What did the overtime win that rocked a house of 105,290 tell us about The Ohio State Buckeyes yesterday? It taught us lessons we knew, confirmed things we thought were true, gave us hope, showed us the tenacity of a team and unfortunately further highlighted some of our weaknesses.
Was it the 49-0 game that the Buckeyes had in their last home match-up with the Boilermakers? No, but I’d rather watch a slug fest that keeps it interesting.
We were down, we were up, and then down again. It was a yo-yo of emotions through the crowded Ohio Stadium that was emblazoned with pink to help show recognition for breast cancer awareness month. Not only was this another great Big 10 match-up amongst athletes and the chance to be 8-0, but it was a great match-up of two high performance marching bands if you happen to be a lover of musicianship.
Take away the kickoff return for the touchdown by the Boilermakers and you have yourself what appeared to be the best defensive performance by the Silver Bullets this season.
Purdue started off with the trick play on their first drive, knowing they needed to smash the Buckeyes in the mouth early on and it served just that purpose, but Ohio State got back up and recovered. The scoreboard was nothing spectacular in the end and while we did trail most of the game and narrowly avoid defeat, the Buckeyes found the juice in the end to pull off a win.
No one will say exactly what Coach Urban Meyer has told the defense over the last week in meetings, but whatever it is and whatever the presence, it worked. He was proud and gave them the credit that they earned on the field. The improvements defensively give us hope that we will see it continue into next week against Penn State.
Weaknesses are something that no coach wants to admit to, or talk about for that matter, but is something that Coach Meyer has spoken very openly about. Injuries, young athletes, changes in positions, and struggle. The mere injury report that he started his press conference with read like a who’s who of the Buckeyes. We know the Bucks are a team led by and comprised of younger, but no doubt talented athletes. Sometimes these struggles – these hurdles with so many injuries – show us just where we are and show us where some true leaders come from. With so many right now the chances and the possibilities for anyone on the roster to step up and be noticed are extremely high.
Chris Fields is just a single product of this, stepping up before Corey Brown was injured, but came up with three receptions for 44-yards to help seal the Buckeyes win. With a 35-yard pass on their second drive of the third quarter he got them down to the two-yard line for Carlos Hyde to score on the next play. Again with three seconds left in the game, Kenny Guiton hit him with the two-yard pass to tie the game.
Chris Fields: Next man up.
Tenacity, determination, character, and probably a slew of other terms could be used to describe the Buckeyes on Saturday toward the end of that third quarter. Your star quarterback grabbed by the back of his jersey and forcefully downed does not get up (we’re not talking a little injured at the time, we’re talking feet dragging off the field and barely having the muscle tone to stay upright). Regardless of how it was sugarcoated by some, it was a tense stadium until he left the field on the cart. To pull together as a team after seeing such a leader be carted off the field goes a long way to show what they are made of. They didn’t give up even as fans were already leaving the stadium in droves; they played until the whistle and pulled off a victory.
One thing about Saturday is for certain and undeniable – the Buckeyes have themselves depth at the quarterback position and we have a true backup. When Kenny Guiton took to the field, the faces on the sideline and the faces in the helmets on the field were not concerned. There were no heads down, and they knew what he is capable of. Does he bring the same package that Miller has to the table? No, but who else in the country does? Nonetheless, Guiton is more than capable of getting the job done. He’s already finished out several series earlier in the season when needed, but this was a major test and the twenty-six helmet stickers he received this morning from the Empire team were well deserved.
He battled it out and never gave in, even after a slow start. Guiton finished the day 6 of 11 for 77 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Will we see our starting quarterback on Saturday? Will we see others returning and rested for another Big 10 match-up? Will game film point out more to work on or perhaps highlight some individuals making strides?
Time will tell, but one thing is for certain – this team has guts, regardless of who’s on the field.