5 To Watch: Ohio State Offense

BuckeyeSports.com presents five key players Michigan State fans should know going into Saturday's Big Ten opener.

#1 – QB: Braxton Miller (6-2, 220 Soph.)

Miller is truly the engine that makes the Ohio State offense go. The sophomore quarterback's abilities with his legs are special, as he can make defenders look silly while running the ball and also has the speed to outrun opponents once he hits the clear. The Huber Heights, Ohio, native is still putting everything together in the passing game and has misfired on some potential big plays, but his throwing skills are much improved from when Michigan State fans saw him under center last season and he's developing into someone who can make the high-level throws. Ohio State has limited his carries the past two weeks but Urban Meyer has said he'll unleash the signal caller's legs if the need arises and the game is on the line. Right now, Miller is tied with Michigan's Denard Robinson with 110.25 rushing yards per game, best among quarterbacks in FBS.

#2 – RB: Jordan Hall (5-9, 194 Sr.)

Ohio State hopes to have the much bigger Carlos Hyde (6-0, 232) back from injury this week, but Hall is still expected to see plenty of touches. While Hyde can break tackles on OSU's inside option runs, Hall has the quickness, agility and vision to make defenders miss in space. He missed the first two games while recovering from an offseason foot injury, but Hall knocked the rust off the past two weeks and looks ready to go with Big Ten play starting. A co-captain, Hall is coming off the first 100-yard game of his career vs. UAB.

#3 – WR: Corey "Philly" Brown (6-0, 186 Jr.)

Brown tied for the team lead last year with 14 catches – no, that's not a misprint – and has become the team's No. 1 target this year with 20 grabs. He's a sure-handed player who seems to have developed chemistry with Miller on intermediate routes. Brown was a running back in high school in the Philadelphia area – hence the nickname, one he's not particularly fond of but must have considering the Buckeyes have a Corey Brown on defense as well – and admitted he struggled mentally with the switch to wideout his first two seasons. Now he's embraced it, and the results have been good so far. He'll also be pulled into the backfield at times to serve as a pitch man on Miller's option runs, especially when OSU runs a triple-option play.

#4 – WR: Devin Smith (6-1, 200 Soph.)

Smith is Miller's favorite deep target. After averaging 21.0 yards on his 14 catches last year with four touchdowns, Smith has 17 grabs and a 16.0-yard average this year with three scores. His athletic abilities are numerous, as he starred in track in high school and has also suited up for OSU's sprints and jumps teams. Smith made one of the highlight plays of the college football season in the team's opener, snagging a Miller pass with one hand, and has shown the ability to beat opposing players in man coverage. The biggest question mark is consistency; Smith has dropped a few open passes this year and seems to struggle more with the simple play than the spectacular so far in his career.

#5 – RT: Reid Fragel (6-8, 310 Sr.)

The Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., native isn't Ohio State's best offensive lineman – that would be either left tackle Jack Mewhort or center Corey Linsley – but he might be the most important. Fragel spent his first three seasons at OSU as a tight end before converting to tackle this season. Despite picking up pass protection on the fly in the offseason, he was able to hold off a challenge from highly rated true freshman Taylor Decker in camp. Fragel's play was inconsistent through the first few weeks but he was excellent against UAB to earn special notice this week from Meyer. If he plays at the same level vs. Michigan State, it will be a good sign for the Buckeyes.


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