Miller Explodes in Meyer’s New Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — For the first quarter of football it looked like Miami (Ohio) might have Urban Meyer’s number.
The last time Meyer faced the Redhawks, they limited his historically dynamic offense to a bungling 25 total yards in the first three quarters before letting their chances slip away in the fourth quarter.
Meyer was still coaching at Florida then – it would be his last season-opener in Gainesville – but things started off about as rocky on Saturday, as Meyer’s retooled Ohio State offense found very little room to work with in the first quarter.
Photo by Jim Davidson
The Buckeyes were outscored 3-0 and outgained 172-48 over the first 15 minutes. Over the next 45, it was all Buckeyes; and all Braxton Miller.
Ohio State’s sophomore quarterback threw for over 200 yards and set an OSU quarterback single-game rushing record with 161 yards on 17 carries. He scored three touchdowns, including one on a highlight-reel 65-yard run that looked more like it belonged on the playground than inside Ohio Stadium.
“I did a little jerk and I scored a touchdown,” said Miller, who capped off his 65-yard bolt down the left sideline with a stutter-step at the 30-yard line that left Miami safety D.J. Brown stunned in his wake.
That score put the Buckeyes up 28-3 early in the third quarter, but it doesn’t explain how they rattled off 28 straight points to get there.
All He Does…
It all started with an immaculate 23-yard touchdown catch from sophomore wideout Devin Smith. The Buckeyes started their first drive of the second quarter at their own 17-yard line, but Miller quickly guided them across midfield.
Photo by Dan Harker
He found wideout Corey Brown on a scramble play to his right, where Brown broke behind the defense for a 38-yard catch. It might have been a touchdown if Miller had put it right on the money.
“He didn't throw as well as he's been throwing in practice,” Meyer said of his quarterback, who was 14-of-24 for 207 yards.
“So I anticipate he will.”
On the very next play, Miller saw Smith in single coverage on the right side. Smith made a move on his defender and broke towards the end zone. Miller lofted it up with a trajectory that made it look like the ball was either going to be picked in the end zone or fly out the back end.
Instead, Smith made a one-handed Superman grab that gave the Buckeyes the momentum they desperately needed on offense.
“That was a wild moment,” Meyer said.
“And that was a moment that ignited the stadium. The stadium got quiet. Our sideline got quiet and we were waiting for a play to happen and he went out and made a play. That's football.”
The Buckeyes got the ball back quickly follow a three-and-out from their defense, and Miller wasted no time getting them in the end zone again. With the help of tailback Carlos Hyde and key receptions from Corey Brown and Jake Stoneburner, Miller had OSU back inside Miami’s red zone in just four plays.
Closing the Deal
Photo by Dan Harker
Brown got in the end zone on a quick swing pass from Miller to give OSU a 14-3 lead, but it was Hyde would put the game away for good.
The Buckeye defense would force another three-and-out on Miami’s next possession, and again Ohio State capitalized. This time they went 57 yards in seven plays, with Hyde capping off the drive by walking his way into the end zone from four yards out.
Hyde nearly scored again on the final play of the first half, but he was ruled down at the goal line. Otherwise, the Buckeyes would have scored touchdowns on all four of their possessions in the second quarter.
The drive nearly went haywire when Miller was rushed in the pocket. He threw the ball up for grabs behind the line of scrimmage, but it was ruled intentional grounding instead of a fumble.
It set up a 2nd-and-22 for Ohio State at the OSU 25-yard line. On the very next play Miller got it all back and then some. He went 23 yards for the first down and then connected with Evan Spencer, who made a great catch with a defender hanging on his back, for a 44-yard gain down the Miami 1-yard line.
Hyde simply couldn’t punch it in as time expired on the half.
“Ohio State should be able to knock it in from the 1. I almost forgot about that. Thanks for ruining my day,” Meyer said with an uneasy laugh.
“That's bad. That's absolutely nonnegotiable nonsense. And we'll hit that with a sledge-hammer on Sunday.”
After Miller scored the first touchdown of the second half on his 65-yard jaunt, the Buckeyes came up with a key special teams play to put the game away.
Miami punter Zac Murphy dropped the snap, which was high, and OSU cornerback Bradley Roby ripped it away in the end zone for a touchdown to give the Buckeyes a 35-3 lead with 12:41 to play in the third quarter.
After Miami got its first and only touchdown of the game on a 44-yard pass from Dysert to Nick Harwell, Hyde would score again from eight yards to give Ohio State a 42-10 lead.
Photo by Jim Davidson
That’s when fullback Zach Boren picked up the second and third carries of his career, blasting into the end zone from two-yards out for his first career rushing touchdown.
“Was that the first one ever? Second carry? No. Second carry of his career,” Meyer asked with a surprised laugh.
“He's a good runner. He's a Buckeye, and he deserves to get it.”
Freshman tailback Bri’onte Dunn would cap off the day’s scoring with a four-yard touchdown run, as Ohio State outgained Miami 538-312 in Meyer’s first career win as the head football coach in Columbus.
Related Stories: Meyer Soaks up First Win, Two Minute Drill: OSU Postgame
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