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Tuf Borland silences critics in latest Buckeyes blowout

Tuf Borland-Ohio State-Ohio State Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Tuf Borland continues his great season for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Tuf Borland silences critics in latest Buckeyes blowout

Win or lose, every week there are a handful of Ohio State players who stood out above the rest.

Following the tradition of the helmet stickers that dates back to the days of Woody Hayes, Lettermen Row shares out our version of the award every Sunday morning for the best performers on offense, defense and special teams for the Buckeyes.


COLUMBUS — Tuf Borland could just come out and respond to every piece of criticism about him last season. The Ohio State linebacker and captain knows that wouldn’t do any good, though.

So instead, Borland just continues to let what he does on the field show why he not only played for last year’s coaching staff, but also the one that has revamped the entire defense and made the Buckeyes the best in the country.

Borland has been a huge part of the Ohio State rush defense that hasn’t allowed a single 100-yard rusher all season, and against Maryland, there was more of the same. Terrapins back Anthony McFarland, who ran for 298 yards on the same defenders a year ago, was held to seven yards on six carries. The Terrapins had 62 yards as a team. And Borland, along with the other linebackers in the middle, was a huge part of that.

Maybe the biggest aspect of Borland’s game that is rarely seen or understood is leadership. The Buckeyes could have played down to a terrible Maryland team, especially after the events surrounding Chase Young happened throughout the day Friday. Instead, they came out with something to prove in Ohio Stadium despite being a six-touchdown favorite. Borland made sure they were focused defensively even in warmups, when he gave an impassioned speech to the linebackers and secondary on their way out of the tunnel.

Then, of course, he did what he always does without hesitation: He shut up and played, and he played like an all-conference linebacker.

That’s what Borland does.

He doesn’t need to respond to the cries for his benching last season, all offseason and even into this season. Because after nine games of keeping quiet and playing with the clichéd chip on his shoulder, his stat line against Maryland is proof enough that Borland deserves all the playing time he gets. It’s not just playing time, but big plays in that time that help the Buckeyes get off the field quickly.

If he wanted to, he could respond. But nobody will ever hear Borland say a word about the critics that have been around since Anthony McFarland’s last touchdown run against Ohio State. Nearly a year ago.

Borland had a stellar performance for the Buckeyes, but he wasn’t alone. Lettermen Row has a few more honors to hand out for Ohio State players who impressed in the dominant win over Maryland.

Justin Fields-Ohio State-Ohio State football-buckeyes

Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields had a big day against Maryland. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Offense

QB Justin Fields

Justin Fields continues to make plays that beef up his case to be a Heisman finalist. It was obvious from the beginning of the game that Ryan Day and the offensive coaching staff wanted to throw on the Maryland secondary, and the Buckeyes certainly did that. Fields finished the day — he was done after the first half — completing 16 of 25 attempts for 200 passing yards and three touchdowns. He also carried the ball five times for 28 yards and a score. If Fields puts up big numbers next week against Rutgers in the limited time he is likely to play, he will enter the final two games of the regular season squarely in the Heisman race.

Tuf Borland-Ohio State-Ohio State Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State linebacker Tuf Borland was dominant in the first half for the Buckeyes. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Defense

LB Tuf Borland

Tuf Borland just continues to silence those who ridiculed him last season. He entered the game with 24 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception, and he might have played his best football of the year in the first half against Maryland. Borland finished the first half with a team-leading five tackles and a sack. His ability to stuff the Maryland rushing attack that destroyed the Buckeyes front seven a year ago can’t go unnoticed. Borland is playing the best football of his career as the Buckeyes continue on a path to another Big Ten title and possibly more. And the play of Borland is a huge part of the success in the run defense.

