Gellin'

By Kyle Rowland on October 2, 2012 at 10:00a
27 Comments

The game clock read four minutes, 10 seconds as the Ohio State offense took the field in the fourth quarter at Spartan Stadium. The biggest win of the season was in sight. Run out the clock and the Buckeyes wouldn’t have to sweat a late-game drive by Michigan State. 

Team camaraderie on full display. 

He didn’t tell his team, but head coach Urban Meyer thought the defense would have to preserve the victory. He didn’t necessarily doubt Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde or the offensive line, but Meyer has seen his share of college football games and knew Michigan State would key on stopping the run. It was of little consequence, though, as Ohio State ran for three first downs and rendered the Spartan defense irrelevant.

Before the drive started, the offense got a talking to. It didn’t come from Meyer or any of the offensive assistants. Instead, it came from Zach Boren. The veteran fullback has been in Big Ten slugfests before, and he wasn’t about to come out on the losing end.

“His leadership and on the sideline was instrumental in this ballgame,” Meyer said on Monday. “I don’t want to call it legendary, but that's why we do what we do. I can't speak for every coach, every player. But…I hear what I hear, and saw what I saw, that's what it's all about. I would like to think we've had something to do with that as far as creating that competitive environment around here.

“I give a lot of credit to Zach Boren. He really showed his manhood in that game and not just the way he played, but the way he did some leadership. He really did a very good job.”

It’s one reason why Boren was named a captain prior to the season. Throughout his career, he’s provided levelheaded encouragement and been a vocal presence in the locker room. Even as an underclassman, Boren had a dominant personality.

But Saturday wasn’t about one person’s leadership – Boren – nor was it defined by one person’s play – Braxton Miller. It was about the team.

Low moments littered the 2011 season with a minute amount of happiness sprinkled in. So when the clock hit 0:00 on Saturday, elation was evident – with reason – on the Ohio State players’ and coaches’ faces. The celebration and smiles almost resembled national championship-esque revelry.

It went from the field to the locker room and continued on the flight back to Columbus. The whole time Meyer noticed the bond between the team become stronger.

“It was a team that matured,” he said. “It’s been a team that’s been pushed around for a while. Lot of things have happened. Lot of things I’m probably not even aware of. But I could tell that it wasn't a close team. It was a team with a lot of excuses, and it materialized over the weekend. It was really interesting to watch it happen. We pushed the envelope as a coaching staff and they bought in.”

Meyer has never been shy about showing his emotions.

Meyer is in the midst of his 11th season as a head coach, but his entire coaching career spans 26 years, and teams coming together is not a given.

“I think six teams, seven teams,” Meyer said. “That means there's a bunch of average football in there. How many great teams are there? I'm not saying we're a great team. We at least have a chance of going to do some good things together because I felt like they came together. Every team doesn't come together, no.”

Offensive lineman Reid Fragel, who turned in an impressive performance at right tackle, said he was moved by Meyer’s reaction in the locker room. It’s not often a player reflects on the cheerfulness brimming from his coach.

“To see him in the locker room after that win almost brings tears to your eyes,” Fragel said. “He was so joyful. It just felt like he was one of the guys. It was a really cool atmosphere.”

Growing as a team provides a boost to Ohio State’s confidence with a win on the road only adding to it. Units that have had heavy doses of criticism heaped upon them were major contributors on Saturday: Wide receiver Corey Brown caught 12 passes, fourth-most in OSU history; the offensive line played well all day, but upped the ante when mystery surrounding play calls was all but gone; and linebackers Etienne Sabino and Ryan Shazier performed at arguably the highest level of their careers.

The defensive performance, in particular, was something not foreseen. It was a weak link during the first four games, but give them the third-leading rusher to deal with and the Silver Bullets reemerged.

“When you really care about the guys around you, it makes the stakes higher,” offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said.

The hope for the Buckeyes is carrying their momentum and team-building into Saturday’s anticipated matchup with Nebraska. Night games at Ohio Stadium don’t come around often, but when they do, they signify marquee games. This one is no different – No. 12 vs. No. 21.

“Tomorrow will be as hard a Tuesday as we've ever had,” Meyer said. “It’s not a punishment, it’s just I feel we can get much better. We are a very close team right now, and close teams work really hard.”

Ohio State remains a team with little margin for error. An off day for Miller could easily result in a loss, even against an unranked opponent. But when young teams start believing in themselves not only because of on-filed results but also due to a team-wide unity, special things happen.

“I think they are really starting to gain confidence,” offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “That could be a strength for us as we continue to get better – momentum and emotional edge.”

27 Comments

Comments

builderofcoalitions's picture

How many times has OSU had to depend on their D for one more stop? It's not often that they get that final first down to seal the deal. It's nice that for once the offense is winning games while the defense gains its footing. Too often over the last decade, it's been the opposite.
I just hope they can carry this momentum through next season. It will be tough and they could become complacent. Let's hope this is a sign of things to come.

