Cus Words: Good Vibrations

The Buckeyes picked up good vibrations and gave their fans excitations with a defeat of Miami last week, but there is plenty of work yet to be done this season if hopes of a national championship season are to be realized.

What we learned last week: Neither Rome nor a trip to Glendale, Ariz., were built in a day.

Ohio State's 36-24 defeat of Miami (Fla.) taught us the Buckeyes are not a juggernaut yet, but they have a lot of the pieces that indicate they could be.

This might not turn out to be a team for the ages, but it has a good chance to prove to be the best one in college football this season.

We live in a world in which comparing and contrasting is all the rage, so I can't help but play along: What I saw Saturday was a team less prepared to play a major early season nonconference game than most thought it would be but talented enough to overcome that.

The defense was ready for its challenge, but the offense looked a bit behind schedule.

I wrote before the season I wondered if this team would be better at making modest gains but worse at producing explosive plays.

So far, I'm not sure that's been the case, but then again there is a great contrast in the only two opponents we've seen the Buckeyes face.

As those who read this column last week know, I came away completely unimpressed with Marshall. I'm going to go ahead and conclude Miami has a quality front seven when it is healthy. The line is athletic and stout, and the linebackers fill holes well and can run to the ball.

Brandon Harris showed Ohio State fans why Ohio State's coaches tried to get him to wear scarlet and gray, although the rest of the secondary did not really stand out.

So the Buckeyes scuffled more on offense than I expected. There were fits and starts. There were red-zone struggles. But there were big plays, too.

We saw them burn the Hurricanes deep with play action and set them up with a favorable matchup of Brandon Saine on a linebacker.

We also saw them use the option to set up a previously unseen shovel pass that popped wide open, and Pryor showed he can still make something out of very little from time to time (at least when he allows himself to do so).

So the offense had a lot of 2009 in it. Pryor made a couple of great throws and several very bad ones.

There were times the line made holes and other times they couldn't (probably owing to the fact Miami's players are on scholarship, too).

The receivers were able to get open only sporadically, but DeVier Posey, Dane Sanzenbacher and Jacob Stoneburner all made at least one key grab.

The bottom line is the sheer volume of all those threats was too much for the Hurricanes. The Buckeyes were far from peak efficiency, but they had such excess skill it didn't matter.

We're used to seeing that against lesser nonleague foes and many Big Ten teams as well, but to beat the No. 12 team in the country that way is far more meaningful and impressive.

That said, I don't view this Miami team on par with the USC team that drubbed the Buckeyes two years ago. These Hurricanes are definitely not national title contenders, but I will rate them ahead of the USC squad that walked out of Ohio Stadium with a win last season. For sheer talent, I would take this Miami squad over the Oregon team Ohio State beat in the Rose Bowl, particularly on defense.

So what's it all mean? Like any team in September, Ohio State is a work in progress, but the ceiling looks awfully high, and the spare parts are pretty nice even if they haven't all found a function yet.

What we can expect to learn this week: Something about the Buckeyes' study skills.

They showed a few flaws against the Hurricanes that need fixing, and this game against Ohio University figures to be the first of a few during which they can work on those.

The Bobcats won nine games last year and finished runners up in the Mid-American Conference, but they are coming off an underwhelming loss to Toledo in which they managed only 183 total yards.

What will the Buckeyes need to work on?

Well there are those coverage teams, of course, and then perhaps the communication issues we keep hearing about with the offensive line (there were a couple of times a ‘Cane defender came free in what looked like a busted assignment).

Pryor must continue to iron out his decision making, both in terms of when to throw the ball away and when to tuck it and run.

On top of that, I am curious to see if OSU works on the short passing game because that will be needed when another team comes along like the Hurricanes that can stack up against the Buckeyes' power run game without leaving the back end vulnerable.

There are enough intriguing ingredients to keep any offensive mad scientist occupied, so it will be interesting to see what the coaching staff does with a little free time in the lab.

All-Buckeye Beaters Nominations: After Marshall provided no candidates in the season opener, there are several Hurricanes who made their case to be considered among the best players the Buckeyes faced this season when we look back in December (or January).

On offense, running back Damien Berry was impressive while averaging 5.9 yards per carry, and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson took a beating but kept coming back for more.

Defensively, Harris stood out with seven tackles (including six solos) and a pass breakup while end Allen Bailey (six tackles, 1.5 for loss) lived up to his billing and tackle Marcus Forston (two tackles for loss) was a force to be reckoned with as well. Although Dan Herron made him look silly on a 4-yard touchdown run, linebacker Collin McCarthy (11 tackles, 2.5 for loss) was strong throughout.

Of course there is no way to leave out kickoff return man Lamar Miller or punt returner Travis Benjamin after both found their way into the Ohio Stadium end zone, although Benjamin left his quarterback out to dry twice.

DVR Directions: Those of you who, like me, would like to scout Eastern Michigan are out of luck. The Eagles' game against Central Michigan will not be televised. On the bright side, that leaves room to DVR the Buckeyes' Oct. 2 opponent, Illinois, as the Fighting Illini play host to Northern Illinois (Noon, Big Ten Network). The 3:30 p.m. window brings a pair of intersectional matchups as Arizona State visits Wisconsin (ABC) and USC goes to Minnesota (ESPN). If neither of those move you, try Florida at Tennessee on CBS. In the evening, the game to watch is No. 9 Iowa at No. 24 Arizona at 7:30 on ESPN.

Cus Words Big Ten Power Poll (Week 2 ranking)

1. (same) Ohio State
2. (same) Wisconsin
3. (same) Iowa
4. (same) Michigan State
5. (same) Northwestern
6. (8) Michigan
7. (6) Penn State
8. (7) Indiana
9. (same) Purdue
10. (same) Illinois
11. (same) Minnesota

Marcus Hartman is a staff writer for and Buckeye Sports Bulletin. He can be reached for comment, cursing or questions via email at mhartman[at]buckeyesports[dot]com

For more from him, read his blog about Ohio State football and whatever else crosses his mind.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories