No hole, no goal

Buckeyes offense failed short-yardage test before halftime against RedHawks

Updated: September 4, 2012, 5:05 PM ET
By Austin Ward | BuckeyeNation

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- There was time for one play, and Urban Meyer saw a perfect opportunity to test his team.

Ohio State didn't really need to score a touchdown just before halftime because the game already was in control against Miami (Ohio), but the Buckeyes could grab a little extra momentum to take to the locker room and they only needed to pick up one yard.

[+] EnlargeCarlos Hyde
Kirk Irwin/Getty ImagesCarlos Hyde was stood up at the goal line on the final play of the first half against Miami (Ohio).
So after a timeout on Saturday against Miami (Ohio), the spread-offense guru went smash-mouth with both of his tackles on the right side of the formation, his quarterback under center and a fullback lined up as a lead blocker for an old-fashioned, off-tackle run.

The Buckeyes were stuffed at the goal line, and even a couple days later the memory still stings for Meyer, who is intent on establishing a power-rushing attack and aware there will be a time when converting those short-yardage plays will actually impact an outcome instead of the margin of victory in a blowout.

"We can't allow that to happen," Meyer said. "I wanted to see something happen and we should have scored. We missed a block. The offensive line can't miss a block down there.

"That was the most disappointing part of the whole day, and we'll get that fixed."

The Buckeyes didn't appear to have much to correct after they patched up some early issues getting the offense started and rolled to a 56-10 victory in Meyer's debut with the program, though that might make the missed chance before halftime stand out even more.

Had there been more time to work with, the offensive line could have had a chance to get a better push with left tackle Jack Mewhort shifted to the other side of the formation next to right tackle Reid Fragel. Or perhaps running back Carlos Hyde might have been able to hit the hole harder or avoid running into the backside of Fragel with a second crack at finding the end zone.

After all, the Buckeyes had already converted in a similar situation from a longer distance earlier in the quarter when Hyde took a handoff behind a couple of impressive blocks and scored from the 4-yard line. But with a mulligan and a bonus chance to punch it in before halftime, the message and the sense of urgency might have been lost.

"When you get down there, it's as much mentality as it is scheme," fullbacks and tight ends coach Tim Hinton said. "When you get on the 1-yard line and you're Ohio State, there's got to be a mentality. Everybody talks about the spread offense, and I know Coach Meyer spent a lot of time trying to sell people -- because it's reality -- that we are going to be a physical team.

"If you look at the whole game, it was probably the No. 1 thing we're all the most disappointed in. Hey, it's three seconds to go in the half, we've got an opportunity to really put a momentum swing in our favor and we didn't do that. In some other games, you can't miss that opportunity."

The window starts to close for the Buckeyes this week against Central Florida, which will bring to Ohio Stadium on Saturday a defense that ranked 16th in the nation in stopping the rush a year ago.

The Knights have good size all across the defensive line, including a pair of starting tackles who weigh more than 300 pounds and a pair of talented ends to complement them. Collectively, they've proven capable of bottling up a tailback -- and could certainly give Meyer another early test for his power ground game.

"Will there be times where we have to turn around and hand the ball to the tailback and get one yard? A lot, yes," Meyer said. "Is that what you can expect the rest of the year from the 1-yard line? No, we'll do some things different."

Whatever it takes to get a passing grade the next time.

Austin Ward | email

Ohio State/Big Ten reporter

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