Ohio State Football: Biggest Areas Buckeyes Need to Improve During Offseason

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIDecember 6, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 20: Taylor Richards #4 of the Purdue Boilermakers sacks Braxton Miller #5 of the Ohio State Buckeyes on October 20, 2012 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Ohio State Buckeyes were unbeaten in 2012, but they were not flawless by any means. There was less pressure on the team due to nothing being on the line each week, and that may have helped the team survive a few close calls.

Still, anytime a team can run the table, there is something to be said about that team and its coaching staff.

Moving forward, there are some things the Buckeyes need to address if they hope to have a repeat showing next season. You know, when there are BCS and Big Ten Championship implications.

When it counts.

Take a look at some areas we’ve pinpointed that the Bucks must improve on in order to make that happen.


Braxton Miller

The sophomore quarterback had a much better season working within Urban Meyer’s system then he did last season under Luke Fickell. Those improvements include a near-doubling of his passing yardage and a four-percent hike in completion percentage.

Urban Meyer said it best, according to Austin Ward of ESPN’s Buckeye Nation:

Tom Herman and Braxton Miller understand that they have to get better. If Braxton Miller becomes fundamentally the best quarterback in America, I think he will be the best quarterback in America. It will be comical what he'll do, but he's not there yet.

Let’s take a look at how Miller can get better in his third season as the Bucks' starting QB.

Miller can improve on his decision-making when scrambling. Frequently, the elusive quarterback used his legs as a first resort when he felt pressure rather than looking downfield for open receivers.

Once defenders see him begin to move with the ball, their attention shifts. That’s valuable for a quarterback who is trying to find open receivers in space. If he can hold on to the ball a little longer and scramble to extend the pocket, he may be able to lure defenders up and be able to find his talented receivers for big gains.


Third-Down Efficiency

The Buckeyes weren’t horrible in third-down efficiency, but they could certainly be a lot better when it comes to converting on long down-and-distance situations. Ohio State was 50th in the FBS in third-down conversion percentage, picking up a first down on 42.4 percent of its tries.

Notables that rank ahead of the Buckeyes include: Alabama (46.8 percent), Notre Dame (47.3 percent), Michigan (51.3 percent) and Texas A&M (55.4 percent).

A better-balanced offense led by Miller should help the team set up more favorable distances on third down.

Converting third downs is one of the most crucial elements of football. That cannot be overstated and should be a point of emphasis from Meyer’s staff this offseason.


Limit Big Plays; Continue to Improve Fundamentals

Defensive end Nathan Williams said the team’s defensive improvement is attributed to an emphasis on fundamentals by the coaching staff, according to Tim May of The Columbus Dispatch:

I think, at the beginning of the year, we were doing a little ... I wouldn’t say freelancing, but we were going for the big plays, the kill shots, the mentality of Coach Meyer, you know, smack ’em in the mouth every single time. I think once we got used to everybody’s role on the team, we had to take a step back, work on our fundamentals, and I think we did a great job with that.

The two big scoring plays by the Michigan Wolverines in the season finale are evidence that the problem still exists. Denard Robinson (shown in the video below) bounced off two Buckeyes defenders on his way to a 67-yard touchdown run.

The first big play allowed by the Buckeyes defense was less of a tackling issue and more of an awareness one. Devin Gardener rolled out and threw to Roy Roundtree along the sideline. Roundtree broke a tackle attempt with a stiff arm and then took the pass 75 yards for a score.

Big plays killed the Buckeyes defense in 2012.