Observations on the win over the Buckeyes, 35-21!

1-Halleluiah! What a performance! Most people don't realize that all of our football games are played just so we can get to this game; they are means to an end. We win this game, and we almost always win a Big Ten championship. That was certainly true today. Hello, Rose Bowl!

2-Navarre was 21 of 32 for 278 yards, 2 TDs to Edwards, 1 interception, 6 of 13 in 3rd down conversions and 3 of 3 in red zone opportunities for 21 points. We had 24 first downs, and time of possession resulted in a 5 minute advantage for us.

3-Perry had 154 yards on 31 carries, and 2 TDs; he had 5 catches for 55 yards on screens for a total of 209 all-purpose yards. Truly, it was a Heisman trophy performance. We had 170 rushing yards on 40 attempts while taking a few "knees" along the way. Probably, the most important statistic for us is zero fumbles by our offense; we earned our scores and the Bucks have earned theirs.

4-Edwards had 7 catches for 130 yards and 2 TDs (and an 87 yard TD called back because of a holding penalty by Stenavich) plus one carry on a reverse for 8 yards. Breaston had 5 catches for 23 yards, 1 carry for 3 yards and a TD plus6 punt returns for 55 yards and 2 kickoff returns for 49 yards. Avant had one catch for 5 yards, but left the gain with a twisted/sprained ankle after the twisting tackle by Reynolds. Tabb got involved with 2 catches for 35 yards in Avant's absence.

5-Defense played well, but really let us down by letting the Bucks drive the field in the last 6 minutes to score and take away our momentum and then take a three score game to a one score game in the 4th quarter.

We gave up 22 first downs and 329 passing yards along with 2 passing TDs (5 for the year), but we held the Buckeyes to 54 yards on 25 rushes. We forced 9 punts and held them to 5 of 14 in 3rd down, and that is excellent defensive play. We did come up with 4 sacks in the second half.

Curry led our defense with 9 tackles and one pass break up, LeSueur had 8 tackles with 3 pass break ups, Reid had 8 tackles, Woods had 7 tackles including 2 for loss, one sack and one pass break up; Diggs also had 7 tackles with one pass break up. It was good to see Kashama back on the team and have 2 sacks to lead our defensive pass rush.

We didn't have our best defensive game, but give the Buckeyes credit; they have a better offense than they are given credit for. They do what they need to in order to stay in games or win games.

5-Will Allen led the Buckeye defense with 14 tackles, Salley had 11, Reynolds, Hawk and Fox had 8 each. The neutralizer was the Bucks had no sacks; Will Smith forced the hold that had our 87 yard TD called back, but otherwise he only had one tackle. The Bucks held us to one of 7 in 3rd down in the second half.

Kudos to Pape, Stenavich and others who kept him away from Navarre. Gamble did have 4 tackles and one interception, but was truly outplayed by Edwards. We can undoubtedly say that our offense won this game because we not only scored 35 points against an outstanding Ohio State defense, but we kept them from scoring any defensive points and taking control of the game in the 2nd half like they did last year when we dominated time of possession by over 10 minutes, but couldn't convert our red zone opportunities to any more than 3 field goals. Their defense didn't allow any red zone opportunities last year in the 2nd half; this year, they allowed one and we converted it into a TD by Perry.

6-Special teams: We forced the Buckeyes into 9 punts for a 49.1 yard average 6 times for a 41.2 yard average. We have made all five extra points, and the Bucks have no long kickoff returns in 6 attempts. Breaston did fumble on one return, but luckily Leon Hall recovered. Ironically, we have only lost when we've had punts blocked. No blocked punts=wins.

7- Krenzel led to Buckeyes with 20 of 33 for 221 yards and 2 TDs, and was neutralized by Norman Heuer on the hit that hurt his left shoulder. Jenkins had 9 catches for 132 yards, and Santonio Holmes caught 8 for 121 yards and 2 TDs. McMullen was great in relief with 8 of 13 for 108 yards.

8-Player participation notes: It was nice to see Jackson back in center field again; he did start over Barringer, but both played quite a bit back there. It was also good to see that we used 5 tailbacks: Perry, Bracken, Underwood, Rembert and Jerome Jackson. We will have a lethal group of running backs next year with Perry exiting, but gaining Max Martin, Mike Hart and possibly Jakouri Williams. If Sanderson returns, we'll have Dudley and Thompson returning as well. Gutierrez will have a great cast offensively with the entire offensive line back except Pape and Pearson, and all the great receivers: Edwards, Avant, Breaston, Massaquoi, Ecker, Tabb, etc. We will have Trent and Mason in the mix along with possibly Colvin, Arrington and/or Dutch. Our line will have good competition from Kolodziej, Henige and Riley for the two open line positions; possibly a freshman or redshirt freshman could also figure like Ciulla, Long, etc.

On defense, we lose tackles Bowman and Heuer, but will have Watson and Harrison in their place along with Ofili, Will Johnson and hopefully a good recruit or two (Branch, Hendricks, Herring, Walton, etc.). Woodley and Massey should man the ends, and while we lose Stevens, we may gain Germany and you can bet that Will Paul will log some playing time somewhere. Crable and Van Alstyne should be much more active next year, and our starting linebackers should be Reid, McClintock and Woods. Harris, Burgess and Manning should also play quite a role in passing situations and as backups; we will miss Digg's leadership though. Our backfield was one of the best in the country this year, and all return except LeSueur. Hall has done a great job when he wasn't able to play. Hopefully, this game will persuade Ginn that he should be a Wolverine, but we do have two great recruits with Jamar Adams and Charles Stewart. We are also recruiting Cheatham, Hines, etc. Also, Anton Campbell has to play somewhere whether it's at tailback or defensive back.

