Getting That Second Chance

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 26, 2007

COLUMBUS —After losing in the BCS championship game 41-14 to Florida last year, one might think the Ohio State Buckeyes would try to forget such an embarrassment.

Actually, the Buckeyes have tried to remember it as well as they can, according to senior fullback and former Ironton All-Ohio lineman Tyler Whaley.

“It’s going to be a good challenge for us, but I think we’re ready for it this year,” Whaley said of the impending game against LSU.

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“We’ve got everybody healthy and we’re more focused. We’ve got something to prove.”

But Whaley said the Buckeyes will have to do more than just want to complete their mission to redeem themselves.

“They’re a good team and they deserve to be there,” Whaley said. “They’re fast, but we’re just as fast. They’re speed advantage is not what everyone makes it out to be. They’re quick and athletic”

One of the main concerns for the Ohio State offense will be slowing down All-American defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey who won the Lombardi, Outland, Lott and Nagurski awards.

“All the accolades Dorsey has won are deserved. He’s legit. People talk about defense, but their offense is good,” too,” said Whaley.

Ohio State’s chances of redemption appeared dashed with a loss to unranked Illinois in week 10. But losses by Missouri, Kansas, and West Virginia opened the door for the Buckeyes climb back to No. 1 in the polls and a berth in the BCS title game.

“It was hard to believe. Once we lost that game we thought, ‘Wow, we lost our chance.’ It came down to last week and we were on the doorstep. Then before you know it we’re back in it. I’m just glad we get another chance,” said Whaley.

“But the way the season went, I think the two teams in (the title game) deserve to be in it.”

The game will be played in the Louisiana Superdome which gives LSU a distinct homefield advantage. Whaley said the perception is LSU will have a homefield advantage, but he doesn’t’ agree.

“It’s going to come down to a football game. Both teams will be ready and both teams are good. It’ll come down to who executes and wants it more,” said Whaley.

“We’ve had some of our best games on the road. The crowd doesn’t necessarily scare us.”

Whaley returned to Ohio State Wednesday afternoon to resume practice for the upcoming BCS championship game. The team will fly to New Orleans on Tuesday, Jan. 2, in preparation for the game on Jan. 7.

“It’s going to be fun. I’ve never been to New Orleans,” said Whaley.

“Because Hurricane Katrina they’ve redone the area, and from what I’ve heard it’s nice. It’s something I want to do once. I’m excited. It’s another thing football has afforded me an opportunity to see.”

The BCS championship game will cap a solid senior season in which the former walk-on became a started at fullback along with Dionte Johnson. Whaley’s work ethic and determination earned him the Bo Rein Most Inspirational Player Award at the annual team banquet Dec. 2.

Whaley received the award in front of his parents, grandparents, sister, and aunt.

“I was excited. It was hard to describe. When I heard my name there was kind of a rush. It didn’t really start to sink in until I got back to my seat,” said Whaley.

“It’s probably the best honor I could receive because it’s something my peers voted on. They recognized me for what I went through and that meant the world to me.”

Whaley knew he might be considered, but he didn’t expect to win the award.

“I voted for Trevor Robinson. He’s a guy a lot like me who walked on and worked his way into a scholarship,” said Whaley.