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The Suburbanite
  • Todd Porter: Ohio State victory comes with good, bad news

  • No one was hiding anything Saturday afternoon. Fans were filing out of Ohio Stadium as head coach Urban Meyer and his players gathered in the South end zone to sing Carmen Ohio. Meyer went through the motions of doing the O-H-I-O arm gestures. He did them with his hands.

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  • No one was hiding anything Saturday afternoon. Fans were filing out of Ohio Stadium as head coach Urban Meyer and his players gathered in the South end zone to sing Carmen Ohio. Meyer went through the motions of doing the O-H-I-O arm gestures. He did them with his hands.
    Beating Mid-American Conference opponent Buffalo 40-20 in the first game of the season didn’t set off a wave of jubilation on Ohio State’s sideline. Meyer was measured in his praise. He continued to dangle the carrot in front of his team.
    They’re good.
    Just not good enough, yet.
    The way the 2013 season started for the country’s second-ranked team, it looked like Ohio State might roll to a big lopsided win over a nonconference team. It looked like something you might see from a really, really good SEC team opening the season against an overmatched opponent.
    Things changed.
    Ohio State got complacent.
    Offensive coordinator Tom Herman said he got conservative in the second half.
    Buffalo kept hanging around, dodging an Ohio State knockout punch that never came.
    “We were attacking them, throwing the ball in the first half,” said receiver Devin Smith, who hauled in the first touchdown of the season, a 47-yard bomb in the end zone from Braxton Miller. “We ran it in the second half. … I don’t think anyone was complacent about beating them, or being up on them or them just being Buffalo. It was a hot day. We still have a lot of work to do.”
    There were flashes of excitement.
    Like true freshman Dontre Wilson in the open field. He nearly broke a swing pass on his first play, but he got tripped up from behind. He almost scored on a kickoff return, but didn’t find a clearing. He “settled” for a 51-yard return.
    Saturday was a good news, bad news game. The good? They didn’t look as bad as they did last year in the opener. When the offense clicked, Miller looked like a Heisman candidate.
    The offensive line was supposed to be a strength of the team. They have plenty of experience. But when center Corey Linsley left the game after a predetermined number of plays, Meyer said 16 or 17, the offensive line struggled. It didn’t make things easy that Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack is one of the best linebackers Ohio State will face this year.
    “They’ve got a kid that kicked our tails,” Meyer said of Mack. “He beat guys I expect will play very well on our offensive line.”
    Ohio State didn’t have to win 60-0 against Buffalo. Meyer wasn’t thinking about the score as much as he was thinking about looking crisp, looking good.
    Page 2 of 2 - His team did that for a quarter.
    Then they lost interest. They lost momentum. They seemed to spend the second and third quarters going through the motions and battling the heat. It wasn’t hotter on Ohio State’s sideline than it was Buffalo’s.
    When the Buckeyes needed someone to do something on offense in the second half, it was Miller. He looked so good throwing the ball in the first half, and standing in the pocket, reading the defense. But in the second half, Miller had to revert to last year. He needed his legs. Buffalo’s defense required he do so.
    “When we needed a couple of plays, he had a couple for us,” Meyer said. “We’re backed up in a critical situation, and he got us almost all the way down the field. He got us that field goal. … Quarterbacks have to do that. It’s in their job description to get us out of a jam, and be a great player. At times, he looked like that today.”
    At times, plenty of players did.
    Problem was, it wasn’t consistent enough.
    Ohio State won big, so to speak. But the Buckeyes didn’t look like the No. 2-ranked team in the country.
    That’s the bad news.
    The good?
    They didn’t have to in the first week.