Thursday, August 16, 2007

Ohio State Hopes to Bounce Back

Thursday's Frat Boy News Daily Sports Page

Ohio State University (compiled by The Seattle Times)

It was an especially long, cold winter for Ohio State.

A relatively stress-free season for the Buckeyes, top-ranked since the Associated Press 2006 preseason poll, came down to a stunning, humiliating conclusion Jan. 8 against Florida in the BCS National Championship Game in Glendale, Ariz.

It became an enduring black eye: Florida 41, Ohio State 14.

As they look ahead to the 2007 season, the Buckeyes must shake the flashbacks from the final game.

Defensive coordinator Jim Heacock, a former Washington assistant coach, was asked whether the Florida loss affects this season's squad.

"I don't think that there's any question in the back of everybody's mind — I mean, how does it not?" Heacock replied. "You'd be crazy to think that it doesn't. I don't know that there's many days that something doesn't come up that you think about it."

The loss of several well-known players from last season's team — Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith, receivers Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn Jr., tailback Antonio Pittman, three defensive linemen, two starters in the secondary — might actually make it easier for the Buckeyes to purge those dreadful memories.

"I think they've probably been beat up enough," Heacock said of the returning Ohio State players. "We're ready to move on."

Ohio State plays its third game Sept. 15 at Washington. A year ago, the Buckeyes returned a mere two starters on defense but there were enough spare parts and budding stars around to come up with a stellar unit.

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