Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes entered the game with high respect for the men and women who defend our country. Tressel’s offseason trip to Iraq, and summer mandatory reading for the team, guaranteed the midshipmen had Ohio State’s attention.
By the time they left the stadium, Navy earned even more respect on the field. The game ended in the best scenario: the Buckeyes won, sustained no major injuries, but the country learned to respect Navy a bit more—that’s win-win in my book.
Many saw Ohio State’s game Saturday as a tune-up for the bigger matchup next week with USC.
Navy obviously saw it differently.
Things don’t always turn out the way we’d like, but in the end the Buckeyes got exactly what they needed. Notice I didn’t say ‘wanted’.
God knows as a Buckeye fan, we wanted a 50-point win built with scoring drives fueled by gaping holes carved out by a dominating offensive line. We wanted a shutout, creative play calling, and solid execution.
What we want is perfection, and signs we can and will beat USC next week, and ultimately signs that this will be the year. Frankly we didn’t get it, and that’s oddly okay.
Let me explain.
Rarely have we seen a team utterly dominate in every game, it just doesn’t happen. Last year Oklahoma scored more than sixty points a number of times, and tallied 99 touchdowns, yet they lost two games, and start this season 0-1.
Several times during the 2000s, USC has looked invincible, trashing teams, and doing it without sweating. Yet they usually found a way to take a week off and lose a game.
By contrast, in 2002, Ohio State needed miracles multiple times to make it through games on the winning side—yet they did, and won them all. Was it pretty? Did the team destroy opponents? No and no. All they did was win every game. We can wish for perfection all we want, but the only thing that truly matters is a win.
With respect to the Navy game, here is my honest assessment:
· Terrell Pryor is a gifted quarterback with freakish ability who seems to like Michael Vick. He is not perfect, but works to improve each week.
· The defense looked quick, but Anderson Russell and the run defense were less than impressive. Pass defense—we’ll find out Saturday.
· Brian Rolle isn’t very big, but he tackles well, is quick and aggressive, and can outrun the entire Navy offense.
· The offensive line looked quicker, slimmer, and terribly average. By the end of the year, they may be nasty. Right now, the word I’d use is more "pedestrian" than nasty. If they couldn’t manhandle Navy, next week could be really ugly. It’s a great thing Terrelle Pryor can run—he will likely need his legs against SC.
· The play calling worked well enough to win the game. Next week, a repeat performance will be fine, but take the three points when you can.
· We should feel good about games that may be decided by a field goal—kicking game looks good.
· Brandon Saine looked better than we’ve ever seen him.
· There is something special about Duron Carter.
We may not have gotten all we wanted in the win over Navy, but it was a win. I’m sure the Buckeyes would take the same this coming week. A win is all that matters—close isn’t enough. I believe the Buckeyes who take the field Saturday will be very capable of defeating USC, it’s just a matter of doing it.