Team-Building Win Boosts Buckeyes

By Kyle Rowland on October 29, 2012 at 7:00p
22 Comments

Urban Meyer’s “Plan to Win” has proven to be effective during his 11 seasons as a head coach. But it’s been tested in nearly every game this season.

One of the hallmarks of Meyer’s coaching philosophy and a bullet point on the plan is winning the kicking game. On Saturday, for the third time this season, Ohio State had a punt blocked, this one returned for a touchdown. According to Meyer, a team wins 90 percent of the time when they block a kick. 

Adam Griffin's heads up play served as a turning point.

Penn State fell into the 10-percent gap.

The Buckeyes offset one special teams mistake by snuffing out a fake punt by the Nittany Lions and covering kicks with precision, a trend throughout the season. The No. 1 goal in Meyer’s Plan – play great defense – contributed greatly in the Buckeyes’ 35-23 win, as well. But it was all three phases of the game that swung the game into Ohio State’s favor.

“Probably our best team win – not probably. (It was) our best team win we’ve had,” Meyer said.

During the first half of the season, the defense caught warranted criticism. But they’ve responded the past two weeks with strong showings. Saturday’s performance may have been the best the unit has had all season.

Penn State didn’t score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter and a run game that averaged well over 100 yards per game was limited to just 32.

“Once again in a very tough situation, our defense continues to improve,” Meyer said.  “Fundamentally, we’re much better tackling and leveraging the ball. We blitzed more. We had more pressures.

“Our defensive staff will give you more numbers. But we played more man coverage and blitzed more than he did all year. So that’s telling us something – that we need to do more of that.”

Linebacker Ryan Shazier and cornerback Bradley Roby were the lone defenders to grade out as champions, and the duo were named co-players of the game on that side the ball.

Shazier, wearing the No. 48 to honor a friend who passed away over the summer, had one of the most productive games of his career, finishing with eight tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and an interception return for a touchdown.

Roby was active in passing lanes all night. He was credited with four pass breakups, though Meyer said the coaches noticed seven when they re-watched the game. He also had five tackles, all solo.

“He had an inordinate amount of play opportunities, 30 opportunities, which is almost unheard of,” Meyer said. “They were throwing a lot at him, and he had seven pass breakups. I even had one of my guys just recheck some of my records. I don’t think we’ve ever had a guy get his hand on seven balls and 20 production points.”

Braxton Miller is the first 1,000-yard rusher under Meyer.

Roby leads the country in passes defended and broken up despite missing the UAB game.

Braxton Miller was named the offensive player of the game, which is surprising to no one after he accounted for all but 100 yards of the Ohio State’s offensive output. He ran for 134 yards, the sixth time this season he’s eclipsed the century mark. He also became the first Meyer-coached player to accumulate 1,000 yards rushing in a season.

Miller has been sensational since the season-opening win over Miami (Ohio). He leads the Big Ten in rushing yards and is 11th in the country. Miller also stayed steady in his pursuit of college football’s highest honor – the Heisman Trophy.

Throughout the season, Meyer has shoved aside questions about Miller and the Heisman, saying the time will come when he becomes a legitimate candidate. That time was Monday.

“Do I believe he’s a Heisman candidate? I do,” Meyer said. "I didn’t say that before. But I do believe Braxton is a Heisman candidate. He has to play much better. However, just from sheer production of a team that’s 9 0, it puts him in that category.”

The special teams was not to be left out. Four Buckeyes earned recognition for their play on the special units in State College. In his first action as the “gunner” on the punt coverage unit, wide receiver Devin Smith had a special teams game-high three tackles. He was named the special teams player of the game for his activity.

Meyer said it was an easy decision to put Smith on the unit because he’s the “fastest player on the team.”

“Our belief is you have 6.5 seconds (to cover a punt),” Meyer said “If you’re hitting the ball 4.5 seconds hang time, and two seconds get off, that’s 6.5 seconds to cover 40 yards. You put really fast people out there and force catches.”

Adam Griffin was also a special teams champion, as well as taking home the “scarlet shirt,” which goes to the player who gives the best effort. It’s the second time Griffin has won the honor this season.

“He stopped a fourth down fake punt,” Meyer said.

Ohio State is at its healthiest all season, according to the team trainers. Linebacker Etienne Sabino will need another week off and the bye week, though, to return to action. He’s expected to be ready when Ohio State travels to Madison.

