He even got a chance to take his headset off and savor the moment a little bit.
Meyer's first win as Ohio State's head coach likely couldn't have gone better. But knowing Meyer, he's already on to preparing his Buckeyes (1-0) for Central Florida next week. Before we shift our concentration to that game, too, we take one final look back at some of the things we noticed in the latest edition of Sunday Observation:
– Confidence key for Miller – Meyer was getting frustrated toward the end of the first quarter when OSU's offense was struggling to move the ball. Miller stood by the coach and said things will get going soon. That proved to be the moment where Meyer saw the most valuable evidence of growth from his youthful signal caller, and it was long before Miller made any of his impressive plays on the field. Miller's growth from a maturity standpoint is mind-boggling and it is only going to get stronger as his sophomore season continues.
– Miller's physical gifts go without saying – That stutter-step he made on that 65-yard touchdown run, causing the defender to hesitate just long enough to get burnt, is just about having natural feel for the game. Miller has that natural ability to make plays and that was evident in breaking the single-game quarterback rushing record. Miller put up video game numbers and made video game plays, and that's from a player that isn't even close to being fully developed. The natural skills are what coaches recruit for and Miller could be more advanced in that category than anybody Meyer has ever coached. As he becomes more of a quarterback and less of an athlete, the progression of this player could turn out to be very special.
– Miller is not a quarterback yet – There were multiple times in the game where Miller made the wrong reads on the read-option plays and missed receivers who were open. He had some ugly throws and he flat out didn't convert on multiple opportunities that were there. It's going to continue to happen, but the hope is that the mistakes will become less and less frequent. Miller isn't a quarterback yet and Meyer pointed out the areas of concern after the game. Leading a team to nearly 600 yards of total offense while being just a gifted athlete, however, gives one an idea of what he could become if he continues this course.
– Remember to be careful with Miller – There's no debating that Miller is more dangerous with his legs at this point in his career, and with the team's propensity to want to run the read-option, he'll be a ball carrier quite a bit. Add in scrambles and natural opportunities to run, and it will be even frequent than the team anticipates. Ohio State, however, started the game with a designed run with Miller. Perhaps the team was trying to ease the sophomore into the game, but I say it is smart to limit the risk with him when possible. Meyer said he'd like to keep Miller between 10-12 carries per game, which I think is smart. He had 17 carries, however, on Saturday. Until Miller can make it through an entire season without getting banged up – which has been a problem dating back to his high school days – being extra careful with the hits he takes is probably the best policy at this point.
– Going out on a limb, but Devin Smith will be an All-American – You just get a feeling about a player sometimes, right? Though Smith's circus catch will be in highlight reels for a long time to come, it has nothing to do with that. He just has that innate ability to make big plays and the chemistry he sports with Miller is tangible. Add in his freakish ability to jump (he's a hurdler) and his strong, yet soft, hands, and you have quite the combo. Meyer said he wants to find a playmaker – well, I think he won't have to look far. I expect Smith to establish himself as the go-to guy in the next few weeks, setting himself up for a future that won't soon be forgotten.
– Feel good about all the playmakers on this year's team – The offensive numbers OSU put up in Meyer's first game was nothing sort of remarkable. Look away from those numbers and I think you find something more encouraging – a variety of players making plays in different ways. Five different players scored touchdowns for the Buckeyes, whether it was a quarterback, wide receiver, running back or fullback. Meyer said he wanted to spread the ball around and he did. Everyone in this offense is a threat to make a play and that will really play into the Buckeyes' hand as the season progresses.
– I love the call before halftime – With the Buckeyes clinging to a 21-3 lead and Evan Spencer hauling in a tough 44-yard reception near the Miami goal line, OSU was forced to burn its last timeout with the three seconds remaining until the half. The old Ohio State coaching regime takes the field goal points and goes into the locker. Not Meyer. Clinging to one of his biggest core philosophies – scoring touchdowns in the red zone – Meyer lined his offense in the power formation and went for the touchdown before the half. The Buckeyes were stuffed, but that's irrelevant to my point. In Meyer's mind, this is Ohio State football and they should be able to muscle forward and get that touchdown. That conveys a message of confidence and trust in his team, and that is certainly something that is noticed by the players. Meyer said he's going to take a "sledgehammer" to that play when they watch film, but the attitude of taking what he feels is his is contagious and sets up a new winning mentality. That pays dividends.
– Did you talk about the offensive line? – I bet you feel good that you didn't. One of the most controversial position groups of the recent OSU past went rather unnoticed, and I think that's definitely a good thing for the offense line. I don't recall Miller being sacked – though there were a few negative plays and that intentional grounding call – but for the most part the holes were there and the protection was adequate. This offensive line isn't the strength of the team personnel-wise, but for the most part it seemed to me like the offensive line has to feel good about its first performance.
– Is the "Freak Show" 1-for-1? – Meyer said he wanted to put an emphasis on blocking punts. The Buckeyes didn't block one, but they did recover a bad snap on a punt in the end zone for a touchdown. Though the team didn't physically block the punt, Meyer asserted that things are uncomfortable on the other side of the ball when the snapper, punter and linemen know his best players are coming after them. Regardless of how it played out, special teams touchdowns change games and OSU got one against the RedHawks. BONUS: Bradley Roby recovered the fumble for the touchdown. If you look at the replay, Roby is standing outside of the initial pile. That means he worked his way into the pile, swam through people fighting for the ball, and came up with it in the end zone. What a heck of an effort by the cornerback.
– Feeding the big fella – Meyer was taken back when he learned in the press conference that Zach Boren only had one career carry prior to the game. "Really," Meyer paused while smiling at an OSU spokesperson. Meyer, however, drew up multiple plays designed for Boren early in the game but the ball didn't go to the senior captain. Late in the game, Boren had a carry that got OSU down by the goal line. The following play Meyer let his senior finish off the drive, handing to Boren before he ran over the goal line for his first career touchdown run. Meyer took personal pride in feeding the big fella and getting him in the end zone after all the hard work he did. Boren told me after the game he'd rather be the lead blocker on a big run than score, but he did say it meant a lot to him that Meyer wanted to get him the ball. I think we'll be seeing a lot of this during the season.
– Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence – Both super-freshman defensive linemen got their first career sacks in their first game with the Buckeyes. The defensive line is scary deep this year, but thinking about what these two players will develop into is kind of a scary thought. Both instant contributors, I see opposing defenses having a really hard time corralling them when they come into the game fresh.
– Nathan Williams back out there – I watched Williams very carefully and it is always nice to see a player return from an injury and really make an impact. Williams said he played more plays than he thought he would and started to feel like himself by the end of the game. He made plays, pushed linemen backwards and made a few big hits. It certainly seemed to me like Williams was on a faster track than any of us thought he would be on. If this continues, the defensive line could be the best unit in the country by the end of the year.