When We Have the Ball
By V.R. BryantPublished September 1, 2012
There were times last season when many fans were convinced that the Buckeyes weren’t actually running an offense, but rather re-enacting famous battles from the American Civil War, plodding forward in rank, ever so slowly, getting cut down by enemy rifle fire.
Luke Fickell, for all his many talents, just wasn’t ready to orchestrate more than the defense. Wholesale change is what was needed, and wholesale change is what we got. Urban Meyer isn’t a gadget guy; he’s not a one-trick pony. He is a complete coach. But with that comes a new no-huddle spread attack that should more appropriately utilize the talent this roster contains. By position, here’s a breakdown of how things should look under Meyer’s reign.
Braxton Miller’s name, if I recall correctly, was the first one thrown out by Meyer after he took the helm. And why not? For a guy known for developing dual threat quarterbacks like Bowling Green’s Josh Harris and Florida’s Tim Tebow, Miller must have looked like just what the doctor ordered. His promising freshman campaign ensured there’d be no question about his retaining the starting job, but recent hints have been dropped by Meyer about junior Kenny Guiton getting into the act – even having both guys on the field at the same time. He utilized Tebow and Chris Leak in tandem while winning a national title in Florida. Fans should have every confidence that he knows what he’s doing with Miller and Guiton. Both players should be able to flourish in this new system that will include more hot reads, short routes, and encouraged (and organized) opportunities to tuck the ball and run.
Again, without real game action to go off of, it’s coach’s comments that seem to carry the most weight. Junior tailback Carlos Hyde has played his way into the spotlight, and looks to be the primary carrier while incumbent starter Jordan Hall is on the mend. Even when Hall returns sometime this month, I see him as an all-sorts kind of back (though in Meyer’s offense, that’s not at all a bad thing). Hyde isn’t quite the combination of size and speed that former star Beanie Wells was, but he’s flashed big talent, and has held off Rod Smith and incoming freshman Bri’onte Dunn to this point, at least in terms of depth chart bragging rights. Expect to see all these guys on the field as the pieces come together over the first few weeks of the season.
This is, by most accounts, the most unpredictable unit on the team. Suffice it to say that Jake Stoneburner is now officially listed as a wide receiver on the team’s roster. Meyer has likened the senior to former Gator and current New England Patriot standout Aaron Hernandez – high praise, to be sure, but it’s still a little disconcerting to know that he was needed so desperately on the outside. Junior Philly Brown and sophomore Devin Smith figure still to be the starters on the edges, and perhaps the threat of Stoneburner in the slot will equate to some better opportunities for the speedy duo. The spring game made a name for freshman Michael Thomas, who reeled in 10 balls, and he could factor in along with Chris Fields, Verlon Reed, and Ricquan Southward. But I wouldn’t be surprised if someone redshirted. Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman will take over at tight end. There are still big questions about who’ll emerge as the downfield threat, but look for YAC to be the more valued statistic.