Quotebook: UAB

By Kyle Rowland on September 23, 2012 at 11:00a

The high level of play from Braxton Miller is becoming a weekly occurrence, but so too are unwanted issues. The defense is having its share of troubles and the inconsistencies on offense are common. 

There wasn't a whole lot to be happy about on Saturday.

The past and present said Alabama-Birmingham was a bad team. There was no wiggle room. After Ohio State’s shoddy performance, formulating an opinion on the Buckeyes has become a challenge.

Even at 4-0 with a 29-15 win over UAB in the back pocket, expectations have taken a shot. Talk of 12-0, even with a bad Big Ten, has come to a standstill. The first road and conference game is six days away for Ohio State. Flushing Saturday’s performance from the brain will be a prerequisite to prepare for Michigan State.

A simple sentence from the man in charge defines Ohio State four weeks into the season. 

“It’s glaringly obvious we’ve got to get a lot better or we won’t win next week,” head coach Urban Meyer said. 

After another lackluster performance from the defense, the head coach and defensive leader, John Simon, let their feelings be known.

“I think we seem like a very passive team,” Meyer said. “We’re on defense, we give up little screens, little bubbles. They didn’t score a touchdown on our defense, but we gave up a lot of yardage. That hurts. I’m pained watching it.”

“This is The Ohio State University and right now I don't think we're matching those expectations,” Simon said.

Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers sang a different tune, though.

“We gave up 15 points,” he said. “That’s all I give a s--- about.”

One of the main issues on defense again was missed tackles. The display last week left coaches, players and fans exasperated. But it looked like the Buckeyes had even more missed tackles against UAB. Meyer said no team in America practices tackling more than the Buckeyes. They’ll get plenty of opportunities this week to correct those mistakes.

“Tuesday and Wednesday we’ll tackle again,” Meyer said. “I saw some signs. We’re facing a 250-pound back coming in next week. I still see guys flailing across and missing tackles. Far too many third down conversions on defense.”

Simon said converging on the ball, meaning all 11 players, can help with the missed tackles. If one guy misses, another guy should be there to clean up the mess.

“We need to make sure we’re flying around every play,” he said. “That’s the important thing about being a Silver Bullet. We need to have 11 bullets flying to the ball and making hits on the ball carrier. Effort is not the problem. We just need to sure up a little technique.”

Nathan Williams expanded on that line of thinking. 

“We need to fix a lot of things,” he said. “Tackling and stupid penalties are the main concerns. I think we just need to have a great week of practice and understand the game plan going in. We’ll need to execute the best we ever have so far.”

While uneven play has contributed to the Buckeyes’ defensive struggles, another culprit has been a rash of injuries. Downed Buckeyes have also hampered the special teams at times. Meyer didn’t use it as an excuse, just a reality.

“We have a depth issue here at Ohio State right now, severe,” he said. “Whenever true freshmen are forced, I think we had six on our kickoff unit, true freshmen starting on kickoff. I hope we don't have to do that very often. But it is what it is. We have to keep continue to develop these guys because those freshmen are not freshmen anymore. They're sophomores. They're second-year players because they've been in the mix right now.”

Ohio State’s coaches and players harped on playing all four quarters consistently against UAB. It was something neither side of the ball had accomplished through the first three weeks.

“I really had confidence this was going to be a Ohio State-looking team,” Meyer said. “And it wasn’t.”

Question: Urban, are you happy with the progress from Game 1 through Game 4?

Answer: No.

One piece of the offense that should return is Carlos Hyde. The running back has missed nearly three games due to a sprained MCL.

“I think we'll get Carlos Hyde back (this week),” Meyer said.

Miller’s speed has been very familiar to the rest of the country. What they may not have known is he can also make guys miss with one move of his body.

“He’s got great acceleration, but he's got an uncanny ability to make guys miss,” Meyer said. “So he’s without question one of the best athletes in college football.”

Miller commented on the same topic.

“I never practice what I'm going to do one-on-one,” he said. “My feet just move.”

As the season progressed, more plays are instituted into the offense and Miller gains more responsibilities. On Saturday, he earned more freedom at making changes at the line of scrimmage.

“We gave him the keys to the offense a little bit today,” Meyer said. “He did good. It was very minimal, but it was a great first step for him.”

Master motivator is a title Meyer has rightly earned throughout his career. He’s also shown skill at bringing his team down to earth after sloppy wins, but then lifting them up and giving them the bounce to put it in the back of their minds.

“The guys enjoyed a win in there, singing the fight song,” Meyer said. “We’re 4-0. And, boy, we’ve got a big one coming up this week. They realize that. I’m loving coaching this team. I love working with them.”

Corey “Philly” Brown had a productive day at receiver. He would have liked a touchdown and maybe more yards, but that was far from his mind after the game. The team’s overall play is what he was concentrating on, and it needs to improve.

