It was a win, but in listening to those members of the Ohio State football team who met with the media after the Buckeyes held on for a 52-49 victory Saturday night at Indiana it did not seem like a postgame celebration was had.
The Buckeyes improved to 7-0 and piled up plenty of points at Memorial Stadium. However, the OSU defense allowed 481 yards and let the Hoosiers put a late scare into the Buckeyes by scoring 15 points in the final minutes.
A subdued Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer was at a loss for answers defensively after the game.
“We're not very good in certain areas right now, and spread offenses right now are really exposing us,” he said. “So we've got to get something fixed.”
As frustrated as Meyer might have been, fifth-year senior cornerback Travis Howard might have been more upset. He called the performance “horrendous,” and said the defense had hoped to hold IU to “maybe a touchdown.”
“That was a terrible job by us not closing the game,” Howard said. “I feel like we got too comfortable and they made a run.”
Fellow corner Bradley Roby summed up the feeling of the team after the game.
“We’re supposed to win that game, so a win doesn’t really feel good,” he said. “It definitely feels better than us losing the game, but I don’t feel too good right now.”
Freak Show Wake-Up Call: After two weeks of key matchups against presumed Big Ten title contenders in Michigan State and Nebraska, it was possible Ohio State would perhaps sleepwalk through part of its game at Indiana under the lights at Memorial Stadium.
Thankfully for the Buckeyes, the Freak Show provided the necessary wakeup call in the second quarter. The unit’s key block and resulting touchdown gave Ohio State the lead and the momentum it needed in an eventual victory against the upset-minded Hoosiers.
“What happens on a punt block is it shifts the whole momentum of the game, so that was big for us,” Roby said.
Both of Ohio State’s starting cornerbacks provided the heroics on the crucial play. First, Howard broke through the left side of the line and blocked Erich Toth’s punt near the goal line. Roby was the right guy at the right spot at the right time. The sophomore fell on the loose ball in the end zone for a touchdown.
After Drew Basil added the extra point, the Buckeyes had retaken the lead at 17-14 with 5:19 left before halftime. Indiana had the momentum prior to the play – thanks in part to a blocked punt of its own that led to a Hoosier touchdown early in the second quarter – and the lead.
Despite the late drama, the Buckeyes never trailed after the special teams score.
Boren Makes Switch: With a pair of seniors out of the lineup in linebacker Etienne Sabino and defensive end Nathan Williams, out with a broken leg and concussion, respectively, Meyer was looking for added leadership on defense.
Enter Zach Boren.
The senior starting fullback moved to defense for the game against the Hoosiers to help give a boost to the other side of the ball.
“When you take your starting fullback and start him at inside linebacker, you have a little problem,” Meyer said.
Boren played linebacker at Pickerington (Ohio) Central, but was placed at fullback at Ohio State. When Meyer asked Boren to switch spots, the senior was willing to do it.
“I’ll do whatever it takes for this team to win,” Boren said.
Boren looked like an offensive player playing his first game on defense in some time in certain occasions – a missed tackle helped IU score one of its fourth-quarter touchdowns. Still, he led Ohio State with eight tackles.
When asked if Boren’s move was a one-game thing, Meyer shook his head.
“I would think he might stay over there for a while,” he said.