Going on the offensive works for OSU defense

Staff Writer
The Columbus Dispatch

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan running back Mike Hart wore his No. 20 in Michigan Stadium for the final time yesterday. He might as well have been wearing a bull's-eye, too.

Hart had returned for his senior season largely for another shot at the Buckeyes after he called their defense overrated last season. But the Ohio State defenders owned the day against Michigan, limited the Wolverines to 91 total yards and Hart to 44 on 18 carries in a 14-3 victory in Michigan Stadium. Hart finished 0-4 against Ohio State.

"When you stop Mike Hart, you are able to put them in one dimension, and that's what we were able to do," said linebacker Marcus Freeman, OSU's leading tackler with nine.

The Buckeyes made a con-certed effort of stopping the run after allowing 260 yards last week in a loss to Illinois. Hart had 38 yards on his first five carries yesterday but had only 6 yards on 13 tries thereafter.

"I think last week we were worrying about so much stuff, and this week we just said, 'We've got to stop the run,' " defensive tackle Dexter Larimore said. "And once we stopped the run, we could concentrate on stopping the passing."

Hart's longest run was 12 yards. He had another long one reduced by a holding penalty. Hart also played with a high ankle sprain, an injury that forced him to miss last week's loss at Wisconsin. But he played the whole game, and got hit all the way.

"I was fine today," Hart said. "I was good enough to play, and it definitely wasn't a problem."

The problem, he said, was Ohio State's defense, which shut him down then went after quarterback Chad Henne. A senior who also was hurting, with a shoulder injury, Henne was sacked three times and completed 11 of 34 passes.

"We didn't think we were going to be this bad off," Hart said. "We made a lot of mistakes out there. Give credit to the Ohio State defense. They came up with a good scheme against us. The defense did a great job."

The scheme, defensive end Cameron Heyward said, was simple.

"We just kept going at them. We knew we were going to have to fire at 'em, and we did," Heyward said. "We got off blocks and we attacked them. We didn't sit back and play catch."

tmay@dispatch.com