Buckeyes Emerge Healthy From Bye Week

By Kyle Rowland on November 12, 2012 at 7:00p
11 Comments

Ohio State ran into its first sign of bad luck in June when running back Jordan Hall suffered cut tendons in his foot after stepping on a piece of glass. It’s been an onslaught ever since. 

A full complement of linebackers is needed to slow Ball.

Six weeks ago, linebacker Etienne Sabino got caught up in the M*A*S*H unit after breaking the fibula in his right leg. But he’ll return to the starting lineup on Saturday at Wisconsin. And if there’s a game where the Buckeyes need a healthy group of linebackers, it’s against the Badgers.

Wisconsin running back Montee Ball is coming off a performance that earned him co-Big Ten offensive player of the week honors. In a 62-14 rout of Indiana this past weekend, Wisconsin rushed for a school-record 564 yards.

Ball was a big part of that, gaining 198 yards on the ground and running for three touchdowns. He is now second all-time on the NCAA touchdown list.

“He started slow (this season), and I don’t put that on him,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said. “I thought they had a lot of transition in the coaching staff. His strengths are great vision, and he’s really a fast player. He pulls away from angles, and his toughness – you can give him the ball a bunch of times and he just keeps getting stronger. He’ll be a very good NFL back.”

Saturday’s game looms large for the bowl-less Buckeyes. Not only can they continue an undefeated season, but they can also clinch the Leaders Division championship. Ohio State currently leads Wisconsin by two games in the standings.

“That will be brought up,” Meyer said. “That's real important to us.”

But the Badgers enter the game on a hot streak. After beginning the season 3-2, Wisconsin has won four of its past five games.

“I think there’s ways to stop the run,” Meyer said. "What they do a nice job is just these multitude of shifts, formations and motions that are hard to get gap control or gap security. The good thing is we’ve had a bye week. A lot of time’s been spent on that.”

That’s why three healthy linebackers are a boost to the Ohio State defense.

“The three that broke the starting lineup today on Monday is (Ryan) Shazier, Zach Boren and Sabino,” Meyer said.

Storm Klein will also be available after missing time with a bulging disc in his back. Still, Meyer isn’t at all satisfied with the level of depth his linebackers have.

The other bit of good news on the injury front comes on special teams, where piranha Armani Reeves will return after a brief hiatus. The freshman missed four games with a sprained ankle.

“Armani Reeves is coming back as the left missile on the kickoff,” Meyer said. "He’s a very valuable player. Special teams usually has an impact in the game.”

Center Corey Linsley and safety Orhian Johnson have both dealt with minor injuries but should be fine come Saturday. Linsley missed part of the Illinois game with a leg injury, while Johnson left with a shoulder injury. Both players practiced Monday morning.

“On the injury front, it has been pretty positive,” Meyer said.

But the Buckeyes weren’t able to get through the bye week totally unscathed. Freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn, coming off rookie of the week honors, will not be in Madison on Saturday – and he could be out for the season.

Dunn, who rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown against Illinois, suffered a sprained MCL. Meyer deemed it a “nonsurgical sprain” and was hopeful he could return for the season finale against Michigan.

One on-field issue was all the coaches had to deal with. At one point or another all of them went on the road recruiting last week. But the only phone calls involved family or respective recruits. No current player ran afoul.

“The number one thing to worry about is that phone call, everyone driving home to families and doing something ignorant on a Friday or Saturday night,” Meyer said. “My comment was, if it’s going to help us win our 11th game, do it and do it a lot. If it’s not, don’t do it.”

11 Comments

Comments

wibuckeye's picture

I'm gonna say that special teams will be critical in this game.

WIBUCKEYE

SilverBulletNYC's picture

I.Hate.Bret.Bielema.

The South will NOT rise again!

otrain2416's picture

The one guys injury that has been overlooked all year is Michael Bennett. The kid sounded like he was unblockable in the spring along with Simon and Hankins. Its a shame he can't redshirt at this point due to playing in too many games although he still has 2 more years of eligability. Our D line would have been A LOT better IMO if Bennett was healthy all season.

Doc's picture

"If its going to help us win our 11th game, then do it and do it a lot."  That's funny right there. Urban is a quote machine.

"Say my name."

cajunbuckeye's picture

Looks like we'll be as close to full strength as we can be. The needle moves from confident, to extremely confident. GO BUCKS!!

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

cal3713's picture

My needle is at not confident.  Not confident in a win or a loss at this point.  Fucking Wisconsin, like always, we are their game of the year.

avail31678's picture

I know...but they rely HEAVILY on the run game this year.  THey didnt' even attempt/muster a pass game against Indiana.  Wasn't their QB like 4-9 or something?  Trust me we are going to focus on the run, as will they.  But I have more confidence in us being semi-balanced than I do them.  Adn there's no guarantee they can stop our run game yet either. 
Of course it's in Madison, and like you say, they play us tough.  But this is the weakest they've looked in a few years, and...well....nothing needs to be said about this special team.  Our D can STIFLE running games.  Leveon Bell - about 46 yards.  Penn STate - like 60 yards rushing total.
I like our chances. 
Go Bucks!
EDIT: (I didn't down vote you)

MediBuck's picture

Don't forget that our pelts were supposed to be their game of the year in 2011 with Russell Wilson. Even the Walrus-in-chief couldn't bumble that one! :D

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

nickma71's picture

How did they get 62? I didn't see the game. Did they miss one of their 2 point conversions?

RedsBuckeyeBoy's picture

I know Wisconsin will be a tough game, but I liked that they started as a 2.5 pt favorite. It doesn't take a coach of Urban's quality to light a fire under an undefeated top 10 team that is a dog against an unranked foe.
Having said that, I imagine that Mr. Meyer is having a field day with that little tidbit.

BuckeyeSouth's picture

Agreed.  I also like the fact that they've clinched for Indy so they don't have as much to play for as the Bucks do. 

Embrace it.