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COLUMBUS, Ohio- It might not have been the prettiest game, and it might not have began with the start that many imagined it would, but after a 56-10 win over Miami (OH) on Saturday, the first game in the Urban Meyer era at Ohio State is officially in the books. As we will be each week, the Buckeye Grove crew was there to break down the highlights (and some of the lowlights) from the Buckeyes' 2012 season opener against the RedHawks.
After a first quarter that saw the Buckeyes held scoreless, with all four of their offensive drives ending in a punt, it was Devin Smith's leaping one-handed grab that gave OSU its first points in Meyer's tenure. The 23-yard reception by the sophomore receiver jump started a 56-7 OSU run through the final three quarters of the game.
"I went up and I lost it, and it hit my hand and I just squeezed it real tight and brought it down to my body," Smith said. "The way my body was angling, it was just easiest to just put my hand out."
Described as "Cris Carter-like" in post-game interviews, Smith's catch caused a momentum shift inside of Ohio Stadium and helped OSU fans forget real quickly about the Buckeyes' dreadful start.
"That was definitely the best catch I'd ever seen in person," junior wide receiver Corey Brown said. "I've never seen nothing like that, man, before in my life. That was just crazy."
Numbers don't lie
Carrying the ball a total of 17 times, OSU sophomore quarterback racked up a career-high 161 yards- the most ever gained on the ground by a Buckeye quarterback. Combined with 82 rushing yards by running back Carlos Hyde, the OSU ground game proved to be too much for Miami as the Buckeyes out-gained the RedHawks by 293 yards when it came to rushing the ball.
After the game, Miller wasn't even aware that he'd carried the ball as much as he did.
"I ran it 17 (times)? I didn't realize that" Miller said. "I'm fine with it."
Sixty-five of Miller's yards came on a scamper in the third quarter, when the sophomore quarterback juked out a Miami defender on his way to the end zone. Miller said to expect plenty of more highlight reel-worthy plays like that one in Meyer's new spread offense.
"This is a different type of offense. You expect big yards in this type of offense," Miller said. "That's the expectation."
Aside from Miller, who was clearly the star of Saturday's show, a game ball on the offensive side of the ball was earned by the receiver Brown, who reeled in seven catches for 80 yards and a touchdown. Brown's seven catches on Saturday already gives him half of the 14 that he caught a year ago to help lead an OSU passing attack that ranked 115th in the country.
"I'm just happy to be in the situation I'm in right now," Brown said. "Coach Meyer basically put the perfect offense here for me and I have the perfect wideouts around me, perfect quarterback, perfect linemen, I'm just blessed to be in the situation I'm in."
On the defensive side of the ball, senior cornerback Travis Howard recorded two interceptions, becoming the first Buckeye to record multiple picks in a game since Chimdi Chekwa made two interceptions against Miami (Fla.) in 2010.
"The first one, I was just kind of in man coverage, I saw the quarterback pull the ball like he was going to run, so I kind of faked like I was going up the field, kind of came back in and he threw it right to the receiver and I made a great break on the ball," Howard said. "The second one, we was in cover-two. I kind of beat out on a hitch right and he sat behind me, so I sat in and he threw it right to me. It was a great play."
Cause for concern
Although optimism has been running high in Columbus since Meyer arrived in late November of last year, the Buckeyes' slow start was a harsh reminder that OSU did experience a season ago. While the Buckeyes ultimately won- and won big- the first quarter showcased several of the deficiencies that haunted the Buckeyes in 2011, including an impotent offense and a defense that surrendered big plays at inopportune times.
"We came out slow, but once we got on a roll we got going," Hyde said. "This game was big and we came out prepared. It was exciting once we started to put it all together."
Senior linebacker and OSU captain Etienne Sabino agreed that the immediate lack of urgency in the Buckeyes was frustrating, but that what ultimately matters is that his team walked away with a win.
"It was nice to get out there and play someone else," Sabino said. "We cannot start slow like that again, but we got the win and in the end that's all that matters."
Meyer was all smiles following his debut as the Buckeyes' head coach, even admitting that he took some time to enjoy the game day festivities that Ohio Stadium has to offer. It may not have been the best his team can perform or against the toughest opponent it will play all season, but Meyer is just thankful to have recorded win No. 1 in his OSU coaching career.
The day overall, it was a great day. 'Hang on Sloopy' kicked it off in the fourth quarter. And I stared at that for a while, watched it," Meyer said. "Just a little disappointed in the first quarter. But after that, what a great day. We enjoy a win. We all know it's difficult to win in major college football. Now we've got one and now we get ready for next week."
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