- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A few things Ohio State will feel good about and some issues it will need to correct after wrapping up nonconference play with a 29-15 home win over UAB on Saturday.
1. Healthy Hall: If Jordan Hall wasn't quite back to full strength in his second game of the season, the senior running back hid it well. The Buckeyes again handed him the football 17 times, and he didn't miss many opportunities to pick up yardage on the way to a career-high total of 105 yards. He also added two catches for 21 yards, and Ohio State should be even stronger on the ground with Carlos Hyde expected to return against Michigan State.
2. Corner patrol: Bradley Roby isn't going to have to fight for his job back, but Doran Grant did everything he could to steal away some playing time at cornerback with Ohio State's top guy on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Grant chipped in contributions in just about every way he could, making a sack, recovering a fumble and then icing the game with a late interception to give the Buckeyes another trusted option in the secondary.
3. Back to Braxton: The numbers won't catch many eyes around the country, so the Heisman talk might die down for a few days. But Miller still put the offense on his back when it mattered most, making sharp throws, adding two more rushing touchdowns, punching in a two-point conversion and getting the Buckeyes into some good plays at the line of scrimmage. Best of all for coach Urban Meyer, Miller's rushing load was again light with just 11 carries.
1. Tackle trouble: The extra periods in practice emphasizing the importance of wrapping up and finishing tackles didn't make the problem disappear in just one week. The Blazers had as much success slipping away from defenders and extending plays as California did before it, picking up 403 yards of offense and keeping the football for nearly 34 minutes. Even with that issue popping up once more, Ohio State didn't allow UAB to score an offensive touchdown.
2. Hang on: There's no doubting Devin Smith's ability to haul in sensational, highlight-reel catches. The next step in his development will be making the routine, chains-moving receptions. Smith had another would-be first down slide out of his hands against UAB, and that obviously wasn't the first time this season he's had a bad drop to his credit. The Buckeyes need him to be a playmaker on the perimeter, and that starts with consistency.
3. Kicking themselves: The biggest breakdown was hard to miss since UAB turned the free run it had at Ohio State punter Ben Buchanan into a touchdown with an easy block. But the Buckeyes had a couple other negatives that were equally troubling in the third phase, including a bad penalty for running into the punter and the continued lack of a spark in the return game. Meyer is intimately involved with the specialists, and he won't be pleased with the effort even with a few positives like a blocked extra point and a hustle play to pin UAB on its 4-yard line on a punt.
1dDan Murphy and Mitch Sherman
1dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
2dMitch Sherman and Dan Murphy