5 Answers: Miami at Ohio State

Every week we look back at how Ohio State handled five key areas. This time we examine the Buckeye offense overall, the pass protection, the wide receivers, red zone offense and the Miami passing game.

1. How will the new Ohio State offense perform?

A look at the raw numbers would indicate Urban Meyer's spread offense had a banner day, but it was not without its bumps along the way.

The new attack needed about 15 minutes to get untracked, then it went off in a big way. The Buckeyes gained 297 yards in the second quarter with quarterback Braxton Miller throwing for 184 yards and rushing for another 64.

When the rubber pellets of the FieldTurf had settled, the Buckeyes had their first 500-yard day since last season's season opener against Akron. The 538 total yards were the most since a 645-yard day against Eastern Michigan in early 2010, the same day they last scored as many as 56 points.

The scoring total represented the most in an Ohio State opener since a 70-7 win in 1996 against Rice.

2. Who will step up as far as pass catchers?

Corey Brown led the Buckeyes with seven catches for 87 yards and a touchdown, but the head coach sounded more excited about the performance of Devin Smith.

Smith caught two passes for 31 yards, but his 23-yard grab with one hand in the south end zone in the second quarter electrified the Ohio Stadium crowd and represented the first touchdown of the Meyer era.

"I don't know if Devin has been saving that, but I've not seen him do that," said Meyer, who has been hoping to see playmakers emerge from the wide receiver group. "Now that I know he can, I expect he will be playing pretty good for us.

"But that was a ‘wow' moment, and that was a moment that ignited the stadium. The stadium got quiet. Our sideline got quiet and we were waiting for a play to happen and he went out and made a play. That's football."

3. Can the Miami passing game do serious damage?

The answer was certainly yes, but it did not end up mattering much.

RedHawk quarterback Zac Dysert completed 31 of 53 passes for 303 yards and a touchdown with a pair of interceptions. His top target from last season, Nick Harwell, reprised that role in the 2012 season opener with eight grabs for 120 yards and a touchdown.

Much of the damage came early as Harwell exploited a blown coverage to pick up 42 yards on Miami's second possession and Dawan Scott blew through the middle of the OSU secondary on a post pattern and raced 58 yards to the Ohio State 10-yard line one possession later.

"We expected them to make plays because their quarterback is a very good quarterback, but we wanted to limit it as much as possible," said cornerback Bradley Roby, who had six tackles and broke up two passes. "I felt like after they made a few plays here and there and we stopped them from scoring, we just settled down and stopped them."

Harwell also had a 44-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, but the Buckeyes had built a 35-3 lead by that point.

4. Which team will be better in the red zone?

This is likely an area both coaching staffs walked out of the game lamenting lost opportunities.

Miami could have built a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but a pair of drops on potential touchdown passes forced them to settle for two field goal attempts. Freshman kicker Kaleb Patterson missed from 24 yards then converted from 22, leaving the RedHawks with just a 3-0 advantage that would not hold up for long.

Ohio State was 5 for 7 in the red zone. All five scores were touchdowns, but a reminder it could have been six gave Meyer reason to frown during an otherwise rosy postgame press conference.

He wanted to see his team punch it in from the 1-yard line with three seconds left in the second quarter, but Carlos Hyde was stuffed for no gain as time ran out.

"Ohio State should be able to knock it in from the 1," Meyer said. "I almost forgot about that. Thanks for ruining my day. That's bad. That's absolutely nonnegotiable – nonsense – and we'll hit that with a sledge hammer on Sunday because that can't happen."

Not having watched the film, he was not sure what had gone wrong at that point, but it didn't seem to matter.

"The Ohio State University, with a 230-pound tailback can smash it in from the 1-yard line, and that didn't happen," he said. "Without taking anything away from our opponent, the whole world knew we were doing, but it was part of the deal, at that moment I wanted to see if our line would do it."

5. What about pass protection?

The line opened plenty of holes in the running game (the Buckeyes rushed for 294 yards on 53 carries, a 5.5-yard average), but this was another that could have been better.

That goes for both the front line and for Miller, who at times continued to hold the ball too long, as he had a habit of doing last season.

Overall, Ohio State gave up three sacks, including two of Miller. The Buckeyes had a pair of sacks, both by true freshmen. Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence both got to the Miami quarterback in the second half, but there seemed to be a greater emphasis on playing coverage by the OSU defense than sending a lot of blitzers after Dysert.

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