Special teams emerge as force
COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer said it best in his weekly news conference.
Meyer, during his gabfest inside “The Woody,” detailed, by the numbers, the effectiveness of Ohio State’s defense and special teams in its 26-6 victory against Michigan State last week in East Lansing.
“In the second half,” he pointed out, “starting field position for Ohio State was around the 50-, 49-yard line. And, for Michigan State, the 9-yard line.”
Meyer continued: “Michigan State started their first drives of the second half on the 5-, 6-, 3-, 1- and 2-yard-lines.
“Total drives inside the 10, starting inside their own 10, Michigan State had six, Ohio State zero.”
Add to that the Spartans had only starting two drives outside of their own 30, along with a trio of critical turnovers, and the Buckeyes were in business for most of the day on an afternoon when its offense was, by its standards, average. If one calls 374 yards of offense average.
“No, we’re not playing great at times,” Meyer said. “But then our defense came out and played the way they did. And our special teams played the way they did. It was a great team win. But we’re not where I would like us to be.”
Ohio State’s special teams were bolstered on the front end by punter Drue Chrisman. The 6-3, 215-pounder, who surprisingly wasn’t named Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week, laid down five boots inside the six. He was aided by wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who made some spectacular plays on the back end of those kicks.
“Just ridiculous what he does,” Meyer said of McLaurin. “Two punts down inside the five.”
One of those stops came at the 1 and resulted in an “intentional safety” that put the Buckeyes up, 9-6.
From there, the Buckeyes’ defense put its stamp on the game. Dre’Mont Jones put Ohio State up 10 by recording his second TD of the season — this one a fumble recovery in the end zone.
“Player of the Game, played outstanding, Dre’Mont Jones: three quarterback hurries, two quarterback knockdowns, two PBUs, a fumble recovery and a touchdown.”
Ohio State (9-1 overall, 6-1 Big Ten) held the Spartans to 274 yards of total offense, most of it coming via the pass.
“One of the biggest things that stood out on a positive side was that we played a complete, defensive team game,” nose tackle B.B. Landers said.
Meyer also heaped praise on his secondary, including Damon Arnette, Shaun Wade, Jordan Fuller and Brendon White. Meyer said White adds a spark.
“Once again, I personally have, I believe, but I just see he’s playing well. And we’re tackling. He’s done a nice job with that.”
The six points allowed by Ohio State last week tied for its second-best effort, point wise of the season and best of the Big Ten season.
“We put together a complete game but when you’re striving for perfection, there’s always something you could’ve done better or something you could’ve changed,” Landers said. “We took a lot of good things from film to take into next week but there’s a lot of stuff to clean up.”
“They celebrated mission accomplished within reason and within time,” he said. “And they waited for the next assignment. And they received their next assignment and moved on.”