Smack dab in the middle of two huge games, we pause this week to look back at the MSU victory and ahead to Saturday's date with Nebraska. We'll talk injuries, statistics, awards, and throw in a little recruiting news to boot. Here goes...
Player Recognition: There is no doubt Meyer is elated about the victory in East Lansing, and the way the team came together and gutted out an important win. It is rare for a visiting team to turn it over 3 more times than the host and still get out of Dodge with a W. Urban knows that, and I think he also realizes that a year ago this team wasn't ready to compete for 60 minutes against a defense like the one the Spartans put on the field.
The offensive player of the game was actually five players as Urban named the entire offensive line. The one that seemed to get the most mention, though, both from Meyer and Warriner, is Reid Fragel who seems to be improving each game. Too bad he wasn't moved to the line a year or two ago. If you re-watch the game, pay attention to Fragel's blocking on the last drive. It was the best by an OSU tackle I have witnessed in a few years.
The defensive player of the game was Etienne Sabino who earned it in spite of a missed tackle on MSU's touchdown, when he tried to force a fumble rather than wrap up. Outside of that, it was a fine performance, and he finished with 8 tackles, a big sack, a pass breakup, and some needed pressure on the quarterback late in the game.
Special teams player of the game was Bradley Roby who blocked a punt. It was nice to have #1 back in the lineup and he had 9 tackles and a couple of pass breakups.
Other players cited as achieving "champion" status: Zach Boren, Jeff Heuerman, Johnathan Hankins, John Simon, Ryan Shazier and Travis Howard.
The first number that grabbed my attention is the fact that Philly Brown has 32 catches, which means that, even with no bowl game in 2012, he is on pace to catch 77 balls. Considering that he was one of three players that led the team with 14 catches a year ago, it means that our leading receiver could have 5 1/2 times as many receptions, one season later. I wonder if a team has ever seen such a big jump in production? Truthfully, I think Braxton looks for Brown too much, and would like to see Jake Stoneburner and Evan Spencer more involved. Still, it makes for an interesting statistical anomaly.
Another crazy stat is the rushing yards put up so far by Miller. Last year he led the team with 715 yards, finishing 40 yards ahead of Boom Herron who missed nearly half the season. Historically OSU is almost always led in rushing by a tailback, although Terrelle Pryor narrowly topped Brandon Saine in 2009, 779 to 739. However, so far this year, Miller has more than twice as many yards rushing as anyone else, with 577 through five games. So he is on pace to rush for about 1385 yards. While I doubt that happens, and I hope both Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde can remain healthy from here on out and help us find more balance, that is an amazing projection. Prior to 2009 you have to go back a long way to find a quarterback leading the team in rushing. In fact as best as I can tell, it would be Les Horvath in 1944! So it is strange indeed that the team should be led by a quarterback in three of the last four years. And we may never see a quarterback put up rushing numbers like this again in our lifetime.
Injury/Roster Report: There is good news, bad news and no surprise news in regard to the roster for this week's game. On a good note, C.J. Barnett is expected back at safety for the Nebraska game. Although he hasn't played particularly well this season, he was a very solid performer in 2011, and helps from a depth standpoint. However, I thought Orhian Johnson played a fine game against Michigan State, and even Pittsburgh Brown looked pretty solid in my estimation. Of course it doesn't hurt that the Spartans have mediocre receivers.
The bad news is that Jordan Hall is hurt again, this time tearing his PCL in the first half of the MSU game. He is listed as "doubtful" for this week's game and not only does that hurt the team, but you have to feel for a senior who has worked so hard to get back in the lineup.
Finally, Tyrone T.Y. Williams has been dismissed from the team for an unspecified violation of team rules. The tall receiver with hands of stone did catch 5 passes a year ago but has played very little in 2012. Teammates report that he has been lazy and unwilling to do what is necessary to become a good player, so this comes as no surprise. While it makes the receiver position a little thinner it does open up another scholarship for the future.
Urban's Update: There were no "big" revelations in Meyer's remarks from the weekly "B1G" Teleconference. He reiterated that he was very proud of his team on Saturday for winning a physical game in a tough environment. Urban also played down accusations that Michigan State was sent doctored video last week that hurt them in their preparation for the game, and also made it known that he isn't worried about his reputation with other Big Ten coaches. I love it! Forget the gentlemen's agreement, because all is fair in love, war, and football.
Regarding this week's opponent, Meyer said that Taylor Martinez is one of the best runners at the quarterback position he has ever seen, and he should know - he has coached Alex Smith, Tim Tebow and Braxton Miller. As for defense Saturday, he indicated that the Buckeyes can't blitz as much as they did against MSU because of the threat of the option. Truth be told I think he expects a pretty high scoring game this weekend.
Recruiting Visits: The Nebraska game is in prime time, kicking off just after 8 PM, and is a big game for Ohio State in many regards. Among other things, this promises to be as important a recruiting weekend as the Buckeyes will have all year. Some of the players expected to be in attendance are OT Dorian Johnson, OL/DL Donovan Munger, WR's James Quick and Shelton Gibson, and ATH Christopher Worley all from the 2013 class. I would love to see us nab two or three of these guys in the future. Also, 2014 prospects expected to be in the 'Shoe include Marshon Lattimore, Marselys Jones, Brian Allen, Darien Watkins, Ian Bunting, and possibly Drew Barker. Additionally, many of the class of '13 commits will make their way to Columbus, including Ezekiel Elliot, Joey Bosa, Cam Burrows, Jalin Marshall, Eli Woodard, Billy Price, Evan Lisle, Jayme Thompson and Tracey Sprinkle. Wow! You could field a pretty good team with that group of fellas!
Final Note: In case you did't see it, Ohio State announced today that they have scheduled a home-and-home series with TCU in 2018 and 2019. Hopefully E. Gordon Gee will be retired before we take on the Horned Frogs, also known as one of "The Little Sisters of the Poor."