Kicking game should improve with Finley and Rivas back, and possibly adding competition with David Lonie.

Where is the national championship game in 2005? Orange Bowl???
Observations on the first half with the Buckeyes, 21-7!

1-Navarre is 12 of 19 for 179 yards, 2 TDs to Edwards, no picks, 5 of 6 in 3rd down conversions and 2 of 2 in red zone opportunities for 14 points. We have 15 first downd, and time of possession is virtually even at 15 minute each.

2-Perry has 53 yards on 12 carries, but it was Breaston carrying for a TD. Unfortunately, he has taken some hard hits and pulled his hamstring. Perry has 3 catches for 30 yards on screens. We have 73 rushing yards on 18 attempts with Jerome Jackson getting 2 carries for 8 yards and Rembert with one 3 yard carry. Probably, the most important statistic for us is zero turnovers; we have earned our scores and the Bucks have earned theirs.

3-Edwards has 4 catches for 103 yards and 2 TDs plus one carry on a reverse for 8 yards. Breaston has 3 catches for 23 yards, 1 carry for 3 yards and a TD. Avant had one catch for 5 yards, but left the gain with a twisted/sprained ankle after the twisting tackle by Reynolds. Tabb got involved with one catch for 18 yards.

4-Defense has played well, but really let us down by letting the Bucks drive the field in the last 6 minutes to score and take away our momentum. Krenzel led to Buckeyes to 10 first downs with 14 of 18 for 118 yards and the TD pass to Holmes (over LeSueur), 3 of 7 on 3rd down conversions, one of one in the red zone for 7 points; he is also the leading rusher with 25 yards in 5 carries. Ohio State only has 41 yards on 14 carries rushing. Curry is leading our defense with 7 tackles, Diggs has 6 and Reid has 5. On the last drive, we missed several tackles and we are getting zero pressure on Krenzel. We had three tackles for loss, but no sacks. That must change in the second half!

5-Will Allen leads the Buckeye defense with 6 tackles, Salley and Reynolds have 5 each. They also have 3 tackles for loss and no sacks. They do have 3 tipped passes and almost 3 possibilities for interceptions that could have changed momentum, but luckily didn't happen. Michael Jenkins has 5 catches for 42 yards.

6-Special teams: We have forced the Buckeyes into 4 punts while we've punted only once. We have made all three extra points, and the Bucks have no long kickoff returns in 4 attempts. That is all good so far for us. Breaston has two punt returns for 5 yards, and one kickoff return for 15 yards.

7-Second half with tell the tale! We must not have turnovers! We must get a better pass rush on Krenzel, and contain him better. We must find a way to work through the injuries to Avant, Perry (with Breaston, Tabb, Bell, Jerome Jackson, Rembert, Underwood) and maintain enough time of possession so our defense isn't out on the field too much. Still, I'm sure it will be a nailbiter and a 4th quarter game.

Ohio State Preview:

Ohio State is leading the conference and nation in rushing defense; they will come to Ann Arbor prepared to stop Chris Perry and Michigan's running game. They have a solid red zone defense. Last year, we only had three red zone opportunities against the Bucks, and all were in the first half; we could only convert three field goals in losing 9-14. Will Smith, A.J. Hawk, Chris Gamble, Dustin Fox, Will Allen, Robert Reynolds, Simon Fraser, Nate Salley and the Buck defense will try to negate our balanced offense. Will Smith is a dangerous "sack" threat, and Dustin Fox has the most interceptions on the team this year. We must avoid the "choke" tactics employed by Robert Reynolds on Navarre.

Unfortunately for them and fortunately for us, they have one of the worst offenses in the Big Ten and nation. Senior Buckeye quarterback, Craig Krenzel, has only thrown 9 touchdown passes, and his favorite targets are Michael Jenkins with 5 TDs and his tight end, Ben Hartsock, with 2 TDs. The always dangerous Chris Gamble is a threat as a receiver, punt returner and "take away" defensive back; he is playing more offense after Drew Carter was lost for the season to injury. Other receiving threats inlcude Santonio Holmes (will he play after his legal charges?) and Ryan Hamby. Their total offense is ranked 98th and their scoring offense is ranked 77th (79th rushing and 80st in passing offense); they are #11 in the Big Ten in first downs, and Michigan has allowed the least amount of first downs in the conference. The Bucks also rank 11th in the conference in 3rd down conversions. Lydell Ross hasn't become the "stud" running back to replace Maurice Clarett, but does average 64 yards per game, 9 TDs, and can catch the screen pass. Brandon Joe is a typical "prototype" Buckeye fullback. If the game comes down to a field goal, Mike Nugent has a very accurate and consistent leg.

If the same Michigan team that beat Notre Dame 38-0 and Purude 31-3 shows up in Ann Arbor, we should win on home turf. We beat the Bucks and we're going to the BCS-Rose Bowl with a 10-2 record to play Texas, also 10-2, if they win their last game against their arch-rival, Texas A&M. Ohio State should still get a bid to play in a BCS game (probably the Fiesta Bowl against Florida State) so long as the game is close, and it should be another classic 4th quarter struggle.

Prediction: Michigan 24 Ohio State 12