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September 7, 2009
Adversity or lack of intensity?
ad⋅ver⋅si⋅ty - [ad-vur-si-tee]
We hear so much about adversity that it has almost become a sports cliché in and of itself. "Adversity cause some men to break; others to break records" is a favorite quote of many athletes and there is no denying that you cannot get through a sports season without facing it.
On Saturday afternoon the Buckeyes watched a 15 point lead start to evaporate as a home-opening record setting crowd watched in disbelief. Linebacker Brian Rolle made the play of the day for the Buckeyes and secured what is being called a less than convincing win over the U.S. Naval Academy.
Eclipsed in the late collapse was a solid first half where the play-calling was fresh and diverse with the team turning to the option look as well as running the long missing screen pass in the offense. Terrelle Pryor was crisp with his passing while both Dan Herron and Brandon Saine both did their best to make fans forget about the departure of Beanie Wells.
But none of that would matter if the Buckeyes came out behind on the scoreboard and bad decisions by Pryor (a poorly thrown interception) and head coach Jim Tressel (going for it on 4th-and-2) put the Bucks in a bad situation. But that is where that word adversity comes back into play.
"Everyone faces adversity but that is what makes a great team," true freshman fullback Zach Boren said "Florida last year lost a game, they lost to Ole Miss, who no one thought would give them a challenge. For Navy to come in here and giving us a challenge is great for us because we get it out of the way. We faced adversity week one so now we know what it is like and can fight out of it."
College football is a big teaching lesson however and the coaching staff will have plenty of tape to review during the week in order to prepare the team for a daunting task, taking on the Southern Cal Trojans. One odds maker has already installed the Bucks as a 4.5 point home underdog. But odds mean nothing to players and coaches and after the game on Saturday nobody was really looking forward to USC just moments after the game but looking at what a scrappy Navy team was able to do.
"I don't know if it was tighter than we thought it was going to be," kicker Aaron Pettrey said. "We knew it was going to be a battle. Our offense, defense and special teams prepared all week for four quarters because we knew they wouldn't stop until the final horn. We are just glad to get out with a win and we knew it would be like this. I just think that it will make us better."
But with a mixture of young players and players who have had to wait their turns to get on the field, what kind of lessons could be learned?
"Just to keep on fighting," Herron said. "Don't take any team for granted everybody just thought that we were going to come in and it was going to be a walk in the park. The older guys knew that it was going to be a fight and the coaches preached it every day in practice, 'Navy is going to come here and keep fighting, keep fighting until the clock goes all the way down.' We have to keep fighting no matter who we are playing."
Pettrey even had to deal with his own share of adversity after putting a PAT off of the upright and putting the Buckeyes in a position ultimately where a 2-point-conversion would tie the game.
"The guys were just playing under pressure and just being in positions like that and knowing that you have got to make a play to get out of the game," Pettrey said. "That is just one of the lessons that we learned."
And it is a good lesson for ever single player on the team
"The game is never over until there is zero on the clock," defensive end Thad Gibson said. "That is one thing we have seen and thank God for B-Rolle and his interception because we would probably still be playing now."