the-Ozone Note and Quotebook

 






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Football
The-Ozone Note and Quotebook — Miami (Ohio) Edition
By Tony Gerdeman

The Catch of the Year: Trailing 3-0 to Miami early in the second quarter, the Buckeyes were looking for something to shake things up and wake things up. They needed a play, and Braxton Miller knew where to go.

"Last night at dinner Braxton looked at me," said receiver Devin Smith, "I shook his hand and he said, 'Let's do it, let's make some plays'."

That play turned out to be a spectacular 23-yard spinning and leaping one-handed catch in the endzone, using most every bit of Smith's 41-inch vertical.


It was the number one play in SportsCenter's Top Ten Plays of the Day, it was also number one to Smith as well.

"It was definitely my best all time catch," he said.

"Coach Smith showed me a picture of me catching it and my eyes were looking down. Once the ball hit my hand, I just squeezed really tight."

"Devin was pretty sweet," said fullback Zach Boren. "You're gonna see that on the top plays for a while."

"I don't know if Devin has been saving that, but I've not seen him do that," said Urban Meyer. "Now that I know he can, I expect it."

"But that was a wild moment. 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."

"He needed that. We needed that."

For his part, Braxton Miller didn't seem overly surprised by the catch.

"I threw it inside and he jumped. You know he's a hurdler. Throw it as high as you want, he can get it."

And he did.

Braxton's Record Run: When Braxton Miller took an option keeper into the endzone from 65 yards out on the first play of the third quarter, he set an Ohio State record for rushing yards in a game by a quarterback with 164.

Braxton Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Braxton Miller

He also wowed an entire stadium in the process. Though while it was impressive, it wasn't anything new for those who get to see him on a daily basis.

"It's not new," said Zach Boren. "We see it every day in practice. It amazes us every day, just the plays that he makes. It's scary how good he could be."

Boren wasn't the only teammate impressed, though he was probably the least critical.

"I thought that run was pretty sweet," said Carlos Hyde.

"He hit him with the dead leg. I thought it was pretty sweet and he took it to the house. Braxton is a fat guy, he was done after that run. Braxton needs to get some more conditioning."

Slow Build: Despite the slow start, the Buckeye offense had a fantastic day with over 500 yards of total offense and seven touchdowns scored.

And all of this was essentially done without a productive first quarter. This begs the question: what went wrong at the start of the game.

"I felt like we were too worried about our assignments," said Corey Linsley.

Corey Linsley
Photo by Jim Davidson
Corey Linsley

"Miami was a heck of a team, obviously. They played tough. They came out swinging. I also felt like a huge part of it was that we were tentative and worried about our assignments, I know I was. I was worried about the snap, obviously I had one bad one. Whoops. But I felt like we as an offense as a whole were worried about doing everything right, instead of just going."

"I felt like we should have started off better," said Devin Smith.

"We started off kind of slow and then picked it up. I believe that we've got to keep going and get better. I know we're going to attack practices this week and just keep getting better."

Expect those practices to be attacked by more than just the players. You can go ahead and put the coaches on that list as well.

"Darned first quarter," Meyer said.

"I was embarrassed with the way we were playing. We worked so hard and we didn't play very well, in all phases."

Scratching the Surface: The talk in the postgame was that what people saw on Saturday was just a small portion of what the Ohio State offense can actually do.

Plays were kept basic, even if it didn't look like it.

Carlos Hyde
Photo by Dan Harker
Carlos Hyde

"We showed a little bit, but there's plenty more to come," said Carlos Hyde.

"We didn't do too much because once we got it going, we just did our normal stuff, just lining up different ways. I feel like we just did some basic stuff and got going."

"We didn't run every play that we have in the playbook by any means," said Zach Boren. 

"I think we did enough to win today, and I think that's what the coaches wanted us to do. We showed enough."

For the final three quarters, basic or not, the Buckeye offense essentially did whatever it was that they needed to. But there will soon come a time when that offense will be asked to do more. The players, however, feel pretty confident about what they have in store.

"Our offense is built for that," said Hyde.

"We keep scoring and we keep scoring. That's kind of Coach Meyer's thing. Once we score, just keep going and keep going. Have fun scoring.

"I feel like the offense is going to do more than that second quarter. We definitely got going, and it was good that we got going, but I feel like the offense can do more than that."

"If we get all of our mistakes right, if we come out of the gates swinging, I think the message is that our offense is a threat," said Corey Linsley.

A New Boren Identity: Fullback Zach Boren entered Saturday's game with one career carry, and left it with three career carries.

