In the book “The Winners Manual” penned by Ohio State coach Jim Tressel, Tressel discusses in detail “being fully present in each and every moment”. The past is the make-up of who we are today and the future is something to strive for and look forward to. The right now is what we need to focus on in order to fully embrace life and succeed in the time we have.
Learning from past experience will absolutely make one stronger for the future and having dreams and goals to aspire to paves the path to the future an adventure.
The 2009 Ohio State football season has been a whirlwind of just that.
The season began with a goal for the future. That future is now the present and tomorrow the Buckeyes take on the Oregon Ducks in the 96th Rose Bowl Game.
Both teams have faced adversity throughout the season. From the Buckeyes defeats to USC and Purdue and Terrell Pryor’s throwing mental block (if you will) to U of O first year head coach Chip Kelly losing the first game of the season to Boise State which resulted in losing sucka punch champ LeGarrette Blount, a top offensive player, for the season due to a post game fight.
Both teams maintained mental composure in the difficult times. They left the past in the past and moved forward to the then present task at hand.
Most articles written on the January 1st game cover the past. Ohio State absolutely lost in three consecutive BCS bowl games, two being National Championships. The only way that this information remotely affects the present is if the players read in to the negative banter and shift their focus from the goal to what occurred with a former team. Oregon had some stellar high scoring games to formidable (and some not so remarkable) opponents… but HAD is the operative word.
Ohio State will enter “The Granddaddy of Them All” roughly 24 hours from now anticipating Oregon’s notorious go-go tempo. Tressel said he has been emphasizing conditioning to help the Buckeyes keep up. Ohio State’s size can be considered a disadvantage against the slim and quick Oregon O but it is quite possible the size will eventually wear down Oregon on the defensive front and OSU will get enough pressure on the Duck’s backfield to disrupt the spread.
This is arguably the Buckeyes’ best defensive line since the front four of the National Championship team in 2002. The end result is a defense ranked fifth in the nation in total defense, fifth against the run and fifth in points allowed. DEs Cameron Heyward (5.5 sacks) and Thaddeus Gibson (4.0 sacks) combine to give the Bucks two pass rushing threats that merit double teams. Strong safety Kurt Coleman (64 tackles, 5 INTs) was voted team MVP.
Oregon QB Jeremiah Masoli has thrown only five ints in 285 attempts this season, but he has thrown one in each of the Ducks’ last three games. Coleman and Ross Homan should be able to interrupt his stats (Iowa game, anyone?) if they find a way to go quick off the hypothetical block and divert an inferior line.
The OSU defense will have their work cut out for them in stopping the legs of recently returned RB Blount (unless anger management was effective and his demeanor calmed) and his tag team partner LaMichael James who should be tired after totaling 1476 yds this season. Oregon ended the season ranked 6th in rushing offense.
Speaking of legs, OSU QB Terrelle Pryor’s elusiveness can make life miserable for the Duck safeties. They are young and have not faced a player like Pryor. They must guard against his ability to make plays using his legs and his arm. We all know The Vest prefers to run the ball and it is a dang good thing the Bucks have a couple of RB track stars in Brandon Saine and Dan Herron who both made an impact mostly after the mid season situation.
Dan Sanzenbacher and DeVier Posey stepped up to the challenge in receiving making big plays to prove the Buckeyes are serious and can win big games with the current offense. During the five weeks after the Purdue game the Ohio State run game averaged 258 yards per game including 310 yards against New Mexico State.
OSU will be without Ray Small (again) and Duron Carter but their cleats will be filled by the army of other offensive beasts that have answered when their name was called periodically during the season. Look for Jordan Hall to make fill in when need be.
One of my most fond memories in my 30 years was watching the 1997 Rose Bowl with my grandmother. My passion for football escalated on that day during our discussion and her reminiscence of attending the 1974 Rose Bowl and watching the Buckeyes “win big” over USC. We sat together and watched as OSU used less than 2 minutes to push down the field and overcome the Arizona State Sun Devils. History in the making! That Buckeyes team had a major hurdle to overcome but did not look back. They motioned forward and walked away with a victory. Here’s to this year’s Buckeyes doing the same.
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal” -Hannah More
Happy New Year (hoot hoot)!
About the Author
Written by Rebekah Edwards