It’s been a few days since Florida’s surprising upset blowout of Ohio State in the BCS Championship game, 41-14. They showed their dominance on defense by getting to Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith, forcing him to a season low 35 yards on a 4 for 14 night – one of the worst championship performances by a Heisman Trophy winner ever. With their two-QB system, they dominated on offense – Chris Leak in the air, and Tim Tebow on the ground.
Though, it seemed like such a different atmosphere on the first kickoff.
Ted Ginn, Jr., the Buckeyes’ most potent offensive weapon, returned a kickoff 93 yards for the opening touchdown, 7-0. Ohio State immediately looked like the prohibitive favorite that everyone thought they could be. Unfortunately, that kickoff ended up being the lone highlight of Ginn’s evening, as well as Ohio State’s. He sat out the rest of the game with an unspecified foot injury. On the sidelines, he was forced to watch his Buckeyes get pounded on both sides of the ball. Outscored 41-7 after Ginn’s injury, Florida dominated the Buckeyes in every aspect of the game. The defense was confused, with the different formations Florida threw at them. Florida’s defense flummoxed Smith, desperate to get the passing game going.
After Ohio State’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Gators, it was necessary to analyze what exactly happened to the Buckeyes. They were mostly right – Urban Meyer’s gameplan against Jim Tressel’s Buckeyes offense was executed to perfection, and the constant formation changes by the Gator offense continually confused the Ohio State defense. The balance between Leak’s passing game and Tebow’s running game was also a factor in confusing the OSU defense.
But, there was one thing that troubled me about the overall analysis: What about Ted Ginn Jr.? Would he have made a difference?
The consensus seemed to be a resounding “No”.
Really? No difference? You’re telling me that, had Ted Ginn Jr., a wide receiver with 4.2 speed, and highly regarded as one of the best, and fastest, wideouts in the country, been in the game, it still would have ended up in a 41-14 rout by Florida? I have a hard time believing that.
First of all, let me say right now that I am taking absolutely nothing away from Florida’s win. They executed to perfection everything they needed to do to shut down the Buckeyes. As a matter of fact, I’m not even saying that, had Ginn been in the game, the Buckeyes would have beat, let alone dominated, the Gators in the BCS Championship. The way the Gators were playing, they may have still would have dominated them with Ginn in the game. Anything I say about Ginn, now, is in the hypothetical – who knows how it would have played out?
Having said all that, I still believe, with Ginn in the game, the Buckeyes would have, at least, put out a better effort than that embarrassing performance they produced on January 8th. Now, remember, Ted Ginn Jr. was labeled a “Heisman Hopeful” by ESPN before the season started – and with good reason. Going into 2006, Ginn was considered Ohio State’s speediest weapon. With the absence of Santonio Holmes, Ginn produced impressive numbers – his 59 receptions, 781 yards and 9 TDs led the team this season. He was considered the Buckeyes’ “home run hitter”, an end-zone threat every time he touched the ball.
Taking all that into consideration, you have to ask yourself how Ginn’s mere presence would have affected the entire content of that game. Maybe Meyer’s game plan would shift to shutting down not just Smith, but Ginn, as well. Maybe Florida keeps double-coverage on Ginn, leaving one of Smith’s other receivers open for a few more first downs. Maybe Ginn comes up with one or two big plays that keep the ball on OSU’s side, rather than Florida’s. Maybe, because of Ginn’s presence on the field, Smith’s turnovers don’t necessarily occur when they do, keeping the score closer. In that case, they wouldn’t have to abandon the ground game with Antonio Pittman, keeping the pressure off of Smith’s passing game.
Simply put, a game is a series of plays – and each play counts for something. With Ginn’s special talents as a wide receiver and as a return specialist, more plays would have, most likely, swung Ohio State’s way. The Buckeyes would have had a better chance of keeping the game close, and making the game interesting. Who knows – had a few more plays had swung Ohio State’s way, they would have had a chance to win. Ultimately, they lost – and, with the way Florida was playing, they probably still would have lost, if Ginn had played the entire game, anyway. All I’m saying is that Ted Ginn Jr. would have made a difference in the BCS Championship – even in a losing effort. To say that he wouldn’t have – to say that the game would have turned out the same even with a playmaker like Ginn on the field – is ludicrous, and is almost an insult to Ginn and the Buckeyes’ offense.
After all – every individual makes a difference, right? Just ask Vince Young.