Zach Boren
Photo by Jim Davidson
Zach Boren

Boren carried the ball twice for ten yards, including a touchdown, and also caught two passes for 18 yards. It was the most productive statistical game of his career.

A four-year starter at fullback, the last time he scored a touchdown was as a freshmen in 2009.

"Absolutely," answered Urban Meyer when asked if he had designs on getting Boren into the endzone. "I love Zack Boren. We had to do that."

"I think we had four or five runs early in the game called to him and the defense gave us a look where the quarterback pulled it. But Zach Boren will carry the ball for you. He's a good runner. He's a Buckeye, and he deserves to get it."

"If you watch him play, he's a nifty guy. That wasn't a gimme, we'll do a gift once in a while. That was not a gift. He's a good player."

As Meyer said, Boren is a good player. He's also fairly humble, and he never forgets his roots.

"It was fun," Boren said.

"A bunch of the guys came up and gave me big hugs because they knew how long it's been. But the offensive line blocked great for those two plays, and I know what it's like to be in their shoes because I've been in it for a long time. Those guys don't get enough credit for the work that they do."

As for this new Zach Boren, when can we expect him back in the endzone?

"We'll see what happens," he said. "Maybe next week."

Halftime Adjustments: Much like the second quarter for the offense, the second half for the Buckeye defense was an improved squad.

There was more pressure on quarterback Zak Dysert, and that was by design.

"We were given a little more freedom in the second half." said captain John Simon.

John Simon
Photo by Jim Davidson
John Simon

"We knew that they were really going to make it a passing game, and they wanted to spread us out a little bit. So we may have gotten a little more freedom. I think our guys did a nice job of getting there a little bit. Corners and linebackers were giving us extra time to get there. It was a total team defensive effort. Ten points is never too bad of a game."

The intent early in the game was simply to keep everything in front of the defense, and that included stopping the running game. Miami never really tried to establish the run, and with a score of 28-3 when the RedHawks finally got the ball in the second half, they had become one dimensional.

"We've got to do a better job of letting our guys up front go," said Luke Fickell.

"We wanted to make sure that we kept him in the pocket and stopped the run. We kind of said that we couldn't ask those guys to do too much, to drop and be in coverage, so just turn them loose a little bit and let them rush."

Fickell's method had a little madness to it because he was seemingly hoping that not everything would go as planned.

"I wanted us to have a little adversity. That's why I kept saying to Coach Vrabes and Coach Withers before the game, 'We'll be alright, I just want to see how we react and respond to adversity.' We need to be challenged and see how we would react to it."

"It's going to be good for us. We knew that it was going to be a learning experience."

Youth Being Served: Part of the unleashing of the defensive line involved freshmen Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt. Both Spence and Washington recorded sacks, while Schutt recorded three tackles, which was more than Johnathan Hankins.

Noah Spence and John Simon rough up the QB.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Noah Spence and John Simon

"They played very well," John Simon said of the talented freshmen.

"For their first game in college football they were very composed. They knew what they were supposed to do. Noah got in there on a nice play with Sabino, and Adolphus made a great play also. Tommy made a few tackles in the run game. All of them are out there making plays for us, and that's what you like to see as an older guy."

What they showed on Saturday was exactly what they had shown in fall camp, which gives the coaches the confidence that these three players can certainly play a part in the 2012 defense.

"They're not going to be freshmen," Fickell said of Spence and Washington.

"They're not going to be treated like freshmen. And  by the third or fourth game, we need those guys to be grown men and I think they will be. That showed out there today."

It's Good to Have Goals: The Buckeyes forced three turnovers against Miami, but with all of the tipped passes, they should have had more. The focus moving forward will be to capitalize on the opportunities presented because when better teams come around, the Buckeyes will need all of the help that they can get.

"We've got to get three," Fickell said of their turnover goal.

"We dropped one, and that's the one that sticks in our head. That's gotta be the trademark of our defense. We've got to be sound and we've got to get turnovers. We've got to make the plays whenever they're there."

Last season, those plays didn't get made. This season, they can't let that happen again.

"It's not okay for them to screw up," Fickell said of his defense. "We pride ourselves in being sound in what we do."

Coach Nostradamus: Prior to the game, Urban Meyer explained his expectations for the offense. They would attack and they would set the tone. And he also predicted that they would top a certain numerical milestone.

"We were looking forward to it," Devin Smith said, referring to the Ohio State offense that put up 538 yards of total offense.

"Coach Meyer said we were going to go for 500 yards, and it happened. I feel like we have scratched the surface, but there's a lot of improvement needed and we've got to get better."

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