Wisconsin Notebook: Linebackers Pull Through

By Kyle Rowland on November 18, 2012 at 1:15a

Much was made of Ohio State putting the band back together. No, not TBDBITL - the Ohio State linebackers. It only took the Buckeyes 11 games to get three top-flight linebackers in the starting lineup together. 

Sabino's return bolstered the Silver Bullets.

But it certainly wasn’t the unit linebackers coach Luke Fickell had in mind.

Senior captain Etienne Sabino missed the past four and a half games with a broken lower-right leg. While he was gone, fullback and fellow captain Zach Boren moved to linebacker to help alleviate the attrition. Ryan Shazier has been Ohio State’s leading tackler throughout the season and has two conference defensive players of the week awards.

“Having Sabino back gives you a sense of stability that we haven’t had there in a while,” Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer said earlier in the week.

On Saturday, the linebackers proved that stability was present by combining to make 30 tackles and four tackles for loss. Boren and Shazier each had 12 tackles, while Shazier and Sabino teamed up to make one of the biggest plays of the game, knocking the ball loose from Wisconsin running back Montee Ball late in the fourth quarter before he crossed the goal line.

“What those guys are doing out there is showing great chemistry,” safety Orhian Johnson said. “(Sabino) is a great leader, (Shazier is) going out there and being a playmaker, and Boren is just tough-nosed. We definitely have confidence in them.”

It wasn’t all good news on the defensive front, though. Ball gained 191 yards and the Badgers scored in the final seconds of regulation to force overtime. The touchdown pass, from Curt Phillips to tight end Jacob Pedersen, went against Boren.

“It was frustrating,” Boren said. “You just know they’re going to go to him. He’s their go-to receiver. I hit him coming off the line. I was getting physical with him, trying to beat him up a little, because that’s what linebackers have to do to tight ends to hang with them.

“I thought I was in great position, but Curt Phillips threw a great ball.”

Wisconsin took that momentum into overtime. But that’s when the Silver Bullets clamped down. On 3rd-and-4, Sabino stuffed Ball in the backfield to force a less manageable 4th down play.

Moments later, Ohio State was 11-0.

The game-winner.

Ground Game

Carlos Hyde carried the ball 15 times and gained 87 yards. That’s an average of nearly six yards per carry. Yet, in the second half Saturday, Ohio State went away from the running back.

“Carlos Hyde has got to get the ball a little more,” Meyer said.

Said Hyde: “I was trying to tell my coach, ‘Come on, let me run some power or something, let me get this going, let me get this spark going for this offense.' I just felt like if they would have given me the ball more, I could have gotten the momentum going.”

In the second quarter, Hyde went untouched, 15 yards for a touchdown. But his biggest carry of the night was the 11-yard run he had on the first play of overtime. It helped halt Wisconsin’s momentum and acted as a springboard for an offense that floundered late in the game. Hyde scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime.

“They’re the No. 1 team in the Big Ten versus the rush, and we couldn’t get that going,” Meyer said. “We are certainly not a finished product on offense and it showed.

“I can’t stand watching it, and I’m sure people can’t stand watching it.”

Fading Dream

Braxton Miller’s Heisman hopes had already taken a hit. But on Saturday, his chances of being a finalist were put on life support.

Miller was the victim of multiple spies and could never get to the level of production that has been seen throughout the season. He had 70 total yards after the first quarter but only tacked on 75 yards in the final three stanzas. Miller was averaging nearly 300 yards of total offense per game.

“I have no idea what they did, but they did a good job at it,” Miller said.

Miller averaged 2.1 yards per carry. He completed 10 of 18 passes for 97 yards with zero touchdowns or interceptions.

“I couldn’t get to the edge,” Miller said. “Whenever I tried to cut back there was somebody shooting the gaps. They had a good game plan. It was frustrating.”


Comments Show All Comments

sloopy88's picture

Great write-up.  The writing and photography here are consistently excellent, but wow, that first picture gets me fired up just looking at it. 

RBuck's picture

Yeah. The pic reminds me of some kickass gladiators walking into the arena.

Long live the southend.

ATXbucknut's picture

boren was an unsung hero in this game. game high 12 tackles along with RDS. that guy is just tough.

Jeremy91's picture

A win is a win. I am so pumped about the fact that we have a chance to be 12-0 after next week, and even though this was Miller's worst game of the season by far IMO, our Buckeyes still found a way to get the job done. Man I love being a Buckeye! Oh and one more thing... F*ck bichigan!

"Do not pray for an easy life. Rather, pray for the the strength to endure a difficult one" - Bruce Lee

TNbuckeye91's picture

I feel like the offensive play calling you was very odd this game. But what do I know

I come from a long line high, low, and in-between, the same as you. - TVZ

BeijingBucks's picture

as bad as Miller's day was... Klein had it worse. 3 picks!?

not a good week for the Heisman runs

None can love freedom heartily, but good men; the rest love not freedom, but license. ~ John Milton

bucknut3011's picture

After Oregon and K-State went down tonight, a legitimate case for the Bucks being AP No. 1 can be made.  One could argue that ND's schedule is no more impressive than ours.  If the score is run up this week, I don't see how the discussion could not be had.