Blake Haubeil-Ohio State-Ohio State football-buckeyes

Ohio State kicker Blake Haubeil proved his accuracy on kickoffs. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Special teams

K Blake Haubeil

Haubeil showed just how accurate he can be with his leg. While drilling all of his extra points is to be expected, dropping a surprise onside kick right into the hands of Chris Olave, who was streaking down the right sideline, was not. That’s what Haubeil did, though. Already up 14-0, the coaching staff called the onside kick to the right side in a section of the field that wasn’t covered by Maryland. Olave, the outside man in the formation, took off and caught Haubeil’s beautiful pooch kick to give the Buckeyes good field position. They ultimately scored another touchdown on the ensuing drive.

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Jerry ScottallinosuTerry ShryockBrian yakataBucks Fan 1 Recent comment authors
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Terry Shryock
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Terry Shryock

I have always personally believed that he and Werner were being unjustly crucified! During last year’s bandwagon-style roasting, I defended them by pointing out that Laurinaitis (sp?) himself stated that their struggles were scheme-based and NOT talent-based! Further, he even stated that they were MORE athletic than the LBs during HIS playing days!! Fast forwarding to this season, my argument has been based on the fact that, if indeed their struggles are talent-based, then why weren’t they beat out by there peers? Either the other guys are less-talented OR Werner and Borland are not as inept as believed!! I believe… Read more »

allinosu
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allinosu

You are right. Some see what they want to see. Tufs lateral quickness has not cost us anything so they propose scenarios (like against Bama and LSU) with unreasonable conclusions with no facts.

Jeff
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Jeff

Tuf played a very good game and I give him credit – CONGRATS! I’m happy for him as I have been a doubter of his. Against faster teams, I still prefer Browning and believe Hillard is better too so I don’t think he silenced the critics. That said (written), I don’t make $5m a year to make these personnel decisions so i’ll Continue to root for the team and Tuf – GO BUCKS!

CaptCurt
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CaptCurt

Nevermind. Nothing anybody says is going to change your mind. There’s just some people out there that will never give him credit, no matter what he does

Kid Buckeye
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Kid Buckeye

I have to agree Jeff. After watching the backs from LSU and Bama I was wondering how would Tuf even get close to those backs. But I will give Tuf credit for the year he is having BUT……

allinosu
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allinosu

First of all Maryland is as fast as anyone. Speed isn’t their problem. Second preferring a player who leaves his gap open much more is not sound defense. You can’t silence stupid.

Jerry Scott
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Jerry Scott

I too was a Tuf Borland critic but we all have to face it, our glorious Buckeye team may have many of the same faces as last year, but this is a completely different team. There is a fire in the gut of every player on the team that I haven’t seen for quite a while. I love Urban, but there were far too many distractions last year. Coach Day has fired this team up! I was a little concerned about Chase Young’s absence. Not because the defense couldn’t handle the job, but because the obvious defensive leader wasn’t there.… Read more »

Brian yakata
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Brian yakata

I still think tuff has a problem with his lateral quickness. He is good against the run but dropping back?

Bucks Fan 1
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Bucks Fan 1

I give Tuf credit for playing well in the Maryland game. He plays well as long as he doesn’t have to use his speed (or lack of) to catch a running back or cover a tight end. If the Maryland QB would have taken off, Tuf never would have caught him. But because it was a straight bull rush (and a good one), he was able to sack the QB. I have never seen a slower linebacker in football. I see defensive lineman outrun him. He’s a good tackler. This isn’t personal, it’s just the way I see it when… Read more »

allinosu
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allinosu

Where was he racing his own defensive lineman. Browning has been burned more tines by TE’s than Tuf because his eyes were in the backfield. MSU purposely targeted Browning slow drops with success until he finally tipped one.

Jack C
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Jack C

It only took 2 years, but he finally showed up

Spencer Holbrook

Spencer Holbrook covers Ohio State football and basketball for Lettermen Row. A recent graduate of Ohio University's Scripps School of Journalism, he's in his first year covering the Buckeyes. He was previously the sports editor at Ohio's student newspaper, The Post, where he covered Ohio University football and men's basketball.

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