Captain's Corner - Minnesota thoughts

Jerry Rudzinski checks in with his thoughts on the Minnesota game...

This team is showing great character. Talent, depth, and schemes will win you a bunch of games, but character will win you a championship. Character is doing the little things right (Penn State…kicking game). Character is winning when you play poorly (UC…we were awful). Character is unselfishness (Ross and Hall handling the Clarett situation). This Buckeye team is special. I believe the core players we have on the field do not take things for granted. These guys have learned from their past.

Mike Nugent remembers struggling early in his career, and he takes every kick one at a time. Craig Krenzel remembers OSU losses caused by turnovers, and he will take a sack or an incompletion rather than throwing an interception. Matt Wilhelm remembers sitting out games with an ankle injury, and knows that he should savor every snap like it is his last. The receivers remember watching film, and they realize that blocking downfield is just as important as deep post routes and punt returns.

We have the signs of a mature football team. OSU has great talent in 2002, but we always have great talent. This year's team has a confidence and swagger because of their ability. They realize they win every game on paper. But this year's team also is very humble. They realize a turnover, a bad call, and a flat quarter can ruin all of their dreams. Most teams only have one of those characteristics. They either have too much swagger, or they are too humble. This Buckeye team seems to have the right mix of both.

The game Saturday began perfectly for Minnesota. An early OSU turnover, some OSU three-and-outs, field position in favor of the Gophers, a blow in the Buckeye kicking game, and it appeared the stars were aligning perfectly for Glen Mason. But the Buckeyes just put on more steam. Nugent made his field goals, Krenzel didn't force anything, Wilhelm played with passion, and the receivers were blocking downfield. These players have lost games they should have won before, and they realize that is not much fun. A mature team goes on to beat Minnesota 34-3. An immature team hits the panic button and it goes down to the wire.

A win is a win is a win, especially when you are on the road. Joe Tiller will have Purdue ready. UC, Northwestern, and Wisconsin were victories, but we struggled at times in each one of those games. It would be nice to put it all together on the road. Don't give Purdue a short field, and make sure you tackle well. Hold a 5-yard pass to the flat to a 5-yard gain. Don't let a 5-yard pass to the flat turn into a 20-yard gain.

Buckeye Leaves (By the way, it is just assumed that Gamble gets them every week)

Michael Doss – Opposing running backs just don't want to take it through a hole as hard when he comes up and fills like that. Doss gets in their mind, and by the 3rd quarter they run with more hesitation.

Simon Fraser – I though he was only a sophomore. What is he doing leading like a senior? I don't see anyone that wants to win as much as Simon.

Maurice Hall – He could have folded the tents after UC, but he decided to keep working hard each and every practice. Mo Hall looked good.

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