Offensive Notebook: OSU Rolls Up 484 Yards

Ohio State was averaging 410.1 yards of total offense per game entering its game against Minnesota. That average will rise after the Buckeyes torched the Golden Gophers for 484 total yards (266 rushing, 218 passing) in Saturday's 44-0 win. After the game we caught up with Troy Smith, Antonio Pittman, Brian Robiskie and Stan White Jr.

It was another dominant performance from Ohio State's offense as the Buckeyes piled up 484 total yards (266 rushing, 218 passing) in Saturday's 44-0 dismantling of visiting Minnesota.

Senior quarterback Troy Smith had an "average" game for his standards, but still probably took another step towards the Heisman Trophy. Smith was 14 of 21 passing for 183 yards and one touchdown. He now has 22 touchdowns and just two interceptions on the season.

Smith added six carries for 43 yards and scored his first rushing touchdown of the season on a 21-yard scamper in the third quarter.

Junior tailback Antonio Pittman had 21 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns. He now has 898 yards on the season and 10 touchdowns.

Freshman Chris "Beanie" Wells added 15 carries for 90 yards and a score.

Freshman Brian Hartline was OSU's leading receiver with four catches for 69 yards.

As has been the case in many games this season, the Buckeyes were able to rest their stars in the fourth quarter. Anthony Gonzalez actually left before that with a head injury (is expected back next week) but still managed three receptions for 30 yards.

Ted Ginn Jr. added three catches for 22 yards, Pittman had two for 47, Stan White Jr. had two for 20, Brian Robiskie had one catch for an 18-yard touchdown and Roy Hall had one catch for 15 yards.

"Offensively, we've still got work to do," Smith said. "Putting points on the board is cool, but I guess the way you do it and how you do it is the most important thing. We've just got to keep rolling."

Smith scored 11 rushing touchdowns last year, but it took until the ninth game of this season for him to finally reach paydirt. Robiskie talked about Smith's touchdown run in which he juked a Minnesota defender nearly out of his shoes on the way to the end zone.

"You forget that maybe Troy can run because he has done such a good job this year dropping back and passing," Robiskie said. "On that touchdown, I saw him roll out of the pocket and I was waiting on him to step back and make another one of those throws. But he stepped up and kind of caught me off guard. I was just going to try and make a block but I turned around and he was in the end zone."

The play could be called Smith's weekly Heisman moment. He seems to have at least one memorable play each game.

"It's just Troy," Pittman said. "He came out here and played his game. The passing wasn't there early, but he showed he can still run and he took off a lot of times and shook a guy and ran it all the way in. He opens up a lot for us."

Smith was actually wearing a glove on his throwing hand early in the game, but removed the glove following a first half fumble. Smith had never worn a glove in a game before and he was asked if it limited his ability to throw the football.

"It wasn't affecting my throws," Smith said. "As I got into the game, it wasn't that cold anymore. So, I wanted to really get a feel for the ball, and wearing the gloves, as a quarterback, that's what you really rely on, getting a feel for the ball and knowing how the conditions are. But some of the passes in the beginning weren't bad passes. We still had some completions and I could have played the rest of the time, but just chose not to."

It was a windy day in Columbus, but Smith didn't think the conditions bothered his play.

"The wind didn't affect me," he said. "Sometimes your reads are there, sometimes they aren't. Minnesota did a good job of sometimes taking away number one, did a good job of clouding up number two, so we had to do other things. The wind wasn't a problem though."

As for Pittman, he could pass the 1,000-yard mark next week at Illinois. And one of the skills that make him such a productive back is his patience in waiting for his blockers and for running lanes to open up.

"It's all about trust," Pittman said. "I trust those guys in front of me so much. That's the main thing. You have to have trust in them because they open up the holes for you and one hit can be it for you. I have a lot of trust for those guys up front and I respect them a lot because they go out and work hard for me to get those yards that I get. And not just me, all the running backs and Troy sitting back there and throwing the ball to our great receiving corps. They make everything possible, so I have a lot of trust in those guys up front and that allows me to make the reads that I make and try and break a long one."

Pittman was also happy to catch a couple of balls against the Golden Gophers, especially a 30-yarder. He has just eight receptions on the season.

"It's a good thing," Pittman said. "And that's one of the reasons I think this was my best game all year as far as a complete game goes.

"I feel as if I can be productive catching passes. When nothing else is open deep down field, Troy kicks it down to me and you expect that. But you've got Ted, Gonzo, Roy, Robo and Hartline and somebody is going to be open. So, you can't complain about not getting enough catches, but I definitely like to catch the ball when we need it."

And with all of the talent on OSU's roster, guess who leads the team in yards per reception? It's none other than Hartline at 18.3. OK, so he only has nine receptions for 165 yards on the season, but he's still proven to be a big-play guy.

"Yeah, I think that's the role I'm playing right now is more of the understanding that if I do get the ball, it might be a deeper throw," Hartline said. "So, I think I'm getting some good opportunities and I'm just trying to make the most of those opportunities."

Hartline made a spectacular play against Minnesota where he caught a dart from Smith on a ball over the middle that was behind Hartline with two defenders right on him.

"Yeah, a day like today with the swirling wind, the coaches told us to make sure to keep our eyes on the stripes a little longer," Hartline said. "And that's what I did. I forgot about the coverage and just concentrated on catching the ball and didn't worry about getting tackled."

It was also a productive day for White, the senior fullback that doesn't get to touch the ball very much.

"Yeah, it's always nice to get a few touches, especially when you don't get to touch it much playing the position I do," he said.

White was a standout tight end in high school and enjoys the rare opportunities when he gets to catch some balls for the Buckeyes. But at the same time, he understands his role on the team.

"I've been doing a little campaigning to get the ball more," White said with a smile. "But I understand the weapons that we have and I think that's why our offense has been so successful, it's our versatility. You can pick your poison. You can try and stop one thing – like balls downfield. Then we're going to line up in the I-formation and run it down your throat and run some play action off it. It's all about where they are putting the extra safety. If they want to put the safety deep, we're going to usually run it and vice versa."

White's father – former Buckeye linebacker Stan White Sr. – was not in Ohio Stadium on Saturday.

"Actually, I think this is the first home game that my dad has missed since I've been here," White said. "He's actually doing the Ravens game in New Orleans tomorrow – he's the color analyst for the radio – and there was no possible way to get from Columbus to New Orleans."

Smith was pleased to see White have a good game. The quarterback can't say enough good things about his gritty fullback.

"I think anytime you get into a situation where a fifth-year guy gets a chance to step up and rise to the occasion, it's huge and it's key," Smith said. "Stan White did just that. Stan White is a guy where you ask him to do any and everything and he does it with a smile. It's never a sense that he's going to backlash and say something against anything that you say. He's a Buckeye through and through. Anything you ask him to do, he's done it thus far, and when his number is called, you can definitely rely on Stan to be there."

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