"I think there's still some rules, that when I'm on the sideline I'm not too sure what's going on. I have to ask a few people."
-OSU punter Cameron Johnston to USA TODAY
When Ohio State takes the field against Rutgers on Saturday, the collective fan bases might spread a little further south than usual. That's because both the Buckeyes and Scarlet Knights entrust Australian punters with the ball come 4th down. This will be the second time in as many games that Ohio State punter Cameron Johnston will have a fellow Aussie on the opposing sideline--Maryland's kicker, Brad Craddock, also hails from the Land Down Under. There are 4 Australian players in the B1G East alone, and the number is growing across college football.
Johnston, Tim Gleeson (of Rutgers), and plenty of their countrymen have come through the ProKick Australia Academy. The Academy was established in 2006 to help tap into American football potential in Australia, and so far all signs point to that being a successful venture. It's also helping to grow the visibility of the sport in Australia. "It's getting on more and more, the only thing is (the Maryland game) was live on ESPN back home, and my family had to wake up at 3 a.m. to watch it," Johnston told Cleveland.com.
Other Australians are making waves in football this year, too. Hawaii's Scott Harding, who is a bit of a Swiss Army Knife as a player, punts, holds for kicks, returns punts, and plays wide receiver. Brad Wing, an Australian who played college ball for Les Miles at LSU, is now the starting punter for the Pittsburgh Steelers. OSU's Johnston might have the leg to join Wing in the NFL someday, but he's lacking the reps to showcase his skills--the Buckeyes have punted just 12 times in 2014.
"We're going to be very aggressive, and we've got to get this quarterback down because he's playing the best he's ever played right now."
-Urban Meyer on Rutgers QB Gary Nova
Gary Nova is a quarterback of two natures, which is only fitting for a man who has such a lame first name and such a fantastic last name. Rutgers' opponents have seen one of two versions of the QB this year--either the gunslinging Nova, who picked on Michigan to the tune of 404 yards and three TDs; or the abysmal Nova, who tossed 5 interceptions against a milquetoast Penn State squad. Urban Meyer has his defense preparing for both versions.
"That's definitely something we have watched and feel like we can take advantage of," said cornerback Eli Apple of Nova's decision-making. The much-maligned Buckeye secondary would like nothing more than to see that second version of Nova take the field on Saturday. It feels like the OSU pass D has given up at least one home-run play a game this season, and it would be a massive relief to all involved to see the Buckeyes tighten up against such a streaky thrower.
Meyer, for one, isn't sleeping on Nova's ability to come up big. "The quarterback had a hell of a day against our rival...we've got our hands full," the coach said. Nova trails only J.T. Barrett in B1G pass TDs this year, with 13, on his way to 1601 yards through the air. Say what you will about The Duality of Man, it's taken the Scarlet Knights to a surprising 5-1 record this season.
"It's really easy for me to study film. I pick up what schemes the punt rush team runs after watching a couple of plays."
-OSU long-snapping recruit Liam McCullough
Liam McCullough, a senior long-snapper at Worthington Kilbourne in Columbus and a Buckeye commit, has an eidetic memory. That means he has insanely good recall of sights, sounds, and facts, without using mnemonic devices. While it makes him a monster at all things trivia--McCullough knows every country in the world and every element on the periodic table--it also makes him pretty handy on the football field.
The 6'3, 220-pound LS has earned a spot in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, a lifelong dream of his. McCullough partially credits his success to his absurd recall ability. "When I watch the long snapper and punter on the opposing team, I can basically predict when he is going to snap," says McCullough. His ability to pick up the punt coverage on tape also gives him a head start, even against aggressive punt-blocking schemes. It also doesn't hurt that he gets the ball into the punter's hands in about 0.6 seconds, when college coaches would settle for a 0.75 average.
"First off, I'm totally terrified...absolutely and totally terrified...I must hear the song, I guess, because I dance to it. But I don't comprehend it."
-"Dancing" Kevin Schroeder, of Columbus Blue Jackets fame
In the most important interview ever scooped by SB Nation, David Roth got to chat with the man who has provided the most thrilling moments in this young NHL season: Kevin Schroeder, better known as Dancing Kevin. The article, as one might expect, is full of absolute gems. Schroeder is as thrilling when interviewed as he is on the Nationwide Arena Jumbotron.
Schroeder first appeared on the Jumbotron in 2002, and has been reprising his role every so often for the last dozen years. His onscreen presence has seen him recognized by a family in a Colorado Subway sandwich shop, and his highlights have been used on the Jay Leno show to lampoon political personalities like Rush Limbaugh. He has appeared in TV ads from Edmonton to Omaha. Schroeder is perhaps living the American Dream--an employee at a craft beer distributor, comped tickets to his favorite sports team's home games whenever he wants, enjoying the perks of modest fame without the burden of true celebrity. I leave you with the best quote from Schroeder, who might also want to add "poet" to his now-lengthy résumé:
First off, I'm totally terrified. Absolutely and totally terrified. I get up, I start swaying back and forth, and then I black out and just start flailing around. I don't really see anything, everything's blurry. I must hear the song, I guess, because I dance to it. But I don't comprehend it.
STICK TO SPORTS
- OSU athlete lists Quidditch's Chudley Cannons as her favorite sports team.
- Amar'e Stoudemire bathes in red wine, because pro athletes have it pretty good.
- A parrot who went missing for 4 years speaks only Spanish now that he's returned to his owner.
- A Columbus brewing company with a pretty cool name opens its taproom this weekend.
- Devon Still was on Ellen, and it was pretty cool.