A New Way of Doing Business
Buckeyes Plan to Set Tempo Early On Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS — The last time Urban Meyer coached a game against Miami (Ohio), his team managed just 25 yards of offense in the first three quarters.
Meyer’s Gators eventually figured things out, not enough to turn their season around, but they did manage to make their 34-12 victory over the Redhawks look a lot more convincing than it really was, thanks to a 72-yard touchdown run from Chris Rainey in the fourth quarter.
Miami was coming off a 1-11 season in 2009 and was a five touchdown underdog heading into Gainesville against then-No. 4 ranked Florida.
The Buckeyes won’t be favored by nearly as many points Saturday – most odds makers have them as 23-point favorites – but Meyer is expecting much difference results as he makes his Ohio State debut against a familiar opponent.
“I think I have a team that's champing at the bit to go play,” Meyer said with enthusiasm Monday.
“And I wanted to have an angry team, a team with a chip on its shoulder, and at this point I'd say we have that. Obviously we have a lot of preparation left in this week, but I like where we're at right now.”
This 2012 Ohio State offense may not be on the same level as some of Meyer’s most dynamic offenses at Florida, but they certainly should be a lot better offensively than the last team Meyer coached in Gainesville.
With a vibrant playmaker running the offense in Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes will look to set an early tempo against Miami as they try to get out of the gates much faster than Meyer’s team did two years ago.
“We're going to try to be the aggressor on offense, not just try to ease our way into it and see what the defense does and try to play it off of that,” said co-offensive coordinator Ed Warinner.
“We'll try to take the game to people and be aggressive.”
That alone should be cause for celebration in Buckeye-backer bars around the country, not to mention the 105+ thousand of them who will cram into Ohio Stadium to watch Meyer’s offense for the first time.
The Buckeyes were among the worst in the country at scoring points last season, and they were even worse at gaining yards. They ranked 107th in total offense and 115th in passing offense under former OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman.
While he kept Luke Fickell to run his defense, Meyer brought in an entirely new staff on offense – excluding Stan Drayton who had been with him at Florida. That included not only offensive coordinator Tom Herman, who is considered a master of the up-tempo, no-huddle offense being run up at Oregon, but also Warinner, who was instrumental in dialing up some of Mark Mangino’s explosive offenses at Kansas.
“I think that there needs to be a transformation there from previous to new style, new way of doing business,” said Warinner, whose Jayhawk offense ranked second in the nation in scoring back in 2007.
“It’s a new philosophy and hopefully, like I said, an aggressive approach in all phases – run, pass game, attacking people and saying, ‘hey, we're coming after you.’”
That is a drastic diversion from what Ohio State’s offense has looked like for most of the last decade. It often looked the opposite, as though it was running away from the opposing defense in order to let its own defense and special teams win the game without much help from the offense.
“We know everyone was looking at us as a the weak link on the team last year,” said wideout Corey “Philly” Brown.
“We’re just excited to show everyone that’s not the case this year.”
The Buckeyes scored a total of 19 first-half touchdowns in 13 games last season. Three of those touchdowns came in the opener against Akron and two more in Ohio State’s 37-17 win over Colorado.
With Miller suddenly inserted into the lineup, the Buckeyes were scoreless for three quarters in their conference opener against Michigan State, a 10-7 loss at home. While they managed a pair of touchdowns in the first half against Nebraska, they totaled six points in the first half of their wins over Illinois and Wisconsin.
They trailed 10-0 in each of the next three weeks against Indiana, Purdue and Penn State – with a 1-2 record to show for it – and while the Buckeyes jumped ahead of Michigan 7-0, the quickly trailed 16-7 by the end of the first quarter.
“I think my point in saying that is you always react as a coach as the game progresses to what a defense does,” Warinner said.
“But we're not going to ease into games where we're just going to come out and just pound a few up the middle and be real conservative and then kind of see how they're playing us and then we'll start to pick it up after that.
“I mean, that's not going to be our approach at all.”
Quite the contrary, in fact, compared to what the offense looked like not too long ago.
“On offense we get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals,” Meyer said.
After all, they do count for more, right?
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