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Five storylines: Ohio State

9/6/2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Looking at the Buckeyes as they prepare for a tougher test against Central Florida in Urban Meyer's second game with the program on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

1. Take two: Whether it was first-game jitters or pressing the issue to make a quick statement, whatever slowed down the Buckeyes' new offense early in the season opener shouldn’t be an issue anymore.

Ohio State proved it could score in a hurry with its uptempo, no-huddle approach. It also showed it could score with just everybody it put on the field, getting touchdowns from four different rushers and a pair of receivers to give Urban Meyer a win in his first outing with the program.

Odds are the Buckeyes weren’t showing everything up their sleeve against an outmatched opponent -- but they will probably need to unveil a few new tricks against a much stouter defense from Central Florida.

2. Paper or plastic: The vaunted defensive line dialed up some pressure, put a few licks on the quarterback and effectively erased any semblance of a rushing attack in the win over Miami (Ohio).

It just didn’t have many sacks to show for it when judged against the obscenely high number of passes the RedHawks attempted.

The deep, talented Ohio State line was neutralized in some respects by the three-step drops and quick throws it faced a week ago when it finished with two sacks against a team that threw 54 passes.

It’s hard for the Buckeyes to complain since they only gave up 10 points, but there was a noticeable sense of frustration in the trenches after the game that they might be taking out on a more balanced offense.

3. Early impact: There’s no sense waiting. Ohio State knew it was going to play its true freshmen, so it tossed them into the fire with the first chance it had.

That early experience could help down the road, particularly since it started the process of narrowing down who might really be able to help right away this season.

Defensive tackles Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt and end Noah Spence look like they will be factors, and their debuts were perhaps the most impressive of the whole bunch -- though it might be tough to stand out on that loaded line this fall.

Armani Reeves chipped in on special teams with a couple kickoff returns for a total of 45 yards, and Jamal Marcus flashed his athleticism with his lone tackle in kickoff coverage. A freshman has to start somewhere, and making a positive impression in the third phase is usually a good sign.

4. Flying high: Meyer’s spread offense needed exactly one afternoon to post a total that would have been a season-high for the Buckeyes through the air a season ago.

It had actually been 21 games since Ohio State had thrown for more than the 244 passing yards it piled up in the opener, dating back to a 348-yard outing in 2010 against Indiana. But quarterback Braxton Miller and his emerging receiving corps might just be getting started.

There were a couple missed opportunities on deep strikes, a few timing issues, and Miller also left the game early with cramps in the third quarter and didn’t return with the outcome well under control. Those all combined to keep the final lower number than it might have been, which makes it a safe bet there won’t be another lengthy drought before the Buckeyes match it.

5. Getting freaky: The “Freak Show” unit didn’t even block a punt, but it’s already on the scoreboard with a touchdown.

Just the threat the speedy collection of athletes posed in the opener seemed to bother Miami, which appeared intent on not allowing the Buckeyes to turn momentum on special teams by loading up its protection but couldn’t account for a bad snap that was recovered for a score.

It’s no secret how much value Meyer places on the kicking game. The energy and enthusiasm his punt-block unit showed in the first game bodes well for its ability to impact games moving forward -- maybe even one against a team with a new punter like UCF.