Because we couldn't go for three.

Ahh Saturday's picture

I remember OSU having an impressive drive to run out the clock against Oregon in the Rose Bowl, but I get your point.  My favorite offensive formation is "victory." 

vincennes buckeye's picture

tressel drove me nuts with his 3 dives up the middle and punt mentality.u want to win the game go get a few 1st downs and run the clock out!

vincennes buckeye

BuckeyeEd's picture

Family.....This has the makings of a Beautiful Season. "Positive Team Chemistry" is the difference between Champions and Could of Beens. If they can pull off the impossible and run the Table it will be a team that no one in Columbus will ever forget. That Destiny is what Urban is offering them and it appears they have bought in. What will be your Legacy Men? To Hell with a trophy that gathers dust in some Long forgotten Case. Go Bucks!!

WC Buckeye's picture

Ayep.

The only thing that's new in the world is the history that we have forgotten.

MediBuck's picture

My biggest worry for this team going into this season was that we'd drop an unexpected game early or get pummelled by MSU, then everyone would give up as there would be nothing left to play for. Now, these guys are clearly playing for each other, for their coach, and the opportunity to be 12-0 and show the nation Block O is back. Gotta give Coach Urb and the seniors credit for never letting us head down that dark path that 2011 exemplified.

"There is a force that makes us all brothers, no one goes his way alone." --Woody Hayes

timdogdad's picture

a win will be great this sat because we could really run up a gaudy record into november or even do the 12-0. but if neb kicks a 50 yarder to win by  1  i  want to see this team respond and play good the next few games.  no more avg games vs inferior opponents.  if we lose a tough one sat, lets have that as the  only blip on an 11-1 season of major improvements.   and/or a letdown if we do win sat.  

Doc's picture

I'm so pumped for the game this weekend right now!  Let's keep the wins piling up boys.  We should have beat them last year with the dumpster fire of a team we had.  There is no reason we shouldn't beat them this year.  Go Bucks!

"Say my name."

bassplayer7770's picture

Sure, we've seen improvements this year, but I'm not sure we should forget that Nebraska also seems to have improved on both sides of the ball.  This game will be a good test for our Buckeye team.
EDIT:  While I was at it, I figured I'd look at some stats.
Nebraska is ranked 9th in Total Offense (Total Yards).  Buckeyes are 39th.
Ranked by Offensive yards per game, Nebraska is 13th, and the Buckeyes are 54th.
Ranked by Defensive opponents yards per game, Nebraska is ranked 35th, and the Buckeyes are 57th.
We do rank higher than Nebraska in Scoring Defense, though.

Earle's picture

Love the toughness on the last drive.  Love the emotion on the sideline and after the game.  Love the direction this team seems to be heading.

babbski's picture

My memories of Juice Williams and Illinois doing this to OSU back in 2007 are still very fresh, so it was nice to see us lean on the offense to put this one away in a similar fashion. So happy to see the line evolving into a strength.

btalbert25's picture

Two quotes from Urban really have me believing this team will is really close to going from a good team to a great team.
 

“It was a team that matured,” he said. “It’s been a team that’s been pushed around for a while. Lot of things have happened. Lot of things I’m probably not even aware of. But I could tell that it wasn't a close team. It was a team with a lot of excuses, and it materialized over the weekend. It was really interesting to watch it happen. We pushed the envelope as a coaching staff and they bought in.”

This team already shows more fight and grit than last years team, it doesn't quit, but it's nice to hear him say they have bought in and they aren't making excuses for themselves.  They are shaking off the funk that the last couple of years brought.  That is huge in my opinion.
 

“Tomorrow will be as hard a Tuesday as we've ever had,” Meyer said. “It’s not a punishment, it’s just I feel we can get much better. We are a very close team right now, and close teams work really hard.”

I love this.  I believe this is exactly why Urban's teams here won't become complacent.  He's always going to push them to get better.  This group of guys sounds like they almost embrace it too.  They know working harder and harder and pushing themselves is going to have great results.  With leaders like Simon and Boren it's not surprise though. 
They may lose Saturday I don't know, but I have a feeling this team is going to have a lot of rapid improvement in the coming weeks.  It'd be great if it all came together Saturday night at the Shoe though.  This is quickly becoming my favorite Buckeye team.
 

hodge's picture

You know, I wonder if Urban's over-the-top praise of Johnny Simon was more to push him as a leader than anything else.  I think that Urban knew that Simon didn't need to be pushed to be a better player--I mean, Simon lives in the weight room as is.  But I do recall Meyer mentioning that--in the beginning of his regime--Simon was constantly going there alone, which led to Meyer forcing him to bring someone with him every time he went.  I think Meyer saw Simon as a guy who needed a little push to become the team's heart and soul, and the more he praised him off the field, the more Simon would feel compelled to live up to said branding.
As per the norm, I agree with everything you said, BT.  This team's rapidly becoming one of my favorites.

buckeyeEddie27's picture

The Boren brothers are a true blessing for these teams.  Thank goodness Justin decided to come to the good guys and his brothers followed suit.  Go Borens Go Bucks!

