The Art of a Decleating, by Andy Katzenmoyer

Posted by Vico in Buckeye Lore |

Commencing violence in 3... 2... 1...
The mid-nineties was an exciting time for Ohio State football, soul-crushing losses to Michigan notwithstanding.  I know, I know… … … I know, but bear with me for the moment.  Ohio State idled in mid-level obscurity for the tail-end of the Bruce years and suffered — let’s be frank — through the beginning of the Cooper years.  It is debatable when the resurgence of Ohio State football in the 1990s started, as the causal locus can be pinned on 1993 when Dan Wilkinson roamed the earth or 1995, when Eddie George and Orlando Pace were larger than life in the Midwest.  Both years had the Buckeyes in the top 5 for most of the season and… yes… had soul-crushing losses to Michigan.  I know… I know… but bear with me for the moment.

Either way, by 1997, the curtains were up and the Buckeyes — defending Rose Bowl champions — were on full display for a national television audience 1.

Making this period of Ohio State football arguably even more exciting was the litany of interesting opponents that appeared on the schedule for the Buckeye defense to devour.  Led by Buckeye luminaries as Antoine Winfield, Kevin Johnson, Damon Moore and Ahmed Plummer (among countless others), the Silver Bullets — led by Fred Pagac, who every Buckeye fan, to a man, would willingly swap in a testicle to have him back as defensive coordinator — played football at their tempo, at their speed.  That speed? Violence, and lots of it.

The most iconic of the Silver Bullets from the mid-nineties is arguably Andy Katzenmoyer, and the selection of QB snacks for his 3 year career in Columbus was nothing short of tantalizing.  During his tenure, the Buckeyes finished up a series with Notre Dame, opened up a season on the road in Morgantown, and found some time to crush Jake Plummer’s hopes and dreams.  1997, in particular, was an interesting set of matchups for Katzenmoyer and his fellow Silver Bullets.  They opened on Thursday (the Buckeyes’ last Thursday regular season game) against a surprisingly competitive Wyoming team in the Eddie Robinson Classic, hosted the Arizona Wildcats — with Dennis Northcutt — during the Wildcats’ last spell as a competitive football team and inaugurated a series against the resurgent Missouri Tigers, led by (recently deceased) Ohio turncoat Larry Smith and option QB Corby Jones (the poor man’s Tommie Frazier).

The game was on national television on ABC, and featured Ohio State’s first ever trip to Columbia, Missouri and the first game against Missouri since the inexplicable 1976 loss2.  Ohio State, ranked no. 7 in America, looked to be in for a long game against the big play capabilities of Corby Jones.

Indeed, the first quarter was as frustrating as you could imagine it for Pagac’s Silver Bullets.  Missouri responded to Ohio State’s opening touchdown drive with authority, and finished the first quarter with a go-ahead field goal off of a similar drive.  On both of these drives, the consistent man coverage and safety blitzes were there, but Corby Jones would either elude a tackle for a first down or find an upback in the flats to move the chains as well.  Andy Katzenmoyer, the standout sophomore, was strangely quiet as well.  Indeed, some of those broken tackles on Corby Jones early in the game came courtesy of the Big Kat himself.

By time Missouri took the ball for its second drive of the second half, the Tigers were up 10-7 and had just forced Ohio State’s offense into an important punt.  Musburger noted that Katzenmoyer’s name had not been called, that Ohio State’s defense was reeling, Missouri’s offense was in a groove and that the 3rd down and longs that the Silver Bullets needed were not forthcoming.

Fortunately, the play after Musburger’s observation came the 3rd and long opportunity that Musburger noted the Buckeyes needed.

On that 3rd and 10 play in question, Corby Jones decided to scramble, again, for a first down as he had previously done on 3rd downs this game.

That’s when Andy Katzenmoyer decided that shit’s crucial.

That’s when this happened.

The Moment of Decleating
With that hit, Missouri’s drive was emphatically over, the air in Memorial Stadium had vanished and the Silver Bullets were back. The Tigers wouldn’t score again for this game.  The result of the drives that followed the ensuing punt were: Punt, End of Half, Punt, Punt, Punt, Punt, Interception, Punt, Interception, Interception.  The End of Half drive consumed 34 yards.  The drives ending in interceptions totaled 34, 46, and 43 yards respectively.  3 and Outs characterize every other drive.

