Our recaps of the Big Ten spring games continues with a look at Ohio State, which ventured down to Cincinnati and played before more than 37,000 fans at Paul Brown Stadium.
How it went down: The Scarlet team was pretty loaded on offense, and it showed in a 31-14 win over the Gray. Of course, whichever team had Miller was going to have the advantage, and the Scarlet enjoyed a solid day from the Heisman Trophy candidate as the Buckeyes focused on the passing game.
"It was a pass-heavy game, an area that we weren’t very good at last year, an area that we have to get better in," head coach Urban Meyer said. "I thought at times that Braxton Miller and a couple of the wideouts, Philly Brown in particular, did very well. It’s been a continuation of what started all spring and Philly Brown is turning into a legitimate All-Big Ten candidate at wide receiver for us, which we need.”
Brown had five catches for 25 yards and a touchdown, while spring hero Michael Thomas had seven receptions for 79 yards and a score. In two spring games, Thomas has 19 catches for 210 yards. In 12 actual games, he has three receptions for 22 yards.
The running game didn't do much, as the two Ohio State teams combined for just 122 yards on 45 carries. Still, Meyer was mostly pleased with the offense.
"I would be disappointed if we’re not the best offense in the Big Ten," he said.
The one major concern on that side of the ball remains the right tackle spot, which is unsettled after the spring game. The defense, even with four new starters on the line, exploited that to the tune of 11 "sacks" (the quarterbacks were not live). Sophomores Washington and Noah Spence combined for seven of those. The defense as a whole gained some confidence, even with stars Bradley Roby and Ryan Shazier sitting out because of injuries.
“I think we made great strides this spring," safety C.J. Barnett said. "There were a lot of questions coming into this season, especially on the defense with guys like John Simon graduating. It was important to see guys like Adolphus Washington step up and make some plays.”
Miller, who has worked on becoming a better passer, showed off some improved mechanics even as he did not get a chance to display his running skills.
"Fundamentally, he's pretty good,” Urban Meyer said. “But when it breaks down, that's when it starts to go. And I thought today that was pretty good. He had a couple situations where it didn't look very good, he went back to the old days and started running instead of keeping your eyes downfield. But he's much improved.”
There weren't many surprises in the Ohio State spring game -- everybody knows, for instance, that Miller is good. But the Buckeyes showed that they have some impressive young talent on the defensive line and an offense that is going to create problems for opponents once again in 2013.