Offense absent in loss to Miami
By Brandon Castel
MIAMI — As the dust settled on a 24-6 loss to Miami (Fla.) Saturday night, Ohio State fans could only shake their heads in disbelief as they walked solemnly out of Sun Life Stadium.
Like the 2007 National Championship game or the 2009 loss at Purdue, it was hard for any of them to comprehend what had just happened out there.
This might have been worse.
Nine months removed from beating Arkansas in the Sugar Bowl, the 17th-ranked Buckeyes (2-1) completed a total of four passes—two of them in the final 30 seconds of the game—in one of the most abysmal offensive performances of the last decade.
“We’re not going to jump to any conclusions until we get back. I think we’ve got to do a great job at sitting down and figuring out how we need to move forward,” OSU Head Coach Luke Fickell said.
“Where our focus is going to be is with the guys we have and how we can get the ball into different guys’ hands and what we can do to be successful.”
It was only Fickell’s third game as head coach, and the team’s third game without star quarterback Terrelle Pryor. Both things showed Saturday night as the Buckeyes managed just 209 yards of total offense against the Hurricanes (1-1).
Pryor threw for 233 yards and ran for 113 more in OSU’s 36-24 win over Miami in Columbus last season. Without him, the Buckeyes had one quarterback who couldn’t move the ball and another who couldn’t hold on to it.
Ohio State went three-and-out on their first offensive possession and Miami wasted no time. Their first play from scrimmage was a 54-yard run by tailback Lamar Miller, right up the middle of the OSU defense.
“They just got us on that play,” linebacker Etienne Sabino said.
“I’m not completely sure what happened. They gashed us.”
Two plays later they were in the end zone on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Jacory Harris to Allen Hurns.
Following another three-and-out by OSU, it was more of the same for Miami on their second drive. With Miller leading the way, the ‘Canes went 53 yards in 11 plays and Harris found Hurns in the end zone again to put Miami on top 14-0.
“Our whole idea was to start fast and we knew coming here that they were going to have a heck of a team and we wanted to get off to a good start and that obviously didn’t happen,” Fickell said.
“They made a couple of good plays there on their touchdown catches and we didn’t make the plays that we needed to. I think if we could do a better job starting off defensively, we could let our offense get into a groove.”
That’s one way to look at it, but the defense eventually settled down. The offense just never showed up. Starter Joe Bauserman was completely ineffective—completing two of his 14 passes for 13 yards—and backup Braxton Miller simply couldn’t hold on to the football.
Neither of them completed a single pass to a wide receiver or tight end.
Tailback Jordan Hall provided the only real spark of the game for the Buckeyes. He carried the ball 14 times for 87 yards and nearly busted off a couple of big returns, but he missed much of the second half with cramping issues.
“We talk about those emotions, and he hadn't played in a couple of weeks and those emotions can cause that sometime,” Fickell said.
The Buckeyes finally seemed to have something going late in the game with Braxton Miller running the ball, but he put it on the ground for the third time (he recovered the first two) and Miami closed the game out with a late touchdown.
It was Ohio State’s first regular season loss to an unranked nonconference opponent since John Cooper’s second game against Pittsburgh back in 1988.
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