Special teams have been a problem this year, and Jim Tressel would not be happy.
Going from a coach who prided himself on extraordinary special teams play, to a system that seemed to disregard the little-talked-about group, Ohio State lost the 2012 Gator Bowl because of its underachieving special teams.
In the second quarter, following a game-tying touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Braxton Miller, Andre Debose returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. The coverage on the kickoff was so poor, no one came close to touching Debose as he jogged into the end zone.
In the third quarter, following a five-play, 25-yard drive, Chris Rainey blocked junior punter Ben Buchanan’s punt, and Graham Stewart returned it for a touchdown.
Fourteen points off of the special teams’ mistakes was the difference in the game.
Sophomore kicker Drew Basil has been accurate and reliable throughout the season. Buchanan has been reliable and his punts have consistent. The problem lies with the special teams support. The blocking has been inconsistent, which has lead to two blocked punts on the year.
A problem that plagued last year’s squad, kick coverage, has once again surfaced. One of the biggest momentum killers in football is a kickoff returned for a touchdown, and that’s exactly what happened.
A single sign of life in a 5-yard touchdown pass from Miller to senior wide receiver DeVier Posey tied the game in the second quarter, but that was essentially the last sign of life for the Buckeye offense.
Freshman mistakes committed by seniors
The Buckeyes voted on their team MVP in December to be senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron.
A captain, who missed the first six games of the season due to suspension, and whose actions cost the program nine scholarships over three years and a postseason ban next year, actually cost the team so much more in the Gator Bowl.
Herron fumbled the ball in the first quarter and it was recovered by De’Ante Saunders, a mistake that cost the Buckeyes valuable field position.
Posey then fumbled in the third quarter after the Buckeyes were in position to cut into the lead. After a completion from Miller, Posey fumbled and Josh Evans recovered.
After a season of causing problems with the NCAA, these two Buckeye seniors certainly did not make a good mark in their last bowl game.