Notebook: Pocket was hot for Weber

Notebook: Pocket was hot for Weber

Joe Michaud-Scorza

John Hageman

The pocket surrounding senior quarterback Adam Weber collapsed constantly Saturday night, a phenomenon he wasnâÄôt quite used to. Coming into Saturday night, the Gophers had allowed just nine sacks in eight games. But after his team fell behind early, Weber felt the pressure coming from all sides and was sacked five times. âÄúWe had obviously protected very well this year,âÄù Gophers interim head coach Jeff Horton said. âÄúAgain, I think itâÄôs just if you put yourself in those situations, they got the upper hand, they donâÄôt have to worry about you running the ball.âÄù Two of the sacks resulted in lost fumbles, and one was returned for a touchdown for Ohio StateâÄôs final touchdown of the game, dousing the GophersâÄô wounds with salt. âÄúWe felt like we had to get some heat on [Weber] because we could not let him sit there and add to his 10,000-plus yards,âÄù Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. Weber finished the game with 162 yards on just nine completions and an interception. While Weber struggled throughout most of the game with underthrown passes and defensive pressure, his teammates appreciated his leadership in a tough game. âÄúOne thing about Adam, he stays positive,âÄù running back DeLeon Eskridge said. âÄúHe doesnâÄôt blame anybody or point the finger. I think thatâÄôs a great thing being a captain of our team is that he doesnâÄôt kick people while theyâÄôre down.âÄù While the Buckeyes put pressure on Weber from all sides, the Gophers couldnâÄôt take down the elusive Terrelle Pryor. Tressel said the Gophers put more pressure on Pryor than in years past, but ineffectively. âÄú[The Gophers] started blitzing when they left the locker room,âÄù Tressel said. âÄúI guess [itâÄôs a] âÄòyou live by the sword and die by the swordâÄô kind of thing.âÄù Third down struggles Not only did the Gophers struggle to convert on third downs, they couldnâÄôt slow the Buckeyes down in the same situations. At one point, the Gophers were 0-8 on third downs, and finished the game at 2-11. Ohio State seemed just as comfortable in third down situations as they would otherwise, converting six of nine attempts. Perhaps the biggest conversion came on Ohio StateâÄôs second drive of the game, shortly after Minnesota tied it at seven. Facing a third-and-11 under the backdrop of a raucous opposing crowd, Pryor dropped back, saw nothing downfield and used his legs to gain 34 yards and silence the crowd. The Buckeyes scored just four plays later and never looked back. âÄúAnytime you get a team on third down and you have a chance to get off the field, you have to take advantage of it,âÄù Gophers linebacker Keanon Cooper said. âÄúWe have to make those plays and get off the field and give our offense an opportunity to get points on the board.âÄù Field Position Woes Ohio State proved to be a dangerous offense no matter where they started on the field. But giving the potent Buckeyes a short field didnâÄôt help the GophersâÄô cause. Six of Ohio StateâÄôs drives started inside Minnesota territory, and three of them ended in touchdowns. Some of the blame goes to punter Dan Orseske, whose average of 34.5 yards over four punts wasnâÄôt entirely indicative of how much he struggled. One punt near the end of the first half seemed to just knick the right side of his foot and went just ten yards. But big turnovers in their own territory also hurt the Gophers. âÄúAs that game kept going on, when you start getting one-dimensional, you start playing into peopleâÄôs hands,âÄù Horton said. âÄúAnd when you play into the hands of what Ohio State has, thatâÄôs not a good situation.âÄù Extra Points: -Injury update: Senior offensive lineman Matt Carufel injured his medial collateral ligament in the fourth quarter and was replaced by Ryan Orton. The team will know the extent of his injury later in the week, but Horton said Orton will likely start Saturday against Michigan State. Senior fullback Jon HoeseâÄôs condition is still questionable. -For the first time all season, the Gophers ran exclusively with one running back. Eskridge had 79 yards on 23 carries while Duane Bennett only saw action in screen situations. Freshman Donnell Kirkwood has yet to see Big Ten action due to a hamstring injury. -With the win, Ohio State moves into a tie for first place in the Big Ten thanks to Michigan StateâÄôs 37-6 loss to Iowa. There are no undefeated teams in the conference.