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Today is Monday, Dec. 26, and this is your Ohio State Wake-Up Call.
Head to Head: Special teams
With all the high-profile players on both sides of the ball, it’s understandable that special teams can get lost in the shuffle in the College Football Playoff showdown between No. 3 Ohio State and No. 2 Clemson. Here is a look at the kicking and punting games of both the Tigers and the Buckeyes, and how they compare:
Kickers: Ohio State coach Urban Meyer loves place-kicker Tyler Durbin. That is why even though he missed two field goals in the Michigan game, he has all the faith in the world in him.
“I do love him,” Meyer said. “He will be our kicker in the playoff game and he’s got all the talent in the world. He did miss two of them [against Michigan], but he came back and hit the one that got us there. He’ll be fine, we just have to, in our own way, lift him up.”
Durbin, a third-team All-Big Ten and Ray Guy Award semifinalist, has been sensational. He has converted on 17 of 20 field goal attempts. The majority of his kicks were from 30-to-39 yards, hitting on 9 of 10 attempts, with a long of 45 yards and only one blocked against him. Also, Durbin has only missed two PATs on 65 tries.
For Clemson, Greg Huegel has been good, making 13 field goals on 17 attempts, with a long of 47 yards. However, showing how dynamic the Tigers offense is, the majority of his field goals fell between 11 and 29 yards, where he has made 5 of 6 attempts. He also has made 4 of 6 attempts from 40-to-49 yards. Huegel has also had two field goals blocked this season.
Punters: This has been a strong suit for Ohio State all year thanks to the work of Cameron Johnston. The Big Ten Punter of the Year averages 46.2 yards per punt and has landed 23 of his 49 punts inside the 20-yard line. Also, the Australian had had 16 punts of over 50 yards, with a long of 70 yards.
Compare that number with Clemson’s Andy Teasdall, who has only had three punts of 50 yards or more. Averaging only 37.7 yards per punt, Teasdall has landed 16 of his 48 punts inside the 20-yard line.
Kick returners: Ohio State and Clemson each have one primary kick returner. For the Buckeyes, it’s Paris Campbell. He averages 26.7 yards per return with a long of 91 yards, but does not have a touchdown. Clemson covers kicks well, allowing an average of 19.1 yards per return. Ohio State only gives up about 18.9 yards on kickoff returns. Clemson’s Artavis Scott has a kickoff return for 77 yards, but, like Campbell, averages about 23 yards per return.
Scott and Campbell may not get too many opportunities in the Saturday showdown in Glendale, Combined, Ohio State and Clemson have touchbacks on 40.11 percent of kickoffs.
Punt returners: Clemson has a weapon in the return game in Ray-Ray McCloud, who averages 8.4 yards per punt return. Ohio State has split duties between Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson, averaging 5.1 yards per punt return. The Buckeyes do cover punts well, limiting opponents to only 3.2 yards per return with a long of only 12 yards all season.
Elflein in blue and orange?
As the Buckeyes prepare for Clemson and a possible spot in the national title game, many players on both rosters may soon be turning their focus on the next level and preparing for the 2017 NFL Draft. According to a Pro Football Focus article, one current Slob may end up trading his scarlet and grey jersey for an orange and blue one.
The Denver Broncos are in need of some help on the offensive line, which has hurt the team all season. Ohio State G/C Pat Elflein was named as a player for Broncos fans to watch out for during bowl season as a possible target in the draft because, “he’s a powerful run-blocker who can find his targets on the move.”
Elflein has had a very successful year for the Buckeyes. He received the 2016 Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the best center in college football, and the Rimington-Pace Offensive Lineman of the Year award by the Big Ten.
Ohio State First Team AP All-Americans: Pat Elflein, Curtis Samuel, Malik Hooker
2nd Team: Billy Price, Cam Johnston, Raekwon McMillan pic.twitter.com/o0vjl7tqBZ
— The Buckeye Nut (@TheBuckeyeNut) December 13, 2016
With all of these accolades and respect from his college program, the future looks bright for the senior.
Here is your weekly look at how a few former Ohio State Buckeyes are doing at the next level.
Joey Bosa: The San Diego Chargers had a tough holiday weekend, getting beaten by the previously winless Cleveland Browns on Saturday to fall to 5-10 on the season. However, the future is bright on the defensive side of the ball.
Boss, the former Ohio State DE, has been very consistent on the defensive line all season after missing the first five games because of a contract holdout and an injury. That did not change against the Browns. Bosa has had a sack in five straight games now after getting two sacks on three tackles for loss. He has had three games this season with multiple sacks and is first on the team with 9.5 sacks.
— San Diego Chargers (@Chargers) December 24, 2016
The most likely frontrunner for the Defensive Rookie of the Year also did a familiar celebration after one of his sacks.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 24, 2016
Buckeye fans could be seeing Bosa doing this for a long time.
Joey Bosa has 9.5 sacks in 11 games with one more to go. The rookie sack record is 14.5. Just Imagine he played the full sixteen games
— ⚡️KC vs SD (5-10)⚡️ (@ChargersLegion) December 26, 2016
Michael Thomas: Thomas, the New Orleans Saints wide receiver, may have proved to be the steal of the 2016 NFL Draft not named Dak Prescott.
Thomas is second on the team in receptions and yards and is tied for first on the team with eight touchdowns. Averaging 12 yards per catch, Thomas has been very consistent, catching 75.9 percent of his targets from QB Drew Brees.
In the Saints’ 34-21 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Saturday, Thomas had 98 yards on six receptions. He also had his longest reception of his young career, with a 46-yard catch in the third quarter.
— NFL (@NFL) December 24, 2016
It seems as though Brees and Thomas have developed a good rapport early in the receiver’s career. This may be a sign of things to come. Saints fans would be ecstatic.
The Cavs and the Buckeyes are tight
In a hyped Christmas Day rematch of the 2016 NBA Finals, the world-champion Cleveland Cavaliers did it again. This time, Kyrie Irving hit a mid-range jumper with 3.4 seconds left in the game to secure the 109-108 win over the Golden State Warriors. Cleveland was behind by as many as 14 in the come-from-behind win.
There is a tight-knit sports community in the state of Ohio. That is why, after the game, Ohio State football reminded their Twitter followers who they were cheering for.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) December 25, 2016