the-Ozone Note and Quotebook - Michigan State Edition
By Tony Gerdeman
By Any Means Necessary: Wins are rare for a team when they finish a game -3 in the turnover battle, especially on the road. What you saw on Saturday between Ohio State and Michigan State doesn't happen very often, so it's important to appreciate it when it does.
The Buckeyes gave the ball away three times against Michigan State, and still somehow found a way to walk out as victors. The gravity of such a win was not lost on offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
"Are you kidding me?" he said.
"Yeah, our defense did an unbelievable job. Held them to 34 yards rushing, a team that was averaging 200 yards or something.
"I've never been a part of a game where you can go on the road in the Big Ten against a ranked opponent, turn the ball over three times and win the game. It's really a testament to our defense and our special teams, and our overall team's work ethic."
But it takes more than just the defense to overcome three turnovers. The offense also has to redeem themselves when given the opportunity, and they certainly did that by burning the last four minutes of the game on the ground.
"It was a great team win," Urban Meyer said.
Photo by Dan Harker
"We found out something about our team today, to go on the road in a hostile environment against a quality, quality football team and find a way to win and answer every drive with another drive. When it was time to go make a play, they did."
It wasn't the first time this team absolutely needed to make a play and somebody came through. A team rising to the occasion in situations like that can create a team-wide momentum that continues to build.
"We knew going into the game that this was going to be one of the best teams we faced all year in the conference and we had to win it," said center Corey Linsley.
"If we win this it starts to snowball in the right direction, if we don't, it starts to snowball in the wrong direction, so we knew the importance and significance of this game, coming out on top, and we did.
"It's a real confidence booster, definitely," said receiver Corey Brown.
"This is a really good team. I love this team. They know how to come out and win, especially the job the offensive line did at the end of the game to run the ball and have Carlos Hyde run the ball as well as he did. It was a confidence booster."
"Just to let people know, Ohio State, we real," said Hyde.
"We’re ready to play. We ain't playing around. We’re taking every game seriously, no matter who it is."
Buckeyes Impressed With Their QB: Braxton Miller had an up and down day against the Spartan defense on Saturday. He threw for 179 yards, ran for 136 more, and turned the ball over three times.
is pummlled by the MSU defense.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He also took quite a beating, leaving the game once in the first quarter after getting hit out of bounds, and then frightening all of Buckeye nation late in the game with a knee injury.
What initially looked like a devastating injury turned out to "merely" be a painful hyper-extension. Banged up, Miller returned to the game and showed the same burst on the final drive that has made him so dangerous throughout his young career.
"We all knew he was tough," said Linsley.
"He was in the locker room after the game showing emotion, hurting. I saw that look on his face, so I went over to cheer him up, but he was hurting. Just to see him play through that pain and know how much pain he was in after the game. It's awesome. One helluva player right there."
"Gutsy effort by our quarterback," Meyer said.
"[He] had some miscues, but just the toughness – he's banged up, he's banged up – and just kept coming back, kept coming back."
"He’d be a pretty good DB, a pretty good wideout, but he’s a damn good quarterback and I wouldn’t trade him for the world," said Herman, summing it up perfectly.
Hyde in Plain Sight: Saturday was tailback Carlos Hyde's first game action in three weeks. Despite not yet being 100%, he was healthy enough to go, and he knew that he would be involved in the offense.
Photo by Jim Davidson
"I prepared for this game like I was the starter," Hyde said. "Just to go in there and perform."
That preparation came in handy when Jordan Hall injured his knee and left the game. The Buckeyes were essentially down to one tailback that they felt comfortable using in such a close game.
"When he went down, they called on me and told me I have to step up," he said.
"J. Hall went down and the team’s going to rely on you. I just stepped up and took advantage of the opportunity. They kept giving me the ball. That’s all I want to do is run the ball."
Stop the Run, Force the Pass: The Ohio State defense went to East Lansing with the goal of making the Spartan running game an exercise in futility. Well, 22 carries and 34 yards later, they had done exactly what they set out to do.
"It was most definitely the game plan," said cornerback Travis Howard.
"We knew that they wanted to run the ball so that is what we were focused on. So we had to make them one dimensional and shut down the run and make the quarterback beat us by throwing the ball.
"We knew that Michigan State was a big run team. We knew they had a good back in Le'Veon Bell. We knew they were going to give it to him as much as possible. Our whole scheme was to put nine in the box and just press on the outside, which was very effective."
Michigan State's offensive style perfectly fit what the Buckeye defense does well. The Spartans want to run the ball and base the rest of their offense off of the success that the ground game gives them. They weren't able to do that on Saturday.
"They made us pass the ball," said Spartan running back Le'Veon Bell.
"The safety wasn't actually on the line of scrimmage, but they brought him down to where the linebacker was. They played man on the outside and made sure to stop the run."
"They just played physical," said quarterback Andrew Maxwell.
"I thought they had a good pass rush all day. They didn't blitz a whole lot. That's a good defensive line. They're going to cause a lot of people some problems.
"They packed the box a little bit. When we were in power formations they would roll a safety down and pick it pretty good. They just played physical and did a good job stopping the run."
It was a defensive performance that not a lot of people were expecting, but it was one that the Buckeye defenders knew they had in them.
"I really believed our defense could win a game like this because nobody has really seen how good we are yet," said linebacker Ryan Shazier.
"We showed them a little something, but we still have a lot more. So I knew our defense was good enough to do this."
Consider the Challenge Met: Following Michigan State's final punt of the evening, the Buckeyes took control of the ball with 4:10 remaining in the game.
As you know by now, they ended up keeping the ball for the rest of the game, demoralizing a very good defensive opponent.
Before the Ohio State offense took the field, however, offensive line coach Ed Warinner took a moment to challenge his offensive line.
"I told them this is where you make yourself a team," he said.
"This is where the O-line digs down and comes through. You've got to run the ball, you've got to finish. The whole team, we were talking about everybody giving it up, laying it on the line."
"I think every coach wants that," Meyer said of his team's offensive finish.
"And against that front, when they knew it was coming, to just take the ball and end the game like that, that tells you a lot. I didn't know if we could do that. I thought our defense could play.
"Did I think we could line up and just knock guys and make holes, and guys run through tackles like Carlos did? To say that I knew we could do that, if I knew we'd do that, we would have done that earlier in the game too. That was a hell of an effort."
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.