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Ohio State: Drue Chrisman steals show for Buckeyes with punting magic

Drue Chrisman-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State punter Drue Chrisman was a field-flipping machine at Michigan State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

Ohio State: Drue Chrisman steals show for Buckeyes with punting magic

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.


EAST LANSING, Mich. — The worst punt that ever came off the foot of Drue Chrisman didn’t exactly foretell one of the most impressive performances Ohio State has ever seen at that position.

Take out that opening miscus, though, and there might not even be an argument about just where the sophomore’s performance ranks in school history.

Really, the only question is what exactly went wrong on that shank, because everything after it was essentially flawless as Chrisman became an unlikely hero and overnight television celebrity for his role in the 26-6 win at Michigan State.

“I think after you have a punt like that, I don’t know where it ranks among Ohio State’s worst punts in history, but it was definitely my worst punt,” Chrisman said. “And I just was like: I’ve got to ball out after that one.

“He definitely talked to me afterwards, asked me what happened. Nobody was negative whatsoever, everybody was really positive on the whole punt team. I knew I was better than that, they knew I was better than that, so they just told me to keep my head up because I was going to be needed later in the game. It showed.”

From then on, Chrisman was masterful. And he was also integral in a field-position battle that had all the hallmarks of a vintage Big Ten game in November.

There’s no doubt he was a difference-making weapon on special teams, pinning six of his punts inside the Michigan State 20-yard line — and five of those were inside the 6-yard line. Along with the gunners downing his perfect punts, the special-teams effort set the table for a nine points with Ohio State recovering a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown and getting a safety on a high snap.

“I almost benched him,” Meyer joked about the shank. “We just don’t have anybody else.”

They also wouldn’t trade Chrisman for anybody else, either.

Mike Weber-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State running back Mike Weber eventually wore down Michigan State’s touted rush defense. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Offense

RB Mike Weber

With the ball safely secured from start to finish, Mike Weber left Ohio State no choice but to stick with the guy doing the most damage on the ground. Considering the quality of the competition and some of the continued issues from the offensive line in front of him, the redshirt junior’s 104 yards and a touchdown are probably far more impressive than they look on the box score. Weber was a beast, unafraid of contact and relentless with his extra effort as he kept making a push for more playing time. The Buckeyes gave it to him down the stretch, and they were handsomely rewarded.

Dre'Mont Jones-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State defensive tackle Dre’Mont Jones sealed the win with a fumble recovery for a touchdown. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Defense

DT Dre’Mont Jones

The multiple defensive touchdowns weren’t scribbled anywhere on his list of goals for this season. But Dre’Mont Jones is definitely enjoying the unexpected addition to his list of accomplishments as his career with the Buckeyes likely starts winding down. Despite spending most of the year banged up, Jones has contributed two of the biggest defensive highlights of the season for the Buckeyes with his interception return against TCU earlier in the season and his fumble recovery in the end zone to seal the win over Michigan State. Even with Jones clearly not at full strength, he’s been an asset the Buckeyes couldn’t survive without this year.

Drue Chrisman-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State punter Drue Chrisman delivered the finest outing of his career. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Special teams

P Drue Chrisman

With apologies to Terry McLaurin for his remarkable, thankless work as a gunner downing a couple of the punts, Chrisman has to be the pick in the kicking game. Obviously the goal for any team is to avoid needing to use its punter, but field position was undoubtedly at a premium in rough conditions and with two teams slugging it out in a physical battle. Just how good was he? Chrisman was tabbed for a television interview and came into the postgame press conference before quarterback Dwayne Haskins. So, yeah, that was about as impressive as punting can get.

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Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.

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