It was well known long before the ink was dry on Head Coach Urban Meyer’s contract that he is a guru when it comes to the offensive side of the football. All of Buckeye Nation, from Columbus to Guatemala expected an explosive offense from Meyer, especially considering he was handed a gift in Braxton Miller, a Quarterback tailor made for his offensive scheme.
We waited several long months to see what Urban had in store for us on the scoring side of the ball and when the final whistle blew on opening weekend, any doubts had to be laid to rest about Meyer’s offensive prowess. 538 yards of total offense speaks volumes. It is also the third consecutive year that the Buckeyes have put up more than 500 yards of total offense on opening weekend, recording 517 against Akron last year and 529 against Marshall in Jim Tressel’s last home opener.
Even though we had waited all those months to see the vaunted offense, the Buckeyes decided we needed to wait at least one quarter before we could see any magic. 4 drives in the opening period went for 4 punts, giving Ben Buchanan an early start to his season. None of the drives managed more than 22 yards and the last of the quarter was a 3 and out that picked up all of 2 yards. Whatever Coach Meyer said to the team at the quarter break must have worked, however, because when the whistle blew again, the Scarlet and Gray were all over the place.
The second quarter saw 3 successful drives, all ending in touchdowns. They were Oregon-esque drives as well, just 4, 7, and 9 plays respectively, going to 83, 57, and 73 yards. What would have been a 4th scoring drive just before the half was unfortunately stalled at the goal line, but Ohio State came right back after the half, firing on all cylinders. After a 26 yard return by Armani Reeves, Miller took off to the left, dropped a stutter step on some hapless Miami defender and waltzed into the endzone to make it 28-3.
After a botched punt snap led to a Bradley Roby recovery in the endzone, the offense did little to nothing at all, resting on a 25 point lead. Yet Coach Meyer was not satisfied with TresselBall Redux. This was his show and he had a point to prove. Everyone expected the score to get run up as it is wont to do in opening games against cupcakes, but how many expected a 46 point margin? 3 more touchdowns in the 4th quarter brought the total up to 56 total points for Urban’s first outing.
From a viewer’s perspective, this was an offense that needed to upchuck some eggs in the first quarter, move the huddle, and then get things going. The rust is off and should have been at the end of the second drive, but when it mattered, our man took the game over in similar fashion to the way we saw a certain #15 in years past. Except our guy throws a moderately better ball and rarely jumps when he does it.
In that vein of “Urban Meyer” QBs, Miller set a school record for rushing yards by a Quarterback with 161, something I was sure had already been broken sometime in the past 4 years. This is sort of what we expected from Brax. He is out of this world efficient with the football in his hands and that stutter step deserves its own stutter step. But what we were all hoping for also was shown last Saturday as Miller added 207 yards through the air to his total, bringing his contribution to total offensive yards to 368 out of the 538 that the team picked up. The darkhorse Heisman candidate also put up a wholesome 158.28 QB rating, good for fourth in the conference this past week. He completed passes to 7 different wide receivers, with 2 of them catching scores, including Devin Smith’s “All-Everything-Circus-Style-Behind-The-Back-Off-The-Goalposts-Nothing-But-Net-Catch.”
Corey Brown was the main beneficiary of the passing game, bringing in 7 passes for 87 yards and a TD, but where I was surprised was the lack of contributions from Jake Stoneburner, who only recorded 28 yards on 2 receptions. Most figured him to be a larger part of the passing game with his full time move to wide receiver. Perhaps that will come in time as Meyer feels more comfortable with the big man going over the middle, as we are all well aware Stoney is a master of.
But it wasn’t all air raids and the workhorses on the ground deserve some massive praise, and not just because they scored the majority of the touchdowns. The Meyer offense is built around being able to be balanced in both the run and pass, yet have the option to do both in any given play. That means that guys like Carlos Hyde and Bri’onte Dunn have to be on their toes on every snap, because there may be no clue they are getting the rock until Braxton shoves it in their breadbasket.
Yet the two shone admirably. Had Hyde been 1 inch taller, he would have reached the endzone three times on 17 carries, but had to settle with 2 and 82 yards. Meyer definitely spread the ball around with Jordan Hall out (and expected to miss yet another week), getting rushing yards out of 6 guys including Rod Smith and Zach Boren, who also scored the first rushing touchdown of his career, something Meyer expressed disbelief of at the post game press conference.
If Saturday’s dismantling of the RedHawks was any indication of the next three weeks as Urban plans for B1G play, then we are certainly in for a treat. Strap in, because we are going to score a lot of points.