Boeckman's Passing and Big Day by Robiskie Carry Buckeyes Past Youngstown State
By John Porentas
Some questions got answered in OSU's season-opening 38-6 win over Youngstown State. Some new ones arose.
The quarterback position was a big question mark position heading into the season as the Buckeyes must replace Heisman-winning quarterback Troy Smith. Against YSU new starter Todd Boeckman made it clear from the outset that there are no questions left there, that the Buckeyes have a quarterback.
Three plays into the game Boeckman was three-for-three for 64 yards, all of those completions to wide receiver Brian Robiskie. That put the Buckeyes on the Youngstown State 13-yard line, and that's when one of the new questions raised its head.
What was expected to be a strong running attack faltered when the Buckeyes got into the red zone and most particularly near the goal line. After a fourth-consecutive completion to Robiskie moved the ball to the six-yard line the Buckeyes rushed the ball five consecutive times, four times by tailback Chris Wells for one total yard and once by Boeckman for two yards, to move just three yards to the three-yard line. On third-and-goal from the three the Buckeyes abandoned the run and went back to the pass. That turned out to be a good decision as Boeckman found freshman slot receiver Dane Sanzenbacher in the back of the endzone for a three-yard touchdown pass It was Sanzenbacher's first career catch.
"I was in the slot we just had a little slant called, which basically I just have to find a little seam when you're that close to the goal line," said Sanzenbacher.
"Luckily Todd found me in the back. It felt like the ball was snapped and the next thing I knew I was handing it to the ref.
"Definitely it was awesome. You couldn't ask for a better way to start it (a career) off," said Sanzenbacher.
The Buckeyes were not able to establish a rushing game in the first half against a Penguin defense that was set up to make sure that was exactly what would happen. The Penguins stacked the line of scrimmage to take away the run. The strategy succeeded in limiting OSU to just 53 rushing yards before the intermission, but the success at taking away the run came at a price. OSU wide receiver Brian Robiskie was left with single coverage and Boeckman was able to take advantage hitting Robiskie six times for 113 yards in the first half.
"We played well against the run," said YSU Head Coach Jon Heacock.
"I thought our kids did well, battled well down on the goal line and those kind of things. When you're doing that, we felt like that was something we had to try to stop, and when you do that then you put a guy like Brian Robiske, who is extremely talented, out there a little bit by himself. We knew that going in," said Heacock.
"We felt like we had to try to take something away and try and cover the rest and we got caught a few times. That's what happens."
OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman said that Boeckman and Robiskie executed extremely well against the YSU defensive scheme.
"It looked like they oned him (Robiskie) up (single covered) a lot. A couple of times he caught some fades and Todd just saw those. The routes weren't necessarily called to him, but he saw that he was oned up and went to him, and that was pretty good. There were a couple of big plays I know," said Bollman.
The Buckeyes moved the ball through the air between the 20s, but had trouble in the red zone. OSU offensive lineman Kirk Barton credited YSU's defensive scheme near the goal line for most of those problems.
"They were in a different front that we hadn't really practiced against," said Barton.
"It was an over-front."
The Penguins put nine men along the line of scrimmage with two Penguins playing over one offensive linemen at two positions, one on each side of the line. The goal was to confuse the OSU blocking near the goal line and succeeded in doing just that, but according to Barton, that won't happen again.
"Other teams based on their success will try it out against us," said Barton.
"We'll get that fixed because we'll practice against it a lot. Anytime something gives us trouble, the next team we play, they watch the film and figure they should try that front on the goal line."
Bollman agreed with Barton's analysis.
"They played a little different goal line defense than they had played in the past. There were a couple of things that caught us early so we made some changes as the game went on, different alignments."
The Buckeyes finally got some effective rushing when freshman tailback Brandon Saine came into the game. Saine's first carry from scrimmage resulted in an 18 yard gain as the freshman hit a hole over right guard then broke tackles and dragged a few Penguins before being brought down.
"I saw the hole open and I just sprinted for the hole and got in the open field. It was amazing," said an obviously excited Saine.
Saine's burst carried to the YSU 14-yard line. Saine carried on the next two snaps and picked up four yards each time to move OSU to a third and two at the six. A penalty on YSU gave OSU a first down on the three. Saine picked up two more to get it to the one, then Chris Wells finished off the drive with a one-yard plunge up the middle to put OSU up 14-0.
The Buckeyes added another score in the first half when Saine got his first career touchdown on a one-yard run to cap a 10-play, 75 yard drive. YSU got on the board in the first half with a 21-yard field goal to culminate an impressive 14-play, 81 yard drive.
The Buckeye rushing game fared better in the second half. The OSU ground attack picked up 94 yards after the intermission with tailback Maurice Wells picking up picking up 42 of those yards. Chris Wells also got it going some in the second half and ended the game with a team-high 48 yards rushing after gaining just nine net yards in the first half. Maurice Wells averaged 5.6 yards per carry, Saine 4.2 yards per carry and Chris Wells 2.9. Maurice Wells also added 23 receiving yards on three receptions.
The teams traded field goals in the third quarter, YSU's coming after the game's only turnover. OSU quarterback Todd Boeckman was blind-sided by YSU's Vince Gliatta. Boeckman fumbled and Jon Penick recovered for YSU at the OSU 27. The Penguins could move just three yards against the OSU defense however and settled for a 41 yard field goal by Stephen Blose.
The Buckeyes tallied two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one on a one-yard pass from Boeckman to fifth-year senior fullback and former walkon Trevor Robinson. Robinson was stunned by the fact that he actually scored a touchdown.
"I was like wow, what just happened?" said Robinson in describing his feelings after the play.
"I think my eyes were a little bit bigger than the ball. I thought in my mind 'I have to catch this.' It was a big moment, we were on the goal line, it was very important for our team to score at this time, so I just have to catch it."
It was a highlight moment for Robinson.
"I'm very excited, especially moving from defense to offense, I'm still getting a feel for the offense, I was able to step up and make a catch like that. It was very important for the team," he said.
OSU's final score came on a 45 yard pass completion from third-team quarterback Antonio Henton to freshman wide receiver Taurian Washington.
The Buckeyes answered their quarterback questions as Boeckman was very effective, completing 17 of 23 (73.9%) for 225 yards, two touchdown and no interceptions. Robiskie led all receivers with nine receptions for 153 yards.
The new questions that will be asked after the game will be directed toward the OSU rushing game which was expected to be strong this season. Though OSU rushed for just just 147 total yards, 94 of those came in the second half after the Buckeyes adjusted to the Penguin's defense that was set to stop the run. Bollman did not seem overly concerned since the Buckeye were able to pass effectively when the Penguins sold out on stopping the run.
"It's all part of the game," said Bollman.
"There are going to be a lot of people who are going to be sold out on stopping the run and we have to continue to be able to execute in the passing game and continue to get better at it."
The Buckeyes converted eight of 12 third down attempts and were one of one on fourth down.
The OSU defense did not produce any turnovers but limited YSU to less than 100 yards rushing and less than 100 yards passing. YSU picked up just 10 first downs, OSU 25.
Return to the-Ozone Columns and Features