“We’re winning games right now, but we’re not winning them like we’re supposed to,” Brown said. “We’re not playing our game. We’re messing ourselves up. We’ve got penalties that are killing drives.”

The first (and third) quarter was another killer today. Ohio State got behind 6-0, and soon after the beginning of the second quarter, the Buckeyes trailed 9-0. It’s an unwanted trend for the men in Scarlet and Gray.

“We came out slow today – it was obvious,” Brown said. “We prepared well throughout the week and our main focus is to come out strong. I don’t know what it was about today, but I know this week we’ll get it fixed.”

Offensive lineman Jack Mewhort put it even more bluntly.

“We’ve got a lot of improving to do, there’s no doubt about that,” he said. “I think we’ve been barely scraping by. We know we have to improve – myself and the offensive line are included in that. We need to execute better. The schemes are there, but it’s about us doing everything right and not making mental mistakes.”

Doran Grant earned his first career start on Saturday with an injury to fellow cornerback Bradley Roby. Grant knew midway through the week that he’d be starting. Still, it didn’t elicit many nerves.

“Honestly, I was more excited than nervous,” Grant said. “I was a little nervous, but I was more excited to finally feel I was part of the team.”

Grant made his presence known, causing a fumble and recovering it and sealing the victory with a late interception.

Jordan Hall had a career day rushing the football, gaining 104 yards on 17 carries. He added 21 yards on two receptions. But after a day that provided him confidence and relief after a serious foot injury in July, Hall was already turning the page.

“Michigan State is where my focus is,” he said.

Michigan native Johnathan Hankins said he’d have friends and family in East Lansing next week. Some of those friends will be on the opposite sideline. Before the game, though, comes practice, and the Buckeyes have plenty to shore up.

“Right now, this is not a good effort,” Hankins said. “We were talking in the locker room and we need to get prepared for Michigan State and that’s where our focus is right now.”

UAB heard all week how they had no chance at beating Ohio State. The Blazers went into Columbia, S.C., last week and were run off the field. The plan of attack was executed much better against the Buckeyes. 

“Our game plan for the day was to attack the quarterback and stop him because he is mainly their offense,” UAB safety Calvin Jones said. “We did that in the beginning and I don’t believe he had any yards in the first quarter. Ohio State kept progressing and we kept fighting against them. It’s a great experience to go against a double threat quarterback and it will definitely help us out in our conference because I don’t think we will see anyone as good as him, so it was a nice experience.”


Comments Show All Comments

lunker76's picture

Miller is at most an average passer with a great set of wheels. Too bad his targets can't, with one exception, help him much.  Hard to impressed with Meyer  and his staff. Would expect to see some progress week to week, simply haven't. Hope this has all been a smoke screen, but think sparty will give the bucks a real spanking. Hope I am wrong.

William's picture

I love how everyone says Miller is an average passer at best. In his Heisman campaign Troy Smith only had three games where he passed for more than 249 yards (what Miller passed for against Cal). Miller is a decent passer right now, with the capability to be a very good passer. 

Buckeyejason's picture

Braxton has faced shit defenses this year. Troy Smith faced the likes of Texas in Austin, Iowa in Iowa city, and a top 5 ranked Michigan defense loaded with future pro's. You really wanna compare Braxtons #'s against cup cakes to an obviously light years ahead better passer Troy Smith who faces way tougher opponents?
Calling him an average passer at best is being generous. 


William's picture

Because the Illinois defense that held Smith to less than 130 yards passing and the Florida defense that held him to 35 yards passing don't mean anything? And that was such a vaunted Michigan defense that it got torched in the Rose Bowl by USC. 

Buckeyejason's picture

Yes, he had two bad games..but let's be realistic and honest..Troy Smith was way ahead of Braxton in terms of passing ability, and pocket presence. Can Braxton get there? Sure, why not..has plenty of time. Right now though he's still at best an average passer if that.
Every good/great defense struggles once or twice a year..look at the 49ers this weekend against the Vikings. Regardless if Michigan got tourched by USC..they had guys like Branch, Woodley, Crable, Harris..was an insanely talented unit.


Phoenix824's picture

You are comparing a 5th year Sr QB to a sophmore QB.    I think Miller will be ahead of Smith when all is said and done but he will be inconsistant for a while.   

Buckeyejason's picture

William started the comparison with Troy Smith. I just stated the truth that Troy as a junior is still light years ahead of Braxton as a sophomore passing the ball and pocket maturity/presence. 


