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UCF visits Columbus

September 7, 2012
By SETH STASKEY - Buckeye Blitz ( , Times Leader

COLUMBUS - You'd think after a 56-10 victory in a season opener under a new coach, everything would be just perfect in Buckeye Land.

For the most part, it was.

However, the fact that Ohio State got off to such a slow start against Miami of Ohio, last Saturday, in the first quarter in which the RedHawks had stymied the Buckeyes and led 3-0 just didn't sit well with anyone.

Or was it okay with first-year coach Urban Meyer?

"I was very disappointed in the first quarter, but after evaluating it, I'm very glad it happened," Meyer said. "It gives us an opportunity to coach very, very hard and get some things corrected."

In the first quarter, OSU's up-tempo, no-huddle, spread offense was totally out of sync. True sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller struggled, completing just 1-of-7 passes, the ground game was taken away. To make matters worse for the Buckeyes, the defense also allowed a few big plays.

"We've got to coach better and we've got to adjust a little better," Meyer said. "The players have to adjust, too. So much was new. I don't want to say issues, because there were no issues, but some growing pains as a staff that we have to get fixed."

As much as Meyer and company wanted to attack the first-quarter issues to make sure the Buckeyes get off to a faster start this week, they didn't have as much time because, as Meyer called it during his press conference earlier this week, the Buckeyes are about to face a "whole different animal."

Central Florida is set to make its second straight trip to the Buckeye State this week when it comes to Columbus to take on the Buckeyes, who are ranked 14th in the Associated Press poll. This is the first-ever meeting between the two schools on the gridiron.

Many media outlets around the country and state have dubbed this week's game as the Bowl-Ban Bowl since both OSU and UCF will be staying at home for the holidays as they serve out NCAA punishments.

The Knights, who are coached by George O'Leary, are coming off a 56-14 victory against Akron.

"I know this team, I know this coach, I know this coaching staff and we have great respect for everything they've done," Meyer said. "They have very good players on both sides of the ball. Defensively, they've led their conference (Conference USA) the last three years."

Gauging the Knights solely off of their performance against Akron might not be wise. Obviously, Akron is in a total re-build as Terry Bowden has taken over, but UCF did rush for 206 yards and four touchdowns.

"They pounded Akron," Meyer said. "They ran power downhill at them with a big effort from the quarterback, who also threw the ball well. Our guys have seen a lot of film on Central Florida and they realize this will be a war and something we have to be ready for, and we will be."

The Knights' quarterback is sophomore Blake Bortles, who is in his first season at the helm of the offense. He debuted with a 13-of-16 effort for 168 yards and three touchdowns.

Sophomore Rannell Hall was the leading receiver against the Zips with four catches for 94 yards and two scores.

The Ohio State defense really buckled down after the rough first quarter. It allowed Miami quarterback Zach Dysert 138 of his 303 yards in the final three quarters. All told, the Buckeyes' defense held Miami to minus one rushing yard.

Defensive back Bradley Roby was the Buckeyes' defensive MVP. Christian Bryant and Travis Howard also received high marks for their performances.

The Buckeyes had just two sacks and those came from freshmen, but most of the game they dropped eight into coverage. However, John Simon had a key pressure that led to one of the three turnovers OSU forced.

Offensively, last week, the Buckeyes ran 86 offensive plays and amassed 538 yards. Not too bad when you consider it was done in primarily three quarters.

"(Miami) did a very good job defensively in the first quarter," Meyer said. "We have a base formation that we use and a lot of different answers out of it, and they defended it pretty well. The big hits we had were off different set and different formation."

After getting past the aformentioned first-quarter struggles, the Buckeyes' offense clicked on all cylinders. Miller was impressive both passing and running as he set a school-record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 161. While some of his passes didn't always have a tight spiral, he landed 14-of-24 for 207 yards and two scores.

"You talk about 180, (the offense) is completely different," Meyer said. "The tempo, the offensive line, I think we had one false start, which is pretty good when you're changing cadence and doing all the different variety of things that we've done. I'm very pleased, but we have a long way to go."

The Buckeyes, who will once again be without Jordan Hall because of the foot injury he suffered during the summer, received solid play from running back Carlos Hyde. He finished with 82 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

However, the play just before halftime when Hyde was stopped at the 1-yard line after Meyer elected to pass on a field goal to go for the touchdown was something that really bothered Meyer throughout the weekend.

"We should have scored," Meyer said. "We missed a block and the offensive line can't miss a block down there. That was the most disappointing part of the whole day and we'll get that fixed."

One of the biggest questions marks for Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman coming into the season was the development of the wide receivers. Meyer didn't hesitate to call out some of those players during spring practice and into fall camp.

"We're still trying to figure out who can go make a touchdown," Meyer said. "Not who can score a touchdown, but who can make one. The good news is I think we have a couple of guys who do that."

One who proved he could is Massillon Washington product Devin Smith, whose one-handed catch was the top play of the weekend and will probably rank amongst the top catches for the season.

That was the first OSU touchdown of the season and really seemed to ignite the Buckeyes.

"Playing receiver in this offense is a grown-man's job and Devin is really coming along," Meyer said.

Philly Brown was the top OSU receiver with seven catches for 87 yards. Evan Spencer, who is the son of St. Clairsville native Tim Spencer, made three receptions. Jake Stoneburner, Zach Boren and Nick Vannett all had two receptions each.

The UCF defense was led by defensive back Kemal Ishmael, who made nine tackles last week. Sophomore linebacker Terrance Plummer and Jordan Ozerities also had big games.

Meyer had high praise for defensive tackle Jose Jose, who is 327 pounds. E.J. Duston is the other defensive tackle for the Knights and he's 302 pounds. Defensive ends Victor Gray and Troy Davis are also talented speed rushers.

"They've got good size and speed," Meyer said. "It's what you'd expect from Central Florida."


If you're sitting in sections 1-19, you're being asked to wear a gray shirt. Sections 2-18 should wear scarlet. Sections 20-30 are asked to wear gray and sections 21-29 are asked to wear scarlet.



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