Offense Earns High Grades for Opener
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After he got over his initial embarrassment from the 43-yard, scoreless first quarter, Urban Meyer was actually pretty pleased with his offense on Saturday.
Or at least he was pleased with the adjustments that were made by coordinator Tom Herman and the rest of his new offensive staff after Miami (Ohio) gave the Buckeyes’ new-look spread attack some problems in the opening quarter.
Photo by Dan Harker
“They did a good job scouting our offense for the last 10 months, so you have to have counter options, and we went to them fairly quickly,” Meyer said Monday.
“The big hits we had were off different sets and different formations.”
One of the things that really helped Meyer’s offense break things open was the play of sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller. He didn’t look comfortable on the first couple drives, and started the game just 1-of-7 passing, but Miller quickly turned it around in the second quarter.
It was Miller’s calm demeanor when things weren’t going well, however, that impressed Meyer the most in his coaching debut at Ohio State.
“We hit one in the middle of the first quarter where we gave up two big plays on defense. You were in reverse on offense, and I didn't feel our quarterback (panicked),” Meyer said.
“I was really impressed with Braxton, because I've seen players overreact because coaches overreact like I was. But he was very good.”
Photo by Dan Harker
Miller finished the game 14-of-24 passing for 207 yards. He also threw for a pair of touchdowns while setting a school rushing record for a quarterback with 161 yards on 17 carries.
All of that earned Miller a ‘championship performance’ and the Offensive Player of the Game award for week one of the 2012 football season.
“Our quarterback, who is also the offensive player of the game, set a Ohio State record for quarterback and rushing yards,” Meyer reminded everyone at his press conference.
“He can also can play a lot better, but he managed us through some tough situations.”
Miller wasn’t the only one on offense who earned high marks from Meyer and the coaching staff following Ohio State’s 56-10 victory over the visiting Redhawks.
Coach Kenny Guiton confers with Coach Urban Meyer
Photo by Dan Harker
“Kenny Guiton came in and did well,” Meyer said of the backup quarterback.
“His nickname from this point forward is ‘Coach Guiton.’ He does some things. He made a couple of checks out there, and he does it without the reps, so a lot of his things are mental reps, so really appreciate Kenny Guiton. Did a nice job.”
The highest grade on the offense, however, may have come from someone else in the backfield.
“Carlos Hyde, 93 percent grade out, which is very high,” Meyer said of his current starting tailback.
“Seventy percent of his yards were after contact – 58 yards after contact of his 82.”
Some Love for the Big Fellas
Fullback Zach Boren also graded out as a champion on Saturday, with an 81 percent, which included the first rushing touchdown of his Ohio State career. It couldn’t have happened without the guys up front clearing the way for him.
“Andrew Norwell graded out at champion,” Meyer said of his starting left guard.
“Five knockdowns, two pancakes, no pressures or sacks. He's really – Coach (Ed) Warinner is very high on him and says he's one of the most improved players on our team.”
It helped that he was lined up between a pair of fourth-year juniors in center Corey Linsley and left tackle Jack Mewhort, who also graded out as a champion on offense over the weekend.
“Jack Mewhort, three knock downs,” Meyer said, “very physical, played very good.”
Wideout Corey “Philly” Brown led the team with 7 catches for 87 yards, and graded out an 81 percent in the opener. Both he and Devin Smith had championship performances against Miami.
“He's come a long way,” Meyer said of Smith, who provided the heroics with his one-handed touchdown grab.
“If you told me after our first week of spring practice, he graded champion our first game, we'd have a little conversation about that. But I'm really proud of him. He's done a nice job and has improved.
Back Where They Belong
Meyer didn’t mention nearly as many players on defense who graded out champion performances over the weekend. Though there may have been more, he went straight to the secondary, where it appears cornerback Travis Howard shared Defensive Player of the Week honors with the man across from him.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“He had – what we do on the defensive backs is how many opportunities you have to make a play – and he had an incredible amount,” Meyer said of the redshirt sophomore out of Georgia.
“(He had) 30 opportunities to make a play. In that kind of game, where they throw all over the place, he was 25 of 30 for 83 percent.”
To grade out a winner, a players needs at least an 80 percent overall grade for the game. Some of that comes from being around the football, but certainly not all of it.
“If you're a defensive back and it's an inside run, you're not point of attack. That's rather obvious,” Meyer said.
“Any time a defensive back has an opportunity to make a play, that is a much more significant grade than an inside run. So he was 83 percent, very good. Five tackles, one assist, three passes broken up, and one fumble recovery.”
Meyer said Roby had 30 production points on the back end of the defense, but even he didn’t get the highest grade in the group. That went to one of Ohio State’s starting safeties.
“Christian Bryant played extra, 96 percent grade out; 8 percent point of attack,” Meyer said.
“Seven tackles, one assist, one extra effort – 17 production points.”
Bryant was also mentioned as a special teams standout, along with Jamal Marcus, Drew Basil, Ben Buchanan and redshirt sophomore Adam Griffin – the team’s Special Teams Player of the Week.
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