When Braxton Miller was asked about the potential of Ohio State’s offense back at the team’s on-campus media day back in August, the Buckeyes quarterback-turned-wide receiver offered up quite an analogy for what it’s like to be part of this particular offensive juggernaut.
“It’s like playing a video game,” Miller said. “You just put anybody anywhere. For real.”
Through the Buckeyes’ first two games of the season, that seems to be the case, too. With an abundance of talent at their disposal, head coach Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner are trying to figure out how to get all of their dynamic players involved in the offense.
With only one football to go around, delegating touches to an arsenal of offensive weapons is a bit of a challenge, but almost no one would consider it a problem. If they do, it's probably considered a good problem to have.
One of the guys still trying to figure out his role is H-receiver Curtis Samuel, who spent all of last season as the Buckeyes’ primary backup running back behind Ezekiel Elliott. After earning the right to see more playing time, Samuel moved out to the H-receiver spot during spring ball and spends the majority of his time there now, though he did say Monday he still takes a few reps at running back just to stay ready.
And with Miller, Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson all occupying time at that H-position with Samuel and Elliott, Michael Thomas, Parris Campbell, Corey Smith and Nick Vannett all also vying for touches on offense, the talented Brooklyn, N.Y., native is trying to stay patient as he works himself into his newly expanded role.
“We have a whole bunch of guys that are dynamic at the H. We got Braxton, we got Jalin, we got Dontre. There's a whole bunch of guys that can go out there and make plays and everybody wants to go out there and make plays on the field,” Samuel said Monday. “But we got out there at practice and just produce. We all gotta make plays and we've got a bunch of great guys. Whoever coach is going to put out on the field, that's the guy that's going to go out there and make plays.”
Meyer has said it numerous times: If you have a good player, get him the ball. And with this 2015 version of the Buckeyes, he’s got quite a few good players. Trying to come up with creative ways to get everyone involved is one of the toughest parts of his job.
“If you look over the years, we’ve done that with Jalin, we’ve done it with Percy Harvin, done it with Braxton Miller, done it with Dontre Wilson, done it with these really good athletes that need the ball in their hand,” Meyer said. “The next part of that is how do you create space for them?”
Samuel is one of those guys for this year’s Ohio State team. And in his latest performance — the Buckeyes’ 38-0 win Saturday against Hawai’i — he was one of just two players to grade out as a champion on offense, according to Ohio State’s coaching staff. Samuel had seven catches for 53 yards and one carry for nine yards. Eight touches for the speedy sophomore is probably right around the number he’ll look for this season.
But Samuel doesn’t believe there’s any added pressure on him to perform with the touches he is given. In fact, he feels quite the opposite.
“I wouldn't say it's pressure, but I think it helps us get better,” Samuel said. “Competition just brings the best out of you. That's what the coaches want to see. You don't want to shy down from competition. So, you just live up to it and you just go out and perform.”
And if Samuel keeps performing at the level he currently is, he may see his role increase even more as the season goes along.