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No. 7 OSU hosts Purdue

October 19, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

The Ohio State Buckeyes just keep finding a way.

Everyone's not exactly sold on the Buckeyes nationally, but all they can do is continue to win games.

Thus far, it's been seven games and seven victories, which is the main objective of college football.

Ohio State moved up to No. 7 in the Associated Press Poll released last Sunday after last weekend's hard-earned 52-49 victory on the road at Indiana.

"Obviously, we're pleased with the outcome," said OSU head coach Urban Meyer during his weekly press conference. "We have a long way to go, but the good thing is when you coach a team that's 7-0, you have their attention. The will is there; the want is there, but we've got to do a better job."

If there was ever a game that a victory felt like a loss it was last Saturday. Ohio State held a commanding three-score lead in the fourth quarter, but a big play, a recovered on-side kick and another big play allowed the Hoosier to climb right back into the game before Corey "Philly" Brown pounced on a final on-side kick attempt.

"We could give you a million excuses," Meyer said. "However, we're not into that and I won't accept that here with our staff or players."

The Buckeyes will look to put all of the bad vibes of last week behind them Saturday when they host Purdue, which has also struggled defensively, at Ohio Stadium in a game that's set to kickoff at noon.

"We're pleased to be 7-0," Meyer said. "It's nice to get a chance to come home and try to go 8-0 in the great Ohio Stadium.

Purdue comes to Columbus with a 3-3 record overall, but an 0-2 mark in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers were handed a 38-14 setback in which they allowed 467 yards rushing and 645 stripes.

The Buckeyes' defense is banged up and there's no way of getting around it. It's also a much-maligned unit that's getting torched for countless big plays that Meyer and defensive co-coordinators Luke Fickell and Everett Withers have spent a lot of time looking at this week.

Since OSU is so thin in spots because of injuries, attrition, etc., the number of personnel changes that are possible are limited, but that could lead to some possible position changes similar to the move Zach Boren made, but maybe not as drastic.

"The options are very limited right now," Meyer said. "We have to find a way to get our best 11 on the field. We've got enough coaches to figure that out. I'm not saying that's happening, but we're identifying who are the best 11 players and are putting that puzzle together."

One of those players is freshman Noah Spence, who's listed at defensive end. He played well last week filling in for Nathan Williams, who missed the game due to a concussion. However, he's expected to return to the lineup this week.

The defensive line was challenged earlier in the season because it wasn't getting enough pressure, but John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Garrett Goebel and Williams have stepped up their play.

The secondary has played well in spurts. Bradley Robey is having a break-out season. Travis Howard has been productive along with safety Christian Bryant.

The Buckeyes' defense has done a decent job of forcing turnovers and is averaging better than two sacks a game, but it's also allowed seven scoring plays of more than 20 yards this season, including three last week.

"It's been absurd how many big plays we've given up," Meyer said. "How do you do that? We have to eliminate the big play."

While Meyer took on a bigger role in the defensive meetings this week, he's still leaving the scheme and personnel up to those coaches.

"I'll give my ideas, but once again, that would be a mistake for me to come in," Meyer said. "We have very good coaches, very good coaches. I think mine is going to be one of leadership, toughness and the 4-to-6 second demand that we have on this team, not just defense."

With the defense getting pushed around, it'll be interesting to see what the Boilermakers, who has won four of the last 10 meetings with OSU, including last season's 26-23 win in overtime, have in store for OSU.

Purdue's offense has been struggling since entering conference play. The Boilermakers averaged better than 460 yards in the non-league schedule, but have seen that number more than cut in half against Michigan and Wisconsin.

"I looked at their Notre Dame film and they played very well," Meyer said. "They held their own and could have won that game. I know they have a lot of NFL prospects. I see very good players and I see a very aggressive scheme, but it's not a vanilla scheme."

Caleb TerBush is the Boilermaker's quarterback. He's thrown for 716 yards and eight touchdowns. Akeem Shavers is their leading rusher with 324 yards and three touchdowns, but he's been bottled up the last two weeks. In the passing game, Antavian Edison is the team's top target with 371 yards and five touchdowns.

The Buckeyes' offense could be primed for another big day against that aforementioned suspect Boilermaker's defense.

Not many teams have had much success slowing down the Buckeyes' spread attack that features sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who continues to climb the ladder in the Heisman Trophy conversation.

Miller ranks seventh nationally with 130.2 yards per game. He's has five 100-yard games and nine touchowns on the ground. He's got 912 yards for the season and 88 more would make him the 27th player in OSU history to reach the 1,000 yard mark, but first quarterback.

While it's become almost commonplace for Miller's exploits, Meyer has grown more and more fond of junior running back Carlos Hyde. He was one of three offensive players of the game chosen by the coaching staff for running for 156 yards and two touchdowns last week on 22 carries.

"He got off to a strong start and by the end of the game (at Indiana), he was a man," Meyer said. "Carlos' post-contact yardage is really, really making us a really good offense."

Miller's passing continues to evolve. He threw for better than 200 yards last week.

Devin Smith continues to have some ups and downs. He dropped a pair of sure touchdowns against the Hoosiers, but he made two touchdown receptions.

He's made 21 receptions for 457 yards and six touchdowns. He leads the team in yardage, but is second to Philly Brown for receptions.

"He's a great kid, and he's really worked hard," Meyer said. "He bounced back and made the play of the day on that square in. That was excellent. In spring practice, there would have been tears and he would have been off the field. Now he came right back."

Jake Stoneburner has also made significant strides and Meyer raved about Jeff Heuerman this week, saying, "he played his best game as an Ohio State Buckeye."

All of the skill player's recognition comes because the offensive line has been improving by leaps and bounds with each game.

The line and quarterback are the only offensive spots that have had the same starter all season.

Jack Mewhort, Andrew Norwell, Corey Linsley, Marcus Hall and Reid Fragel - the converted tight end - have answered the call and challenge of their head coach each week.



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