Buckeyes defense rises to the challenge

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It was supposed to be the best offense the Buckeyes have seen this season. Purdue came into the game ranked first in the Big Ten in total offense, and passing offense. It was also the first ranked opponent Ohio State has played this year. I’d say the Buckeyes passed this test. The defense pitched a shut-out with the exception of a garbage time TD in the last minute by the Boilermakers. Purdue put the ball in the air 60 times, completing only half of those. The outstanding player of the game wasn’t Lauriniatis for a change. Marcus Freeman roamed the field making tackle after tackle. Not that James had a bad game, but Freeman really stepped up and made some nice plays. Anderson Russell had 2 sacks and played tight coverage as well.

If there were any concerns about the defense it may have been how they covered the tight end in the game. Purdue’s Dustin Keller caught 7 balls for over 100 yards right up the gut against the Buckeyes. I’m sure the Buckeye coaching staff will address this issue. As Tressel said in the post game conference, there’s a lot to be learned from this one on film.

One of the players who will no doubt be spending some serious time in film study will be Todd Boeckman. While the Buckeye QB looked great in the first quarter and a half, he reverted back to the under-throwing QB we have seen for the first half of the season. Boeckman’s problem this time was that Purdue’s DBs could keep up with Buckeye receivers. He threw 3 picks in the game, all of them balls that hung in the air a little too long. There was a beautiful pass to Small for the Buckeye’s first score. He threw the ball in the best spot possible, and Small did a nice job of coming down with it.

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Chris Wells broke his string of 100 yard rushing performances, gaining 85 yards on 18 carries. Once again he left the game with a tender ankle. Mo Wells added 74 yards on 15 carries, and Brandon Saine saw his first action after knee surgery. He had 21 yards on six 4th quarter carries. Wells could have come back in according to Tressel, but again was held out. Word is that Wells will play against Kent State, but to be honest, I don’t see the reason to play him at all. Why not let the ankle rest a week? I wouldn’t suit him up in practice at all this week, and give him the game off. Let’s see if rest will help against a tough Penn State defense. Let’s get Saine a chance to develop this week, along with the usual output from Mo Wells.

As teams continued to fall from the top ten this week (bye, bye Wisconsin, USC and Kentucky) Ohio State moves up again to number 3. Not much has changed though, the Buckeyes still control their destiny. If they want to play for the national title they have to win out. Period. If they can do that they certainly would find themselves in the #1 or #2 spot. So let’s just focus on the game ahead. Take a lesson from the teams that have been knocked out already. Look past no one.

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Filed under Big Ten, Brandon Saine, Buckeyes, Chris Wells, college football, football, James Lauriniatis, Jim Tressel, Maurice Wells, Ohio State, Sports, Todd Boeckman

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