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Back to Reality
UW sputters in second half
Malamute, 15 September 2007

Chris Wells rushed for 135 yards and 1 touchdown and Todd Boeckman completed 14 of 25 passes for 218 yards and 2 touchdowns to lead Ohio State to a 33-14 victory over the Washington Huskies at Husky Stadium before a sellout crowd of 74,927.

Sailing along on cloud 9 after two opening victories orchestrated by their savior to be, Jake Locker, the Huskies were shot from the sky by a team loaded with Sunday players, and now must face reality.

No running game other than Locker, no pass defense, no run defense, too many young players on a learning curve, no Sunday players -- just prayers -- and no help from lady luck.

Playing a top-ten team can dash aspirations and hope -- for at least one week. -- for a team trying to re-climb the long ladder that once led to respectability.

Coach Tyrone Willingham may wear a purple, sweater vest someday, but right now it's in mothballs.

The Huskies had their chances to win, but it was a dominating Buckeye defense in the second half that put the kibosh on any hopes of getting off to 3-0 start this season. Instead Washington (2-1)  heads to Pasadena next week to take on the UCLA Bruins (2-1) who will be out to avenge a 44-to-6 loss at the hands of the Utah Utes on Saturday.

A Huskies' collapse in the second half was the story of the game.

Leading 7-3, on the opening drive of the second half, the Huskies drove 50 yards to the Ohio State 19, from where they lost ground and were forced into a 46-yard field goal attempt. The kick was blocked by Kurt Coleman, who slipped neatly by Johnie Kirton on the right side of the Husky line.

On the second play of the ensuing drive, Boeckman connected with Brian Robiskie on an 68-yard pass-catch-run that went for a touchdown, burning true freshman Vonzell McDowell who got caught in man-to-man coverage, and OSU took a 10-7 lead.  

Then true freshman Curtis Shaw fumbled the kickoff away, giving the Buckeyes the ball on Washington's 25. Chris Wells carried the ball 14 yards into the end zone to give the Buckeyes a 17-7 lead -- which was all they really ever needed to win; those two quick second-half  touchdowns, all within 27 seconds, sealed the Huskies' fate.

Three three-and-outs and two interceptions off Jake Locker in the second half killed any meaningful attempt by the Huskies to get back in the game after falling behind. Altogether the Dawgs turned the ball over four times.

In the first half, the Huskies had a touchdown taken away from them as the referees ruled that an errant lateral pass picked up and run into the end zone was instead an incomplete forward pass.

QB Jake Locker ran 14 times for 102 yards, averaging 7.3 yards per carry. At times, he looked like a faster version of Vince Young. Locker is a brilliant young quarterback who is just learning his trade. He needs some help from RB Louis Rankin so that the sum of their contributions will be greater than their individual ones. The synergism of Rankin and Locker led to an opening win over Syracuse. 

However, against the Buckeyes, Rankin ran 14 times for just 42 yards. He scored one touchdown.

There were two blatant personal fouls committed against Locker that were not called by the officials. We have been assured that Coach Jim Tressel does not teach dirty football; however, after being tackled on one running play, Locker's head was twisted around like a pretzel. I can still see the agonized, pained look on the young man's reddening face.

Now for the bad news as if the foregoing weren't enough.

-- Sloppy special teams play: Johnie Kirton's chicken wing block that led to a blocked field goal attempt. The Huskies netted 28.2 yards per punt.

-- Redshirt freshman quarterback Locker has much to learn. His passing efficiency on the game was 79.25, a horrible number by any measure. Under pressure most of the time, the young quarterback appeared to lock onto his primary receivers too much and was inaccurate throwing out of the pocket -- some of his missed passes thrown too hard and high. He hurried some of his short passes, missing on some of them as well. Locker had worked on his footwork over the summer as it had affected his passing accuracy in the spring.

-- A lost fumble by true freshman Curtis Shaw on a kickoff return and muffed pass coverage by young freshman McDowell that resulted in an 68-yard touchdown pass. After Shaw's fumble, Rankin ran the kickoffs back.

-- Too much Rankin and no appreciable help running the ball from anyone else but Locker.

-- Forty net yards rushing by Locker's supporting cast. Like QB Isaiah Stanback last year, Locker is forced into carrying the load of the Huskies' offense. 

-- UW's defense allowed 263 yards on the ground and 481 yards in total offense.

-- The four turnovers, with zero reciprocity. Turnover margin is a significant statistic. 

