Buckeye Breakdown

Kenny Roda from WKNR SportsTalk 850 will be writing a weekly blog on Cleveland Scores covering the sports world both locally and nationally. Check back often for his updates!

I was impressed with Ohio State’s offense in their 35-12 win over Northern Illinois. Not from the standpoint of the Buckeyes’ two Heisman Trophy candidates putting up the numbers they did. Troy Smith threw for 298 yards and 3 touchdowns and Ted Ginn Jr. racked up 123 of those yards on 4 catches, two for touchdowns. No, I was impressed that head coach Jim Tressel unleashed Smith and Ginn from the get go and then mixed in the running game to allow Antonio Pittman to rush for 110 yards and a score. Tressel also got true freshman running back Chris “Beanie” Wells into the game for 10 carries and 52 yards and a score on his second carry of his career. Yes, Wells did fumble later in the game, but he got the experience of playing in a Division 1 game so when he plays against Texas on Saturday in Austin, it won’t be such a shock.

There were two things that I didn’t like about the offense. The first was when Tressel substituted backup quarterback Justin Zwick for Troy Smith in the middle of a series down near the goalline. Zwick obviously wasn’t ready. He tripped over an offensive lineman’s leg and then fumbled the handoff with the Huskies recovering and keeping OSU from scoring its sixth TD of the game. Bad coaching move. The second area that concerned me was the kicking game. Both Ryan Pretorious and Aaron Pettrey missed long field goals. The kicking game is a huge part of “Tressel Ball”, so one of these two better step up and perform or the Buckeyes could lose a tough,close game late in the fourth quarter.

Defensively, the Buckeyes have a long way to go and not a lot of time to get there. In fact, the time frame is less than a week to get ready for Colt McCoy and the defending National Champion Longhorns. Garrett Wolfe, Northern Illinois’ All-American running back, racked up 172 yards rushing and 115 more receiving this past Saturday. If Ohio State’s “D” allows that to happen against Texas, the Buckeyes will leave the Lone Star state a .500 team and no longer ranked #1 in the country.

Defensive end Vernon Gholston and linebacker Larry Grant were the only two defensive players who really caught my attention in game #1. Gholston recorded 1 1/2 sacks and made his presence felt in the Huskies’ backfield. Grant, the junior college transfer, came up with a big interception in the red zone and made other plays throughout the game. Yes, senior defensive linemen Quinn Pitcock, David Patterson and Jay Richardson played well, but they’re going to have to turn up their intensity and performance a few notches against Texas if they want sweet revenge for last year’s 25-22 loss at “The Shoe” in Columbus.

If they can put pressure on Texas QB Colt McCoy, it will go a long way in helping out an inexperienced secondary of Jenkins, Mitchell, Patterson, Smith, O’Neal and the rest of the defensive backs.

But all in all, a 35-12 win over Northern Illinois showed that they weren’t looking ahead to Texas, which is a good sign of leadership and focus. So let the fun begin this week for one of the most anticipated games of the season. A showdown in Austin between this year’s #1 team, Ohio State, and last year’s #1 team and National Champion, Texas. My prediction?

The last team to have the ball will win in a high scoring affair. So here’s hoping Ohio State gets the ball last and Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. hook up on a fade in the endzone in front of thousands of Longhorn fans who will feel the same pain Buckeye fans felt last year. And then maybe that will pave the way for the Scarlet and Gray to accomplish what Texas did last year, hold that crystal football up in the middle of the field on January 8, 2007 as college football’s National Champions!

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