Special Teams - Remove your panic goggles...

Bucksfan's picture
September 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm

A lot's been made of Buckeye Special Teams through the first 3 games.  Despite the risk of coming off as condescending, I think Buckeye fans are too spoiled for their own good, and would bitch about the sky being blue if it were sunny and 60 degrees during a 70-0 route of Michigan in late November.

So, let's try some objectivity, shall we?

First game - Marshall.  In the same game where Marshall blocked a FG, and took it for a TD, the Ohio State kick-off coverage unit forced a fumble on the very first play of the season, which set up an early red zone TD (anyone forget that already).  FG's being blocked from long range is one thing, having the ball bounce a certain way off the block that leads to a TD is just bad luck - barely ever happens to anyone.

Second game - Miami.  Miami is Miami, and they have immense speed.  Maybe their returners are just that good.  Yes, it kept the game close.  Despite the Hurricanes' ridiculously fast and furious offense, stout defensive line, and cellophane pass coverage, Ohio State pretty much had their way with them on both sides of the ball (offense and defense).  Where the coverage unit gave up 14 points on 2 returns, the Buckeye kicking game got 15 points back on field goals.  So, from that perspective the special teams ultimately broke even and kept the game out of reach.

Third game - Ohio.  Wow, people's reactions to this one has me shocked the most.  Pointing to a kickoff return that was called back for a penalty is beyond reactionary - it's stupid.  It wasn't a kick return...it was called back.  That means it didn't happen.

So, since the bad things aren't really all that bad, let's talk about the good things that have been FANTASTIC:

Devin Barclay - 8 for 9 on the year in FG's, 14 for 14 on XP's.

Jamaal Berry - 5 returns for 140 yards, avg. 28 yards/return, incl. a 45 yd return.

Jordan Hall - 3 kick returns for 85 yards, including a 47 yd return.

Ben Buchanan - 12 punts, 49yd average.

Special teams also includes our own returns, FGs, and punts, guys.  In fact, this returning tandem is better than anything we've seen since Ginn-Holmes, the punts are covering half the field, and Barclay's accuracy is more Nugent-like than, well, say any other non-descript kicker that didn't win us a national title or a game over Iowa to secure a trip to Pasadena.

Kick coverage is one of the most fixable parts of the game.  With an offense that bringing in over 30 points into half time, and a defense that's ripping people off worse than that-other-guy-who's-not-Billy-Mays, the return woes are simply not a threat to cost Ohio State any games that they deserved to win in the first place.  The strongest team on the schedule - Miami - already proved that.  In this fan's opinion, the "special team problems" are inordinately overblown all things considered.

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