Run_Fido_Run's picture

I'm tyring to stay positive, keep things in perspective. The 2004 defense was very bad at times, with the nadir being the 33-7 "butt kicking" at Iowa six games into the season. That defense gradually improved in the 2H of the season, playing its best games against Michigan and in the Alamo Bowl.
Here's several ironic paragraphs from the above linked recap of that horrific Iowa game:

With Ohio State's cornerbacks playing 8 to 10 yards off the receivers, Tate completed numerous passes on underneath routes and usually scrambled out of trouble when pressured. And he capitalized on the Buckeyes' numerous defensive mistakes.
Midway through the third quarter, Solomon ran uncovered into the secondary and Tate hit him with an easy pitch-and-catch touchdown pass of 36 yards to make it 24-0.
On Iowa's next possession, Ashton Youboty's missed tackle enabled Solomon to turn what would have been a short gain deep in his own territory into a 40-yard reception to the Buckeyes' 42. Iowa kept going after that and Tate finished the 83-yard drive with 1-yard TD run to make it 30-0.
Two defenders hit Tate short of the goal line, but he fought his way into the end zone.

I'm no expert on defensive schemes, but I'm guessing that when a defense is a still struggling to understand assignments, is mentally out to lunch half the time, is missing tackles, and generally seems to have its collective head-up-its-ass, then it makes sense to have corners 8-10 yards off the l-o-s. The alternative would be worse. But as the defense begins to figure things out, the 8-10 yard soft cushion gets tightened down to a menacing 6-8 yard launching zone without sacrificing soundness against big plays over the top.
It's not going to happen over night, though.

Menexenus's picture

...I'm guessing that when a defense is a still struggling to understand assignments, is mentally out to lunch half the time, is missing tackles, and generally seems to have its collective head-up-its-ass, then it makes sense to have corners 8-10 yards off the l-o-s. The alternative would be worse.

I never thought about it that way.  Makes sense.  Thanks for the insight!

Real fans stay for Carmen.

Shock-G's picture

Miller has had a real QB coach now for maybe 10 months of his college career. Fixing his mechanical issues overnight is simply an unrealistic expectation. He does have a strong arm and uncorks some passes sometimes but he also suffers from countless drops each and every game. The young man is just a sophomore in the first year of learning an entirely new system from last year. Patience needs to be exerted here people. 

I wanna go back to Ohio State ... 

buckeyedude's picture

That's a good point that needs to be reiterated: it takes two people to throw a pass and catch it. We had dropped passes, again. Maybe Braxton ought to throw it high downfield, run downfield and catch it himself?



cinserious's picture

Here's the keys to the Corvette Braxton, you know what to do.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

CowCat's picture

It’s a great experience to go against a double threat quarterback and it will definitely help us out in our conference because I don’t think we will see anyone as good as him, so it was a nice experience.

A classy comment by UAB.  They played their tails off and they were well-coached, especially on special teams.

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

buckeyedude's picture

I thought the same thing. How many times have we heard these small schools come in and play a close, hard game, and then proclaim, "OSU wasn't that good" or "Braxton wasn't that great of a player."



klfeck's picture

Give brax a few top notch receivers and he would look like a very good passer.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

lunker76's picture

Didn'r say Miller wouldn't  become a better passer. Troy had better receivers, and he hit them.

buckeye76BHop's picture

I'm really hoping they get it figured out this week on all phases of the game.  I believe if they do that this week in practice and put it into motion in East Lansing, then they'll have a chance to win.  If they do anything like these last 3 games and MSU will beat em by Bell going over 200 yards rushing and 3 TDs. For some reason OSU seems to play good up there over the last few years (2004 32-19, 2006 38-7, 2008 45-7).  So you never know...OSU could figure it out and beat them well...or MSU pulls a Sparty and beats us using Tressel ball.  I'm hoping we win but it all depends on what team shows up...

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Crimson's picture

I thought pulling a Sparty meant that they lost a game they should have won.  :-\

Squirrel Master's picture

A team has yet be able to run the ball up the middle like Bell and MSU does. If that is really their main strength, then I am not as concerned as others. The weakness of this defense is on the outside with the linebackers missing tackles. The line doesn't get beat between the tackles! That is probably the only good thing this defense is currently doing, stopping the run up the middle thanks to Hankins and Goebel/Washington. 
I think people need to get serious. At least half of the drives UAB had were continued due to bad flags or badly missed tackles. UAB wasn't beating this team, this team was beating itself. I didn't see at one moment OSU was out of control of the game. 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

joel121270's picture

I get so tired of hearing these so called "fans" and their arm chair QB opinions. Sorry, but I think this team is getting close, maybe not this year but they will come around. I think if they fix up the tackling they'll be fine and I think it comes in time and experience. I recall 05 was something like this, you naysayers and know it all's need to calm down and be patient. GO BUCKS

buckeyechad's picture

I don't know if it's been mentioned, but Devin Smith had at least 2 or 3 drops that would have helped braxton out quite a bit. He also muffed a kickoff return I believe...

