You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Buckeyes believe passing game will be there when they need it

Ohio State offensive coordinator Tom Herman is the team’s play-caller during games, and he’s been scouring film to come up with a few dandies to run against Michigan State and its top-ranked defense on Saturday.

It would seem to be an exhilarating time for a 38-year-old assistant who is considered a rising star in the business, but Herman had an incredulous look when asked this week whether he was having fun.

“It’s miserable,” he said. “Fun? Have you watched that tape? They are really, really good.”

Herman, who seems to enjoy bantering with the media, quickly cracked a smile.

“I say that jokingly. Yes, this is why you coach,” he said. “These are the games where your competitive nature can come out a little bit and say, ‘I’m going to take my offense — my checkers — and my pieces are going to be more prepared and play harder and longer and with better technique and effort than yours.’ ”

The Buckeyes have been operating at a high level on offense — they’re averaging 48.2 points per game and are on pace to shatter the team record of 42.5 set in 1969 — but their passing game has sagged a bit. They had five completions in a 42-41 win at Michigan last week.

Of course, in the last three outings, they’ve rushed for 441, 311 and 393 yards, averaging nine yards per carry, and Herman has no problem with the Buckeyes leaning on that facet of the game.

Asked about the lack of balance on offense, he said: “Balance is not having the same amount of rushing yards and the same amount of passing yards or the same amount of rushing plays vs. the same amount of passing plays. Balance is being able to win the game either way depending on what the defense is trying to take away. And I think we’re a balanced offense right now.”

The Buckeyes, though, likely will need more from quarterback Braxton Miller through the air in the Big Ten title game since the Spartans are ranked No. 1 nationally against the rush.

He’s connected on 30-of-61 passes (49.2 percent) in his last three games for an average of 147.7 yards with six touchdowns and two interceptions. In the five games before that, he was 91-of-125 (72.8 percent) for 221.6 yards per game with 13 TDs and two picks.

“I think it’s a product of how well we’re rushing. It’s not a concern,” Herman said of the dip. “I thought we threw the ball adequately against Indiana in some very adverse conditions the week prior (to Michigan).

“When you see the productivity of the run game and where that’s taking you, then you continue to call it more until something tells you not to. And throughout the (Michigan) game, nothing was really telling us not to.”

OSU coach Urban Meyer also isn’t concerned about the passing attack and believes Miller compares favorably with two of his former QBs: Florida’s Tim Tebow, a Heisman Trophy winner, and Utah’s Alex Smith, who became a No. 1 draft pick in the NFL.

“The first thing you go look for is competitive spirit, and that’s what I see out of Braxton Miller. He’s an extreme competitor. He’s always been a very good competitor, and I think he’s crossed that threshold and is an extreme, extreme competitor right now,” Meyer said.

“The second thing you look at is toughness. And he’s a tough guy. I’ve coached a couple championship quarterbacks … and certainly Braxton is in that conversation.”

The Buckeyes beat the Spartans, 17-16, last season with an offense that was nowhere near as explosive as the current model. Herman liked his checkers then, but they look much more imposing now.

“We’re a lot different,” he said. “The numbers on the jersey and the names on the back might be the same at a lot of positions, but we’re better than we were last year. And they are, too, on defense. Let’s not kid ourselves on that.

“But I think the ways, if you were a defensive coordinator, that you would have attacked us last year might be a hair different this year because of how we’ve gotten better — especially individually. Across the board, we have improved.”

Local connection: After winning his second straight Big Ten offensive player of the year award Tuesday, former Wayne star Braxton Miller was asked on the Big Ten Network to pick the toughest defender he faced all season. He named Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland.

When the ex-Alter standout did a separate interview after being tabbed the conference defensive player of the year, he said the toughest offensive player he encountered was the Buckeye QB.

Miller: “Just the way he plays the game — he’s just real smart. The way he moves, he’s not like a regular linebacker. He runs like a horse. … I can tell he’s got control of the defense, and he flies to the ball.”

Borland: “I think a lot of defenders around the league will say the same thing: Braxton Miller is the most dynamic player not only in our conference, but maybe in the country. You’ve got to change your entire game plan when you go against a guy like him.”

Told he had been Miller’s choice, Borland chuckled and said, “Maybe it’s just two Dayton guys looking out for each other.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Pair of Wright State players selected in MLS Draft
Pair of Wright State players selected in MLS Draft

The Horizon League champion Wright State soccer team has produced a pair of MLS draft picks. The Seattle Sounders chose Jake Stovall in the third round while the Colorado Rapids picked Peguy Ngatcha in the fourth round. Stovall is from Centerville and was an All-Horizon League first-teamer while Ngatcha was the HL Player of the Year and named the conference&rsquo...
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap picked to replace Clowney at Pro Bowl
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap picked to replace Clowney at Pro Bowl

Carlos Dunlap has been named to his second Pro Bowl. The Bengals defensive end was chosen Tuesday as a replacement for Jadeveon Clowney, who is out because of an injury. Dunlap, who had eight sacks and led the Bengals with three forced fumbles in 2016, led the team in passes defended (15), something no defensive lineman had ever done. “Being...
Taylor Decker, Joe Thuney represent Dayton area on PFW all-rookie team
Taylor Decker, Joe Thuney represent Dayton area on PFW all-rookie team

A pair of Pro Football Weekly’s top-rated NFL rookies played their high school football in the Miami Valley. Taylor Decker of the Lions and Joe Thuney of the Patriots both made PFW’s All-Rookie team. The offensive linemen prepped at Vandalia Butler and Alter, respectively. Decker is among four Ohio State players to make the team, joining...
Ohio State AD Gene Smith joining College Football Playoff committee
Ohio State AD Gene Smith joining College Football Playoff committee

Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith will be part of the College Football Playoff committee for the next three years. Also joining the group tasked with picking the four teams that play for the national championship are former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer and Robert Morris president Chris Howard. “This is a tremendous honor and privilege...
Which Ohio State Buckeyes made’s early draft top 50?
Which Ohio State Buckeyes made’s early draft top 50?

Prior to the post-college all-star games and the NFL combine, released its top 50 prospects for the NFL draft. The list includes four Ohio State players: Safety Malik Hooker is the No. 2 overall prospect while cornerback Marshon Lattimore is No. 3. The Buckeyes’ other starting cornerback, Gareon Conley, is rated No. 29 while receiver...
More Stories