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Unsung Heroes Against the Falcons
By John Porentas

COLUMBUS — There are certain Buckeyes that are going to be forever associated with the big win over Bowling Green last Saturday. Malik Hooker had a fabulous debut at safety,  Mike Weber was impressive in his first start at tailback, J.T. Barrett had a record-setting day, and Curtis Samuel was incredible. 

Years from now everybody will remember those players from the Bowling Green game back in '16, but when you win a game by 67 points plenty of other people played well. They are the players that played well – very well – but didn’t get quite the accolades because some other players played so spectacularly. They are until now the unsung heroes of the game. We’re going to fix that by singing some praises.

Defensive Unsung Heroes

CB Marshon Lattimore:  Lattimore made his first start as a Buckeye against Bowling Green and while he didn’t have the day Malik Hooker had, he was very good. Lattimore had two pass breakups and played tight, effective coverage all day.  We’ve only seen him once, but it’s easy to see why Kerry Coombs has been so excited about his return to the field after recovering from a hamstring injury. His only real mistake was having a good day on a day when Malik Hooker had a day that nobody will forget.

LB Joe Burger: Burger is a former walk-on that has spent his entire Buckeye career on special teams. When starter Dante Booker went out of the game with an injury Burger stepped in and played very well. He had four tackles (one solo, three assists) and had one tackle for loss. He was steady, reliable, and played the position with competence and confidence.

DB Damon Arnette: You probably barely noticed Damon Arnette, which is exactly why he is on this list. Arnette held down the nickel position against Bowling Green and the Falcons weren’t able to target receivers that Arnette was covering. In other words, he was doing his job, so the Falcons couldn’t go his way, and his name didn’t get called. It’s kind of like the offensive lineman who never gets called for a penalty. You never hear his name, and that’s good.  The same is true for Arnette’s game against Bowling Green. Like Lattimore, Arnette had a good game while Hooker was being spectacular. 

DL Dre’Mont Jones: Sometime it’s hard to tell when a defensive lineman is having a good game. If two or three guys hit him and knock him flat he looks like just one more guy who got flattened on a play. That, of course, is pretty shallow analysis. If a defensive lineman eats up two or even three blockers in the process of getting flattened he frees up teammates who can make the play. That was something Tracy Sprinkle was supposed to do, but when he was injured Jones came in and did the job. We’re not going to pretend to have analyzed every play, but we do know that defensive line coach Larry Johnson said this about Jones’ play: “For the first time playing as a freshman I thought he did pretty good. Now there’s some things that he needs to continue to work on and some things that he hasn’t seen because he hasn’t played a lot of football. But I like where he’s at right now. He’s got a chance.” 

Offensive Unsung Heroes

H-Back Dontre Wilson: Poor Dontre. He’s finally back from injury and had a really good game against Bowling Green, but the way Curtis Samuel went off had everyone talking about Samuel and not Wilson.  Be that as it may, it does not diminish from the game that Wilson had. He averaged 7.2 yards per rush (5 attempts for 36 yards) to equal Mike Weber as the team leader in yards per carry. He had two receiving touchdowns while catching 3 passes for 37 yards. He added 17 yards as a kick returner and 11 more as a punt returner to end his day with 101 all-purpose yards. Only Samuel (261) and Mike Weber (136) had more all-purpose yards than Wilson. That's a really good day that nobody talks about when Curtis Samuel is having the game he had.

Tight Ends A.J. Alexander and Marcus Baugh: We combined these two as the new-look tight end position which was very productive against Bowling Green. They combined for five catches and both were very effective blocking. The Buckeye running game racked up 359 net yards, and that doesn’t happen unless the backs are getting effective blocking not only from the offensive line but from the tight ends as well.

WR K.J. Hill: Hill is a little like Dontre Wilson. He had a good game but was overshadowed by Curtis Samuel, but that doesn’t diminish what Hill got done in his first game as a Buckeye. He only had two receptions, but one went for 47 yards and a touchdown on a deep ball from J.T. Barrett. The Buckeyes spent most of last season looking for a deep threat. Hill showed in game one that he can be that guy, a guy who can stretch a defense vertically. 

RB Demario McCall: McCall saw limited time against the Falcons but impressed once he got on the field. He got eight touches as a ball carrier and made the most of them with 54 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and a touchdown. His yards per carry were just slightly behind team leaders Mike Weber and Dontre Wilson who averaged 7.2 yards per carry. He also had a 36-yard pass reception that resulted in a touchdown. He scored two TDs on nine touches for an impressive debut as a Buckeye. As impressive as it was, people are more likely to remember Mike Weber and Curtis Samuel as playmakers against BG, but McCall had a very fine game as well.

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