|Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, right, leads his Buckeyes on the field for the first time Saturday against Miami (OH). TBT photo by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell.|
COLUMBUS — It took about 16 minutes to get it out of first gear on Saturday, but when 18th-ranked Ohio State finally popped the clutch early on in the second quarter, it was pedal to the metal, full throttle football the rest of the way.
Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller totaled 368 yards and three touchdowns — in less than three quarters of work — as Ohio State crushed visiting Miami (OH), 56-10, in the highly anticipated debut of new head coach Urban Meyer.
After the new Meyer-designed spread offense only managed to gain 48 total yards in the first quarter — including just five through the air on four drives — the Buckeyes came out gunning in the second, racking up 297 yards and three touchdowns to take a 21-3 lead into half time.
The second quarter barrage by Ohio State was powered by the arm of Miller who threw for 184 of his 207 yards in the period, including a beautiful 23-yard scoring connection to sophomore receiver Devin Smith, who leaped high in the air for a breathtaking one-handed snag for the first touchdown of the game.
The highlight-reel snag by Smith sparked the Buckeyes' offense, as well as catching the eye of his new head coach.
"I don't know if Devin has been saving that, but I've not seen him do that," Meyer said. "Now that I know he can, I expect it. He's actually been playing pretty good for us.
"That was a wild moment ... a moment that ignited the stadium."
Smith said he hasn't been hiding it, but admits it was definitely his finest to date.
"It was definitely my best all time catch," Smith smiled. "I've had some catches at practice but nothing like this one."
Miller would find junior Philly Brown on a five-yard pitch and catch score a few minutes later, putting the Buckeyes ahead 14-3.
Miller hit on four passes of more than 20 yards in the second quarter, including a long of 44 to sophomore Evan Spencer.
Of course, Miller's arm didn't give way to his legs, as the dual-threat star rushed for a career-high 161 yards in the victory, including a 65-yard scoring jaunt on the opening play of the second half to put the Buckeyes ahead 28-3.
Miller's rushing effort was the best ever by a quarterback in school-history. Miller would leave the game around the four-minute mark of the third quarter after suffering cramps in his right leg.
Meyer was very pleased with his ultra-athletic star's performance. However, it was his leadership and poise that impressed the two-time national championship winning coach.
"I think one of the things about Braxton Miller that I really had to see, and I did see today, is that objective with Braxton is to make him from an athlete playing quarterback to a quarterback that manages.
"He's got to manage basically the entire offense. He's got to stay positive, his leadership ... he has to be a leader. He showed that today."
Miller said that after the shaky first quarter it was extremely important being the leader that he kept his cool and remained positive with his teammates.
"It's not a game of anger," Miller said. "Go out there, have fun, enjoy the time with your teammates and make sure you're doing all the right things in positive ways.
"If you're doing anything in a negative way there's nothing that's going to get done at that point."
Junior Kenny Guiton came in relief of Miller and led the Buckeyes on three scoring drives, finishing 5-of-9 passing for 37 yards in a little more than a quarter of work.
The Buckeyes offense tallied 538 yards in the win Saturday — more than any game total from last season.
Defensively, the Buckeyes surrendered 313 passing yards to Miami, but held them to minus-one yard rushing for the day. Ohio State forced three turnovers in the win, including a fumble recovery in the end zone by cornerback Bradley Roby — following a bad snap on a Miami punt — in the third quarter to take a 35-3 lead.
Cornerback Travis Howard intercepted Miami quarterback Zac Dysert twice in the win, while fellow true freshmen Aldolphus Washington and Noah Spence each added sacks.
Sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier led the Buckeyes in tackles with eight, followed by Roby with six.
The Buckeyes' defense appeared lost at times on the opening three series of the game, as Miami racked up more than 130 yards passing, including big hitters of 42 and 58 yards from Dysert to Nick Harwell and Dawan Scott, respectively.
However, it was two RedHawk dropped passes in the red zone which prevented them from capitalizing on the Buckeyes early, scoring just three points for their efforts.
From that point on, the Buckeyes were in total command of the game, outscoring the RedHawks, 56-7, the remainder of the contest.
"The day overall, it was a great day," Meyer said. "'Hang on Sloopy' kicked it off in the fourth quarter. I stared at that for a while, watched it. Told a couple of people that I've never seen that before.
"(I was) just a little disappointed in the first quarter. But after that, what a great day. We enjoy a win. We all know it's difficult to win in major college football.
"Now we've got one and now we get ready for next week."
HYDE LOOKS SOLID, BOREN GETS FIRST RUSHING TD ... Buckeyes tailback Carlos Hyde had a solid game on the ground in the victory Saturday, rushing for 82 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.
Hyde's goal was to hit the 100-yard mark Saturday, but said he isn't disappointed in his effort.
"I definitely want 100 yards in a game," Hyde said. "I realize if I would've broken one more tackle I could have maybe reached it. It's something I can work towards this season."
Senior fullback Zach Boren scored his first rushing touchdown of his career in Saturday's win.
"I love Zach Boren. We had to do that," Meyer said, about getting the senior captain a score. "He's a good runner. He's a Buckeye, and deserves to get it."
PHILLY BROWN LEADS RECEIVING CORPS ... Junior Corey "Philly" Brown led all Buckeye receivers in receptions and yards on Saturday, hauling in seven grabs for 87 yards and a touchdown.
WHAT'S UP NEXT ... Ohio State will host Central Florida (1-0) next Saturday at Ohio Stadium. It will be a noon kickoff.