The Ohio State Buckeyes have started the month of September with a solid 4-0 record before conference play opens this weekend. But make no mistake, Urban Meyer's first month as a head coach in Columbus hasn't been pretty.
The offense has been sloppy at times and the defense has huge holes throughout. Nonetheless, OSU is still without a loss.
Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller is undoubtedly the top performer thus far into the year and is worlds apart from any other player on the roster in terms of production. Without him, Ohio State likely would have lost to either Central Florida or Cal, and possibly even UAB.
The list drops off after Miller, but here are the Buckeyes' top performers for this month.
Sophomore receiver Devin Smith has been good, but not great. It almost seems as if he makes up for every outstanding play with an inopportune drop.
Smith shows a lot of promise and is a big target for Miller on the outside. He's more than capable of improving his vision and awareness and will continue to learn with more experience as a starter.
The 6'1", 200-pound Massillon (OH) native currently leads the team in receiving (272 yards) and has three touchdowns, but these numbers will need to keep expanding in order for the passing game to remain relevant.
Jordan Hall missed the first two games of the season due to a previous foot injury sustained during the offseason, but his return to the starting lineup couldn't have been more timely with Carlos Hyde sidelined.
In two games, the senior tailback has carried the ball 34 times for 192 yards (5.6 ypc) and is already the team's second-leading rusher behind Braxton Miller.
He's made an early impact and Ohio State needs him to stay healthy in order for the running game to be effective during conference play.
As expected, Corey (Philly) Brown has been the most competent offensive player other than Miller to step on the field. His athleticism alone has helped him be Miller's top receiving target, hauling in 20 receptions for 233 yards and a touchdown. He also has four rushes for 42 yards (10.5 ypc).
Before the season started, Brown was noted as Meyer's top playmaker and was figured to have a huge role on the offense in the "Percy Harvin" position.
It is extremely valuable for Miller to know he has a dependable go-to-guy downfield with Brown as we move forward into the 2012 campaign and things get more difficult.
Big man Johnathan Hankins has been a true force on the Buckeyes' defensive line this season. He's dominated the line of scrimmage, plugged the middle as a run stopper and put plenty of pressure on the quarterback.
Hankins, a junior, is arguably the only member of the D-line to live up to its high expectations. Ohio State's front seven was a preseason favorite to be one of the best in the Big Ten, but have failed to represent that title.
The 6'3", 320-pound future high-round draft selection has compiled 25 tackles (15 assists) and a sack thus far and will be heavily relied upon as the season progresses.
Braxton Miller is on pace to throw for 2,262 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions in Ohio State's bowl-less year. He's also set to rush for 1,323 yards and 21 scores, which would be a school record for quarterbacks.
As of right now, he is the Buckeyes' offense.
Miller has accounted for 14 of the team's 20 touchdowns (70 percent) and owns almost two thirds of the offensive yardage production, while being involved in nearly every play.
New York is calling and if Miller continues to be the main focal point of the Ohio State offense—which he will—Heisman candidacy is not out of the question.
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