"What Ohio State did to Gordon in the Big Ten Championship was in no small part due to two of our defensive linemen."
It's award time now that the regular season is over, and SB Nation has announced their 2014 All-America team. Ohio State has two winners, Joey Bosa and Michael Bennett, whose dominating performances over the season were major catalysts for the Buckeyes managing to make the first playoff.
The All-America team was culled from blog managers and key contributors, along with SB Nation staff, from across the college network, including multiple writers from this very blog. Ohio State's Cameron Johnston finished fourth among all punters as well.
"I'm happy to get out there and punt the ball, I enjoy it. I love doing it. That's why I moved to America. It's fun to be out there."
- Cameron Johnston, Ohio State punter
It might be a surprise to hear with the Ohio State offense that their secret weapon on January 1st against Alabama might just be punter Cameron Johnston. With how well he has punted throughout the season when called upon, Johnston's ability might not be so much of a secret, with 22 of his 39 punts being down inside the 20-yard line, and more than half of those pinning the opponents inside the 10-yard line. Against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game, Johnston boomed a career-high 73 yard punt that settled at the 2-yard line, and later hit a punt that landed at the 1-yard line and spun back before being downed at the 5-yard line. The efforts of Johnston are a huge reason why Ohio State is first in the nation in opponent starting field position.
The reason Johnston could be such a weapon for Ohio State in the College Football Playoff semifinal is Alabama has already been done in by a Australian punter once this season. In their only loss to Mississippi in October, punter Steve Gleeson hit five punts, with only one landing outside the 20-yard line, and his best effort of the day went out of bounds at the 1-yard line. If the Ohio State offense has a hard time getting moving against the Alabama defense, their best shot to stay in the game is to have Johnston pin the Crimson Tide deep and hope Alabama has a hard time navigating a long field.
"He's got a pretty good feel, a knack for angles. He's pretty explosive too. When he gets the ball down there, something is going to happen. He's going to get fouled or he's going to get a good shot on the rim ... You like what he brings to the table."
- Thad Matta on freshman Jae'Sean Tate
His Buckeye career may still be young, but Jae'Sean Tate matched a career-high with 12 points on Wednesday night in Ohio State's easy 97-43 win over High Point. While redshirt freshman Kam Williams, and true freshman D'Angelo Russell may have gotten more of the headlines early in the season, Tate is making his presence known. While Tate may not fill up the point column like Williams or Russell, he has given the Buckeyes some much needed energy off the bench so far this season. A prime example of the impact Tate can have was shown on the day after Thanksgiving when the Buckeyes weren't exactly in top form in their win over James Madison.
After being rated a four-star prospect coming out of Pickerington Central, Tate took a backseat to Russell in the recruiting class this year, but his early efforts this year are showing that big things could be ahead for the son of former Buckeye Jermaine Tate. The freshman may be a little undersized to play down low, and doesn't shoot quite well enough to play outside, but he has the hustle and toughness that Thad Matta craves in his players. While Tate's role at least this year looks to be coming off the bench, he is making a case for increased playing time the rest of the year, as well as getting a longer look going forward.
"I still have not recovered, to be honest. It's eating at me. As one of the leaders on the team, it hit me real hard because guys look for me to make something happen. That game, I will never forget it."
- Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon
While the loss to Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship Game might stick with Melvin Gordon for quite a while, he did receive a bit of good news on Thursday when he was named as the recipient of the 2014 Tribune Silver Football award. The award is given annually to the Big Ten's best player in a vote among conference coaches. Gordon received 10 of 13 first-place votes, and one second-place vote, which gave him a total of 21 points.
Following Gordon in the voting was a pair of Ohio State players, with quarterback J.T. Barrett tallying eight points and defensive end Joey Bosa taking third-place. Indiana running back Tevin Coleman, Iowa offensive lineman Brandon Scherff, and Nebraska's Ameer Abdullah rounding out the voting. Gordon will have the Outback Bowl on New Year's Day against Auburn to pad his stats before making the jump to the NFL.
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