Meyer Pleased with Progress from Miller, Offense
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It wasn’t that long ago Ohio State’s offense looked like a clown show.
watches Braxton Miller in OSU's spring game.
Photo by Dan Harker
At least that’s what first-year head coach Urban Meyer called it at one point during spring practice. The Buckeyes were having a hard time just getting lined up, let alone running consecutive plays without fumbling the ball, snapping it into the dirt or taking a sack.
“The first couple of weeks was really bad,” said Meyer, who knew what to expect early on after implementing his system at three other programs over the last decade or so.
“I'm pleased – obviously you don't know until you know. I like what I've seen so far. Much different outfit than they were. Last week of spring you start to see glimpses of something that looked like you could actually do some things.”
Meyer would know as well as just about anyone about the difference between an explosive offense and one that can barely get lined up correctly.
Meyer coached the former for five years at Florida, leading the SEC in both passing and rushing touchdowns during his tenure in Gainesville. In his final season, however, Meyer experienced a year-long clown show – one that started with an ugly 34-12 win over the same Miami (Ohio) program his Buckeyes face in their 2012 season-opener on Saturday.
Photo by Jim Davidson
In the first game of the post-Tim Tebow era, then No. 4-ranked Florida needed a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns and four interceptions to overcome one of the ugliest offensive performances of Meyer’s head-coaching career.
The Gators finished with eight fumbles (three lost) and several bad exchanges between center and quarterback as they amassed only 25 yards of offense in the first three quarters of football.
That was the last time Urban Meyer coached in a season-opener.
Florida would drop from first in the SEC in total offense in 2009 to 10th in 2010, as the Gators shaved more than 100 yards off their average. They also dropped from second in scoring offense to eighth, but Meyer is expecting a lot more from his offense against the Redhawks two years later.
“I've seen – they've worked,” Meyer said Monday as his team prepares for battle.
“And we try to give credit where credit's due and they worked really hard this summer. There's no way they can get to where they're at on 18, 20 practices, whatever. I think we're at 22 or 23.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“There's no way that Braxton Miller, Kenny Guiton, that group of kids, can be where they are at through the summer because you don't have time. I'm excited to see what they've got.”
What Meyer has at his disposal is a dangerous running quarterback who could transform this offense into something even a little bit different than what Meyer had so much success with at Florida.
“Braxton has come a million miles,” Meyer said with maybe a touch of hyperbole.
“I think he's very – I think he's fairly comfortable. Our goal is to make him not an athlete playing quarterback but a quarterback that's very athletic.”
A year ago, Miller was much more athlete than quarterback. He completed only 54 percent of his passes as a rookie at Ohio State, and really misfired on some key opportunities to break the game open against Michigan.
He did, however, throw a game-winning touchdown against Wisconsin while rushing for 715 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman. His 81-yard scamper down the middle against Indiana was an absolute thing of beauty – especially considering the Buckeyes were down 10-0 at that point.
“He came from a very good high school program, so we're not starting off with a blank slate,” Meyer said.
“Obviously he's been a major college quarterback for about 90 or 80 percent of his season last year. I think he's fairly comfortable.”
It can’t be any worse than the last time Meyer started a season with a new quarterback running his offense.
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