Saturday, November 7, 2009
Buckeyes 24, Nittany Lions 7
[photos of Ray Small and Cameron Heyward by Marvin Fong/The Plain Dealer]
This installment of the weekly Buckeyes wrap-up is brought to you by every veteran's favorite appetizer: deep-fried onions.
OK, I'll admit it. I predicted a Buckeyes loss before the game began. I thought the Buckeyes would lose 17-12 (I was giving them credit for 2 TDs, but no PATs). Considering how the Buckeyes have fared in big games in recent years, that seemed feasible. What a pleasant surprise to see the scarlet and gray play the way they did.
The end of the 3rd quarter and all of the 4th quarter were pretty amazing. Starting of course with the 62-yard TD pass to Posey. I never expected that play to be called. (I'm sure Penn State didn't expect it.) I was even more amazed when it was completed for a TD. Why doesn't Bollman try things like that more frequently. The final TD drive had some surprises too. Like a pass to the FB (the 2nd of the game, mind you) on a short-yardage play. And also rolling out Pryor and throwing to Saine for the TD. Penn State had no idea how to handle that because they had never seen a Tressel team try anything like that. Oh, and props to the coaching staff for discovering a little play called the bubble screen. Boy, it sure didn't feel like the offense racked up 225 rushing yards, but it did. Saine had some really good carries, and the O-line opened up some nice holes. I don't like to play the "should've" game, but just think about this. This easily could have been a 34-0 game if: the team attempted and made a field goal from the 28-yard line, Darryl Clark's TD was rightly negated, and TP connects with Dane Sanzenbacher at the end of the first half.
The defense just strangled PSU all game. It was nice to see the D register a sack on Clark's first snap. He never did get comfortable, as demonstrated by his 42.9 completion percentage and only 125 yards passing. Chew on this. The defense allowed only 201 total yards and 9 first downs. That is pretty incredible, particularly against the #11 team in the country. Cameron Heyward was en fuego in this game. He was unstoppable. Thaddeus Gibson had a really solid game also, and Ross Homan should have had at least 2 interceptions. Oh, and since Clark didn't actually cross the goal line, this really should count as another shutout for the defense.
Ray Small was incredible. He gave the team just what it needed to get started in this game: a chance to start a drive at Penn State's 9-yard line. He ended up with 128 return yards, and that was nice to see.
Early in the game, it looked like it would be another sputtering performance. There were a lot of 3rd-and-long situations, which of course is not where this offense excels. The receivers dropped a couple balls that looked like easy completions. I'm not sure what was up with that.
There isn't really anything to put here, except the penalties. And Ross Homan's dropped interception.
In the 2nd quarter, this looked like a movie we have seen before. The offense scores early, the defense is nails, and then the offense can't stay on the field long enough to give the defense a break. Then at the end of the game, the D is dead tired and gives up a game-winning TD. OK, so that didn't happen. I'm still mystified by the fact that the offense made it to the 28-yard line...and punted. I doubt any other team in college football would have handled it that way. Of course, it was even more maddening when the Buckeyes tried a FG from only 3 yards closer. Weird decisions.
Under the Radar player of the game
Naturally, there are a lot of good candidates for it this week, but for me it is not a difficult choice. Ray Small was a tremendous catalyst for the offense, setting up the first score. And all in all, he just had a good day returning kicks. And then there was Cameron Heyward. Darryl Clark got quite a few introductions to Mr. Heyward in this game. So, there you have it. Small and Heyward are your UtR players of the game.