Thursday, September 6

Buckeyes overcome slow start, trounce Miami (OH)

Urban Meyer’s Ohio St debut went pretty much exactly how I expected it to. It wasn’t pretty at times, but in the end the talent differential was just way too much as the Buckeyes steamrolled Miami (OH), 56-10.

Let’s start with the negatives. It may sound like I’m nitpicking with a 46-point win, but this was far from mistake-free football. OSU came out of the gate ultra-sluggish, punting on each of their first four possessions and trailing 3-0 at the end of the 1st quarter. Braxton Miller looked just as I thought he would, seemingly great at times and barely mediocre at others. Twice in the first half, Evan Spencer torched his defender and could have crawled into the end zone with a halfway decent throw, but Miller missed him by miles each time. The secondary had one miscommunication after another, allowing Redhawk QB Zac Dysert to throw for over 300 yards, a number that would have been much higher if not for an enormous amount of dropped balls by his receivers.

I can get past these three mistakes, however, as I expected them coming in and frankly they were overshadowed by the positives (after the slow start OSU outscored Miami 56-7 in the last three quarters, Miller set a Buckeye QB record for rushing yards in a game, DB Travis Howard picked off Dysert twice). The thing I was most disappointed in was the lack of pressure on the quarterback. Dysert had more time back there than Morris freaking Day. John Simon and Big Jon Hankins had very little impact on this game, which really surprised me. The lone bright spot in pass rush came from Nathan Williams, who was not only able to play after a season-ending knee injury less than a year ago, but had the best performance from any Buckeye on the front seven. It was great to see #43 being a disruptive force yet again. Now that we know he’s healthy, look for Williams to play a huge role for Ohio St as the season goes on.

Game Recap
Saying that Ohio St started the season slowly would be a drastic understatement. The offense could only muster 46 yards on 1/7 passing from Brax, and punted on each of its four first quarter possessions. Miami (OH) had two decent drives, but a couple of dropped touchdowns forced two attempted field goals, only one of which was made. With 15 minutes in the books, OSU trailed 3-0.

The Bucks came out to start the second looking like a much different team, as Carlos Hyde broke off a big run on the first play followed by a 38-yard pass to Philly Brown. Then on first-and-ten from the Miami 23, Miller quickly dropped back and tossed one up towards the back of the end zone. Devin Smith leaped up, went across his body, and made a one-handed catch that may be the catch of the year come November.

That was really all the Buckeyes needed to get going. The defense tightened up, forcing three punts and allowing only one first down on the Redhawks’ remaining three possessions of the half. The offense had three impressive drives, the first two resulting in a 5-yard TD pass to Brown and a 4-yard TD run from Hyde. The final drive of the half was the longest from the Bucks, the big play coming when Miller finally didn’t overthrow Spencer and the two connected for a 44-yarder on third-and-15. That set up OSU at the one, but there was only three seconds remaining. With a couple of options here, I immediately made my decision, as I shouted for them to give it to Carlos Hyde. Hyde indeed did get the rock, and was promptly stuffed as the clock ran out and Ohio St left some points on the board. Nonetheless, a dominating period left the Bucks up 21-3 at the break.

One play and 17 seconds into the second half, the Buckeye rout was on. Miller rolled out to the left, made one stutter-step to leave a defender in the dust, and was off to the races. No white jersey was going to catch him at that point, and the 65-yard score officially put this one away. Freshman phenom Noah Spence made his presence felt early in the season by sacking Dysert and forcing Miami to punt deep in their own territory. Things continued to fall apart for the ‘Hawks, as the snap went over the punter’s head and after a scrum in the end zone was picked up by Bradley Roby for another Buckeye score.

The biggest news throughout the rest of the game was when Miller had to leave the field in the third quarter and was replaced by Kenny Guiton. Up 35-10, you would think that would end Brax’s day. He came back in on the next series, however, and limped off the field again after the Buckeyes were forced to punt. Finally, Guiton came in for good on the next drive, and Miller does seem to currently be 100%.

Zac Dysert threw a touchdown late in the third to cut the lead to 35-10, but was intercepted by Travis Howard on their next drive which set up Hyde’s second TD of the ballgame. Apparently wanting to get Guiton some work, OSU continued to throw the ball on their next series as Guiton went 4/5 and the drive was capped off by Zach Boren rushing it in from two yards out. With only two career carries coming into the season, I mentioned in my preview that I expect for him to be more of a factor in Meyer’s offense.

Bri’onte Dunn did an excellent job of running out the clock, as he converted three third downs and finished the 6+ minute drive by scoring from four yards out to complete the scoring at 56-10. I was also glad to find out that his name is pronounced with a long i, so I can now call him Bri and feel fine about it.

Game Ball
Braxton will get the most credit for this blowout victory (and with 368 total yards, I wouldn’t say he doesn’t deserve it) but I was most impressed with cornerback Bradley Roby. In that first quarter where the Buckeyes struggled, I noted several times that Roby looked like he was the only one who came to play. He was all over the field and in nearly every play. He capped off his great day with a third quarter touchdown after Miami bumbled an attempted punt.

Big Ten
There were a few other Big Ten teams in buzzworthy games this week, most notably - that school up north. My thoughts on their game against Alabama are as follows…HAHAHAHAHAHA!! HAHAHAHAHAHA! ’Bama is a great team, no doubt, and just pushed themselves to the front of the pack of National Title contenders, but oh man did michigan look bad. can’t-tie completed only 42% of his passes while being picked off twice. He was also stifled trying to run against this devastating Tide defense, gaining only 27 yards on 10 carries. Maybe that #8 ranking was just a bit too high, eh?

In other parts of Big Ten country, Michigan St got the conference’s biggest win of the weekend with a comeback victory over 24th ranked Boise St, and Penn St was upset by Ohio. Pretty much everyone else got wins over terrible teams that were much closer than they should have been.

One-Man Gang
I thought we might see a little bit more of a time-share in the Buckeye backfield this season, but that was far from the case on Saturday, at least when this game was in doubt. Carlos Hyde carried the ball 17 times, and just about every one in the first two-and-a-half quarters. He did a solid job, picking up 82 yards and two touchdowns. Dunn was the focus in mop-up time, carrying seven times for 31 yards and a TD himself.

While I did expect Dunn and Rod Smith to get a few more carries earlier on, it wasn’t totally surprising that Hyde got all of the attention due to the fact that Jordan Hall was out with a foot injury. He should be out at least one more week, but definitely expect things to change when he does return. And of course, Ohio St’s best runner is still lining up under center. Miller set a Buckeye single-game record for rushing yards by a quarterback by picking up 161 yards against Miami on a staggering 9.5 ypc. While often compared to Terrelle Pryor, I did notice one big different between the two running QBs in last week’s game - while TP had the greatest stiff-arm I’ve ever seen, Brax just lowers his shoulder and runs bitches over. I’d like Miller to take a little more cautious approach at times, seeing as our season depends on his health, but I do like sending a message early.

Up Next: vs. Central Florida (1-0), 12:00, ESPN2
UCF should present a bigger challenge for Ohio St this week, as they boast a potent offense and would be favorites to take Conference-USA if they were eligible. Like the Buckeyes, UCF has been under fire from the NCAA over the past 12 months and also face a 2012 postseason Bowl ban. The OSU secondary will be tested in this one, and I am more interested in seeing how they handle this Knight passing attack than anything else in this game. While UCF might be able to put up some points, in the end, Ohio St will be able to put up a lot more.
Prediction: Ohio St 44 UFC 21


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