Sunday, November 28, 2010

Heartstopper Against the Hawkeyes

The mark of any great team is one who can overcome adversity and still reach its ultimate goal. 
If that is truly the case, then The Buckeyes performance on Saturday against Iowa can put them into consideration. 
More penalties, mistakes and dropped passes than anyone can remember but luckily for OSU their attempt at a sixth straight Big Ten title is still intact after a heart stopping, 20 -17, win over the Hawkeyes. 
Back and forth the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes exchanged blows before the game came down to a critical fourth quarter drive. 
The mistakes by OSU mounted on the last drive when Devier Posey dropped a 50 yard touchdown pass on 3rd and 10. 
Just when all hope was lost, Pryor bailed the Buckeyes out from their toughest situation of the season. 
Pryor went back to pass but pulled the ball down and got 14 yards on 4th and 10 to help the Buckeyes stay alive. 
After a long pass down inside the five to Sanzenbacher, the Buckeyes pounded it in and took their final lead of the game. 

"I was going to run the whole time," Pryor said of his big play. "I found running room, had some good blocking. I just cut it up and went and got the first."
All season people have wondered why Pryor seems hesitant to run when he has opportunities. They were happy to find out that with a game on the line, Pryor is more than willing to get the job done with either his arm or his legs. 
"It was huge and gave us that momentum," Tressel said of the play. "I was afraid he was messing around and wasn't going to get the first, but he made it."
The Buckeyes defense sealed the game with a key stop of Stanzi and a sack by senior leader Cameron Hayward. 
"We felt like it was going to be a four-quarter heavyweight bout. Iowa's never going to stop fighting," Tressel said. "Our guys never stop."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chomp Chomp? Gators Stomped

Since 2007, Buckeyes and Gators aren’t exactly friendly.

In fact, behind Michigan and Penn State, Florida might be the next most hated opponent the Buckeyes can line up against.

After the double-dose of National Title heartbreak due to the Gators, OSU made up for it slighty, 93-75, on national television in Gainesville.

The most “highly anticipated” matchup of ESPN’s marathon run of over 25 hours of straight basketball and the only game pitting two top ten teams ended with one team being completely over matched.

"Ohio State has a better chance of being a better team this year than they did a year ago," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "Evan Turner's a great player, the player of the year in the country and they won 29 games and did a great job.

"But when you have that kind of player, you really kind of become a little more one-dimensional. They are a complete team that probably has a chance to do a little more this season because there's going to be a lot more balance to their team."

The game was close at halftime before David Lighty and Jared Sullinger took over in the second half.

Sullinger put up one of the best freshman road performances in some time with 26 points and 10 rebounds, his second double-double of his career.

"He had a great demeanor coming in here," Matta said of Sullinger. "He knew he was going to have to play well for us to have a chance to win."

Lighty, five years older than the freshman behemoth, also added 26 points and always brings his stellar defense. It looks as if the game has really slowed down for Lighty, the only player on the Buckeyes who was in uniform for the Buckeyes two losses to Florida with  Oden and company.

Fellow veteran William Buford added great play with 16 points, eight assists and three steals and played mostly mistake free basketball with only one turnover. Jon Diebler also added 14.

The Buckeyes have two more non-conference games that could be challenging, including South Carolina and Florida State in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tale of Two Halves for OSU

Its hard to believe that the team in Scarlet and Gray after the clock ran out was the same lowly bunch that wore those uniforms in the first half.

The Buckeyes were down 11 at halftime before exploding in the second half to win, 38-14, over Penn State.

“Our guys went out the second half and took over, but I think it was fueled by how hard that defense fought in that last series that they had to stop them,” coach Jim Tressel said.  “We weren't a great first-half team. That's the facts.”

The fact is now, however, that regardless of their lackluster first half, Ohio State is two wins away from breaking a Big Ten record and winning their sixth conference title.

As Penn State drove late in the second quarter, up already 14-3 it looked as if the Buckeyes were headed for another “Wisconsin-like” hole.

