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Marla Ridenour on Sports

OSU must shore up special teams

By Marla Published: September 3, 2010

There was much to like in No. 2 Ohio State's 45-7  rout of Marshall Thursday night.

Brandon Saine averaged 11.4 yards per carry, zipping for 103 yards on nine attempts and touchdowns of 4 and 45 yards. It was the third career 100-yard game for senior co-captain Saine and only the second time he has scored twice in one game.

The Buckeyes rolled up 292 yards on the ground, with Jaamal Berry adding 80 yards on seven carries, all in the second half.

The OSU defense recorded an unofficial shutout, with Marshall's lone touchdown coming on a 61-yard blocked field goal return by Ahmed Shakoor. The Buckeyes held the Thundering Herd to 44 yards rushing. They've gone 24 consecutive games without allowing a 100-yard rusher.

Junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor threw three touchdown passes, two to DeVier Posey, and completed 17 of 25 for 247 yards. Pryor improved to 20-3 as a starter and 17-1 in games in which he has thrown at least one touchdown pass. Posey said he's not sure if the Buckeyes have settled on their identity as a running or passing team, but it looks like it could be the latter if Pryor continues to perform at Thursday night's level.

''I thought Terrelle had confidence in where he was going with the ball,'' OSU coach Jim Tressel said. ''I thought his anticipation was good.  Sometimes when   you're wearing a black jersey since April and you know you can hold the ball a little longer, you might not let it go as quickly as you need to.  I thought he did a pretty good job of that.  Now, he'll need to do it even quicker next week, but I just thought his command and his anticipation was pretty darn good. ''

Senior defensive back Tyler Moeller inspired his team by returning to action after missing all of last season with a head injury suffered when he was punched in a Florida bar. Moeller matched his career high with seven tackles.

Senior linebacker Brian Rolle saw Moeller chase down a receiver on one play and heard Moeller quip that he has decent speed.

"I just cracked up," Rolle said, laughing. "I just kept thinking, 'He's back. Tyler's back.'"

Rolle picked off his third career interception and returned it 30 yards for a TD.

But there was one huge area for concern -- special teams -- as No. 13 Miami visits on Sept. 11.

Snafus characterized the early going, with Drew Basil's 52-yard field goal attempt blocked for a score. Devin Barclay's first extra point also appeared to be blocked, and observers were still marveling how it cleared the crossbar. Marshall's Andre Booker also returned a kickoff 63 yards.

"I think we just didn't protect the gap on the field   goal because we got the kick off in like 1.22 seconds,'' Tressel said. ''I don't know if it was hit high enough.  Sometimes you drive those long ones, they're a little lower, but we just flat out didn't protect, so that better get fixed  in one week.  As far as the kickoff coverage, you know, we sure hope it  does.  I can't sit here and tell you exactly what happened, who got blocked or who went out of a lane or whatever, but we'll figure that out tomorrow and begin working on that tomorrow.''



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