Five Answers: Ohio State at Washington

With both quarterbacks under the microscope, one made the plays when the other faltered, and the Ohio State offensive line acquitted itself well. Chris Wells had a day worth writing home about, and how about those ball hawks in the silver helmets?

1. Will the Buckeyes be able to slow down run/pass threat Jake Locker?

Locker, the Washington quarterback, was basically just as advertised: Extremely talented and athletic but raw. He gave the Buckeyes fits with his fleet feet (102 yards on 14 carries) and made some nice throws but ultimately was unable to will his team to victory.

Numerous times in the second half he missed open receivers, miscues that prevented the Huskies from rallying after Ohio State scored 14 points in 39 seconds midway through the third quarter to regain the lead.

"He's a tremendous athlete and very fast, exceedingly fast," James Laurinaitis said of Locker. "You see him on film and you see he's fast but you see him in person and you have to really adjust your angle on him. He is going to be a great quarterback in the future."

Locker completed 16 of his 33 pass attempts for 153 yards and a touchdown. When taking off on foot, he made more than one Buckeye look silly in the open field with moves that left defenders grasping for air, but it's safe to say Laurinaitis got the better of him.

The reigning All-American linebacker tied for the team lead with eight tackles, sacked Locker once and intercepted him twice.

"The sky's the limit for Jake," OSU head coach Jim Tressel said. "He's young and this is going to be a good learning experience for him. He faced a pretty fair defense. I'm sure he's going to learn a lot from this experience."


2. How will Todd Boeckman fare in his first start on the road?

The first half was a rough one for Boeckman, but his first toss of the second 30 minutes might have been the best of his young starting career.

The junior from St. Henry completed just 7 of 15 passes and made a number of poor or ill-advised throws in the first half.

Though none of Boeckman's passes were intercepted, at least two could have been.

He also had a bizarre incomplete pass deep in his own territory that could have been ruled a fumble. Had that been the case, the Huskies would have found themselves with six more points after a defender scooped up the ball and ran it into the end zone.

"I didn't come out as strong as I liked to in the first half," Boeckman said. "The balls were coming off bad and that's my fault, I take blame on that."

After a 7-of-10 second half, however, most can be considered forgiven.

A perfect deep toss to Brian Robiskie in the third quarter seemed to get both the quarterback and his team on a roll, not to mention a 10-7 lead. Boeckman followed the 68-yard bomb by completing a couple of darts to Robiskie and later threaded a deep post pattern to Brian Hartline for a 36-yard touchdown.

"I think Todd did well," Tressel said. "The first half, we were hanging in there, doing okay, just not enough. In the second half, he came in and made some big plays. We're going to need to come in and grade the film. He's got a lot more room to grow."

"The second half I just kind of settled down a little bit," Boeckman said. "I think the crowd kind of got to me the first half. Coming out here with that big atmosphere, settling down was just a nice thing to do in the second half."


3. Is this the week the Buckeyes start running it like Ohio State?

From the start, the OSU offensive line took control, and Chris "Beanie" Wells took full advantage.

He picked up 9 yards on an isolation play up the middle on the first play and cut back to his left for 12 more on the second down.

By the conclusion of the first quarter, Wells already had 52 yards, and he finished the game with 135 yards on 24 carries, a 5.6-yard average per tote.

With the offensive line opening holes more often than not, reserve tailbacks Brandon Saine and Maurice Wells combined to contribute another 104 yards on 16 carries.

As a team, the Buckeyes ran for 263 yards, far exceeding their totals from either of the first two games of the season.

"We knew both fronts would be very difficult," Washington head coach Tyrone Willingham told reporters after his team was gashed on the ground and failed to register a sack of Boeckman. "I think for much of the game it played itself out that way. Obviously we had great respect for their defensive team coming in. We thought it would be one of the better ones that we would see. Our guys tried to step up to the challenge, and played pretty well."


4. Can the Buckeyes get off to a faster start?

With the offensive line opening gaping holes and Beanie Wells exploiting them, the first drive was a positive, but the rest of the first half was something of a struggle. The Buckeyes moved into Washington territory three times but came away with just three points in all.

OSU needed just two plays to get going in the right direction in the second half, however, after the defense made a crucial stand.

Laurinaitis and his mates pushed the Huskies back five yards after Locker moved them to the Buckeye 19-yard line. That set up a block of a Washington field goal attempt.

Wells picked up three yards on the Buckeyes first play and they were scheduled to keep it on the ground before Boeckman apparently checked into a pass play.

"I just saw man coverage," Robiskie said. "I think that the run that we had called was an option run. I think that from the snap I kind of knew where I was going. I think Todd did a great job getting the ball out there. I think any time he's got time from that line he's going to sit back and make a great throw.

"Any time you see (Chris Wells) run the ball like he was, having success in the first half, even though we really didn't get it in the end zone like we wanted to. He was having some success but we knew offensively there were a lot of things we needed to work on. We knew that coming out in the second half there were a lot of things we wanted to try."


5. Will the Buckeyes finally end up on the sunny side of the turnover battle again?

An emphatic, "Yes," punctuated by Malcolm Jenkins' interception of Locker after the Buckeyes opened a 20-point fourth quarter lead.

Though that put the game away, the first three turnovers Ohio State forced were all crucial. Laurinaitis' first interception, when he snagged a shovel pass from Locker, snuffed out the Huskies' first trip into the red zone.

His second pick, a ball on which he made an impressive over-the-head grab, denied Washington at least three points after they moved to the Buckeyes' 23 trailing 17-7.

In between, Devon Torrence stripped Washington's Curtis Shaw on a kick return, and James Scott's recovery set up a Beanie Wells touchdown run that established that 10-point lead.

On the other hand, Willingham saw as many as four takeaways his team missed out on.

"You can't do that against a top ten team," the Washington coach said. "You just can't do it. Those are the things that are disappointing for us today. You've got to make those plays in order to put yourself in the champions' circle."


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