Going for a first quarter fourth-down conversion from his own 47.
Accepting a chop block penalty after a third down stop to give the Knights another shot at moving the chains.
Calling Braxton Miller’s number (or, at least, permitting the sophomore to call his own) on a whopping 27 rush attempts.
Coach Urban Meyer made some strange decisions on Saturday, helping UCF stay in the game. Ohio State hung on to win 31-16.
Injuries, penalties, and turnovers all contributed to the difficult day. The Bucks lost tailback Carlos Hyde (knee) in the first half and corner Travis Howard in the second. The Buckeyes finished with 10 penalties for 79 yards in what was, at times, a sloppy performance. Forced into a heavier workload in Hyde’s absence, fullback Zach Boren fumbled late in the second quarter with the Buckeyes in UCF territory. Braxton Miller added an interception in the third when he failed to spot the cover corner on the outside. The Buckeyes also coughed it up on a handoff exchange in garbage time.
But it wasn’t all bad news. Miller’s numbers were impressive yet again even though he was overused. Despite the interception and a couple of drops, he finished 18 of 24 through the air for 155 yards and a touchdown strike to tight end Jake Stoneburner. As in week 1, Philly Brown was Miller’s favorite target, finishing with seven grabs for 61 yards.
Miller added 141 more yards and three TDs of his own on the ground.
The rest of the backfield was little used; Brionte Dunn (five carries), Boren (seven), and Hyde (seven) combined for only 72 yards.
Meyer will no doubt criticize his players for the flags and the mistakes, but his own play-calling left a lot to be desired. For a coach whose stock is tied to his purported on field genius, the results were a bit surprising. It felt like Meyer was experimenting with his team, trying various combinations and unlikely scenarios just to see what would happen. The outcome was successful in the win column, but this was hardly an overwhelming display by the Buckeyes.
Against stauncher opponents, Meyer will need to bring his A game.
Defensively the Buckeyes had some highs and lows today. Three interceptions showed flashes of greatness, but the pass defense did get burned on several long passes by UCF’s Blake Bortles. Up front, former Miami tailback Storm Johnson found some running room, finishing with 75 yards on just 12 carries.
Like the offense, the D will need a better effort in the weeks to come.
Orhian Johnson (DB)- Johnson had a big-time tip that led to a Travis Howard pick, then secure an INT of his own in the fourth quarter. His grab was OSU’s third takeaway, and came as UCF was driving in the Buckeyes’ red zone.
Offensive line- Consider this a sticker for the whole unit, because the line played as one today. Protecting Braxton Miller during his frequent scrambles wasn’t easy, but the big eaters won the battle at the line of scrimmage.
The Game Ball goes to…
It can’t be anyone but Miller. However, the Buckeyes can’t afford to keep using him like they did today. It would be too much wear and tear. The loss of Carlos Hyde is a big concern with starting tailback Jordan Hall already sidelined. Meyer will need to test his running back depth next week against California.