More Options Lead to a Happier Buckeye Offense
By Tony Gerdeman
COLUMBUS, Ohio — As far as openings go, the first quarter of Saturday's game against Miami (Ohio) was a dud. There was so much promised, and so very little delivered. Just 48 yards of total offense from an offense that was supposed to give Buckeye fans something new to cheer about.
But then a funny thing happened – the first quarter ended and the second quarter began. Ohio State marched down the length of the field four times in the next fifteen minutes. They snapped the ball 32 times in the second quarter, which is more than the number of average snaps per half last season.
All systems were a go in the second quarter. Braxton Miller amassed 248 yards of total offense, and for the most part he looked good doing it. Ohio State's 297 yards of total offense in that quarter was better than four entire games last season. And with just five more yards in the quarter, they would have bested seven entire games from their disastrous 2011 season.
It was a sight to see, and it was an even better view from the trenches.
"It felt awesome," center Corey Linsley said of the second quarter.
"It was a lot of fun too. All five of us up front were just having a lot of fun. We'd come off to the sidelines and we'd talk about it and laugh. We'd talk about the schemes. It was a lot of fun, it was a great experience. I'm really excited for the next game."
Those schemes saw the Buckeyes doing whatever they wanted, and they had a lot to choose from. Linsley may be excited for the next game, but UCF probably isn't.
Looking back, it's a curious thing to see a Buckeye offensive lineman who seemed so unburdened by what he had just gone through.
Generally at Ohio State, because of how they have chosen to play offense in the past, how well the offense plays is dependent upon how well the offensive line plays.
That certainly hasn't gone away, but if something isn't working now, there are other options to try, and that definitely wasn't the case last year. In 2011, if the offensive line wasn't overly-winning their battle to make way for a predictable power running game, then they were going to lose the game.
This year, it would seem that they have more artillery to work with, and artillery can be fun.
The Buckeyes led 21-3 at the half, but because of the domination of the second quarter, it sure felt like more than an 18-point lead. And if Miami had any thoughts of making this a game, Braxton Miller ended those thoughts on the first play from scrimmage in the third quarter when he went 65 yards for a score on an option keeper.
That play is a microcosm of the new offense at Ohio State. It was well executed and came down to one guy trying to defend two, and those two had options.
Miller made a simple fake, then an unsimple stutter step, and was gone. It was a 65-yard touchdown drive in 17 seconds, and it came about because the quarterback had options.
Remember when you were 20 years old? Wasn't it more fun to have options? Well, that's where the Buckeyes are right now, and it sounds like there is still more fun to come.
"It was great to have this offense do as well as it should," Linsley said.
"Our expectations are to do a lot better than that. So it's awesome to have the success that we did and know that we can still improve."
But just because the Buckeyes seem to have an idea of where they're going, they can't forget where they've been. They've gone through too much in the last eight months to do that.
"We've been through so much this offseason, that it was just like when we got out here, we talked about it being our pay day today," Linsley said.
"We were ready to get paid. We were ready to go out there and cash some checks. The anticipation level was just through the roof. You could tell that the guys were just anxious to get out on this field and anxious to play."
And isn't it always great to have options on pay day?
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