Aug 31, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller (5) hands off to running back Jordan Hall (7) before the game against the Buffalo Bulls at Ohio Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
When it comes to Big Ten teams, it seems to be the defense that gets the most publicity. But the Buckeyes have always bucked that trend. That isn’t to say that the Buckeyes don’t sport a great defense unit (which we’ll get into tomorrow), but their offense has always been able to bring a little more flair to the drab, traditional Big Ten. This year’s edition of the Buckeyes are no different.
Right now, we don’t have an official status update on junior quarterback Braxton Miller. He is listed as ‘day-to-day’ right now, with a heavy lean towards him getting the nod. Miller, who was the 2011 Big Ten freshman of the year, capped off his 2012 undefeated season winning the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year and Quarterback of the Year awards as well as finishing in 5th place in the Heisman Trophy voting. In his career, he has 3,406 passing yards, 2,068 rushing yards, 30 touchdowns, 20 rushing touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
As written yesterday, Miller went down on Saturday with an MCL sprain against the San Diego State Aztecs. In his place came senior Kenny Guiton. Guiton has sat behind the last three Ohio State quarterbacks (Joe Bauserman, Terelle Pryor and Miller), posting career numbers of 34-for-54 with 317 yards and five touchdowns. If Miller, for some reason, is not the starter, expect Guiton to be the guy.
Neither guy will make too many mistakes, and both players can rush the ball particularly well. In fact, Miller was the second leading rusher (77 yards) in week one, and Guiton was the leading rusher (83 yards, 1 touchdown) this past weekend in just three quarters of play.
Speaking of rushing, Ohio State seems to always sport one of the best running games in the country. Historically speaking, Ohio State has always been able to produce great runningbacks (Archie Griffin, Eddie George, Maurice Clarrett). It was in doubt whether this season would be the same, as last year’s starting runningback, Carlos Hyde (970 yards on 185 rushes with 16 touchdowns), was suspended after being charged with aggravated assault.
So far this season, the team has been able to cope with the loss of Hyde by using a few names to make up for the loss in production. Obviously the use of the starting quarterback as a duel-threat presence is something that Ohio State has done well over the last few years. But they have gotten some good play out of senior runningback Jordan Hall, who already surpassed all of his production from last season (218 yards, 1 touchdown) in just two starts this season (234 yards, 3 touchdowns).
The Buckeyes have also been able to use freshmen Dontre Wilson (62 yards, 1 touchdown) and Ezekiel Elliot (38 yards, 1 touchdown). These two will probably get more action as the season goes on. Urban Meyer has been very vocal about his excitement for his ‘electric speed’ freshman running backs. They got DAT-ESS-EE-SEE speed.
With a four-man attack, the Buckeyes can run it down anyone’s throat all day and not really get too tired. Of course, that run game will be interspersed with a steady pass-attack. The receiving corps is led by seniors Devin Smith (107 yards, 1 touchdown) and Philly Brown (98 yards and 2 touchdowns). Both are sure handed receivers who can quickly break out and overtake a game. Brown, for example, began the San Diego State with five out of his six catches coming in the opening quarter.
Sep 7, 2013; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Philly Brown (10) makes a leaping touchdown catch under pressure from San Diego State Aztecs defensive back David Lamar (16) at Ohio Stadium. Ohio State won the game 42-7. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
The Buckeyes don’t keep it to those two receivers, as they tend to spread the ball around quite a bit. In both games, seven different receivers caught at least one pass.
Other than distributing the ball amongst a wide array of talented skill playmakers, Ohio State plays a methodical style of football that rarely makes a mistake. They have gone 14-27 on third down, have had the ball for over 31 minutes in both games and have over 440 yards of total offense in both games.
The only “weakness” Ohio State has is their ability to turn the ball over. In their 40-20 victory over Buffalo, Ohio State was on the ropes a few times during that game. In fact, midway through the 3rd, the game was 30-20 Ohio State with Buffalo driving downfield. The main reason for Buffalo’s success is Buffalo’s ability to create a few turnover opportunities and running a solid offense. Obviously, we won’t get into Cal’s offense vs. Ohio State’s defense right now, as it pertains to the next preview article. But, the creation of turnovers is key.
The two quarterbacks have already thrown three interceptions, and against two teams not slated to be very good this year. I don’t know if Cal can right the ship defensively, but if they can, they have the raw talent to be able to create the extra opportunities for the Cal Goffense to score. They did it before, picking up three turnovers against a very good, very smart Northwestern team that could be a contender in the same conference that this Buckeye team hails from. Granted, they’ve lost a few cogs in the machine since the three-turnover performance in the opener.
The key to Cal beating this offense is to keep the pressure on the quarterback. We know Ohio State is going to get their stats. We know they’ll rush for about 200 yards as a team, pass for at least 200 yards, and the likelihood is that they will keep the ball for long stretches of time, which, combined with the four-headed running attack, will tire out an already this Cal defense. OSU may not have the burners that other teams have, but they have guys who don’t make stupid mistakes. If Cal can get their front seven to rattle Miller/Guiton into a few mistakes, maybe they can pick up on a few mistakes.