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Football Notebook: Changing season, changing role players for the Buckeyes

Ohio State didn’t exactly deliver what everyone had hoped they would in the season opener against Navy, in which they pulled off a shaky 31-27 victory over the Midshipmen. With a lot of young and inexperienced players stepping into the starting roles this season, it was uncertain who would make an impact, and how they would make an impact. With yesterday’s game against Navy under their belts, the Buckeyes cleared the fog a little as to who will be making headlines this season.

Replacing Chris “Beanie” Wells

One question in everyone’s mind going into this season was how the Buckeyes were going to make up for losing one of the strongest running backs in college football, “Beanie” Wells. But, in their season opener against Navy, two backs paired up for quite the punch against the midshipmen defense.

Dan Herron and Brandon Saine combined for 125 rushing yards. Herron had 17 carries for 72 yards and a touchdown. Saine averaged 5.9 yards on nine carries with a 14-yard carry in the second quarter while backup quarterback Joe Bauserman struggled to make a drive. Just two plays later, Saine connected with Bauserman for 13 yards and then carried the ball two more yards for a first down.

“It felt really good you know,” Saine said. “I felt like I did what I needed to do out there. I might not have been able to score a touchdown or anything, but I feel like I contributed.”

Defense struggles early, but finishes strong

Early on in the game, it looked as if the Buckeye defense was struggling to control the unique Navy offense. On their first possession, Navy had a seven-minute drive that consisted of 15 plays mostly on the ground for 80 yards and a 16-yard touchdown run by quarterback Ricky Dobbs.

“We knew coming into this game that they were going to be a lot faster and we felt we needed to execute that first series so we were a little disappointed coming off the field after that first series knowing we had to step it up,” said Kurt Coleman, senior safety and OSU captain.

But, it was the defense that eventually saved the day, stopping a two-point conversion with minutes left in the game, when Brian Rolle intercepted a pass from Dobbs and ran it back gaining two points for the Buckeyes.

Captains excel and lead in opener

The three defensive captains combined for 13 tackles in the opener against Navy. Coleman forced a fumble in the fourth quarter when Navy was on second down with seven yards to go. Fellow captain, senior defensive lineman Doug Worthington was able to recover that fumble and the two set the offense up for a touchdown drive to put the Buckeyes up 29-14.

Duron Carter makes a dazzling debut

True freshman wide receiver Duron Carter, son of OSU alum Cris Carter, made his debut as a Buckeye yesterday. Carter played most of the game after sophomore DeVier Posey left with a minor ankle injury. Carter ranked third in the receiving stats for Ohio State with three receptions for 21 yards.

“Little Carter was great. He caught a lot of balls and he looked awesome out there as well as a lot of other guys,” Worthington said of the young player. “I’m proud of a lot of guys stepping up, they looked great.”

Carter said that he felt really comfortable on the big stage in front of a record of 105,092 fans on opening day.

“It feels great. A lot of freshman receivers have started out their career great and hopefully I can be the next one and just step up during the on-coming weeks,” Carter said.

Ohio State still having trouble closing in the red zone

The Navy defense forced the Buckeyes to settle for a field goal on three separate occasions in the first, second and fourth quarters. And there probably should have been a fourth when instead of kicking, Tressel decided to go for it on fourth-and-one on the 15-yard line late in the fourth quarter.

Despite Aaron Pettrey’s success, making good on a 23-yard, 25-yard and 52-yard field goal, it makes one wonder why they couldn’t push the ball into the end zone on four different occasions.

“Those are the ones we had trouble with a year ago, the ones that started between the eight and the 10, so do you leave a little disappointed?” coach Jim Tressel asked himself. “Yeah, because you want to score touchdowns.”

 

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