Buckeye Offense Has Unexpected Explosion

Few (if any) people expected to see the Ohio State offense do what it did today, putting up 446 yards of total offense on Michigan. The Buckeye offense ran the show in the second and third quarter, and after the game, all the talk was about Troy Smith and the offensive output. Dave Biddle has more.

Ohio State's offense exploded for 446 yards of total offense in the 37-21 victory over Michigan.

The Buckeyes passed for 224 yards, rushed for 205 and kept the Wolverines on their heels all day.

Sophomore quarterback Troy Smith turned in one of the best games by an OSU quarterback in the history of the rivalry. He was 13 of 23 passing for 241 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed 18 times for a game-high 145 yards - one yard off the career single-game record for an OSU quarterback.

Yes, many of his carries were called runs, but Smith really hurt Michigan with his ability to improvise.

Smith was asked if he understood that his performance would be considered legendary by Buckeye fans.

"Playing the game, once you think like, 'What I'm doing is legendary,' you take your mind off the task at hand," Smith said. "You have to keep going, you have to keep going forward, you have to keep pace and have to do the things necessary to move the ball down the field. If it was one of the legendary performances, I'm very grateful and thankful for the opportunity to do that, but I guess I really didn't think about it."

One person who was not surprised with Smith's performance was OSU offensive coordinator Jim Bollman. He was impressed with the way Smith ran the ball, but was even more impressed with his passing skills.

"Throughout this week, he was pretty sharp, especially on some deep passes and touch passes," Bollman said. "He did hit a couple in practice just like he did to Santonio (Holmes) there on a third and three where he hit it down the sideline (for 34 yards). Troy had been doing that for a few days this week and that was great to see him put it in there because it wasn't just a rifle shot. It was a really good pass. The young man can throw the football."

Smith's first touchdown pass of the day came on a 62-yard bomb to freshman receiver Tony Gonzalez. It looked like Smith was going to be sacked on the play, but he got it off just in time and gave the Bucks a 7-0 lead.

"Usually third and long is a tough down, but we were fortunate enough to get outstanding protection on the play," Gonzalez said. "Troy had all day to throw that ball. Usually that play goes to Santonio - my job is to occupy the safety, which was (Ernest) Shazor. I'm not sure what he was looking at on that play, but he kind of let it go a little bit and Troy saw me and just threw it up there and I was fortunate enough to catch it."

Not a bad time for Gonzalez' first touchdown in an OSU uniform.

"Amazing," he said. "It's the best feeling in the world."

It is no secret that the Buckeyes save some extra plays for the Michigan game. It looked like a new offense out there at times.

"This is a game that you can't just do your normal things," Bollman said. "It doesn't matter what has happened previous to this game, both teams are going to on a different level of play. So, I think you have to do a little something different - something to get them off balance, a little bit off guard, so you can have an advantage. There were some other new plays that we didn't call either. So, yeah, we have a handful of deals ready for this game. I think we've always tried to do that - especially for this game."

But one thing that wasn't new for OSU was called quarterback runs. Time and time again, Smith picked up good yards out of QB draws and sweeps.

"None of those things are things that we haven't done before," Bollman said. "As the year goes on and people keep getting better and evolving at their positions, we just trying to do things to utilize their talents the best we can.

"A lot of that is just Troy's ability to run. And a lot of those things we did with Craig (Krenzel) in the past. It's just a matter of what you're going to employ when."

Ohio State's second-leading rusher was fullback Branden Joe with 14 carries for 52 yards. He was featured more in the offense against Michigan than at any other time this year.

"That was kind of his role for the day," Bollman said. "That was the plan. When we were running those isolation plays, he was going to be the guy filling that role and he did a very good job, no question about it. This is one of those games where we were able to do some power running and we've had some trouble with that."

The Buckeyes' offensive line also did a good job against UM. The group is young and has been criticized heavily all season, but it stepped up in the biggest game of the year.

"I definitely think we controlled the line of scrimmage," center Nick Mangold said. "Michigan has a great defense, but we were able to power the ball when we needed to - except on the goal line of course - and we were able to keep the pressure off Troy. And when we didn't, he did a great job of stepping up and making plays."

Ted Ginn Jr. didn't just burn the Wolverines on punt returns, he was also the Buckeyes' leading receiver with five receptions for 87 yards.

Gonzalez caught two balls for 77 yards and the touchdown, while Holmes caught three for 50 yards and a score.

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