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

joel121270's picture

I hate for any season to end BUT....
 
IS IT 2013 yet????

southbymidwest's picture

You know what, I would not necessarily have said this before this week, but this team could be very special. I'm not so sure I am ready to rush and brush off this year's team for next year's version. You know how diamonds are made- with high heat and pressure, they become something beautiful to behold, and rare indeed. I believe that the young men on this team are starting to see the crystalization-they have definitely been through some heat and pressure both from Meyer and the quagmire that was last year, especially the seniors. That they came together rather than fracturing apart says quite a bit about them. It can only help them become better men, better competitors, and better teammates. Onward and upward!

chitown buckeye's picture

I think this will be are biggest test to date. Nebraska is a much tougher match-up for us. MSU played to our strengths where as Nebraska's strengths are our weaknesses. They are going to spread us out defensively and make us tackle one on one in space. Obviuosly not our strong suit. Hopefully our linebackers and D-line are up for the challenge. I believe it is going to take a better game by those guys to beat Nebraska.
The best Defense in this game will be a good offense. Meaning hopefully we can control the ball and win TOP. I know we have typically scored fast but hopefully we can limit the three and outs and maybe, because of the finish to the MSU game, we will have confidence to control the ball a little bit more with the run game. This will be a huge win for us. With a win on saturday we could be witnessing something special forming with these guys in the weeks to come and years to come.

"I'm having a heart attack!"

doodah_man's picture

That.

Jim "DooDah" Day
It is hard to play dirty against a man who picks you up.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Before the drive started, the offense got a talking to. It didn’t come from Meyer or any of the offensive assistants. Instead, it came from Zach Boren. The veteran fullback has been in Big Ten slugfests before, and he wasn’t about to come out on the losing end.

Then, Boren went on the field and made a couple of key blocks to help spring Hyde and Braxton for first down runs.
As we know, Fragel had a great series. But, if I'm remembering correctly, on the second play of the series - a 6 yard gain by Hyde for first down - while Fragel was taking out DT M. Reynolds #60 (who had to leave the field), Boren sealed off the DE (or was it LB), giving Hyde an open hole inside tackle.

3technique's picture

Man I cannot wait til saturday night!! I think the boys will be ready.... I am not sure if Williams is athletic enough to play in some of the same ways he played last week but I like it...

Dougger's picture

oh man i am getting so jacked up to be in the shoe on Saturday night. there's no way we're losing any recruits that are coming to this game. heck i hope even that lb from ohio that's committed to nebraska sees how awesome this team is and how epic our stadium is. 
to think we're potentially scratching the surface of this team playing better together as a team is kind of scary. i think winning on saturday night will do more positives for this team than losing... that makes sense right?

I like football

buckeyestu's picture

the team is growing, playing hard, and it all starts with the coach. urban is quickly becoming one of my favorite coaches of all time. ahead of woody and the bear. funny how i loathed him as a gator coach.

buckeye76BHop's picture

This team is clicking...and I'm thinking it's going to continue.  I, like the coaches, think this team is on the verge of something special (despite no post season).  Boren stepping up before that last drive is what I'm referring to.  This team is making me a believer...after this weekend the rest will be on an undefeated train heading into November 24th with me and many others as I see above.  Go Bucks!

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."
"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."
Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Max Power's picture

Its good to see some emotion out of the head coach. I'm not bashing Tressel at all, the man won a ton of games while he was here, but I don't believe he brings the same enthusiasm as Urban. With a head ball coach as fiery as Meyer and a team loaded with young talent, special things could be on the horizon in Columbus. Instill that competitive spirit and work ethic now and in a couple years, Braxton and company could be a scary thing. Our D-Line is loaded for the next 4 years and we are full of young playmakers on offense. If we can fix our "ball stripping, forearm shiver" tackling, 2013 and 14 could have us back on top. I know we are thin at linebacker, but there will be a young guy who steps up...or Curtis Grant finds his groove. Moving him to SAM was a great idea IMO, far less of a mental game at that position.  Keep working hard bucks!

drumsontheside's picture

What I love is that everyone is buying in. Not just the players and coaches. How many times has this site overflowed with comments about how happy we were with a team in the middle of a season? No major complaints, controversies, etc. Just a team that is just about to click in all the right places and a fanbase that is more encouraged and encouraging than ever.

WB