onetwentyeight's picture

I'm sorry I keep flogging this horse and bringing this game up, but honestly : 
PEOPLE. He's LESS THAN 1 calendar year away from a game where he completed only ONE pass and only ATTEMPTED FOUR. He doesn't even have 1 full year of starting under his belt, and his first 10 or so college games he was shackled with the Inept QB Producing shackles of "Walrusball", otherwise known was "These fools actually thought Joe Bauserman could be a starting D-1 QB". Jesus. I hope all you people eat some serious crow when Brax completes 70% of his passes next year. 

lunker76's picture

would be thrilled for that next year, who is talking about next year, thought this was about this year

Squirrel Master's picture

well Braxton is completing 62% of his passes this year! From what I recall, that is a good passer rating. Add in the drops and I am ecstatic about his passing. He still has a long way to go but so far, he is passing about as well as most of the QBs out there.
Yeah, remember a year ago it was DAVE, DAVE, DAVE PUNT! 17 points was a milestone of a score last year. This years team so far is avg 33 points per game! There is a difference, its just not enough for some!

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

Crimson's picture

I think Braxton is improving, but I'm not that high on him as a passer yet.  Of course there are a lot of drops, but I think the system is generous to his passing.  I've been waiting to see him at the end of the season since the hire of Meyer, and I think he could be a really good QB by then.  It will be exciting in the future.

lunker76's picture

Hope they turn it around before Saturday. But if they do they have keep it well hidden. I live about 90 minutes from E Lansing, am already hearing all about it.

Defiance J's picture

Yeah, because Sparty looked so good against E. Michigan. Give me a break.

cinserious's picture

Braxton is definitely on pace to be a better passer than anybody Tressel had, and that's with a freshman yr of playing 'streetball' under Bollman/fickell and NO qb coaching! There are definitely the unnecesary drops by receivers but Braxton's passes are much maligned as well but he's definitely improving make no doubt about it. His junior campaign will produce Heisman frontrunner status at the start of '13 and he will produce, just let him progress. As a passer Braxton will be better than Krenzel, smith, Boeckman, Pryor and anybody in between, and that's before '13 even begins. Watch and see.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

cbusbuckeye's picture

I can't wait to see what his numbers look like when guys stop dropping passes. I know it's only a few per game (not counting erratic throws) but if those balls are caught I'm guessing his completion percentage goes up 3-6%, has anyone done the math?

pjtobin's picture

It is about this year. Not next. Not last. And not about previous players.  I'm not unhappy with mistakes. I make them. My kids make them. My favorite football team makes them. When I see a perfect game of football played at osu I will be praying harder knowing the end times are near. I will not compare this guy to another. I will never ask my baby boy why he is not more like his older brother. We are blessed to be able to even talk about a game we won. Way to many high expectations. Way to many know it alls. Chill. Relax. We get to watch a very talented  bunch of young men grow up and mature. Way to much negativity from our fans. Thanks should be given to this group of young men. It's like they know how to talk but are learning a new language. I know I couldn't coach or play any better than any of these men. I won't pretend to know something or see something these men don't. They know and we know. So have faith. This is a game. Viewed for pleasure. Enjoy. Go Bucks! And thanks!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

causeicouldntgo43's picture

We will match up well versus Sparty's running attack. They won't have a short pass answer like the other 4 games already played. Klein and Grant(maybe) will get a workout - hope they are up to it. Miss Tresselball? You'll get your fix watching Sparty this Saturday..........

BuckinBama's picture

Right now my concerns about this team are completely centered around the defense. It seems to score points all the offense has to do is go "no-huddle", and let B.Miller be B.Miller he starts running and throwing like nobody's business. Seems the offense only stalls out when they slow it down. The defense is simply not what I was expecting it to be. The scheme is vanilla, we miss a ton of tackles, they aren't flying around, or to the ball, and they play too damn soft on the corners.

Smeltz14's picture

I am concerned about the D too, and I took Meyer's passive comment to be an indictment of Fickell, who calls a very passive game on that side.  Again this week we did not get enough pressure on the opposing QB, so I think we've got to take more chances or we'll continue to be picked apart little by little.  That's not the only problem, though, as the offense goes into deep sleep for two and  a half quarters  every game and that puts a lot more pressure on the D, no to mention keeping them on the field for long periods at a time.  The spread is supposed to be up tempo and exploit mismatches  like a LB who has to cover a TE.  Yet we don't seem to be playing at a fast pace, and don't seem to be able to recognize the mismatches quickly enough to exploit them. How many times did we see the same stupid zone read run that TP was constantly running under Tressel.  Although we've thrown the ball more to receivers, TEs and backs than last year, we need to do a lot more.  BM only had 20 passes on Saturday.  That's not working on the passing game to me, particularly compared to the number of zone read runs, which is not going to get it done.  The upside is that we're 4-0 and the Offense, Defense, Special Teams and Coaching can ALL get a lot better!