Bank Blog: Quick Thoughts Offense

Ohio State pulled out a slim 35-28 win over Cal Saturday in Columbus, led by four touchdown throws from Braxton Miller. What did the Buckeyes do against the Bears?

- Offensively, kind of a mixed bag, with some good and some bad. OSU had 412 total yards, but over 100 came on 2 busted plays, the long run by Braxton Miller and the winning TD pass to Devin Smith. In between was a lot of bad football. The positive? When challenged, Ohio State stepped up offensively and got the job done. When down to 21-20 with 9 minutes to go, Braxton led a beautiful drive that ended with a short TD pass to Jake Stoneburner and the two-point conversion.

- I still see Braxton as a work in progress, but in the Heisman running, if that makes any sense at all. He still makes you pull your hair out with his mistakes, but they happen far less frequently this year. He threw the football today better than I've seen since the state title game his senior year of high school. The arm strength was as good as we've seen, and the accuracy was far better. He still has a high ceiling too, and will continue to get better. What I like best about Braxton is the ability to rally a team that's trailing, and what a trait to have. He did it last year as a freshman, and he will always be a guy you don't want to have the last shot if you're the defense.

- This offense won't truly peak until they get a true playmaker at tailback. Carlos Hyde is good, but not dynamic. Jordan Hall was Jordan Hall today: 17 carries for 87 yards. Good day, but no possibility of a game-breaking play. Lots of 3-4-5-6 yard gains, but no chance of a 30 or 40 yarder. In the future, guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Brionte Dunn and Warren Ball should be able to put the ball into the end zone from distance, which will only make Braxton that much more dangerous.

- When Urban complained in the spring about the wide receivers from viewing film on the previous season, I felt he was incorrectly blaming the wideouts for the Covered Wagon train wreck. I still feel that way, and I believe he's come around on Philly Brown and Devin Smith. Those two can play the position. Throw in Stoneburner as Option #3, and the passing game looks pretty good from the wide receiver perspective.

- The offensive line continues to play pretty well, but they were not dominant today by any means. The Cal D-line might have been the more physical unit, which is troubling because they're a finesses team. Ohio State has two weeks to get better before having block the Michigan State front on the road. Today's performance won't cut it against a physical, powerful front. OSU was bad on third down, with a lot of missed assignments.

- This side of the ball remains a work in progress, mainly due to the drastic switch in philosophy, but the potential to put up huge numbers is evident. They died today in both the second and third quarters, with far too many three-and-outs. Cal ran far more offensive plays than Ohio State, not a good statistic for either the Ohio State offense or defense.

- After the early touchdown flourish, Ohio State went three-and-out on 4 out of the next 5 possessions. Did that contribute to the defense wearing out? Or is that a copout? Who knows, but that's bad offense for a very long stretch. Everyone knows this offense will put the defense in far more risk than happened in the past under Jim Tressel, and you accept that and move on. As the offense improves, and it's reasonable to assume it will, it should benefit the defense by controlling the ball better.

- While it could be argued that the better team did not win the game today, from this side of the ball, the offense does have a quick-strike ability not seen in a while. Braxton is one of the top playmakers in college football, and Devin Smith and Philly Brown are pretty good. Finding a playmaker in the backfield would make this offense complete, but that might not happen this season. All in all, there is a lot to like and a lot to look forward to with this group.

Buckeye Sports Top Stories