5 Answers: Akron at Ohio State

This week we look back at the play of the quarterbacks, the rotation of the running backs, the performance of the new starters, the mindset of the team and the bevy of freshmen who got their feet wet as the Buckeyes rolled over the Zips by a final of 42-0 on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

1. How will the quarterbacks be used?

Senior Joe Bauserman led seven drives that resulted in four touchdowns, a missed field goal and a turnover that did not involve him. True freshman Braxton Miller started and finished five drives that yielded two touchdowns and three punts. However, all but one of the youngster's drives occurred in the second half.

Bauserman completed 12 of 16 passes for 163 yards and three touchdowns and three touchdowns while Miller went 8 for 12 for 130 yards and a touchdown. Bauserman surprisingly won the rushing battle as he picked up 32 yards on six carries compared to 30 for Miller on the same total of totes.

"I think they did well," center Michael Brewster said. "Braxton did a good job. They were trying to move him around the pocket a little bit. He does well with that. He can cut it back, do whatever he needs to do. I was very happy with Joe. He was very consistent today, hitting all his checkdowns and everything."


2. What will the running backs rotation be?

With expected starter Jordan Hall suspended for accepting impermissible benefits and Jaamal Berry out with a hamstring injury, this ended up only a two-back play involving Carlos Hyde and Rod Smith.

Hyde earned the starting nod and had the better day of the pair. He ran for 93 yards on 19 carries, including a 24-yarder. He displayed the same good feet and vision that stood out during preseason, picking his way through some good-sized holes and making room when he had to. Hyde left no doubt that he is capable of finishing a run with bad intentions as he ran over more than one Akron defender, and he looked solid in pass protection as well.

Smith ran for 74 yards on 18 carries but looked tentative at times. He also lost a fumble on what looked like a glancing blow from an Akron defender in the red zone in the first half. Some nerves are to be expected for a player seeing his first college game action.

"I don't have the stats in front of me, but from the naked eye out there, I was impressed with how hard they ran with their demeanor, with their body language," head coach Luke Fickell said. "If they got tired, the other guy was willing to go run in there."


3. How will the new starters perform?

Fourteen new starters entered the lineup for Ohio State against Akron, and most earned good reviews.

"I'm not going to lie, I was really nervous the whole week," said sophomore Jack Mewhort, who made his first start at left guard while classmate Marcus Hall slid into the lineup at right guard and Andrew Norwell took over at left tackle. "This morning I was like, ‘This is it,' but I just fell back on my training and everything Coach Bollman told me so I think that helped a lot in being prepared."

While the offense piled up 42 points and 517 total yards, the defense allowed only 90 yards and five first downs. The Zips crossed midfield once and had only two drives that gained more than 10 yards.

"I think first our coaches put us in a great position to excel," said senior linebacker Andrew Sweat, one of four returning starters on defense. "Even though we lost some big names in the past, I think we've got a lot of young guys that are fully capable of getting the job done. We had a competitive camp at each position and we were ready to play today."


4. What about the effort?

With the game-time temperature officially checking in at 93 degrees, playing hard all the time might not have been the easiest task, but Fickell sounded happy with what he saw.

He gave an assist to Ohio State wrestling coach Tom Ryan, who spoke to the team the night before the game.

"Coach Ryan did an unbelievable job of setting the moment and doing some things and did a great job for our guys," said Fickell, who was a state champion wrestler at Columbus DeSales High School. "You could see it in their eyes that they were focused.  That's what we've been talking about. That's what we expect out of them, and that's what we want to continue to grow on is that ability, because we're going to need it regardless of what's going on the outside, what's going on the inside."


5. How many freshmen will play?

Those wanting to see what Ohio State's next wave of stars might look like should have gone home happy.

An even dozen Buckeyes from the class of 2012 made their college debuts: Miller, linebackers Ryan Shazier and Curtis Grant, wide receivers Evan Spencer and Devin Smith, defensive linemen Michael Bennett, Joel Hale and Steve Miller, tight end Jeff Heuerman, cornerback Doran Grant and offensive linemen Brian Bobek and Antonio Underwood.

Smith made his presence known with three catches for 52 yards, including a 15-yard touchdown on a frozen rope from Miller, while Spencer had a spectacular 33-yard grab.

"I don't think anyone was nervous. We were excited to get it going," Smith said. "If we could have played at 8 this morning we would have been ready. Everyone was focused and quiet. We were just happy to get going."

On the other side of the ball, Shazier and Grant had three tackles apiece. Two of Shazier's stops were in the backfield, including a sack. Bennett also notched a sack.


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