81,112 people poured into a cold and rainy Ohio Stadium Saturday afternoon to watch the Urban Meyer era begin. Scarlet edged out Gray 20-14 lead by Braxton Miller, Ryan Shazier and Michael Thomas.
This was officially the first time Buckeye fans and the rest of the college football world got to see Urban Meyers offense, though it was a shell of it’s actual self. This, like many other spring games before it was essentially a passing scrimmage. There were 36 rushing plays (though many of those were QB runs/sacks) compared to 57 pass attempts.
Both OSU offensive units ran out of the shotgun all day and used a no huddle, fast paced offense. One thing that was missing from the offense was the zone read option, speed option and all the running plays off of those looks. This was primarily because of the shortened game format and the running clock in the 2nd half. It was also because neither QB was “live.” Whenever anyone got within 11 miles of Braxton Miller the play was blown dead. This really limited what both QB’s could do, though their passing numbers didn’t take a hit. Kenny Guiton who is the clear backup for Miller was 17 or 26 for 191 yards with a TD pass and short TD run. Miller was 24-31 for 258 yards. Both QB’s threw INT’s. Guitons INT came in the 4th quarter in the redone after he stared down his WR.
What stood out:
Before the game Meyer surprised everyone by gathering both teams at the 50 yard line. They formed a tight circle and Meyer picked John Simon from Gray and Jack Mewhort to go at one another in an Oklahoma drill. Meyer matched up players from each team over and over again finally ending with Guiton vs. Miller. Guiton got the better of Miller, sending the Gray team into a frenzy. The crowd absolutely LOVED it!
Miller seemed to be far more comfortable throwing the football compared to last year. Frankly, he is light years ahead of where he was last year. Miller was very accurate today, hitting 77% of his passes. He threw a tight spiral, something he struggled with last year and did so with good velocity. Miller wasn’t perfect as he still seems to need to work a bit on his touch. His interception came on a bullet he overthrew intended for Nick Vannett. Other than the INT there were a few forced balls but all in all he looked outstanding.
Ryan Shazier is a bad, bad man. This sophomore OLBer has All American written all over him. He had several big hits, a sack and a key 4 down stop tackling Brionte Dunn in the backfield. He passes the look test, the play test and the holy **** test. All he does is make plays each and every game and this game was no different.
The surprise of the day came from true freshman Michael Thomas who caught 12 passes for 131 yards. He made a big play in the 2nd half after catching a pass in the flat from Miller on a roll out and his run after the catch set up Scarlet with a 1st and goal. Thomas is definitely one to watch come fall practice.
One thing I was very disappointed in was seeing Braxton Miller play without any of the skill players he will be playing with in the fall. Due to the format of the game the teams were drafted the Thursday before hand and Miller was left without Jake Stoneburner, Philly Brown and Devin Smith. Miller basically had 2nd and 3rd team guys to work with and still performed well. I would have loved to see Miller with more of the 1st unit skill position players.
There is definitely a new sheriff in town and a new feel to how things are done. Dare I say it…there is a swagger about this team. It comes from the top and trickles down. Call it trickle down swagger. Reagan would approve. From the Oklahoma drill to start the game to the fast paced no huddle offense to the constant challenges Meyer puts on his players…this is not your grandpa’s Model T Buckeyes. This is a 21st century, sleek Ferrari that is ready to pull up along side Big Ten competition and blow it’s doors off.
Dear rest of the Big Ten…good luck. This is coming for you:
Special Thanks to Josh Winslow for providing the pictures!