Spartan Blitz Too Much for Buckeyes
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The last time Ohio State was shut out at home, Luke Fickell was nine years old.
It will stay that way, thanks only to a late touchdown catch by Evan Spencer, but the Buckeyes (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) were no match for Mark Dantonio and the Michigan State defense.
Ohio State’s former defensive coordinator blitzed the Buckeyes back into the Stone Age Saturday in one of the most lopsided 10-7 victories in recent college football history.
“I have to credit my defensive coaches with coming up with a good game plan,” said MSU defensive tackle Jerel Worthy.
“We had a lot of pressure early. Once you get into that rhythm, you realize the offensive line is on their heels a little bit, you kind of want to keep the pressure on.”
The Spartans (4-1, 1-0) did just that, with Dantonio and his staff throwing about every different blitz and stunt they had at the Buckeyes and their disorientated freshman quarterback.
“We really felt like Braxton Miller is an outstanding athlete and that we couldn't let him loose that we had to try and put a fence around him,” said Dantonio, who coached the defense at Ohio State during their National Championship run in 2002.
“So we did pressure him, but more importantly was not to let him get…those plays where he dropped back to pass and the next thing you know he's out of the pocket running, so we sort of put a premium on that throughout practice all week and it paid dividends for us.”
Making the second start of his young career, Braxton Miller was 5-of-10 passing for 56 yards and an interception. He was sacked four times and finished with -27 yards rushing before Fickell finally decided to pull the youngster in favor of his previously-benched fifth-year senior.
“I think maybe he didn’t see the field real well. We thought we’re going to have to throw the football as many people as they’re putting in there and as much heat as they’re bringing,” Fickell said.
“So we thought our best option was to go with a guy that probably could see the field a little bit better and maybe throw the football a little bit better in some of the formations or spreads that we needed to get into.”
Bauserman took five more sacks in the fourth quarter alone, but he did finally get the offense moving. Just when it looked like the Buckeyes would fail to score a single point for the first time since their 28-0 loss at Michigan in 1993, Bauserman led them down the field on a 7-play 62-yard touchdown drive.
“You have to give them credit,” said Worthy, a native of Huber Heights, Ohio.
“A good offensive team like that, it’s hard to shut out. They made some plays down the stretch. That’s a credit to Joe Bauserman, the wide receivers and the offensive line.”
But the Buckeyes were far from a good offensive team Saturday. Bauserman’s 33-yard touchdown pass to Spencer came with just 10 seconds left in the game. Prior to that final drive, they had managed just 116 yards of total offense.
“The thing is, once the flow of the game gets going and their pressure’s working, I don’t think they’re going to stop,” Fickell said.
“We probably didn’t do a great job of getting adjusted. But when you can’t run the football and you don’t run the football very good, it really puts you in a bind that they can gang up on you and do the things they’re going to do.”
Thanks to nine sacks by the Spartans defense and their ferocious run blitz, the Buckeyes averaged just 0.9 yards per carry on 39 attempts. Yet somehow, they were still in the game in the fourth quarter thanks to three turnovers by Michigan State’s senior quarterback Kirk Cousins.
“We didn’t finish drives,” said Cousins, who threw two picks in the fourth quarter to C.J. Barnett and Bradley Roby.
“We feel like we could have come away with 20-plus points with the field goal. I think you have to credit Ohio State’s defense for them to bend but not break. That’s what good defenses do.”
The Buckeyes had one final chance to get the ball back on an onside kick. Freshman Ryan Shazier batted the ball down and senior Nate Ebner fell on it, but couldn’t hold on.
The Spartans recovered it with seven seconds on the clock and ran out the time for their first victory at Ohio State since the infamous debacle in 1998.
Like that game 13 years ago, this one Buckeye fans will want to forget.
Donate by Check :
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43212
Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.
Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.
(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.