COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Encouraging developments for Ohio State and a few areas of concern after a 35-28 win over California on Saturday at the Horseshoe.
1. Touchdown targets emerging: Devin Smith had already proven he could go up and make a play for his quarterback before Saturday, but he reinforced it in the first quarter by adjusting for an athletic grab on a back-shoulder throw from Braxton Miller. Smith added the game-winner in the fourth quarter, and in between Jake Stoneburner had two short scoring grabs to offer the Buckeyes a pair of reliable scoring threats through the air.
2. Pressure returns up front: Ohio State was intent on affecting the quarterback, and it finally got what it wanted after a couple quiet weeks in the trenches. There were some other defensive issues, obviously, but the Buckeyes are expecting more outings like the six-sack effort turned in against Cal.
3. Magic number: Miller finished comfortably in the target zone for carries coach Urban Meyer established to keep his quarterback healthy, keeping the ball and rushing just 12 times a week after taking 27 attempts and a lot of punishment. The yardage took a dip, but Miller still had an impact on the ground with 12 carries for 75 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown that few players could have pulled off.
1. Tackle trouble: The Buckeyes switched up a few things schematically to help generate pressure, but it was a problem with fundamentals that allowed Cal to rack up 512 yards of total offense. The Buckeyes missed numerous tackles while also blowing a couple more assignments, and if the Golden Bears had an accurate kicker, the outcome might have been different.
2. Laundry day: Meyer clearly didn't agree with a couple of the calls that went against his team, but even if the officials had picked up a few flags he still would have been irritated with the number of penalties the Buckeyes committed. In all they were charged with 11 infractions that marked off 101 yards against Ohio State, the second game in a row it has had too many flags flying.
3. On the drop: Miller had occasional problems with his accuracy, but he didn't always get a lot of help from his receivers. Even the game-winning receiver put a couple balls on the ground, with Smith dropping a couple catchable tosses his way before atoning for it with his 72-yard, go-ahead touchdown grab.