What do the Buckeye games against Washington State, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Penn State, Purdue and Illinois have in common? The Buckeyes won the game after trailing in the second half. That is an amazing statistic. They are 6-0 when trailing in the second half.
Ohio State finishes games this season. They get it done when they have to. One could say, "Hall only ran for 69 yards." Well, 8 of those 69 yards came in overtime for the game-winning touchdown. People could say, "Krenzel was only 10-21. He is not a great quarterback." He looked pretty darn great scrambling for the first down on that 3rd and 10 in overtime. How about "the offensive line doesn't dominate." I don't know, it looked like Krenzel had time delivering that 50-yard touchdown pass to Jenkins. Is it luck, talent, poise, destiny, endurance, confidence? I think it is all of the above.
All a coach can do is put his team in a position to win football games. Coach Tressel prepares this team all year to be in a position to win games. At some point, a coach just has to throw his players on the field and let the chips fall where they may. He has done a great job with game plans, unity, recruiting, practice schedules, hiring assistants, play-calling, etc. He has put guys like Donnie Nickey, Mike Nugent, and Michael Jenkins in a position to win. Coach Tressel cannot go on the field and cover Walter Young. He cannot go on the field and drive the kick off out of the endzone for a touchback. He cannot wrestle the ball from an Illinois defender for a 50-yard touchdown catch. What he can do is recruit players to do all those things. He can be effective with his practice time. He can bring in assistants to show proper techniques and study film. Coach Tressel can build up there confidence so they are poised at the end of the game. The point of all this is we need to appreciate our coaching staff. If the UC receiver catches the ball at the end of the game, Tressel is not any better or worse as a coach. If the 4th and 1 pass to Jenkins falls incomplete, Tressel is not any better or worse as a coach. He brings together great coaches and great players that believe in themselves and they go out and get it done on the field.
Tressel will have us ready for Michigan because he is a great coach. The problem is Lloyd Carr will have the Wolverines ready for Ohio State because he is a great coach. The Michigan game is the one game we cannot dwell on match-ups. Let's not even bother with the talk of receiver/db match-ups or o-line/d-line match-ups. They hand pick the players and coaches they want on their sidelines and we hand pick the players and coaches we want. Records and tendencies don't matter in this game. I promise you that both coaching staffs will watch so much film this week that it literally becomes unhealthy. The wives and kids of those coaches better not plan on seeing their husbands and fathers much this week. All that preparation, all that hard work will just wash each other out. Both teams will have great weeks of practice. Both teams will have new wrinkles. Both teams will be scouted pretty much to perfection. Just throw the players on the field and see what happens.
Lydell Ross- Ran with a purpose. His best running of the year.
Maurice Hall – Ran with a purpose. His best running of the year.
David Thompson – His three tackles for a loss resulted in minus 18 yards for Illinois. I guess it pays off to work hard every day in practice.