5 Answers: Colorado at Ohio State

This week we wondered how the OSU quarterbacks would perform, if they would get any help from the wide receivers, how a Buffalo would do in his homecoming, if the OSU defense could start fast and how the lineup might change.

1. How will the Ohio State quarterbacks bounce back?

Head coach Luke Fickell made the popular choice to go with Braxton Miller as his starter, and the true freshman turned in a positive performance.

His stat line - 5 for 13 passing for 83 yards and 17 carries for 83 yards - was not fantastic, but he avoided turnovers and helped the offense take advantage of great field position.

Miller displayed the speed, agility and arm strength that made him a five-star recruit, but he left little doubt he is still a raw prospect with a lot of developing to do.

"I thought he did a great job," Fickell said. "I thought all the guys on the sideline did a really good job. There's a lot of guys around him that have played a lot of football, they're going to help him out."

2. Can the wide receivers help the Buckeyes out?

Ohio State wide receivers went more than five quarters without a catch. True freshman Devin Smith finally brought that streak to an end when he torched the Colorado secondary and Miller found him for a 32-yard touchdown.

The score came with 7:53 left in the first half and stretched the Buckeyes' lead to 17-0.

In the third quarter, Smith showed some of athleticism that made him a track star at Massillon (Ohio) Washington by leaping to high-point another Miller pass in the north end zone. He also displayed some true wide receiver skills as he made sure to get a foot down in bounds to complete the play.

"Obviously it was nice to see him and Braxton connect a couple times there, make some nice catches," Fickell said.

Smith finished with 64 yards on three catches, but the rest of the receiver corps was largely silent.

T.Y. Williams caught a 12-yard pass, but he also dropped one that hit him square in the hands. Chris Fields had a 10-yard grab but was guilty of an illegal block in the second quarter that put the Buckeyes behind the chains.

3. Will the OSU defense avoid another slow start?

Colorado's first four possessions resulted in 12 plays, three punts and a fumble.

The early success gave the Buckeye offense excellent field position and helped that young unit get its footing under the guidance of Miller.

The Buffaloes did not get much of anything going until Tyler Hansen engineered a 10-play, 83-yard drive late in the second quarter. Hansen kept a play alive by scrambling then found Toney Clemons in the end zone. The Michigan transfer outleapt a defender to haul in the pass for a touchdown that drew the visitors within 10 points.

Overall, the Silver Bullets were happy with how they bounced back from being pushed around by Miami (Fla.) a week earlier.

"You saw last week how important it was to get off to a fast start," nickel back Tyler Moeller said. "That was one of the emphasis we wanted to make this week and guys did a great job of coming out and making three-and-outs."

4. What will Rodney Stewart do on his return to his hometown?

The water bug from Westerville had a rough start to his day at Ohio Stadium.

He ran four times for 5 yards in the first half and added 21 yards on four catches. He also muffed a punt that set up an Ohio State field goal in the closing seconds of the second quarter.

The Colorado offensive staff seemed to shy away from using him after the Buckeyes built their early 17-0 lead, and he ended up with only 16 offensive touches on the day. Stewart ran for 55 yards and had 27 yards receiving. He returned two punts for 14 yards.

"Any time you have a scat back who likes to cut back, you always have to have somebody swarming to the ball because somebody is going to miss him and that allows the next guy to make the tackle," cornerback Travis Howard said.

The Columbus Brookhaven product entered the game leading Colorado in rushing (74.3 yards per game) and second in receiving (92.3 yards per game). He was 17th in the country and No. 2 in the Pac-12 with 169.7 all-purpose yards per contest.

5. Will there be changes in the back seven of the Ohio State defense?

The Buckeyes spent the whole day in nickel and dime packages, meaning Moeller played extensively as the Star and Etienne Sabino and Storm Klein alternated at middle linebacker.

More significantly, Christian Bryant became a starter at safety in the nickel package and played Star in the dime. Putting the excitable sophomore on the field more proved to be a wise move as he ended up with a team-high six tackles.

"He's a physical player," Howard said. "He's going to hit you. He's a big play maker. He just has that attitude, and that attitude is something we all can feed off of and just go out there and play as the Silver Bullet defense."

Bryant confirmed moving into the starting lineup was gratifying.

"I go out there on the field and try to hype everybody up," he said. "I try to get the crowd involved, talk to the players on the sideline like, ‘Let's go. We've got to put some intensity into the game.' That's what I do."

Freshman Ryan Shazier also played a couple of series at Will linebacker in place of senior Andrew Sweat and finished with five tackles.

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