Thursday, September 3, 2009

Navy No Easy Opener for No. 6 Buckeyes; Post-Practice Interviewsþ

Well I decided today that I'm still going to post articles about Ohio State even though Todd Boeckman is graduated. After all this is an Ohio State blog too. Saturday is the season opener and I think everyone is excited for that.

By Rusty MillerAssociated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- This much is certain when it comes to No. 6 Ohio State's recent series of opening-game opponents: Navy is no Youngstown State.

While the Penguins were almost grateful to open the season at Ohio Stadium the last two seasons, the Buckeyes recognize that Navy won't be nearly so star-struck.

The Buckeyes opened with 38-6 and 43-0 routs of Youngstown State, the only Football Championship Subdivision team Ohio State has ever played.

Navy is at another level.

"We've got a great Navy team coming in week one," offensive guard Bryant Browning said. "First off, those guys have won a lot of games. They go to bowl games, and they win. We're usually facing, I guess you could say, a lesser opponent sometimes -- you could say it that way. But Navy is not one of those teams. They're going to come in here looking for a big upset."

Ohio State's contest against Navy on Saturday -- the first regular-season meeting between the teams since 1931 -- is not expected to be so lopsided as recent debuts for the Buckeyes

"Navy's no pushover," quarterback Terrelle Pryor said. "And you know they're going to be tough. They serve our country. You also got to appreciate that too because they serve our nation and protect us."

There are also a couple of other reasons why the game could be a problem for the Buckeyes.

For one, the Midshipmen's triple-option attack is something foreign to a defense that regularly faces spread attacks.

"Whenever you play someone like Navy it raises the urgency because you can't look at them and say, 'Well, I know what they do. Yeah, this is what they run. We know how to stop that,"' coach Jim Tressel said. "Plus our guys have a tremendous respect for the people who choose to go into that particular world. You've got to be courageous and our guys know that. ... It'll be an eye-opener for us."

For another, a date with No. 4 Southern California, which ravaged the Buckeyes 35-3 in SoCal a year ago, is looming a week later. The Buckeyes know they can't be distracted by that, since they'll likely have their hands full with the Midshipmen.

Unlike Youngstown State or the Mid-American Conference schools the Buckeyes usually open against, the Midshipmen won't be intimidated by the more than 100,000 in attendance. They've played on big stages and in big games, winning their last 13 against Army and Air Force to take the Commander-In-Chief's Trophy the last six years.

Apparently, Ohio State's fans have noticed.

Tressel said that athletic department officials have told him that there is as much or more interest in Navy tickets as any game on the Buckeyes' schedule. He hinted that the Ohio Stadium record attendance of 105,711 could be eclipsed.

A typical cupcake in the opener wouldn't draw nearly so much attention.

Navy returns 25 letterwinners and 13 starters from a team that went 8-5 last season, led the nation in rushing for an NCAA-record fourth-consecutive season (292.4 rushing yards per game) and went to the EagleBank Bowl, losing 29-19 to Wake Forest.

Junior quarterback Ricky Dobbs leads Navy's offense. He gained 495 yards and scored eight times a year ago.

All the Buckeyes are wary of the Midshipmen's option game.

"We haven't seen this since I've been here," linebacker Austin Spitler said. "The preparation has been unbelievable and the coaches have really stressed the importance of doing our 1/11th. Since it's something we haven't seen, it is a difficult situation."

And no easy way to open a season

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