October 2, 2012

Week 5: Evaluating the Buckeyes' offense

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Although it resulted in its lowest point output to date, the Ohio State offense did just enough to overcome what could possibly be the best defense that it will face all season. Throughout his weekly Monday press conference, OSU coach Urban Meyer had high praise for each unit of the Buckeyes' offense following their 17-16 win over Michigan State last Saturday.


Braxton Miller didn't stuff the stat sheet on Saturday, but he did play admirably, putting up a combined 315 yards of total offense and throwing the game-winning 63-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith in the third quarter. Miller also had a few miscues, however, turning the ball over on three separate occasions against the Spartans.

"We're not going to win many games on the road in the Big Ten turning the ball over three times, but that's an easy fix," Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman said. "The kid played tough, he played hard."

Also a negative for Miller on Saturday was the fact that he twice had to leave the game due injuries. Although he ultimately returned to finish the game, injury issues are still ultimately a concern for Miller, especially considering that the Buckeyes fell apart a year ago when their quarterback couldn't finish their game against Nebraska. With the Cornhuskers coming to town this weekend, Meyer feels as though the Buckeyes are much better equipped to handle another potential Miller injury, thanks to the development of backup quarterback Kenny Guiton.

"I don't think Kenny is as good as Braxton. If he was, he'd be playing, but I think he's a very functional quarterback," Meyer said. "And if Braxton had to go down, how do you win? Somebody else has to pick up that slack."

Running backs

The Ohio State running back stable just can't seem to get healthy. Through five games,Jordan Hall and Carlos Hyde have managed to only spend one quarter together where each was healthy as Hall was forced to leave Saturday's game with a partial PCL tear.

"It's going to be a week-to-week. I'm going to see more about him today. He didn't practice yesterday. I hate to see it, because he is a kid that works his tail off," Meyer said of Hall. "I would say doubtful unless something happens."

With Hall expected to miss the Buckeyes' game with the Huskers, OSU's workload at running back should fall on the shoulders of Hyde, who rushed for 49 yards on Saturday in his first game back after missing the Buckeyes' previous two games with an MCL sprain.

"It's football and things happen and you've just got to move on," Hyde said. "I've just kept the same mindset as I've had before since I've started the season as the starting running back."

Wide receivers

It seems as though Ohio State wide receivers Corey Brown and Devin Smith have alternated being the Buckeyes' No. 1 receiver on a week-to-week basis, but on Saturday against the Spartans, both players got their chances to shine. Brown recorded a team-high 12 receptions for 84 yards, but it was Smith who hauled in Miller's game-winning pass for a 63-yard touchdown reception.

"I'm just coming out here and making plays for this football team. Making plays for my brothers on this football team," Smith said. "We're a tight group and we love each other and we're going to fight to the end."

Although he caught just two less balls in one game than he caught all season last year, Meyer admitted that he'd like to get more yardage out of Brown's receptions- even if he was used as more of an extension of the run game than he was as a deep threat on Saturday.

"He's allowed to make a guy miss once in a while. Get more than 8 yards," Meyer joked. "The good thing is he's not near what he can be."

Offensive line

While each unit of the OSU offense earned praise on Monday, none received as much attention as the offensive line did. After giving up just one sack to a very talented MSU defense, the entire starting unit was named the Buckeyes' player of the game by Meyer.

"I see a group of players that kind of get beat up a little bit because I like to go after offensive linemen and challenge them quite a bit," Meyer said. "That's the group right now that I'm most pleased with."

The Buckeyes' line earned particular praise for OSU's final drive of the game, where it received the ball with 4 minutes and 10 seconds left, and managed to run the clock out with six consecutive rushes.

"Offensive linemen don't show up on the stat sheet. So when you can do something like that, everyone knows it was on the O-line and we responded and we reacted," OSU center Corey Linsley said. "We won the game. It is just a really good feeling."


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