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Buckeyes Buckeye Archive Buckeyes' Miller Too Much For UCF
Written by Dan Wismar

Dan Wismar

Braxton UCF2Braxton Miller rushed for three touchdowns and threw for a fourth as the Buckeyes survived an inspired challenge from Central Florida with a 31-16 win Saturday at the Horseshoe. The OSU defense stiffened when it had to, coming up with three interceptions and holding the UCF running game in check. Ohio State moves to 2-0, but there may not be a coach anywhere less satisfied with his undefeated team than Urban Meyer.

With the game tied 10-10 in the second quarter, Miller proceeded to run and pass the Buckeyes to touchdowns on three consecutive possessions sandwiched around halftime, as they raced to a 31-10 lead. The Knights (1-1) charged back with a late 3rd quarter touchdown, but turned the ball over in the red zone on their next possession and never again got closer than two scores.

Although the Buckeyes’ pass rush, their coverage, and their running back play all came in for criticism by the head coach after the game, Meyer didn’t want to dwell on the negative.  “I don't want to be a downer around here. We won a frickin' game. Won by two touchdowns against a quality opponent. Time to move on, get ready to go play.”

Too Much

DevinSmith UCF1For the second week in a row, Ohio State ran up impressive rushing numbers with 256 yards on the ground, and once again Braxton Miller had a higher percentage of those yards than the coaches would ideally like to see. Miller carried the ball 27 times for 141 yards, and after the game Meyer admitted, “That's too much. 27 hits. He's blown out right now. We have to be smart. Someone's gotta run the ball. And right now he's our best answer.”

Miller was certainly the answer on Ohio State’s first possession of the game when he completed his first two passes of the game to Philly Brown, and then took off up the middle on a quarterback draw, and raced untouched for a 37-yard touchdown. Miller’s decision-making on the option isn’t perfect, and he’ll often try to create something when there’s nothing there...but he’s so electric with the ball in his hands that you can understand why coordinator Tom Herman keeps calling his number.

The coaches limited Miller to a very conservative and short passing attack, and the results were generally good. He completed 18 of 24 attempts, for 155 yards, including a 12-yard TD pass to Jake Stoneburner. Devin Smith (pictured) and Philly Brown caught six balls apiece and seven different receivers caught at least one pass. His longest completion went for just 15 yards, and he did badly underthrow one longer attempt, and had it picked off, but on the whole he stayed patient, and made safe, accurate throws. The way he was playing the role of Mr. Everything on Saturday, the fans had to be surprised he didn’t come out as the drum major at halftime.

My Aching Backs

No one knows better than Meyer that this OSU offense was too one-dimensional in the rushing attack, but the Buckeyes are accumulating troubles at the running back position. Carlos Hyde left the game for good in the 2nd quarter with a MCL strain in his right knee, and now joins starter Jordan Hall and freshman Warren Ball among the walking wounded backs.

In addition to injuries there were mental mistakes by both Hyde and his replacements Bri’onte Dunn and Rod Smith, as they missed several assignments leading to broken plays, and in Smith’s case, fumbled the ball away. Afterwards, Meyer addressed the problem, “we're down to our third tailback, and it looked like it. We have to get better. The guys carrying the ball are talented, just...terrible mistakes.....We have to go back to the drawing board and make some decisions on who is going to physically touch that ball and they have to take care of it, obviously.” Meyer later added, “We have to develop a running back”

Mixed Reviews on Defense

Sabino UCF1Defensively the Buckeyes held a good running team to just over 100 yards on the ground, and intercepted Knights quarterback Blake Bortles three times. Travis Howard, Etienne Sabino (pictured) and Orhian Johnson picked off Bortles, with Johnson's interception thwarting a late UCF drive inside the OSU 10-yard line. But much like last week, the pressure on the opposing passer wasn’t what Meyer wants to see. “A lot of positives. The negative I see right now is I don't see the quarterback getting hit. And that's something that has to be addressed.”

Of the Knights net rushing total of 103 yards, 48 came on one run by tailback Storm Johnson, who got around right end and sprinted down the sideline to the OSU 10-yard line, setting up the 2nd quarter touchdown that would tie the game at 10-10. The Knights were a physical match for the Buckeyes all afternoon, especially on offense, where Johnson and running mate Brynn Harvey proved very difficult to bring down on first contact.

After playing turnover-free football in the opener, the Buckeyes lost fumbles by Rod Smith and Zach Boren, and Miller threw his first interception of the season. Penalties (10 for 79 yards) and turnovers, says Meyer, are not the marks of a good team, and Ohio State isn’t a good team yet...“Right now we're not...I don't want to say we're not a good team. But we're not. We're just mushing around out there.”

My Bad

DrumMajor1Meyer owned up to two of his decisions that ended badly for OSU. He went for it on 4th and 1 near midfield in the first quarter, and after Miller failed to pick it up on a designed run play, the Knights capitalized on the field position by marching for their first three points of the game. In the 3rd quarter, Meyer accepted a penalty rather than force a field goal attempt on 4th down, but Bortles connected with J.J. Worton for 27 yards on the next play, and the Knights scored their last touchdown four plays later.

Meyer says his own decisions get reviewed like everything else. “It's just I'm trying to push the buttons to make us a good team. Midfield should be able to, on fourth and one, get a first down. We did it twice, and I think our offense knows we're going to do it again. At some point you have to do that....when you're a very good team....which right now we're not….but we're working our tails off to become that very good team.”

As long as the Buckeyes keep winning games they’re supposed to win by double-digits, not being a very good team is something their fans can live with.


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(photo credits -  JIm Davidson -

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