Ohio State, on the other hand, would score again, and started with the drive following the punt after the Katzenmoyer hit.  The punt put Ohio State at Missouri’s 47 yard line and Joe Germaine came in to quarterback the series.  On the first play, Germaine hooked up with Dee Miller on a diving reception to put the Buckeyes at the Missouri 5 yard line.  The next play, Germaine found David Boston for 6 and a 14-10 Ohio State lead.

The Buckeyes wouldn’t look back, winning the game 36-10 and avenging the 1976 loss in the process.  The next year, the Buckeyes played host to the Missouri Tigers and convincingly won there as well to sweep the home-and-home series.  A YouTube Drive-Thru compilation of that game may be forthcoming next.

After this game, Katzenmoyer had other legendary battles, most famously with his GPA.  The battles were fought and won in his AIDS Awareness, Golf and Music Appreciation classes.  The “bust” label is casually thrown around regarding Katzenmoyer’s brief stint in the NFL.  In fairness to Katzenmoyer, severe neck injuries necessarily limit the duration of a pro football career.  He is now married, with children, living in Westerville as a part-time assistant coach at Westerville South HS (I think that’s also his alma mater, but don’t quote me) and, first and foremost, a gym owner and fitness guru.  The gym in question is owned by he and his wife, and you can read about it here.

Furthermore, in credit to Katzenmoyer, he has gone to great lengths to challenge the national perception of him as a dumb, prototypical jock, as he was portrayed in that Sports Illustrated magazine article in 1998.  Katzenmoyer is back in school, has transferred from Ohio State completely, and is now attending classes at Otterbein College and doing quite well for himself in the classroom.  That side of the story seldom gets told.  I feel good that he has rebounded spiritually, even if it means cutting all attachments with Ohio State to do it.

As for Corby Jones? He lives.

He lives every hour, and every day, never taking the present moment of consciousness for granted.

He lives.

If you’re interested, I uploaded an animated GIF of the collision to my Picasa account.  You can check it out here.  It is a big file (11MB), so that’s why I didn’t upload it locally.

  1. Yes, I know they lost to Michigan in 1997.  And yes, I know Michigan won a national title in 1997.  I said bear with me already. []
  2. Ohio State was no. 2 in America, Missouri would only win 6 games that year.  What. the. hell. []


Written by: Vico | full bio

Vico is the nom de guerre of the founder and current website chair of Our Honor Defend. He is currently living in exile in Alabama.


8 Responses to “The Art of a Decleating, by Andy Katzenmoyer”

  1. 1 Matt

    Good stuff OHD, as always. However, unless your use of the word “bare” is tongue in cheek, and I am well aware that you may have intentionally chose the word “bare”, I also recognize that you might have confused the phrase. From the interwebs:

    “Bear with me,” the standard expression, is a request for forbearance or patience. “Bare with me” would be an invitation to undress. “Bare” has an adjectival form: “The pioneers stripped the forest bare.”

  2. 2 Vico

    The sad part is that spelling was my specialty growing up. Now I’m usually good for one colossal spelling screwup in any extended thing I do. Thanks for the catch.

  3. 3 poop

    Great article! The Big Cat is one of my top 5 fave’s. I don’t think OSU has had a player as big, fast, and athletic since he left. Definitely one of the most intimidating players I’ve seen. I’m glad he found something outside of football to make him happy.

  4. 4 JohnBoy

    Great update Vico. I remember that Rose Bowl drive like it was yesterday. Cooper’s “oh shit” facial expressions are priceless. Priceless.
    It always amazed me that Katzenmoyer didn’t pan out in the NFL. Dude was a stud.
    Matt, you’re a nerd.

  5. 5 Rod

    You are correct, Katz did go to Westerville South, where his number is retired and he’s the current defensive coordinator (yes, I played there too). He’s doing very well with his gym and family.

  6. 6 Brian Fantana

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for doing a write up of not only my favorite player in Ohio State history, but also of one of my favorite plays of all-time.

  7. 7 Jim

    Although late to the party, I just stumbled across this post. Great write up of a great game.

    I’ve always insisted that the hit Katz laid on Jones was not only a game changer but a career changer for Jones. Up until that point, he was a dangerous scrambling quarterback. I may be wrong but after that play, I’m pretty sure he became a much more conservative, non-scrambling quarterback.

  8. 8 michelle

    great article. and i’ll help confirm katz did go to south. :) my alma mater as well, and i remember seeing his name on a giant sign outside the stadium every friday night. good times. great player. i’m glad he’s back, i’m gonna have to go see one of their games this year.

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