The Speed Question

As is always the case when Ohio State faces a program from south of the Mason-Dixion Line, the Buckeyes' speed seems to be a question mark in some analysts' minds.

While the OSU players don't want to take anything away from the speedy Florida Gators, many Buckeyes are quick to point out that they're pretty fast too. And while many fans and media members seem to think being fast is a birthright in some sections of the country, it seems in Ohio, the athletes have to acquire speed the old fashion way -- they earn it.

Ohio State junior receiver Ted Ginn, Jr., says being quick and speedy is something you have to work on. "Well, you know, I wasn't born fast. "You know you just got to go and work as hard as you can, you know. I work plenty of days. I stayed up plenty of hours. I just made me who I am. There is a lot of commitment, a lot of work you got to do," said the former nationally known high school track star.

Ginn said while Florida is certainly a fast team, the Buckeyes played some other capable athletes during the season. "Well, you know, the whole year we did play against some good corners. Texas was pretty fast. Penn State was actually pretty fast too," stated Ginn. "Michigan was pretty good. But, you know they (the Gators) got some great guys that come down and hit you and can run with you."

"They are very fast and athletic," OSU senior wideout Anthony Gonzalez said of the Gators. "I think those are the two strengths they have as a defense, it's just their speed and athleticism." Gonzalez said, "I feel like when, I watch their defense, I feel like they say to themselves, okay, we feel like we have better athletes than you and we are just going to prove it. We are just going to play man coverage and we are just going to be better than you," he claimed.

Count Buckeyes' Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith as one of those who believes the kids in the Midwest can run with anyone. "I think a lot of times, and thus far during the coverage of their defense, we don't give the linebackers in the Big 10 enough credit. Because we face guys all the time that are very, very fast, extremely talented and just as strong as the guys that the Gators are going to bring," Smith said. "But I am a firm believer in giving respect where respect is due. And any time you play a defense like this whom their front four is just as fast as their linebackers, their linebackers are just as fast as their safeties and so on and so forth, you have to give respect. They do have great linebackers," the OSU captain said.

During Wednesday morning's press conference at the Camelback Inn, Smith bristled at a question from a reporter who asked him if Florida has more speed than the Buckeyes. "You know, it depends on what you define as speed. Don't get me wrong, they definitely have guys that can run, but the way that it has been portrayed is like, I guess we have been winning our games by walking and jogging. It is like our guys haven't been running," Smith exclaimed.

Dave Rice will be covering the Ohio State Buckeyes for as a fully credentialed reporter throughout National Championship Week.

Rice has been working in the local and national media field for more than a decade. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Northern Arizona University and has been serving as a writer, editor and producer of sports and international news for a national wire service for nearly ten years.

Originally from the Cincinnati area, Dave is a lifelong Cincinnati Reds and Ohio State University fan. He enjoys spending time with his wife, young daughter and by watching high school and college sports.

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