Friday, September 7, 2012

GAME PREVIEW: BUCKEYES HAVE TOUGHER TASK AGAINST KNIGHTS

Carlos Hyde
(TBT/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell
COLUMBUS — It may have been a bit slow going coming out of the gates, but the inauguration of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer last Saturday against Miami (OH) definitely resulted in a huge success.

The Buckeyes, who managed just 46 yards of offense — and zero points — in the first quarter Saturday, rebounded furiously the rest of the way by gashing the RedHawks for 492 yards and eight touchdowns in the final three periods of play, giving Meyer his first victory at Ohio State, 56-10. 

Meyer said he certainly wasn’t pleased with his team’s lack of execution early on Saturday, but in hindsight, admits the first quarter woes could be beneficial for the future good.

“Very disappointed in the first quarter (against Miami),” Meyer said. “But after you evaluate it, I’m very glad that happened. It gives us an opportunity to coach very, very hard and get some things corrected.”

Meyer understands that this week’s opponent Central Florida (1-0) may not be as forgiving to the 14th-ranked Buckeyes (1-0) as the RedHawks were last week, taking just a three-point lead after out-gaining Ohio State by nearly 140 yards in the first quarter.

"Whole different animal coming in here this week,” Meyer said. “I know this team, I know this coach, I know this coaching staff, and we have great respect for everything they’ve done. They’ve led the defense in their conference the last three years. They have very good players, 300-pound plus defensive tackles, two athletic defensive ends.

“It’s what you’d imagine out of Central Florida.”

Of course, it isn’t the defense which should concern the Buckeyes. It was the Knights’ offense that put the assault on Akron in the season opener last Saturday, scoring 56 points in the win.

“On offense, they pounded Akron last week and they ran power downhill at them,” Meyer said. “The good thing nowadays is our players have already seen film so they have a touch of what’s going on with all these iPads floating around here. They have plenty of film to watch.”

The first thing which is going to jump out on the iPads is the Knights ability to run the football with their stable of quality tailbacks.

Although senior starter Latavius Murray — who rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown in less than a half against Akron — will not play due to a shoulder injury, the Knights still possess three runners who can inflict damage if the OSU defense isn’t on their game.

Sophomore Storm Johnson leads the Knights’ backfield triumvirate. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound transfer from the University of Miami has big-play potential and should be priority No. 1 for in the Buckeyes’ defensive game plan. Backups Brynn Harvey and Cedric Thompson shouldn’t be ignored either.

Fortunately for the Buckeyes, their strength is on the front-seven. Ohio State’s run-defense was stellar last week against Miami, holding the RedHawks to minus-1 yard rushing on 20 carries. 

Offensively for the Buckeyes, it is all about finding play-makers. During their season opener, a few came to the forefront and caught the eye of their head coach — most notably sophomore receiver Devin Smith, who sparked the offensive scoring barrage with a breathtaking one-handed leap and grab for a touchdown in the second quarter.

However, Meyer said they are still trying to identify the difference-makers.

“I ask the question all the time, who can physically score the touchdown?” Meyer said. “I didn’t know Devin Smith could. I have not seen it (before last Saturday). Now I know he can.

“I’m not talking about the one (last season) against Wisconsin where the guy catches it and falls down. I mean go make the touchdown. I think Carlos Hyde can. I think Braxton Miller can. To see Evan Spencer go up (and get a big catch), we had to see him do that.

“We’re still trying to figure out who can score a touchdown,” Meyer continued. “Not who can score, but who can go make a touchdown, and that’s what we’re trying to still figure out. The good news is, I think we have a couple guys that can do that.”

Bottom line

This may seem like I’m stating the obvious but Urban Meyer really knows how to coach a football team.

No, I’m not just talking X’s and O’s, but more how he relates to his players. Perfect example: 
The beginning of the second quarter when Miller was struggling with some issues out on the field, Meyer didn’t get down on his QB, but instead adjusted to plays the youngster felt the most comfortable performing. 

It culminated in nearly 300 yards and 21 unanswered points in that second quarter.

“He’s calm,” Miller said of Meyer. “He’s a calm coach. He’s like, ‘What do you want? What do you want us to throw? What do you need to make yourself more comfortable?’

“He works with you.”

Knowing Meyer’s meticulous style, preparations this week for UCF will be about cleaning up the early-game woes. I expect the players to take heed.

Look for another huge outing by the confident Miller, and for the defense to hold the Knights’ rushing attack in check.

Should be another Buckeyes’ rout Saturday at The Horseshoe.

Prediction: OSU 45-14