Tuesday, September 18, 2012

BUCKEYES NEED MORE THAN JUST MILLER, SMITH TO MAKE BIG PLAYS

Devin Smith
TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — Urban Meyer isn't just satisfied with winning football games by a touchdown or two, he wants his team to be explosive, feared, a threat to take it to the house on any given play.

Simply put, he doesn't just want to win ... he wants to make SportsCenter highlights doing it.

Thus far through three games, sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller has been the catalyst for the Buckeyes' weekly inclusion on the big-play reels. In fact, out of the Buckeyes' 10 plays of more than 25 yards this season, the dual-threat signal caller has contributed on all of them, including touchdown runs of 65 and 55 yards.

Sophomore receiver Devin Smith has done his share as well — hauling in three of the Buckeyes' six passes this season of more than 25 yards, including a 72-yard TD reception against California last week and a beautiful one-handed scoring grab against Miami (OH) in the season opener.

Although Meyer is thrilled about the progression and production of his young stars Miller and Smith, he understands that if the Buckeyes are to keep racking up wins, others must also step up to the plate and make some highlight plays of their own.

"We're trying to figure out who can touch the ball and take it a little bit," Meyer said. "Break a tackle and do something with it because we see other guys doing it (on other teams). We don't do that enough. We don't break enough tackles. We need some highlight reels on Ohio State, other than Devin Smith making a great catch.

"We need to see some highlight reels from some other players other than Braxton Miller and Devin."

Meyer has stated that the top teams in the country generally use explosive plays on the ground to win — plays like the ones the Buckeyes witnessed this past weekend against California, when tailback Brenden Bigelow scored breathtaking, tackle-breaking touchdowns of 81 and 59 yards.

"Cal had a couple of guys pull through tackles," Meyer said. "Really poor tackling on our part, but once again, (Bigelow's) a powerful, big back. The kid that I saw run it when I went home and saw the highlight on TV. I said, 'my gosh.'

"I think what you're seeing that across the landscape, and we see it every year, guys make something out of nothing and sometimes people pull through tackles. Right now we're not getting a lot of that. We're getting it out of No. 5 (Miller), our quarterback is making a couple miss. But defenses are so good right now that you've got to be able to pull through."

Meyer is hoping senior tailback Jordan Hall can be a guy who helps the offense become more explosive on the ground. Last week against Cal, Hall looked decent — and rusty at times — returning from a foot injury, which had him sidelined all of fall camp and the first two games of the season.

Hall finished with 87 yards on 17 carries, but only had three runs of more than 10 yards (15, 12 and 11).

"(Hall) certainly can," Meyer said, when asked if the senior can be another big play threat in the Buckeyes' backfield going forward. "He has to be. We need to find a guy to hand the ball to that when a guy hits you, you don't go down."

The Buckeyes (3-0) host Alabama-Birmingham (0-2) this Saturday at Ohio Stadium (12 p.m.).

MILLER GETS RECOGNITION ... Miller was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week for his incredible performance against Cal on Saturday in Columbus.

Miller recorded 249 yards and four touchdowns through the air in the win, while also adding another 75 and a score on the ground. Miller is second in the Big Ten and 12th in the FBS in total offense this season (329.3 per game).

It is the first time Miller has garnered a conference player of the week award.

MEWHORT IS IMPRESSING MEYER ... After being arrested this off-season for disorderly conduct, junior Jack Mewhort has finally worked his way back out of his head coach's doghouse.

Meyer said he has been impressed with the way his starting left tackle has played this season, and the way he has reacted after committing his off-field sins.

"He's been a model student, a model citizen, and that is the research I've done after that (arrest) happened," Meyer said. "So that was a stupid, ignorant mistake that he paid a hell of a price for."

Meyer owes a lot of Mewhort's rebound to the lineman's father.

"The thing I like about Jack Mewhort is his dad," Meyer said. "He handled it the same way I would have handled it with my kid. It's the ones with the families where all of a sudden the kid doesn't act really responsible, and you hear excuse after excuse after excuse, and there are no excuses.

"So Jack's handled it ... He's a hard-nosed player that does great for the community. Does great for Ohio State."