The long wait for kickoff was worth it as the Buckeyes unleashed their annual pimp hand to the Hoosiers in a 33-14 romp. Pryor had the mojo most of the night throwing for 159 yards and 3 TD (1 INT) combined with another 101 yards and a score via the ground game while Saine took full advantage of his first career start at RB. The defense also came up large forcing 3 turnovers, 7 punts and a safety in 13 total IU possessions. Word.
Saine Makes His Case
Though the general rule says a player can't lose his starting job due to injury, Brandon Saine sure did all he could to make Tressel and Co. challenge that school of thought with a stellar 17 carry, 113 yard rushing performance.
Saine was hot from the start rushing for 72 yards on 7 carries during the first two possessions including dashes of 22, 30 and 11 yards helping the Buckeyes to a quick 10-0 lead. The line deserves plenty of credit for creating huge running lanes but Saine showed more wiggle than I'm used to and he continuously finished off runs driving the pile forward. As someone who has openly questioned his toughness and long term potential, I'm more than happy to say he has proven me wrong thus far in '09.
The question now is whether or not Saine should supplant Boom as the starter or if it really even matters considering Boom still needs to get his share of carries - to keep Saine healthy if nothing else - as the Buckeyes all of a sudden seem to have some proven depth at RB with Boom, Zoom and the emerging Jordan Hall. Personally, I think momentum is so important in the college game that Tressel has to start Saine and give him a chance keep the machine rolling versus the perennially physical Badgers this Saturday.
The Most Shocking Performance Award Goes To...
So, who was that disguised in Anderson Russel's uniform? The much maligned senior filled in admirably with Coleman serving detention as he recovered a fumble, held on to an easy INT, and tied for the team high with 6 tackles. One solid game against a jank opponent doesn't mean he's absolved from past sins nor does it mean there still aren't huge concerns with him on the field against elite competition but there's no denying his efforts should yield a needed jolt of self confidence.
He appeared a little more under control taking on ball carriers in the open field though the lack of size and skill of the IU rushers likely played a part. The Buckeyes may not play as much nickel as we've seen in past weeks with Wisky coming in but Russell will still be on the field aplenty. That said, did last night's game do anything to make you feel better about him taking on John Clay in space? I'm not sure it did for me either but we're going to have to hope he's ready to get low and take on that freight train when the opportunity presents itself.
We Heart You, Darrell Hazell
Reports conflict as to just how much influence Hazell now has with regard to the playcalling but we're saying he's plenty responsible for the offensive resurgence seen in recent weeks. How much is Hazell and how much is weak competition is certainly debatable but it can't be argued that the offense has a different swagger since picking itself up off the mat after USC.
As Jason noted, there's now a crispness to offense that comes with getting the play into TP early in the clock allowing him to scan the defense pre-snap and the installation of an almost exclusive shotgun attack has done wonders for the running game. Maybe it's both the quick signaling of plays and the actual plays themselves but it's no accident Pryor found 7 different receivers in the first half alone Saturday night (8 total). The new look offense has everyone involved thus all the players stay in the game mentally as they await their number being called.
Tatum Award hit of the Week Award - Back in Circulation
As if there weren't enough reasons to have a man crush on Duron Carter. In an evening he'll always remember, Carter picked up his first career TD on a slick grab of a Pryor slant to put OSU in front 10-0 but it was his spine crackling hit on LB Justin Carrington as Pryor scrambled for 8 yards in the 3rd quarter that brought joy to my heart.
The kid has shown he wants to be a complete player and his willingness to lay the wood is just another illustration of his daddy raising him right. The block was an absolute earhole and a guaranteed winner of this week's Tatum Award.
Go ahead and put the rest of the country on notice for next year. TP and DC are going to hook up early and often in what should be a stacked offensive lineup.
- You enjoy the BTN telecast featuring the ramblings of Glen Mason coupled with no 1st down line for the entire first half? Oh, and don't forget the fact they missed two plays out of a timeout. Good thing they've got Carissa Thompson and Melanie Collins on the staff to make me forgive a little easier.
- Props to the offensive line for the continued resurgence. They did give up 3 sacks but paved the way for a 219-18 advantage in rushing yards.
- The defense finally gave up a TD stopping a 9 quarter streak but they stifled yet another nuanced offense holding Indiana to 3/14 on 3rd down, .7 yards per rush and 11 first downs. After Indiana's first TD, their next 9 possessions produced 6 punts, 2 INTs and a safety.
- Did you enjoy watching Bill Lynch as much as I did? I think his business card reads, "Bill Lynch, Red Ass". I've seen few coaches reach rage level quite as often as Bill, of course 9 penalties, including at least 4 of the 15 yard variety, will do that to a guy.
- For a coach that practically hangs his hat on special teams, JT has to be a little miffed at the ups and downs of this group. Pettrey obviously had a rough night on FG's and his kickoffs were also short and low. Fisher is a legit KO return guy but Pettrey and the cover team made him look like an All-American (4/129, long 43) and slippery Tandon Doss also had a 29 yard return. The good news is Thoma was again a beast placing all 3 punts inside the 20 and both Flash and Ray Ray had nice KO returns as the Buckeyes continue to employ some fakes/reverses.
- Tressel is now 7-0 against Indiana with an average victory margin of 26 points. He also improved to 15-10 in night games.