Andy Gottesman / The Lantern
In Ohio State’s loss to Southern Cal last night, the theme seemed to be missed opportunity.
“Our kids prepared extremely hard and played extremely hard and we just didn’t come up with enough of the things you need to do to win a ball game like that,” coach Jim Tressel said. “You need to score more than five points in the second half and they came up with plays on that last drive when they needed to and so they go home with the spoils.”
OSU led the game 15-10 late in the fourth quarter, but gave up a hard-earned touchdown and two-point conversion in the last minute of play.
Despite bouncing back from an early interception thrown by Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State was unable to take advantage of their opportunities on offense to win the big game.
Pyror vs. Barkley, who stood up in the pressure?
Leading up to the game, there was a lot of talk about how USC’s freshman quarterback Matt Barkley was going to handle the pressure of the atmosphere in a stadium like the ‘Shoe. Turns out, it was a record-breaking crowd of 106,033 fans in Ohio Stadium and Barkley seemed to handle just fine.
Pryor, on the other hand, really wasn’t playing his game last night. The sophomore, who played a significant amount of last year’s game in southern California, gave up a quick interception on the first drive, which USC returned for a touchdown to lead early.
At halftime, Pryor had thrown for 123 yards, leading Barkley, who had thrown for 105 yards. But in the second half, Pryor was virtually shut down and added only 54 yards to Barkley’s 90.
Pryor was 11 for 25 with one interception and one sack; Barkley was 15 for 31 with one interception and two sacks. Pryor really didn’t stand out against Barkley the way that a veteran should on his own turf.
“I think those two young quarterbacks played against two good defenses and those few good defenses brought a lot of pressure and I’m sure that both of them will learn a lot from the experience and that was a tough ball game, especially if you were a quarterback,” Tressel said.
Red zone deficient
While Ohio State isn’t exactly red zone deficient, they certainly make it there, but they just can’t capitalize on position.
The Buckeyes had more than half their points come from outside of the end zone, with two field goals from Aaron Pettrey and a safety half way through the third quarter.
The Bucks also struggled getting first downs. They had five first downs in the first quarter and then only five more the rest of the game. The offense had terrible trouble converting on important plays. The Buckeyes were four of 13 for third-down conversions.
“We didn’t take advantage of our opportunities that the defense gave us,” said Jake Ballard, senior tight end and fourth Buckeye captain. “We just kept getting three and out. And you can’t do that when you get the ball.”
Running game was missing
It has been no secret that USC has one of the deepest and most talented running back depth charts in college football, but with their performance last week, Dan Herron and Brandon Saine were expected to produce much more than they did last night.
Herron carried the ball 18 times for 46 yards and a touchdown, while Saine carried the ball just once throughout the entire game, gaining two yrads. Pryor was OSU’s second highest rusher with a net gain of 36 yards on 10 carries. Kick returner Lamaar Thomas made a rare appearance in the backfield and ran for six yards in the fourth quarter.
USC out-ran Ohio State 118 yards to 88.
Defense stands strong despite loss
One positive that did come out of the game, was that the Ohio State defense really stepped up. The defensive line played an excellent game against the Trojans.
“Our defense played extremely had and they came up with plays, they got us a turnover near mid-field and we didn’t cash in on it at all,” Tressel said. “They just kept playing, and I thought the punt unit did a great job of setting up good field position down in there and our defense made it ahrd for them to drive over the course of the game and they played hard, there’s no doubt.”
The defensive tackles, captain Doug Worthington and Todd Denlinger combined for six tackles and a tackle-for-loss of four yards. Linebackers Ross Homan, Brian Rolle and Austin Spitler combined for 22 tackles, while Devon Torrence and Cameron Heyward both added sacks to the defensive statistics.
“I’m really just physically drained and I know this whole team is just physically drained,” said senior captain Kurt Coleman, who added five tackles of his own. “We worked so hard and it’s just toughâ€¦we knew the ball was going to be in our court and we had to stop them on that last drive and we knew that and it’s just tough, man, I don’t know, it’s tough.”
How do we bounce back and win the Big Ten?
With a loss under their belts, it is now critical for Ohio State to win their conference. With a big game on the road against Penn State, and several tough games at home, how are the Buckeyes going to get themselves ready to take on the Big Ten?
Spitler said that this was obviously a tough loss for the Buckeyes but that they can’t let that get them down.
“Have to bound back, tough, and understand that we played a heck of a team and we’ve got a bright future,” Spitler said.
Coleman said that he personally, and the team, still have a lot to strive for in the rest of the season and that this loss doesn’t mean the end of their season.
“The best thing about this is it’s a nonconference game and we still have things to strive for and things we want to accomplish in the season. We want to win the Big Ten, so we have to regroup and we have to rebound from this,” Coleman said. “We cannot let this affect us at all. So me, myself, and I know the senior are going to really get everybody’s focus back because Toledo’s going to be a tough opponent, so we have to just regroup and get back to the drawing board and get after it.”