- Brian Bennett, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're reviewing all three Big Ten spring games from the weekend. It's time now to look back on Urban Meyer's first spring game at Ohio State.
Star of the game: Quarterback Braxton Miller completed 24 of 31 passes for 258 yards. The surprise star was Michael Thomas, who caught 12 balls for 131 yards to lead all receivers.
How it went down: Meyer signaled a change in direction right away, having players line up for 1-on-1 circle drills to start the spring game, as teammates and coaches raucously cheered them on.
And then the Buckeyes took the field and looked like a much different team, one that could actually throw the ball around. The two squads combined for 443 passing yards and attempted 55 throws in the Scarlet's 20-14 victory over the Gray.
“We’re going to be a very balanced offense; that was very imbalanced,” Meyer said. “However, that was done for a reason. We’re taking one of the worst passing teams in America a year ago, and we’ve got to find out if we can do that. People can stop the run. We know that.
“We know we can run at quarterback. We didn’t run it one time today. What we don’t know -- and, unfortunately, even after the spring game I still don’t know -- is if we can throw the ball. That was the objective today. I have a better opinion of some guys now.”
The Buckeyes used only about 30 percent of Meyer's playbook and were without running back Jordan Hall, who was held out for precautionary reasons. After a spring-long search for a playmaker in the passing game, they may have unearthed one in the freshman Thomas, whom Miller continually looked toward. The two played together at a high school all-star game in Florida before Thomas went off to prep school.
Meyer also gave some high marks to Miller.
“He had a very good spring, a very productive spring, but once again we grade our guys real hard," Meyer said. "First-rounders, that’s how I evaluate [quarterbacks] because I’ve had some first-rounders. He has a lot of talent.”
Linebacker Ryan Shazier led the defense with eight tackles and a sack. Adam Griffin, son of two-time Heisman Trophy winner Archie Griffin, had an interception against Miller. Several potential defensive contributors sat out with injuries, while defensive lineman John Simon played sparingly.
A crowd of 81,112, the largest spring game attendance so far this year, was on hand for Meyer's Horseshoe debut. And in case anyone was wondering, Meyer continued the tradition of singing "Carmen Ohio" with the players after the game.
"I'm a big fan of tradition, and this is a school where we don't have to create a whole lot of tradition," Meyer said.
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