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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Each week at Buckeye Grove, we'll examine the current state of the Ohio State position groups, with insight from Buckeyes' players and coaches.
In this piece, we'll take a look at the OSU offense, which despite a slow start against Miami (OH) on Saturday, showed flashes of just what it's capable of under first-year OSU head coach Urban Meyer and helped put 56 points on the scoreboard against the RedHawks.
Meyer was not satisfied with Braxton Miller 14-of-24 performance passing the ball against the RedHawks, but what the sophomore quarterback lacked in the air, he made up for on the ground. Miller rushed for 161 yards- a school record for a quarterback- in a performance that was good enough to have him named the team's offensive player of the game by the coaching staff.
"I saw him jerk a couple passes, and that's something that when he has a nice stroke, he's as good a passer as I've ever seen," Meyer said. "He's going through some growing pains and we have to get him through those growing pains really fast, because we expect more out of our quarterback."
Miller wasn't the only quarterback on Saturday to be graded with a winning effort as backup Kenny Guiton joined Miller in the coaches' 'champions club.' Guiton complete five of the nine passes he attempted on Saturday while filling in for Miller, who twice left the game with leg cramps.
"I was just having fun, man. I haven't got to play about the last three or four years," Guiton said. "Just being out there for that period of time, it was a lot of fun for me, so that's what all I was thinking about, just having fun again."
Hyped repeatedly by Meyer throughout the offseason, Carlos Hyde made his spread offense debut with 82 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the RedHawks. Meyer wanted to get Hyde more than the 17 touches he had on Saturday, but the Miami defense game plan prevented him from doing so.
"I'm disappointed that he didn't get 100 yards. I thought he would. We were going to feature him a little bit today," Meyer said. "A few carries got taken away because Miami made a decision to force the quarterback to run and then have extra defensive players where they were."
Hyde was also disappointed to not cross the century mark on Saturday, but remains confident that his time to shine in the Buckeyes' offense will soon come.
"I definitely want 100 yards in a game," Hyde said. "I realize if I would've broken one more tackle I could have maybe reached it. It's something I can work towards this season."
Meyer praised the the improvements of his wideouts throughout the offseason, and on Saturday they didn't disappoint. Five different wideouts made catches against Miami, with Corey Brown leading the way with seven receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.
"It was cool to see everybody from the (wide receivers) room making plays out there," Brown said. "It was good to see the room as a whole, after being so criticized going out there and playing like we did."
Although he only made two catches on Saturday, Meyer was also impressed by the play of Devin Smith, who made a spectacular one-handed touchdown grab to score the first points of the Meyer era.
"Playing receiver in this offense, that is a grown man's job. He's really coming on," Meyer said of Smith. "I know I have confidence, but more importantly he has some confidence in himself."
The Buckeyes' offensive line gave up three sacks on Saturday, yet still had the left side of its line grade out with a winning performance with both left tackle Jack Mewhort and left guard Andrew Norwel joining Meyer's champions club this week. Meyer was particularly impressed with Norwell, who recorded five knockdowns, two pancakes, and didn't allow a sack.
"(OSU offensive line coach) Ed Warinner is very high on him and says he's one of the most improved players on our team," Meyer said.
There was at least one moment on Saturday when Meyer found himself particularly disappointed with his offensive line. With three seconds remaining until halftime, Meyer opted to run a play from Miami's 1-yard line in hopes of scoring a touchdown before the half. Hyde's rushing attempt, however, fell short- a failure which Meyer blamed on the offensive line not getting enough of a push.
"Obviously if you go back and look at the film, we have to go back and correct some things on that play," right tackle Reid Fragel said. "That's just one little thing that we're going to fix and put it all together for the next game."
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