Slow Start Leads To Fast Finish For Offense

It took a little time, but Ohio State's new offense under head coach Urban Meyer fared well Saturday in the Buckeyes' 56-10 crushing of Miami (Ohio). Read on to get comments on the offense's day from Urban Meyer, Braxton Miller and more.

There were plenty of happy faces among Ohio State's player and coaches Saturday after the Buckeyes thumped Miami (Ohio) 56-10 Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.

But those faces weren't always so sunny. To say things weren't going well after the first quarter – especially for the offense – would be an understatement. The numbers weren't pretty.

Not only did the Buckeyes trail visiting Redhawks by a 3-0 score, but Ohio State was being outgained 172-48. Of those 48 yards, a whopping five came through the air – courtesy of an Evan Spencer reception. The offense also only recorded two first downs.

There were worried expressions among the 105,039 people packed into Ohio Stadium on a humid late summer afternoon. Among those was one belonging to new OSU head coach Urban Meyer. He later told reporters it wasn't that Ohio State was playing poorly, but Miami was playing well.

"They were playing hard, but it was I just think they were doing some pretty good things defensively and we were having some miscues," Meyer said. "Some guys were missing blocks here or there or doing something wrong."

Quarterback Braxton Miller completed only 1 of 7 pass attempts in the first 15 minutes, but fortunately for OSU he kept his composure. In fact, Miller attempted to reassure Meyer when things were going poorly.

"I'm not as positive as Braxton was," Meyer admitted, "but it's nice to have your quarterback stand right with you and say, ‘Here, we'll be fine.' I liked his demeanor."

Miller confirmed Meyer's account of the story and added that he probably wouldn't have done the same thing last year as a freshman. The sophomore version of Braxton Miller, however, wants to be a bigger leader.

"This is the leadership in me coming out this year," Miller said.

Fortunately for Meyer, Miller and the rest of the Buckeyes, things did improve – and in a big way. The OSU drive of the second quarter resulted in the game's first touchdown, one Buckeye fans will remember for some time because of the athleticism sophomore Devin Smith showed in hauling in a one-handed grab. The receiver's catch resulted in a 23-yard touchdown and – more importantly perhaps – gave Ohio State much needed momentum.

The Buckeyes cruised after Smith's acrobatic TD catch, adding two more scores before halftime on a 5-yard touchdown pass from Miller to Corey "Philly" Brown and a 4-yard trip to the end zone by junior tailback Carlos Hyde. The Buckeyes led 21-3 at halftime and cruised to a 46-point victory.

As bad as the first-quarter numbers for Ohio State were, the second-quarter numbers were the opposite. The Buckeyes rushed for 113 yards, threw for 184 and compiled 297 yards of offense and 12 first downs.

"We knew we weren't performing the way we should have been (in the first quarter)," said senior fullback Zach Boren, who not only carried the ball twice but also scored on a 2-yard run in the fourth quarter. "We just came out a little slow, and offense is all about rhythm and about getting things going. We just couldn't find it, but Braxton made a couple of great plays and a couple of guys stepped up like Devin Smith. We really came together."

The final stats were also pretty good for the OSU offense. The Buckeyes compiled a whopping 538 yards of offense, led by Miller's 367 he recorded with his arm and his legs. He completed 14 for 24 passes for 207 yards and a pair of scores and added 161 rushing yards on 17 carries – including an impressive 65-yard scoring scamper on the first offensive play of the second half.

Miller led the offense, but Carlos Hyde also had a solid day from his tailback position. Getting the start in place of injured Jordan Hall, Hyde finished with 82 yards on 17 carries. He also scored two touchdowns on runs of 4 and 8 yards, respectively, which helped the junior get past being stopped at the goal line on the last play of the first half.

"I definitely thought I scored, but I got another one (later)." Hyde said.

Arguably the most important part of the offense's success came from its wide receivers. The much-maligned group caught 17 of Miller's 19 completed passes, with Brown leading the way with seven catches for 87 yards.

There is obviously room for improvement for the offense, and Miller said the unit has not begun to show its potential yet.

"We haven't reached it yet," Miller said. "When we reach it, (we're) going to be out the gates."

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