Saturday, September 8, 2012

BRAXTON MILLER SHINES AGAIN IN BUCKS WIN OVER CENTRAL FLORIDA

Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller (5) looks to score one of his four total touchdowns in the Buckeyes 31-16 win over Central Florida Saturday in Columbus. (TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

(Updated) COLUMBUS — When asked earlier in the week about Braxton Miller's name being mentioned in the Heisman Trophy conversation, Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer just rolled his eyes and replied, "Oh gosh ... there will be no discussion of that."

After his performance in the Buckeyes 31-16 win over Central Florida on Saturday, that "discussion" may soon be underway, as Miller racked up 296 yards of offense and four touchdowns in the triumph — including tying an OSU-record for quarterbacks with three scores on the ground.


"Right now, he's our best answer ... " Meyer said of his young star quarterback. "Braxton Miller's the most talented on the team."

"He can do things no other player in the country can do," Buckeyes senior defensive back Orhian Johnson added about Miller.

Although the sophomore signal caller didn't exactly light it up through the air in the Buckeyes' win Saturday, he was quite efficient, going 18-of-24 passing for 155 yards (75.0 completion percentage) and a touchdown — while connecting with seven different receivers on the day.

Last week, in the season opener against Miami (OH), the Buckeyes' offense came out sluggish, mounting just 46 yards in the opening quarter of play. Against the Knights, however, the opening series of the game was ran to perfection, marching 71 yards on seven plays.

The drive would be capped off with a 37-yard touchdown scamper by the elusive Miller. 

Miller's dual-threat capabilities were devastating to the Knights' cause Saturday. To sum up the game in a nutshell: The Buckeyes had Braxton Miller ... and the Knights didn't.

"(Braxton Miller) is a great player," UCF head coach George O'Leary said. "He can make you look really, really bad."

Even though the start of the game for the Buckeyes was much improved from a week ago, the remainder of the contest — as a whole — was not as grand.

The Knights found success moving the football on the Buckeyes' defense all game long. Although they scored just 16 total points in the loss, they did manage to compile 352 yards against the Buckeyes, including 249 through the air. 

However, it was three costly turnovers by the Knights which prevented them from mounting any sort of upset bid against the 14th-ranked Buckeyes, as the senior triumvirate of OSU defenders — Travis Howard, Etienne Sabino and Orhian Johnson — killed three potential scoring drives by picking off Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles.

Bortles finished the game 25-of-41 passing for 249 yards and two touchdowns, to go along with the three interceptions.

The opportunistic Buckeyes' defense also displayed some vulnerability against the run in the win on Saturday, surrendering 103 yards on 23 carries (4.5 avg.) — after allowing minus-1 yard on 20 totes in the season opener a week ago. 

Ohio State's pass rush was nonexistent once again, recording just one sack (Steve Miller) in the contest. According to all involved, that must be addressed going forward.

"We need to find a way to put pressure on the quarterback," true freshman defensive end Noah Spence said. "I feel like when we get into the game it's easier to forget about our assignments sometimes.

"We haven't lived up to our potential yet."

Meyer agreed with Spence's sentiments.

"I don't see the quarterback getting hit," Meyer said. "That's something that has to be addressed. That's going to solve a lot of problems in pass defense."

Meyer stated that the Buckeyes have certainly not lived up to his expectations thus far.

"Not where I thought we'd be," Meyer said. "I thought we'd be a little more explosive on offense and thought we'd get some more pressure on the quarterback ...

"I don't want to say we're not a good team. But we're not. We're just mushing around out there. We've got to be much better than that."

The Buckeyes (2-0) will be back in action next Saturday when they host California.

HYDE INJURED ... Buckeyes junior tailback Carlos Hyde was carted off the field in the first half after suffering a sprained knee. The severity of the injury is still unknown, but Meyer stated that it could be a couple weeks.

Hyde finished the game with 27 yards on seven carries.

STONEBURNER GETS 10, BUT NOT TE RECORD ... Senior receiver Jake Stoneburner caught his tenth career touchdown reception in the third quarter of Saturday's victory — which would have been the all-time best in school history for a tight end.

However, the former tight end has been switched to receiver this season, meaning that instead of garnering the school-record of 10, it will be considered his first as a wide out.