A week removed from struggling against an overmatched Cal team, the Ohio State Buckeyes (4-0) looked sluggish again in a 29-15 victory over the UAB Blazers (0-3).
Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes have a lot to work on as they prepare for their first road game of the year against Michigan State next week.
Before we all start looking forward to conference play, here's 10 things we learned from Ohio State's 14-point victory over the UAB Blazers.
1. Braxton Miller's Heisman Campaign Took a Hit
Miller didn't make any huge mistakes, and without him the Buckeyes might have lost the game, but the sophomore quarterback threw for just 143 yards with no touchdown passes against UAB. He did run for two touchdowns, but that was accompanied by a season-low 64 yards rushing.
Many expected Miller to have a much better game against one of the worst defenses in the country, and as a result, his Heisman campaign will take a bit of hit.
2. Ohio State's Offense has Multiple-Personality Disorder.
The Buckeyes offense looks unstoppable one drive, then unwatchable the next.
Ohio State is developing a weekly trend of struggling though long stretches of games.
In Week 1 against Miami of Ohio, the Buckeyes couldn't get anything going in the first quarter, getting shutout by the RedHawks through 15 minutes.
In Week 2, Ohio State needed their defense to close out UCF when the offense failed to produce any points in the fourth quarter.
In Week 3, a disastrous third quarter almost cost Ohio State the game against Cal.
This week against UAB, the Buckeyes struggled throughout the day. Outside of a quick burst of offense to close the first half and a long drive in the fourth quarter, Ohio State looked absolutely lost on offense.
3. The Buckeyes Have Some Work to Do in the Passing Game.
Questions arose two weeks ago about Ohio State's ability to pass the ball when they only managed 155 yards through the air against UCF. Braxton Miller quieted some of those doubters last week against Cal, throwing for 249 yards to go along with four touchdowns.
After the UAB game, those questions will likely reappear. Miller threw for a season-low 143 yards against a bad Blazers defense, and his longest completion was just 25 yards.
Better defenses will key in on Ohio State's running game, so gaining consistency through the air is imperative for the Buckeyes entering conference play.
4. Jordan Hall Can Be Effective in This Offense.
He'll never match Percy Harvin's production—and honestly, few people can—but Jordan Hall can be an effective player in Urban Meyer's offense.
Hall quietly rushed for 105 yards on 17 carries and caught two passes for 21 yards against the Blazers. He didn't make any huge plays, his longest carry went for just 14 yards, but he still had a very good day.
The goal-line carries went to Ohio State's bigger backs, so Hall didn't hit pay dirt. Still, aside from Miller, Hall was the only other consistent contributor for the Ohio State offense.
5. Carlos Hyde Needs to Hurry Back.
With Michigan State looming, the Buckeyes could really use the talents of Carlos Hyde.
As previously mentioned, Jordan Hall hardly got a look in short-yardage situations against UAB. Michigan State has one of the best defensive lines in the country, and if the Buckeyes want to increase their conversion rate on third down (they were just seven of 17 on third downs against UAB), they'll need Hyde back.
6. Tackling is Kind of Important.
We learned this last week against Cal, but the Buckeyes think it's so important that they wanted to teach us about it again.
Ohio State had another lackluster performance on defense, and poor tackling was a big part of reason. Multiple missed tackles allowed UAB to extend plays and drives, and that helped the Blazers outgain Ohio State by 56 yards.
7. Defending the Perimeter is also Kind of Important.
Ohio State's new defensive scheme calls for their cornerbacks to play off the ball a bit more than they have in years' past.
Through four games, that has hurt the Buckeyes. Teams are hurting Ohio State with quick passes to the perimeter and bubble screens, and when you combine that with Ohio State's poor tackling, opposing offenses haven't had much trouble moving the ball.
Only one of Ohio State's opponents this year has failed to throw for more than 250 yards: UCF, which threw for 249 yards in Week 2.
8. Playing Angry Can Hurt You Sometimes.
Urban Meyer wants his team to play angry, but that could've hurt Ohio State in a big way against UAB.
After breaking up a pass in the fourth quarter that would have forced a UAB punt, Christian Bryant got a little too chatty with the receiver and drew a costly taunting penalty that gave the Blazers a first down.
At that point, UAB was down just six points and the penalty gave them a ton of momentum. It was just one play among many plays that hint toward the Buckeyes playing with too much anger and not enough discipline.
9. "The Freak-Show" Is the Real Deal.
Urban Meyer has assembled a unit of all-star players to go after punts and field goal attempts, and against UAB, they made an impact on the game.
"The Freak-Show" was just inches away from blocking a UAB punt in the first quarter, and after the Blazer's lone touchdown of the game, Orhian Johnson got through and denied an extra-point attempt. It was Ohio State's second blocked extra-point in just four games.
10. Despite Ohio State's Struggles, They're Still One of the Best Teams in the Conference.
It's more a knock on the Big Ten, which has looked downright terrible through four weeks of action.
Wisconsin struggled again this week, this time against UTEP. Iowa lost to a bad Central Michigan team. And Michigan State scored just three points in the first half against Eastern Michigan.
The conference race is going to be ridiculous.
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