Those of you who regularly read my columns know that on Wednesdays, it’s all about “embracing the hate” with the Ten Things to Hate About…” series. Well, as I mentioned in last week’s article, though I embrace the hate, I’m still a lover at heart. That’s why I’ve decided to use my space here on Mondays to look at the bright side of each week’s action.
Those of you who are a part of the Buckeye Twitter community know that the internet isn’t always home to the most positive people. Browsing my timeline yesterday it seemed like almost every player on the team was thrown under the bus by at least one fan. It’s like if the Buckeyes don’t win each game by 40 while rushing for 300 yards, passing for 300 yards, and holding the opposing team under 150 yards, then the game is a failure. I love Buckeye Nation but sometimes there is a sense of entitlement that just rubs me the wrong way. It’s like people expected Urban Meyer to come in and instantly transform a 6-7 team into Alabama. They forget that Ohio State’s already young offense is still learning an entirely new system that is light years ahead of what they employed last season, that a new collection of defensive coaches is still figuring out what works, and that true freshman are playing key roles. Obviously, there are still plenty of areas for improvement with this year’s squad, but the tenor of the discussion surrounding the team is ridiculously pessimistic.
I mean, come on guys, it’s not like we only put up 7 points in a loss to Oregon State or started the season 0-2 with losses to Ohio and Virginia. Am I right? Give the coaches time, give the players time. This team is good and getting better. Guess what, we’re going to lose a game or two this year. The great thing about this season is that it’s ok. We’re building toward something great and we’re going to beat a lot of good teams along the way.
So, with that being said, I’m going to get off of my soapbox and give you three things that I liked from this weekends’ games.
1. We’ve got a Legit Star at Quarterback
It’s a cliché, and it’s nothing that anyone who watches the game doesn’t already know, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Quarterback is the most important position on the field, and we’ve got one. A really, really good one. Does he have flaws? Could he improve with his reads on the zone-read? Could his accuracy become more consistent? Of course. The great thing is that he has plenty of time to improve on his shortcomings and a coaching staff that is more than capable of helping him do it.
That being said, even with those flaws, Braxton Miller is a stud. With Carlos Hyde out early, Miller put the offense on his shoulders and willed them to victory. Miller accounted for almost 300 total yards and four touchdowns including an electrifying first quarter run and a beautiful 12-yard pass to Jake Stoneburner in the corner of the end zone. Ideally, Miller won’t have to do almost everything himself all year long. But on Saturday, he showed that he can do it when he needs to.
2. Bri’onte Dunn Showed Flashes
It’s a very small sample size, I’ll give you that. That being said, I’m starting to get very excited about what freshman running back Bri’onte Dunn can bring to this offense. Dunn has carried the ball only 12 times this season, but he has done so at a 5.0 yard-per-carry clip. Yesterday he rushed five times for just under 30 yards, an average of 5.8ypc. One of the most highly-touted offensive recruits in Urban Meyer’s first class, Dunn is showing glimpses of the potential that had Buckeye fans so excited when he picked Ohio State over Michigan. Dunn will get a chance to establish himself as a permanent part of the running back rotation on Saturday. With Carlos Hyde and Jordan Hall both out with injuries, Dunn is listed as the starter at running back. I can’t wait to see what he does.
3. A Little Schadenfreude
Typically, these “three things” are going to be directly related to the Buckeyes. Today, I’m making an exception to bask in what’s going on at Wisconsin. This weekend the Badgers dropped a 7-10 decision to the Oregon State Beavers – a mid-tier Pac 12 team. That’s right, the team that averaged 40 ppg last season and once put 80 on Indiana could only muster a single touchdown. Alleged Heisman Trophy candidate Montee Ball was limited to 61 yards on 15 carries. His 21-game touchdown streak? Snapped. Quarterback Danny O’Brien struggled to complete just over 50 percent of his passes. After the game, things got worse. Eight days into the 2012 season, Bret Bielema fired his offensive line coach. That’s right, after only two games Mike Markuson is out as a Badger assistant. I’m no expert, but when a team is firing coaches before conference play has even begun, that’s not a good sign.
During one of the darker days of the Jerry Sandusky chaos at Penn State, Bret Bielema once infamously said “It’s a great day to be a Badger.” Saturday, on the other hand, not so much.