McLau­rin a dif­fer­ence-maker on punt cov­er­age

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Tim May tmay@dis­patch.com @TIM_MAYs­ports

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Terry McLau­rin topped 1,000 ca­reer re­ceiv­ing yards for Ohio State on Satur­day dur­ing a 26-6 win over Michi­gan State, but that’s not what coach Ur­ban Meyer talked about af­ter the game.

Meyer pointed to the re­mark­able sec­ond half of punt­ing by Drue Chris­man that in­cluded five punts be­ing downed or go­ing out of bounds in­side Michi­gan State’s 6-yard line.

In par­tic­u­lar, he men­tioned the leap­ing flip-back that McLau­rin made that put the ball at the 5, and the hop­per he downed at the 1 that led to the Spar­tans tak­ing a safety four plays later.

“It is with great rev­er­ence that I say as you go back to Bradley Roby, Devin Smith, to From left, Ohio State punter Drue Chris­man, long snap­per Liam Mc­Cul­lough and re­ceivers John­nie Dixon and Terry McLau­rin cel­e­brate down­ing a punt in­side the 5-yard line in the fourth quar­ter.

Den­zel Ward, Gareon Con­ley … those are the gun­ners (on punt cov­er­age the pre­vi­ous six years), and Terry is as good

as there is,” Meyer said. “He might have taken over the ti­tle as the best I’ve ever had.

“What he does for our pro­gram — he’s blown out (tired) now. He men­tioned to me in there a cou­ple times he al­most couldn’t go, but he knew how im­por­tant it was to get the ball down in­side the 5-yard line.”

It was a re­mark­able day for the re­ceiver group. Par­ris Campbell had six catches for 42 yards, in­clud­ing a 1-yard shovel pass for a touch­down. K.J. Hill had six catches for 38 yards and McLau­rin five for 63 yards.

Throw in what McLau­rin and John­nie Dixon meant to the punt game, and it moved to a dif­fer­ent realm.

Dixon didn’t have a catch, but he downed a punt at the Michi­gan State 2 in the fourth quar­ter. A play later, the Spar­tans flubbed the shot­gun snap and OSU’s Dre’Mont Jones grabbed it in the end zone for a touch­down.

“That flipped his day all around,” McLau­rin said of Dixon.

Ex­celling on spe­cial teams can do that for a player, McLau­rin noted.

“Coach Meyer, he calls it ‘the gospel,’ ” McLau­rin said. “I want to say, (there is a) 3 per­cent chance for a team to score the ball if they’re start­ing off in­side their own 5. We preach that. We be­lieve in that.

“I was just telling the young guys … if you want to make your spot on this team and grab a lot of re­spect, es­pe­cially from coach Meyer, spe­cial teams is the way to do it. Our de­fense was play­ing down­hill (in the sec­ond half), we ba­si­cally got nine points from the safety and the touch­down. That was big for us.”

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