-- With just a few seconds remaining on the clock, the arrogantly dressed Tressel should have taken a knee; instead, Brandon Saine bolted on a 37-yard touchdown run with nothing left on the clock. Tressel operates a pro-football machine and doesn't need to wear a red-sweater vest to humble the coaches he shakes hands with at midfield, coaches that teach and lead on an amateur level with barely a pro-prospect in hand. A coach blessed with talent should wear a genuine smile on his face, like Pete Carroll, and thank God he was in the right place at the right time.

-- Okay, I am being too harsh on Tressel. He has the appearance of a gentleman and a scholar, a kindly chap indeed. His pro-producing machine runs on infinite energy, with a protein footprint bearing the highest quality DNA.

-- In the Trojan/Cornhusker game that followed, two injuries on kickoff returns. The 30-yard line kickoff rule needs to be abolished to cut down on injuries, and return to the 35. BTW, the Trojans' running game, something they really didn't effectively have last year, is awesome. UW plays Troy two weeks from now at home, in a game that will honor the 1960 national champions from Washington. 

-- With its win over Washington, Is the soft Big Ten on a its way back to respectability? Nope, this was a team that struggled in the first half against a team ranked no better than ninth in the conference by the media in a pre-season poll. I don't expect any of the local media who vote in the major BCS polls will remember that when they vote for the Buckeyes next week. USC, Oregon, Cal and Arizona State are better teams than Ohio State.

Team 1 2 3 4 Total
OSU 0 3 14 16 33
UW 0 7 0 7 14

Time Team How Player (s) Score
2nd qtr        
13:48 OSU FG Ryan Pretorious 28-yard boot OSU, 3-0
00:03 UW TD Jake Locker 32-yard pass to Anthony Russo. Ryan Perkins kick. UW, 7-3
3rd qtr
9:36 OSU TD Todd Boeckman 68-yard pass to Brian Robiskie. Pretorious kick. OSU, 10-7
8:57 OSU TD Chris Wells 14-yard run. Pretorious kick. OSU, 17-7
4th Qtr
14:05 OSU FG Pretorious 23-yard field goal OSU, 20-7
3:30 OSU TD Boeckman 36-yard pass to Brian Hartline. Pretorious kick. OSU, 27-7
:58 UW TD Louis Rankikn two-yard run. Perkins kick. OSU, 27-14
0:00 OSU Brandon Saine 37-yard run. OSU, 33-14

Statistic OSU UW
Total First Downs 21 20
  Rushing 11 11
  Passing 8 7
  Penalty 2 2
Total Net Yards 481 346
Net Yards Passing 218 204
Net Yards Rushing 263 142
Completions-att-int 14-25-0 18-37-3
Punts, yards, average 5-195, 39.0 6-225, 37.5
Sacks By (number, yards) 2-8 0-0
Kickoff Returns: number, yds, tds 2-28-0 6-158-0
Punt returns: number, yds, tds 3-36-0 1-5-0
Kickoff Yards 6-360 2-98
Interception returns: no., yds, tds 3-19-0 0-0-0
Penalties Yards 10-80 7-49
Fumbles: number/lost 1-0 1-1
Time of Possession  32:56 27:04

Passing cmp att yds tds int
Todd Boeckman 14 25 218 2 0
Jake Locker 16 33 153 1 3
Carl Bonnell 2 4 51 0 0
OSU Rushing No. Yds tds long  
Chris Wells 24 135 1 23  
Brandon Saine 9 83 1 37  
Maurice Wells 7 21 0 14  
Antonio Henton 2 10 0 8  
Todd Boeckman 2 9 0 6  
D. Sanzenbacker 1 7 0 7  
Rob Schoenhoft 1 -2 0 0  
Washington Rushing No. yds tds long
Louis Rankin 14 42 1 9  
Jake Locker 14 102 0 20  
Paul Homer 3 6 0 2  
Carl Bonnell 1 -3 0 -3  
D. Goodwin 1 1 0 1  
Anthony Russo 1 -6 0 -1  
OSU Pass Receiving No. yds tds long
Brian Hartline 6 88 1 36
Brian Robiskie 4 107 1 68  
T. Robinson 1 9 0 9  
Chris Wells 1 7 0 7  
Ray Small 1 4 0 4  
D. Sanzenbacher 1 3 0 3  
Washington Pass Rec. No. yds tds long
Marcel Reece 5 66 0 25  
Anthony Russo 4 48 1 23  
Quintin Daniels 1 9 0 9  
Robert Lewis 1 15 0 15  
Corey Williams 4 63 0 26  
Paul Homer 2 2 0 2  
Curtis Shaw 1 1 0 1  
Punting punts yds long Avg
A.J. Trapasso 5 195 63 39.0
Jared Ballman 6 225 37.5 46  
Attendance: 74,927          

Richard Linde (a.k.a., Malamute) can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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