Said Meyer: “There is no player trying harder.”

22 Comments

Comments

penult's picture

On Saturday, for the third time this season, Ohio State had a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown. 

Nitpicking, but they haven't all been returned for a TD. The blocked punt in the IU game for sure was not returned for a TD.  Have they had a punt blocked more than 3 times?
 

Sarah's picture

No, you're right.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Should have said resulted in a touchdown. All three have led directly to touchdowns for the opponent. 

Sterling's picture

So excited to see Rod Smith running like a 28 Days Later Zombie but with a better grip on the ball. The only thing better than having one stud bruiser to share the load with Brax is having two. 

avail31678's picture

There was one play where they blatantly tried to strip from him and he held on well. Bravo - he runs hard and clearly has worked on what he needs to.

Sterling's picture

That is exactly the play I was thinking of. I used to hold my breath when he ran it because I was waiting for a drop. Now I hold my breath because I'm waiting for him to bust one. Gotta love his determination to stick around and succeed. 

avail31678's picture

Well said.  He is so close to busting one.

Seabass1974's picture

I was so worried the refs would rule that a fumble like they did in the Purdue game when they stripped Braxton while he was laying prone on the ground.

The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender. - Woody Hayes

IBleedSandG's picture

Rod is basically a bigger version of Hyde with better burst and a little more wiggle.. He has improved his vision and he is really running hard right now. Seems as if the light has finally came on for him.

We don't give a damn for the whole state of Michigan, we're from O-HI-O!

mclovin's picture

I love our backfield. Two bruisers capable of taking the edge and an ankle breaking read option QB. Spent the whole offseason wondering what a spread power run game would look like.   Def impressed. 

penult's picture

I'm usually a fan of throwing the ball, but it is really fun watching these guys roll up 200 and 300 rushing yard games.

xtremebuckeye's picture

Urban thinks Braxton is a Heisman candidate...kwel

O H I O is the Buckeye State

yrro's picture

I really wish I could remember where I read this, but I swear I have seen statistical analysis that punt blocks don't actually correlate significantly with wins.

yrro's picture

So when Sabino is healthy, does Boren come off the field, or do we start playing more 4-3 sets?

gwalther's picture

As happy as I am about Boren's solid play, watching him out there only serves as a constant and vivid reminder that we have a former 5 Star recruit in Curtis Grant, in his second year in college football, whom the coaching staff had less confidence in than a senior who hadn't played LB since high school.

Class of 2008

buckeyepastor's picture

Given he returns against Wisconsin, I think we will see Boren, and Sabino, and Shazier out there.   THough most teams have been encouraged to try to spread the field and use short passes to gash us, Wisconsin will likely come at us between the tackles mostly, like always, and we'll need all we can get out of our linebackers.    
 

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

D-Day0043's picture

Urban Meyer is the reason we are where we are. This team isn't very talented, but he puts them in a position to win by playing to their strengths. He is cleaning up the B1G with not very much talent. Imagine what it is going to be like when he gets all of his players in place. I fully expect this team to go undefeated. From here on out it is going to be about taking care of business in the B1G and we now have the coach who will have us ready to compete for a title and not get run off of the field. 

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

buckeyepastor's picture

I don't think the difference is talent,  OSU will always get talent.  I think the biggest difference is that expectations have been raised, especially on offense, and they have a sense for what they are built for.  Last year we were adrift without a sense of identity.  This year, with a clear plan for offense and defense, the leaders can get on board with things and lead others to do the same.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

gwalther's picture

I imagine the Tuesday Skully is missing because Sarah had a little too much fun at Our R Inn's mug night last night and, after stumbling home, watched 3 episodes of Homeland followed by 4 episodes of New Girl. Probably has nothing to do with a hurricane Sandy and the crazy winds.

Class of 2008

nickma71's picture

That 90% is about the defense, not a horribly bad scheme on the line. OSU isn't done with getting punts blocked. Unless they do it right and put everybody on the line, interlocked.

dot it 41's picture

This game was proof that there is something special going on and its here to stay. There's absolutely no quit in these guys and I love it. Very impressed

Come here and take your medicine little skunk bear

jrich612's picture

I wonder who in the world decided it would be a good idea to go after Roby that many times?