Roman Brutus's picture

The only way Ohio State gets #1 in AP is if Notre Dame loses to USC and Alabama loses again.

cinserious's picture

I like your enthusiasm but honestly ND probably has the best scedule in the country, let alone our BIG-ten ass with our 'marquee' OOC bein CAL this year. Not overly impressive. Now's not the year to be worried about 'mythical' NCs but we can be very satisfied with:
1.) an undefeated season
2.) beating michigan
3.) knowing we made Wisconsin look like fake-ass Big-ten reps.
Next week will be our 'Championship Game' and sweet revenge it will be to propel ourselves into '13 as possibly the only undefeated team in the country while we host a plethora of the nation's best recruits. BTW, ND just found itself in the most nightmarish NC game imaginable LOL!

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

nickma71's picture

I like your enthusiasm but honestly ND probably has the best scedule in the country, let alone our BIG-ten ass with our 'marquee' OOC bein CAL 

So Ohio State beating Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue is weak, but when ND does it they are strong? I know you don't think the team that just squeaked by WVU (think Hawaii) was a big win. Sadly, the domers will probably run the table. As USC has proven all you have to do is punch them in the mouth and it is over.

JLBNYC's picture

I hear you, but ND does have some solid wins (Oklahoma, Stanford) that are going to be better than any win we have.   Dont get me wrong, I do not like ND and it pains me to see them with a legit shot to get a title (as much as i hate USC, ill be rooting hard for the Trojans next week), but I have to give them some credit here.  They won all of their games against a legit schedule (not their fault that a few of those teams, like Miami, were down this year). 

nickma71's picture

Ben Buchanan's punts were repulsive. The Vest was not proud. I think the defense was the best they have been all year. It is kind of hard to shut somebody down when you have to stay on the field all day, and on a short field. The defensive line had its hands full, and they did well. Wisconsin did have some surge, but was often thwarted, even when the Badgers stacked heavily themselves. I am quite pleased. The conversions on third and fourth down late in the game did get on my nerves. But hey, everybody gets tired when they are on the field all day.

Hovenaut's picture

6:30 a.m......head hurts, stumbling to the p*sser.

But I'm still smilin'.

It's the most wonderful time of the year.

Defiance J's picture

Still in Madison gloating!

Arizona_Buckeye's picture

SUCK IT BRET!!!  Guess what jackass - it isn't going to get any better over the next 10 years either!!!

The best thing about Pastafarianism? It is not only acceptable, but advisable, to be heavily sauced

Colorado Johnny's picture

" I have no idea what they did, but they did a good job at it"?! Yikes
Better have a better offensive game plan next week cause you can bet those dirty little scumbags up north are gonna run EXACTLY what Waasconsin ran defensively.

Seemed like we had a lot of players getting dinged up. Hope everyone's healthy soon. Very soon.
Go bucks!

BUCKtuckian's picture

Is it me? Or every time the camera pans to Bert he looks like he just smelled a nasty fart?

People are saying that I'm an alcoholic, and that's not true, because I only drink when I work, and I'm a workaholic.
Ron White

buckeyemondo's picture

i hate the quote from braxton saying he had "no idea" what the wisconsin d was doing.  they sure had a lot of time on the sidelines & at halftime to figure it out, no?
really need #5 to get serious in the film room & in 7v7 drills this offseason if we want to try & win the damn thing next year.

jrich612's picture

In Boren's defense, that TD pass to Pederson was damn near perfect, and Zach was draped all over him. The worst part of the D on that drive was Roby giving #4 (not even gonna try to spell that name) a 7+ yard cushion how many plays in a row? 

Ultrabuckeyehomer's picture

I argee about the TD pass, that was thrown perfectly and there was little Boren could do.  Hey, it all worked out in the end!

osubuckeye4life's picture

The d stepped up big time in this one. I knew Ball was going to get his yards but he didn't get the record! 
Brown is starting to improve his returns. I would love to see him run one back another this week!!!
I would liked to have seen Hyde get more carries. He is one of those backs that takes some carries to get started. Once he gets started though LOOK OUT!
Xbrax360 showed he is still very green, but he got the job done when all was said and done.
Just beat TSUN and all will be well!

MAVBuck's picture

Next year is millers year. Buckeye fans can finally have an offseason with more positives to look forward to than questions.

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I don't really know if anyone can say his Heisman invite is on life-support.  Colin Klien and Kenyon Barner both looked like hot garbage AND LOST on Saturday night.  And Jonny Football played the Sam Houston state and looked average.  Te'o and Braxton are both "dark-horses" but are on UNDEFEATED teams and are the life blood of said teams.  I think its Jonny Football, Braxton Miller, and Manti Te'o....whoever shines more next weeks wins it. 

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

MediBuck's picture

I was definitely a little concerned at how Wisky was able to exploit Boren in coverage. The kid was in the right spot at the right time at several points, he just didn't have the speed or athleticism to make the cut and swat the ball away in time. That said, he was beastly against the run.
And regarding Miller, I think this was a clear-cut example of why we need a lightning and thunder combo. I'm sure the Vadgers were clogging the outside lanes, but that's where we shoulda pounded El Guapo down the middle more. He was doing quite well, and I think we played right into their hands by trying to get Miller going too much. I hope the coaching staff takes note of this and rectifies it for the scUM game.

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