On 4th and one from the 17 yard-line, however, Jermile Hines burst across the line and knocked the ball carrier backward. Ohrian Johnson helped clean up the play and the Buckeyes got themselves out of monumental trouble.

“We talked at halftime about the fact that the turning point in the game was when we stopped them on fourth down in the second quarter and that all the stories were going to be written as that being a turning point,” Tressel said.

Apparently even after the stop the Buckeyes got a wake up call at halftime.

Ohio State’s usually calm, even keeled coach was no where to be found at halftime. Tressel channeled his inner “Woody” and supposedly laid into his team about their weak first half performance.

“The halftime locker room was not a fun place,” Tressel said. “But it was not a place that looked like there was any quit in anybody.”

Tressel’s players described his demeanor at halftime as unlike anything they had ever seen.

Quarterback Terrelle Pryor said he thought Tressel was yelling “at the top of his lungs” and other players said they couldn’t even remember what he was saying but that just seeing him like that was extremely motivating.

“He loves seeing us drive down the field. At halftime he made sure we knew what to do in the second half,” Tackle Mike Adams said. “We didn't want to let him down and we didn't.”

After a 98 yard drive capped by a touchdown run by Boom Herron the Buckeyes sealed the win with back-to-back interception returns for scores.

Devon Torrence, who was picked on mercilessly in the first half, put the Buckeyes up, 17-14, and after another pick-six by Travis Howard the Buckeyes were clearly in control.

"We've been there before with Wisconsin and we didn't get the outcome we wanted,” captain Cameron Heyward said. “Since then we have assessed how we can come back and really applied it tonight. We picked it up and got the game rolling in our favor."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Freshman Shine in Buckeyes First Win

No Evan Turner?

No Problem.

The Ohio State Buckeyes started the 2010-2011 Basketball season will a bang, winning 102-61, over a beleaguered North Carolina A&T.

It was all about the freshman and even though most believed it would be consensus high school All-American Jared Sullinger who would shine, it was another highly-touted rookie who had the crowd at Value City Arena buzzing.

Deshaun Thomas, the 6-7 220 pound forward, had a remarkable debut for the Buckeyes scoring 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting and 2-of-3 from behind the three point line.

While it was a blowout victory, the perfectionist in Thad Matta was quick to point out the things his team didn’t do well, even though they won by over 40 points.

“I think there were a couple main things about tonight. We didn't guard as well as we need. They had amazing quickness and explosion tonight,” Matta said. “We committed 22 fouls which is not something we can do. We need to fix this fast. The rebounding tonight made the difference in the game."

With probably their toughest non-conference test of the season on Tuesday at Florida, it is easy to see why Matta was looking at what needs to be improved before the Buckeyes head into battle with the Gators.

For one night, however, it was about the freshman and their chance to finally shine on a meaningful stage.

"We had a great couple of practices after the Walsh game and we felt really comfortable and relaxed heading in,” Thomas said after the game. “It was nice to finally get out there and play a game that counted."

Going into the game, most expected Sullinger to have the night that most would talk about and while some of his steam was taken by Thomas, the Naismith high school Player of the Year had a game for the record books.

With 19 points and 14 rebounds, Sullinger became the first freshman to debut with a double-double for Ohio State since Herb Williams in 1977.

"Coach told us before the game we can either start out 0-1 or 1-0 and he put the game in our hands,” Sullinger said. “We just went out and handled our business."

Senior Dallas Lauderdale gave OSU another double-double with 12 points, 13 rebounds and was two blocks short of  an illustrious triple-double.
Possibly the best sign of the night was the emergence of Aaron Craft. The freshman point guard had nine assists and eight points.

He has been talked about as a possible answer to OSU’s lack of a traditional point guard and while he might not be as starter this season, it is clear he will be able to facilitate for the Buckeyes.

Now with their first “official” game behind them, the Buckeyes hope they can get even more from the freshman on Tuesday night in Gainesville.

"We try to help them with their nerves by how we practice,” Matta said of preparing his freshman. “We take out thinking and go fast and furious for two hours in practice. We make them function while breathing hard and being tired. I thought all six had great demeanor tonight."