After a season plagued by NCAA violations, suspensions, injury and heartbreak, this year’s group of Buckeye seniors were a detriment to the team.
While the seniors might have added the experience needed to make a great team, in the end, they did more harm than good for the 2011 Ohio State football team. Seniors Mike Adams and Solomon Thomas sat the first five games of the season due to their involvement in the “Tattoo-gate” scandal. When Adams came back, his presence was immediately felt on the offensive line, but it was almost already a moot point as after his first game, the Buckeyes were 3-3.
Senior running back Daniel “Boom” Herron sat an additional game because of being overpaid by Cleveland-area booster Robert DiGeronimo.
Despite missing the first six games of the season due to suspension, the Buckeyes voted Herron the team’s MVP at the end of the season. In the Gator Bowl, Herron did not live up to set expectations. Herron rushed for only 82 yards and had one fumble.
Herron fumbled the ball in the first quarter, recovered by De’Ante Saunders, that cost the Buckeyes valuable field position.
Another Buckeye forced to miss most of the season due to suspension, senior wide receiver DeVier Posey, had a negative impact in the bowl game as well. Posey missed the first 10 games of the season, and came back only for the Penn State game, the Michigan game and the bowl game. All resulted in losses.
Posey had a touchdown in the first quarter of the bowl game, creating a tie.
However, Posey then fumbled in the third quarter after the Buckeyes were in position to cut into Florida’s lead. After a completion from Miller, Posey fumbled and Josh Evans recovered.
After a season of causing problems within the program, these Buckeye seniors did not make a good mark on their final season in Scarlet and Gray.
Problems with special teams
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 been 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.
The Buckeyes fell to a 6-7 record on the season marking the first time since 1988 the program has had a losing record.