Meyer Still Searching for Horizontal Threat
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State’s offense was good enough to get the victory at Michigan State over the weekend, but still not good enough for the head coach.
While Urban Meyer had plenty of good things to say about his offense, and wide receiver Corey Brown in particular, there is still one main criticism that is holding this team back from being the explosive offensive attack Meyer is looking for.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“In theory, our spread is we're going to attack you vertical and horizontal, and our horizontal guy has to be able to shake loose on a couple of those,” Meyer said Monday following a 17-16 victory in East Lansing over the weekend.
“And he's not had a lot of experience with it, but we've got to recruit, get some more. I need three or four guys that can do that.”
Meyer was close to landing one of them in Our Lady Of Good Counsel’s Stefon Diggs, a 5-star speedster out of Olney, Md. who ultimately opted to stay home and sign with the Terrapins instead.
Diggs has 12 catches for 259 yards and three touchdowns at Maryland this season, where he also serves as the team’s primary kick and punt returner as a freshman. Without him, Meyer is left desperately trying to find someone who can fill that void until he can get Jalin Marshall and Ezekiel Elliot on campus next fall
“When I say we're not built to do those things, when you watch some of those other teams hit it out there, that's one‑on‑one,” Meyer said Monday.
“You can't get tackled for six yards.”
The Buckeyes ran a number of bubble screens to the outside on Saturday, hoping to get Brown in space against the Michigan State defense. It didn’t result in any big plays, but it was an effective way to keep the chains moving without Braxton Miller having to take a hit.
“I thought we did a good job handling their pressure with those first and second down throws on the perimeter,” said offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
“Those are just extensions of the run game. To throw a bubble and make six, you’d like it to be blocked perfect and the kid to go down and score, but at least you’ve got second and four. It’s like running the football for six. We had a plan and we executed it pretty well.”
Brown finished the game with a team-high 12 catches for 84 yards, tying him with Billy Anders, Brian Stablein and Bob Grimes for the fourth-most catches in a single game in school history.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“It feels really good. Obviously I'm blessed to be in this situation,” said Brown, whose 32 catches are tied with Penn State's Allen Robinson for the most in the Big Ten after five games.
“I'm basically in the perfect situation. I'm glad right now, I'm trying to break everything. I'm glad that Coach Herman has got the confidence to call as many plays as he did on Saturday for me.”
Brown is on pace to lead the Buckeyes with 77 catches this season after tying for the team-lead with just 14 a year ago. He’s also on pace to finish with 761 yards, which is not the kind of yardage Meyer and his staff expect from a guy who’s on pace for nearly 80 catches.
“He's allowed to make a guy miss once in a while, get more than 8 yards,” Meyer said sarcastically on Monday.
“That's going to be my coaching lesson today, that you break a tackle. But that is spread offense.”
Brown said he hadn’t heard from Meyer about his seven yards-per-catch average against the Spartans, but he already knows he has to do a better job of making something happen on the outside; especially if they are going to open things up for Miller and Carlos Hyde in between the tackles.
“Especially on those types of screen passes, the blocking was perfect,” said Brown, a junior out of Cardinal O’Hara High School just outside Philadelphia.
“We did a really good job on the perimeter. I've just got to get better using my vision and speed, and I feel like I've got to break some tackles.”
Brown was a running back in high school, but he has turned himself into one of the most reliable pass-catchers on the team this season, which is a far cry from what he was during his first two seasons in Columbus.
“He's really improved, and it couldn't happen to a guy that's more committed to excellence right now,” Meyer said.
“The good thing is, he's not near what he can be.So very proud of him.I think he's got 30 catches already.He's earned that. He's our guy to go-to guy right now in certain situations, so I'm very proud of him.”
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