Well, as I said last week, our little run-in with Purdue in 2002 took several years off my life and this past Saturday only aided in yet another subtraction. While the expectations are much different for this season, it was still Purdue in spite of the fact that we knew they would give our defense trouble. The thing is, the defense was actually what stood tall for the most part.
Each and every week we are learning something about this team which is great, but instead of me droning on about the same topic, there are a handful of things that stood out to me in which I thought were worth addressing.
First and foremost, the obvious star of the weekend, backup junior quarterback from Houston, TX: Kenny. Freaking. Guiton. I still cannot believe what we witnessed on Saturday afternoon given how the game had progressed. Normally I would say that Ohio State had no business winning that game and if Purdue had any sort of reasonable play-calling, I would, but they fought for that win. And somehow they did it giving up an opening 83-yard touchdown pass, a 100-yard kickoff return and 4 turnovers along with several injuries that continue to plague this team. Kenny G came into the game late in the third quarter after Braxton Miller went down and assumed a role that nobody thought he was ready for. Well, apparently not nobody:
“I said, ‘You’re going to win us a game,’” said Meyer, retelling his conversation with Guiton before the Buckeyes’ last possession in regulation.
At this point, we all know the ending and the story behind it. Down 22-14 with 47 seconds left in the game, Guiton helped drive the Buckeyes down the field to connect with Chris Fields on a game-tying touchdown pass, followed by a Jeff Heuerman two-point conversion reception and a game-winning touchdown by Carlos Hyde.
What may have been lost in the midst of a crazy ending coupled with Braxton’s injury, is how resilient Guiton has been during his time at Ohio State and it has nothing to do with anything on the field. Guiton waited patiently behind Terrelle Pryor for an opportunity to play and upon his departure, many felt that he was next in line. Even though he was only a 3-star recruit, he still was the dual-threat quarterback that seemed to fit the offense. With some obvious development concerns, Joe Bauserman won the starting job for several games until Braxton learned more of the offense. As it has been noted, Guiton was less than pleased with the situation until coaches helped put things in perspective for him. Since that point, and possibly even before, he has been one of the more respected leaders in the locker-room. Having that kind of support while stepping into a difficult situation cannot be understated.
“After the first play of the game, we just needed to remember we have a lot of game left,” Shazier said. “We were down, but everyone had each other’s back. We knew they would score. We just kept pushing and no one had their head down.”
I almost was in the market for a new TV after that first play. Completely blown coverage by Storm Klein on an opening drive for an 83-yard touchdown is unacceptable no matter what team this is or how many injuries they have overcome. The good thing is that after a start like that, things can only get better from a defensive standpoint and they really did. The Silver Bullets (not sure if we can even call them that right now) were tackling better and that was led by the one and only, Ryan Shazier who had a game high 12 tackles, 1.5 for loss. Outside of the opening touchdown pass, they only gave up another 7 points despite Purdue dominating the possession game 35 minutes to the Buckeyes 25.
Unfortunately, the Buckeyes did not manage to record a single sack during Saturday’s game. That can be a troubling stat in itself considering what this fan-base is used to, but I would have to believe that this defense is working harder on fundamentals than true blitz packages. The injuries continue to mount on the defensive side forcing true freshman and sophomores into roles that require them to be more of a cohesive unit, rather than a bunch of individual play-makers.
I am as sick of talking about this as I was with the Browns turnstile at right tackle so all I will say is ‘fix it’. This has gone on too long and I am out of words.
“It’s the greatest team win I’ve ever been a part of,” Herman said. “That’s from the defense stepping up when they needed to, to guys getting hurt and other guys filling in for them on offense, to us really struggling to find momentum, to find rhythm.
“When all hope seemed lost, the guys never gave up. Even with 47 seconds left, we thought we had the chance to go and put the game into overtime.”
“It’s amazing to have a win like this because you only get these once in a lifetime,” linebacker Ryan Shazier said.
“I’ve never been a part of a comeback like that,” linebacker Zach Boren said. “Everything was against us – fans leaving, injuries, field position – and we managed to pull it out. We clicked at the right time.”
These Ohio State Buckeyes are not a great team. Heck, they are not even a good team right now. They have great pieces, great coaching and great talent, but they have no identity because they are still working on their foundation as a whole. Once that foundation is established with this coaching staff, this team will have the ability to handpick recruits because of the identity that has been created.
If I keep beating the crap out of this drum, I promise it is because I truly believe it and think it gets lost very easily in the desire to win immediately. If the Buckeyes go 12-0 or 1-11 (Michigan victory) does it really matter? Surely you would like to see some wins that show some sort of progress week over week, but the quotes above are proof that these individual players care more about their accomplishments and failures as a team, over anything else. That mentality, these experiences and these personalities are what will create a winning atmosphere for years to come, but these tests are all a part of a much bigger picture.