Big plays doom Badger defense, Big Ten title hopes

first_imgINDIANAPOLIS — For the entire season, the Wisconsin defense had avoided giving up big plays.The Ohio State offense didn’t seem to let that affect them during their 59-0 demolition of the Badgers (10-3, 6-2 Big Ten), though. The Buckeyes (11-1, 9-0) ripped off massive chunks of yardage on multiple plays throughout the duration of the Big Ten Championship Game Saturday night.“We knew they were going to score,” senior safety Michael Caputo said. “We failed to take away the big plays and failed to make big plays as well.”Wisconsin came into the game having allowed only 99 plays longer than 10 yards this season, the fewest in all of the FBS. By the end of the 60-minute thrashing the Badgers received from the Buckeyes, Ohio State had 14 plays that eclipsed the 10-yard threshold. Nine of those plays went for more than 20 yards.“I think we just played timid, and I don’t wanna say we played scared, but I mean I feel like in the big stage going against a big team, I think a lot of guys lost sight of the now-factor, in terms of fitting the ball right, making a play when you get a chance to,” senior linebacker Marcus Trotter said. “Ohio State’s a very good team, but there was certain plays that we repped hundreds of times in practice and one of our guys would mis-fit, and [the play] would go for 80 yards.“That’s how football is, it’s an 11-men game and you just have to do your job,” Trotter said. “That’s exactly what happened.”Of OSU’s seven offensive touchdowns, four of them came from 39 yards out or longer.Ohio State wide receiver Devin Smith was responsible for three of those scores, hauling in touchdown passes from quarterback Cardale Jones from 39, 42 and 44 yards away. Other than a 12-yard reception, those were Smith’s only catches of the night. The Buckeyes are now 21-0 when Smith scores a touchdown.Wisconsin sophomore cornerback Sojourn Shelton matched up with Smith and was beat for two touchdowns.“We struggled on the deep ball. I think the deep ball opened up so many other things. If you see the deep ball, you start playing the deep ball, so they start getting passes underneath,” Shelton said. “They had a very good plan for us. Whatever their plan was to attack the secondary, credit those guys, they had a good plan.“They made more plays than we did,” Shelton added. “I felt like whatever we ran they had something to counter for it. Credit to them, they’re a great team and their players made some good plays downfield and in the run game. It’s just something we’re going to have to correct as a team.”Shelton said that it was specifically Smith’s play-making ability that kept the momentum in favor of the Buckeyes.“He kept making play, after play, after play,” Shelton said. “Hats off to him.”Wisconsin allowed its longest play of the season with 4:06 remaining in the first quarter, when OSU running back Ezekiel Elliot streaked untouched through the middle of the field on an obvious breakdown in gap assignment for an 81-yard touchdown to put the Buckeyes up 14-0. Elliot finished with 220 yards and two touchdowns on 20 attempts.“A lot of the things they were making plays on was uncharacteristic mistakes on us,” Trotter said. “Misfitting an easy run assignment that goes for 80 yards and a touchdown … We just gotta be more focused in games like this.”All of this happened against a Badger defense that came into the game ranked second in the nation in total defense and first in the Big Ten. Wisconsin opponents had averaged 4.46 yards per play, a mark that was fifth in the nation, entering Saturday. Ohio State averaged a lethal 9.96 yards per play against the Badgers.“It wasn’t our scheme. We gave all of our effort,” senior safety Peniel Jean said. “We just missed some gaps and they took advantage of it.”Jones, making his first start of his career in place of an injured J.T. Barrett, froze the Badger defense and secondary with the option play-calling. Wisconsin had little to base their preparation for Jones due to his limited playing time before Saturday.“We knew he was a great athlete. We knew he could make plays,” senior nose guard Warren Herring said. “He’s a great fit for their team … He put the ball where it needed to be and made some great plays.“They capitalized on opportunities, open gaps and things like that,” Herring said. “That’s on the defensive line as well, to stay gap-sound and things like that.”For a defense that hadn’t allowed more than 28 points all season (Ohio State had 31 points not even 25 minutes into the game), they will have three weeks to dwell on this beatdown before they take the field for their bowl game.“It is embarrassing,” Trotter said. “We just gotta learn from this. On the football field and life as well you’re gonna have a lot of adversity. You can’t put your head down. You gotta be a man and just learn from it.”last_img read more

Trojans finish season on the road at BYU

first_imgThe men’s volleyball team (7-17, 5-15 MPSF) will conclude their regular season this Friday and Saturday as they head to Utah to face No. 1 BYU (21-3, 17-3 MPSF), which is coming off two wins over then-No. 1 UCLA on the road last Friday and Saturday.The Trojans are coming off of a split weekend at home. Last Friday night, USC swept UC San Diego (25-20, 25-17, 25-13) but lost to No. 15 UC Irvine in straight sets (21-25, 15-25, 23-25).Junior outside hitter Lucas Yoder led the Trojans with 17 kills on the weekend. Senior middle blocker Josh Kirchner was second on the team with 13 kills.Going to BYU is always unpredictable for the Trojans. When the two schools meet, just like with USC and Hawaii, the teams play back-to-back matches.“[Traveling is] a learning experience for the younger guys,” head coach Jeff Nygaard said. “It’s a great chance to educate them on what it takes to go on that trip and play in that environment.”Playing at BYU is a challenge all of its own. Provo, Utah is just above 4,500 feet in elevation. Los Angeles is just over 200 feet in elevation. The difference in elevation alone is a difficult adjustment for teams to make, not to mention the fact that BYU is a mecca for men’s volleyball.“It’s hostile in that it’s an extremely favorable BYU crowd,” Nygaard said.“Favorable” would be an understatement. In their 10 home matches this season, BYU has averaged about 4,000 fans in attendance. In USC’s 13 home matches this season, they’ve averaged about 400 fans.BYU has a home record of 8-2 this season. Their losses were courtesy of No. 3 Stanford in mid-January and No. 6 Pepperdine in mid-March. USC has an opposite away record of 2-8. They’ve struggled this season, but especially on the road.Despite the daunting conditions, Nygaard isn’t afraid of the challenge ahead of the Trojans.“I would expect them to win,” Nygaard said. “I don’t see any reason otherwise.”Nygaard, a former UCLA men’s volleyball standout, has experience playing in BYU and knows what it’s like to head into that “hostile environment.”“I think it’s a great environment for volleyball,” Nygaard said. “I love going there and I love competing there.”As the season is drawing to a close, Nygaard shared his belief that all of the ups and downs of the season will help transition the team for next year.“Everything we’ve done this year is helping us transition for next year,” Nygaard said. “Regardless of what happens, it’s always going to transition to the next year.”The adversities of this season will aid the Trojans in becoming a more weathered, toughened team. Pair that with a longer time under Nygaard’s direction and plan, and the Trojans look to come out firing for next season.But before they can move on to any of that, they’ll have to take on the Cougars.last_img read more