UAB came into its Sept. 22 game against Ohio State with some not-so-impressive defensive numbers.
The Blazers ranked near the bottom of teams in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision in several team defensive categories. After its first two games, UAB on average allowed 44 points (120th nationally), 220.5 rushing yards (109th) and 256.5 passing yards per game. The latter two numbers equaled 477 yards per game, 104th among FBS teams in total defense.
So it wasn’t unreasonable to expect an impressive performance by the Buckeyes’ offense. Unfortunately for OSU, that wasn’t to be. Ohio State did enough to earn a 29-15 victory at Ohio Stadium, but inconsistency was again an issue.
“We have our moments when we’ve shown how explosive our offense can be, but at the same time, we’ve got to execute better,” sophomore tailback Rod Smith said. “Some things don’t go as we plan, but we have to execute. That’s the bottom line. We have to execute.”
Head coach Urban Meyer was, as has become the norm, blunt in his assessment.
“On offense our explosiveness was obviously nonexistent for much of the game,” Meyer said. “If it was one thing we could make adjustments and fix it, (but) it’s more than one thing right now.”
The offense is still waiting for the game in which it puts together a four-quarter performance, but on back-to-back second-quarter drives against UAB it showed just how dangerous it can be when clicking.
The first quarter wasn’t pretty for the Buckeyes offensively. Ohio State not only trailed 6-0 after the first 15 minutes against the Blazers, but the offense did not cross midfield and was held to a three-and-out in two of its three possessions.
The second quarter, however, was a different story. The Buckeyes scored touchdowns on three of its offensive possessions, and on the first two showed they can move the ball on the ground or through the air.
Ohio State went on a 10-play, 75-yard march to start the scoring spurt. The Buckeyes went to the ground attack to march to the end zone, carrying the ball on all but one play. The final play resulted in a 1-yard TD burst by Smith.
“It was downhill running, just downhill running,” Smith said of the drive. “That’s what I was focusing on when I was in the game. It worked pretty well.”
The next drive was an aerial show by Miller. The sophomore QB completed 4 of 4 passes during the five-play march. Miller threw for 63 of the 75 yards on the drive but called his own number on the final play, finishing the drive with another highlight reel-worthy run. He faked a handoff and raced toward the end zone, spinning around UAB outside linebacker Greg Irvin at the 8-yard line before finishing the run by diving into the end zone.
The score gave Ohio State a lead it never relinquished. The Buckeyes went into halftime with a 21-12 lead thanks to OSU’s third and final touchdown of the quarter. Following a UAB lost fumble at its own 32, Ohio State reached the end zone in three plays. Miller rushed 17 yards to the 13 before finding Brown for an 11-yard gain. Senior fullback then capped the march by then piling into the end zone from 2 yards out.
Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they were unable to maintain the momentum after halftime. Ohio State was forced to punt on four of its five second-half possessions. The other resulted in a fourth quarter touchdown that iced the victory, but take that 71-yard scoring drive away and the Buckeyes were held to 52 yards of offense in the second half.
Consistency continues to elude the Ohio State offense.
“Some of it is what defenses do and how they play,” said Ed Warinner, OSU’s co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach. “Some of it is our execution, our ability to execute against multiple looks and things like that. Certain adjustments you make and certain things that happen out there are a part of the growth process in this offense. … It takes a little bit of time. Once they see it and adjust, they do pretty well.”
Warinner was upbeat following the game. He said he still has high hopes for the Buckeyes offensively.
“I’m very confident,” Warinner said. “We have a dynamic quarterback. “We have good offensive linemen. Our skill players are very good. And we have a good coaching staff. We’re all growing together. I’m very confident that we have a high ceiling and that we can continue to grow.
“Great things will come here with the spread. I wouldn’t say that I’m happy about today, but I am happy that we’re 4-0 in a new system with new players and a young quarterback. We’re making progress. … It’s going to be good. This could be really a dynamic offense with the players we have.”