COLUMBUS - Coming into the season, the Ohio State Buckeyes figured to have the makings of a strong and powerful defensive unit.
When the likes of Cameron Heyward, Ross Homan and Chimdi Chekwa opted to return for their senior seasons rather than test the NFL waters, the Buckeyes expected big things from their defense.
The "Silver Bullets" have produced more than their fair share during the opening three weeks of the season.
"Defensively, we shut them down," said OSU head coach Jim Tressel after watching the Buckeyes drub Ohio University, 43-7. "I thought we did a lot of good things. It's hard not to feel good about a win. I don't want those guys down in the lockerroom to feel as if it's not fun to hear that (victory) bell ringing."
All told, the Buckeyes allowed just 158 yards on 48 plays. The Bobcats had only seven first downs and netted 76 rushing yards.
Once again, it was Heyward who stood out above the rest. He was a constant in the Bobcats' backfield, had a safety and recovered a fumble.
A POSEY picture as Ohio University’s Julian Posey (9) tries to tackle his younger brother, DeVier, during Saturday’s action in Ohio Stadium. DeVier and his Buckeye teammates got the best of the Bobcats.
"Cam was rolling down the field with the ball again," Tressel smiled in reference to Heyward scooping the fumble. However, he was brought down by the Ohio quarterback.
Heyward, who figures to be an outstanding professional player next season, doesn't hold back his abilities in practice according to Tressel.
"He's not a sometimes guy when you watch film on Cam," Tressel said. "By that I mean, sometimes you watch the film and you see a guy who really cranks it up. Well, Cam cranks it up every play even during practice. In fact, (defensive coordinator) Jim Heacock has to take him out at practice sometimes because he goes so hard. There can't be too many better than him at that position in the country."
While Heyward was expected to be a major contributor, each passing game results in another smile from Tressl about the play of former Cincinnai Colerain standout Tyler Moeller, who missed last season as he recovered from the injuries as the result of an assault.
Moeller was the defensive player of the week in the Big 10 after the Buckeyes' win over Marshall. He got things rolling Saturday when he picked off an Ohio pass on the second play from scrimmage in the contest.
"Every time I see Tyler out there (on the field) I smile," Tressel said. "A year ago at this time, he was a miserable guy. He wasn't fun to be around because he wasn't happy. He's not happy when he's not playing or in the lockerroom talking about defense. He plays fast, hard and makes a difference for us."
Homan led the way with seven tackles. Nathan Williams, who didn't play against Marshall in the opener, was also strong at linebacker.
"We got early momentum from Tyler when he got that interception and then our offense turned it into points," Homan said. "We just kept going from there."
While the second unit actually allowed the Bobcats' score, Homan doesn't look at it that way.
"We're all one group," Homan said. "It doesn't matter who's in there. We all gave up that touchdown."
Tressel wasn't at all surprised that Pryor set a new OSU record for consecutive completions with 16. Actually no record, the junior from Jeannette, PA establishes will shock his coach.
"Terrelle wasn't happy after last week's game because we was at 48 percent (completion rate)," Tressel said. "Nothing would surprise me whether it would be a rushing or passing record or a longest play. He's capable of anything because he's blessed with tremendous talent, but he also has a tremendous work ethic."
All told, Pryor passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 35 net yards and a touchdown
"I love working with Terrelle because he loves to work," Tressel said.
WHILE HEYWARD made a ton of plays, he was none too pleased at halftime because he'd missed an opportunity for a sack late in the half.
"We were up pretty big at halftime, but this dude was over in his corner so mad because of the one play," Homan said. "That's the kind of person he is. He's never going to be satisfied. He's a confident player and I am just glad we've got him on our team."
* BO DELANDE, son of St. Clairsville native Dave Delande and Shadyside native Stephanie Miller Delande, had a carry late in the second half of Saturday's victory.
* BUCKLE UP - Ohio University players had no fewer than three helmets knocked off during the course of the game. Two of those were from quarterback Phil Bates.
* OHIO STATE showed a quick version of the 'Wildcat' offense when it put Dan Herron at quarterback for a snap in the third quarter. The play yielded negative yardage. He was back in that position later in the drive for a 2-yard gain.
* A LARGE following of Bobcats' fans made the short trip to Columbus. No fewer than three sections in Ohio Stadium's 'C' Deck were bedecked in Hunter Green. Such was the case during the Marshall game, we noticed a lot of fans going back-and-forth with their rooting interest. For instance, we saw several fans with Ohio State shirts and Ohio University hats or vice versa.
* BATTLE OF THE BANDS - It's tough to say which band was better during the halftime performances. Both were outstanding. The Marching 110 was really impressive and the TBDBITL was up to its same old tricks. Just wowing the crowd with song after song. It's a safe bet to say the talent on the field is equal to the talent fo the musicians in the band.
* PRIOR to the game, I ran into several Ohio Valley residents outside of the Horseshoe soaking in the atmosphere. Saw folks from River, St. Clairsville, Martins Ferry, Bridgeport, Meadowbrook, St, John, Shadyside. There's nothing like the Buckeyes to draw the valley into one collective unit.
Staskey can be reached at email@example.com