Meyer Looking for Touchdown Makers

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Last updated: 09/04/2012 2:20 PM

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Football
Meyer Looking for ‘Touchdown Makers’ on Offense

By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Anyone can score a touchdown – just be in the right place at the right time when the coach calls your number around the goal line.

Urban Meyer
Photo by Dan Harker
Urban Meyer

But how many guys can actually make them happen – pull a ball out of thin air, knock a guy over on the 1-yard line or, as was the case Saturday, stutter-step a guy out of his shoes at the 30-yard line.

That’s what Urban Meyer is looking at each and every week throughout the season when he sits down to decide which players on offense should get the ball that week. 

“We really try to evaluate who can make a big play? I ask the question all the time, who can physically score the touchdown,” Meyer said Monday during his second weekly press luncheon at Ohio State.

“I'm not talking about the one against Wisconsin where the guy scrambles on the run, catches it and falls down. I mean go make a touchdown.”

That was one of Meyer’s biggest concerns when he took over the Ohio State program. Everyone thought he was being hyper-critical of his wide receivers simply based on their poor numbers a year ago – which were largely the resort of a dismal passing attack in Columbus.

In reality, Meyer wasn’t sure he had many guys on offense who could make a play when there wasn’t a play to be made and find a way to get in the end zone – the way sophomore Devin Smith did on his one-handed, air-show grab over the weekend.

“I didn't know Devin Smith could (do that),” Meyer said Monday.

Devin Smith

“I have not seen it, now I know he can. I think Carlos Hyde can. I think Braxton Miller can. To see Evan Spencer go up, we had to see him do that.”

Meyer thought he had a playmaker emerging in the spring, but Jordan Hall’s injury over the summer forced him to look at other options. The first was Hyde, who has taken hold of Ohio State’s starting tailback job.

Another was Corey “Philly” Brown, who caught a career-high seven passes for 87 yards and a touchdown in the opener. Meyer saw that coming in Brown, who had been Ohio State’s top playmaker at the outside skill position during fall camp.

He didn’t necessarily see it coming, at least not this early, from Smith – that doesn’t mean he didn’t see the potential in the sophomore out of Massillon.

“I've never been down on Devin at all,” Meyer said Monday.

“He plays like a young player that had a new offense thrown in his lap, a great kid to coach. He's also running track in the spring, if you remember, so we didn't have him all the time.”

According to Meyer, playing receiver in his offense is ‘real,’ and not something a player can just pick up and run with out of the gates.

“It's not one of those, ‘hey, you stand out there and we'll flip you the ball once in a while,’” Meyer said.

“You are very involved in blocking. All those perimeter runs with Braxton Miller takes it 60 yards and no one touches his jersey. There is something other than Braxton Miller running down the field. There are ten other guys that have to grade out a winner to have that happen.

“So playing receiver in this offense, that is a grown man's job.”

Smith’s catch against Miami was nothing short of a grown man’s catch. Replays would show Redhawks defensive back Dayonne Nunley trying to line himself up for a play on the ball in the back of the end zone.

It looked like he might have had a chance at an interception, except Smith had other ideas.

“He's really coming on,” Meyer said.

“(Are) there ignition plays in young players careers that make them get that confidence? Nothing greater than confidence, nothing worse than false confidence with an athlete. And I think we all now, I know I have confidence, but more importantly he has some confidence in himself.”

The Buckeyes also have confidence in tight end Jake Stoneburner, who was relatively quiet in Ohio State’s season-opener – unlike last year – but Meyer is hoping to develop more guys who can go make a play like the ones Smith and Spencer made over the weekend.

“We're still trying to figure out who can score a touchdown,” Meyer added.

“Not who can score, but who can go make a touchdown, and that's what we're trying to still figure out. The good news is I think we have a couple guys that can do that.”

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