Friday, August 31, 2012

GAME PREVIEW: HIGHLY ANTICIPATED MEYER ERA BEGINS SATURDAY

Urban Meyer
(TBT/Lee Hudnell)
COLUMBUS — Ever since Urban Meyer was a very young child growing up in northern Ohio he envisioned that one day he would lead the Ohio State football team onto the field of battle as the Buckeyes' head coach — just like his idol, Woody Hayes.

Well, this Saturday at Ohio Stadium that childhood dream will become reality, as the 18th-ranked Meyer-led Buckeyes host Miami University in the 2012 season opener.

The two-time national championship winning Meyer — who will be entering his 11th season as a college football head coach — admits that the butterflies will be churning in the pit of his stomach when his sneakers hit the turf at 'The Horseshoe' on Saturday afternoon.

"I'll be coming out of my shoes a little bit," Meyer smiled. "Like you said, since I was four years old or maybe I was three and a half — I can't remember the exact time I first saw the scarlet and gray play — (I wanted to be a Buckeye).

"It's going to be an emotional time. Very much so."

Although his first match-up as the Buckeyes' boss Saturday won't be as daunting as Michigan's opening day task of facing defending champion Alabama, Meyer said going against Miami won't necessarily be a walk in the park ... or a situation that will quickly calm his nerves.

"I know Miami very well," Meyer said. "I coached against them in the MAC (at Bowling Green) for two years. I have a great deal of respect for them as a university. Like I said, I know them very well. I know the history and tradition. And I also know their coach (Don Treadwell) and I know their quarterback (Zac Dysert). I've been watching them play, and their receiver (Nick Harwell). So it's going to be a good challenge for us."

The Buckeyes have switched to a spread offensive attack under Meyer and will be more up tempo in their approach. The new offense will certainly benefit players like dual-threat quarterback Braxton Miller and tailback Carlos Hyde.

Miami also runs the spread offense, which many would think gives the Buckeyes' defense a huge advantage going into Saturday being that they've faced it all throughout the off-season.

But as Meyer quickly pointed out, the versions each team employs are about as similar as a sports car and a Hum-V.

"It's completely different from our spread," Meyer said. "Their offense is 180 (degrees) from us, they're a spread that throws it. We're a spread that probably at the end of the day we might be 50/50 or 60/40 run/pass.

"We're a line up and come rocking off the ball type of spread offense. They're more of a drop back pass (type of spread)." 

And drop back they will do. 

Miami is led by senior quarterback Zac Dysert, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound passer who slung the rock last season for more than 3,500 yards and 23 touchdowns. Combine that with one of the most talented receivers in the country in junior Nick Harwell, who snagged 97 passes for 1,425 yards last season — including nine games with 100 or more yards and five with at least 10 receptions — and you have an offense who can put some serious pressure on an opposing secondary.

"With that quarterback, he's a tremendous player. And that receiver is really good," Meyer said of Dysert and Harwell. "Those two kids can play anywhere in America."

Now, while the RedHawks — who ranked 14th nationally in passing in 2011 — will look to throw the ball 40 to 50 times in the contest, the running game can be viewed as non-existent. Miami ranked last in the FBS in 2011, rushing for just 73 yards total per game. 

Bottom Line

You can not be one-dimensional playing against an Urban Meyer defense. The Buckeyes will game plan to neutralize Harwell by forcing pressure on Dysert to get rid of the football quickly. The philosophy could force Dysert into some mistakes which could lead to turnovers.

Offensively, Meyer will definitely have the throttle down. Even though he stated the offense will be balanced, it didn't keep him from throwing the ball 39 times with Braxton Miller in a recent inter-squad scrimmage.

Meyer said that not only does he want the Buckeyes to win the game against Miami on Saturday, he wants them to "look good doing it."

That spells major trouble for the visiting RedHawks, folks.

Look for the Buckeyes to win their 34th straight home opener in blowout fashion.

Prediction: OSU 52-10