the two, I will take execution over strategy every single day of the week.

· The inside of the defensive line had better be ready. You won't find better center/guards than what the Gophers have.

I have been looking forward to this game for some time now. We know they run the ball. This is a test of toughness between the OSU defense and their offense. This is a personal challenge to the defense. May the tougher unit win the game. If they out-tough/out-hit Ohio State, they should walk away winners. If the Buckeyes win the hitting contest, they get the "W." May the tougher unit win the game.

Buckeye Leaves…

OSU Defense – That is the best assignment football they have played. This unit trusts one another. Good things happen when you do your job. Bad things happen when you try to do your job and your buddy's job.

Mike Kudla – Despite the flag, he was awesome. He was a machine getting into the backfield. The Buckeyes will need him down the homestretch.

Ted Ginn Jr. – Despite the fumble, he too was awesome. The acceleration he showed on the kickoff return was incredible. After dancing around and almost being at a standstill, he shot himself out of a cannon. We knew nobody could catch him once he gets going, but it was great to see he can hit that first 5 to 10 yards that quick. The punt return was terrific as well.

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