Leland Stein III

Posts Tagged ‘Ohio State’

Michigan close but no cigar versus Ohio State

In sports column on December 2, 2013 at 12:12 am
Pic cutline: - Detroiter Devin Gardner and UM fell just short of an upset of Ohio State. - Dan Graschuck photo

Pic cutline: – Detroiter Devin Gardner and UM fell just short of an upset of Ohio State. – Dan Graschuck photo

By Leland Stein III

ANN ARBOR – As has been the case all season with the Michigan Wolverines, they put up a gallant fight but came up short.

Again, before 113,511 in the storied Michigan “Big House” Stadium, the Wolverines put up a fight until the last few seconds of the game, before succumbing to the No. 3 ranked and still undefeated Ohio State Buckeyes, 42-41.

“We talked about how all week we would have to play our best game to compete against this team,” Michigan coach Brady Hoke said in the post-game press conference. “We did some good things, but we did some things not so good. However, there is no doubting that our kids stepped up and played with passion. This is a special game and we practiced and studied film starting on Monday with focus. It is disappointing we could not close this game out for these young men.”

Talking to many of my friends in the press box just before the game commenced, most were speculating that Ohio State, a 16-point favorite, would blow Michigan out.

And who could protest, squabble or argue with that assumption, based on the way the Wolverines have played the past seven weeks.

Leland Stein IIIThe 2013 season started with so much hope with quarterback Devin Gardner starting his first full season at the helm of this Michigan team. Living up to those expectations, the Wolverines started out 5-0.

However, after a four overtime loss in a game they should have won, UM has descended downward. After the Penn State heart breaker, over the next seven games Michigan forgot how to block for the run, protect for their quarterback (Gardner), and, defend against the run defensively.

That Penn State loss has been followed with a beat-down by Michigan State, two close very winnable games against Nebraska and Iowa, and now this.

Coach Hoke, Gardner and the entire Michigan team all said that this was enough, and, collectively they went after a win on Saturday. After trailing 35-21 in the fourth quarter, the Wolverines showed some fighting spirit and grit. Coming back time after time, eventually tying the game at 35-35 with a little more than five minutes left in the contest, only to see OSU fly down the field to take a 42-35 lead with 2:20 left in the game.

For Gardner and his teammates this was an opportunity to arrest all the football demons that have been causing them grief. With purpose and determination the Wolverines sat sail on an 11-play, 84-yard drive that gave them an opportunity to tie the game.

So, with 30 seconds left in the game Michigan went for the 2-point conversion and win. I agree completely with going for the two points,

“We had not been able to stop their running game,” Hoke noted. “We were doing a poor job of slowing them down, so going for the win looked like the best thing for us to do.”

Indeed in was the best thing, the only problem was the play UM called in their most crucial possession of the season.

“We have worked on that play in practice and it was supposed to be a rub for (Drew) Dileo” a distraught Gardner whispered in his most solemn tone of voice. “I believe it was the right call to go for two. I do not question it at all, we just did not execute.”

So Michigan went for the 2-point conversion and Ohio State (12-0, 8-0) remains undefeated. With the win the Buckeyes achieved their 24th consecutive victory and keep their national championship hopes alive.

Gardner put in as good an effort as any UM quarterback versus OSU. He completed 32 of 45 passes for 451 yards and four TDs, connecting nine times for 175 yards and a score to Jeremy Gallon, and he ran for a 1-yard touchdown that gave Michigan the first lead in the shootout that went to halftime tied at 21.

The near Michigan upset almost gave the Wolverines (7-5, 3-5) their biggest upset in one of America’s greatest rivalries since legendary coach Bo Schembechler‘s first team at Michigan beat what Woody Hayes noted was his best Buckeyes squad ever.

The loss was yet another in Gardner’s first tenure at the helm of the Wolverines. He has showed that he is a skilled athlete and field leader, but the problems on the offensive line and in the running game knocked him off the pedestal as a premiere quarterback in the country.

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or Twitter @LelandSteinIII

Detroit Southeastern’s Hankins anchoring Ohio State defense

In sports column on November 18, 2012 at 3:03 am

Southeastern’s Hankins anchoring Ohio State defense

Detroiter’s stock rising in NFL circles.

By Leland Stein III

COMMENTARY

Detroit Southeastern’s Hankins stops MSU”s All-Big-Ten back La”Veon Bell. – Dan Graschuck photo

EAST LANSING – With ESPN College GameDay crew creating the hype on Michigan State University’s campus and an ESPN national television audience looking on, former Detroit Public School League (PSL) star Johnathan Hankins and his Ohio State Buckeyes outlasted MSU at Spartan Stadium, 17-16 in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

As I headed to the post-game interview area, I ran across former Detroit Southeastern High coach Donshell English. He had arguably two of the best defensive linemen in PSL history on a team that finished 11-1. Both Hankins and MSU’s William Gholston made All-State and were on the Michigan Chronicle ALL-PSL team. The 6-foot-7, 278 pound Gholston left the PSL the No. 1 ranked player in the state and the 6-foot3, 322 pound Hankins was the 20th.

Now Hankins and Gholston, both juniors, are ranked as the best two defensive players in the Big Ten and both are pre-season All-America picks. Recently Big Ten Network NFL draft expert Russ Lande’s weekly Big Board, flip-flopped Gholston and Hankins, making the Ohio State defensive tackle Hankins the No. 1 player in the conference, with Gholston No. 2.

English said he is not surprised that both his star players at Southeastern have continued to grow as students and athletes.

Leland Stein III

About Hankins English recalled: “Against MSU he was a force from the very first play of the game controlling the middle. You can tell the way his coach (Urban Meyer) and his teammates respond to him, he is a team leader.

“He was the quiet storm in high school, but he always gave us extra effort. He never took plays off, so I knew he would excel wherever he decided to go to college.”

Meyer told me Hankins is a great young man and excellent teammate. “He is really coming into his own, but he can get even better. He is a hard worker and he gives his heart to Ohio State football. He is surly one of our team leaders.”

With Gholston being an early commit with the Spartans, and Archie Collins, Southeastern’s defensive coordinator during those seasons, a graduate assistant with Michigan State, it would seem Hankins and Gholston would have ended up together in East Lansing.

Hankins father told reporters shaking his head: “How he got away from Michigan and Michigan State, I can’t tell you why. I can’t see how they allowed him to leave the state of Michigan.”

Recalled Hankins: “Michigan State was one of my first choices and we always talked about playing together. But when I took my trip to Ohio State, the family atmosphere and the way Coach (Jim) Tressel treated me made me feel like this was the right place for me to grow as athlete and man.”

He said Meyer has a different style from Tressel, but he has bonded with him and the team is moving forward. “He (Meyer) is an intense coach, but he wants the best for us as people. On the field he expects us to play with energy and discipline.”

Hankins said that although the Buckeyes are on probation and will not be able to play for a Big Ten or national title, Meyer still has his team motivated and striving to be the best they can be.

“We are working to win every game,” Hankins said, “and we just want to have a positive season and send the seniors out with good memories.”

When Meyer arrived this season, Hankins quickly showed him he was the type of athletic defensive tackle that could be the anchor of his defense. He is fast becoming noted around the country for his running back feet, a big smile and a nose for the ball that proves he is more than just a big body.

“I think everyone knew from the start he’d be something special,” senior defensive lineman John Simon told reporters. “Hank can beat people with his speed and his power, and with his knowledge of the game, he knows what’s going on before the ball is even snapped.”

Leland Stein can be reached at lelstein3@aol.com or at Twitter @lelandsteinIII