THE BUCKEYES are seeking their 400th win when they are confronted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham Saturday at the 'Shoe, and Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller is receiving some laudatory comments from the UAB coach and players.
As OSU prepares to face UAB, Buckeye head football coach Urban Meyer has the team working on several problems, one of which involves tackling.
After mentioning the Buckeyes' overall talent, UAB head football coach Garrick McGee said, "Obviously at quarterback, they have a kid that's dynamic, the type of quarterback that coach (Urban) Meyer played with throughout his career so he probably feels comfortable calling the plays with that kid, because he brings some of the same elements that Tim Tebow brought to the table, that Alex Smith brought to the table at Utah."
UAB freshman linebacker Shaq Jones described Miller as "an elusive quarterback. He's got quick feet. We're going to have to run to the football, surround him and wrap him up."
As to being able to contain Miller, UAB freshman defensive tackle Jontavious Morris commented, "We know he is a great athlete. He has great running and throwing ability. But with correct alignments, assignments and execution, we can get the job done."
Miller, who was named freshman of the week by the Big Ten twice last year, was selected as the Big Ten Conference's offensive player of the week after Saturday's game - his first such honor from the Big Ten.
Although the Buckeyes have won the first three games of the season, Meyer has a lengthy list of improvements that need to be made.
One of the things was for the team to tackle tackling in practice this week.
During his press conference Monday, Meyer said he would emphasize tackling. "You get what you emphasize," he commented. "All I heard about was lack of turnovers a year ago, and certainly we are creating some more. Not as many this past week. But we've got something that I learned from my mentor, coach (Earle) Bruce. I know we tackled more than anybody, but obviously it's not getting the job done, so we have to tackle more. Instead of one day a week, we'll probably have to go two now. It's all about fundamentals technique."
While talking about Buckeye plays needing fixed, Meyer said, "There is no magic wand. We've got our personnel. Personnel I don't believe is an issue. but we've got to make tackles, tackle better in practice, make sure our schemes are more sound into the boundary area which we're working on that now."
Meyer did mention some positives regarding the Buckeyes in last Saturday's game, He said offensive positives were big plays in the passing game but added, "Negatives, as a team, penalties were obviously very alarming and they were bad penalties, very ignorant penalties that have to be corrected. That is a sign of an ignorant or lack of discipline team, and that is my responsibility to get that fixed up."
Among the negatives offensively was that the Buckeyes were 33 percent on third downs. "Three and outs were alarming. Six times we were three and out. We were not getting enough big plays from the run game other than our quarterback. That's got to change."
Meyer added, "We've got to find a way to get to win No. 4. We're an average team right now. At times, we're playing fairly well.
"I like our team. I like the fact that we faced adversity. I'm ready to have some non-adversity games. Doesn't seem like that's going to happen very often at this point in our development and our journey."
Saturday's game marks the first time for OSU and UAB to meet on the gridiron. This is the UAB Blazers' 22nd season of football and its 17th on the Division 1-A level.
UAB is 0-2 this season. The Troy Trojans (Ala.) defeated the Blazers, 39-29, and then UAB had an open week before being defeated last Saturday by No. 8 South Carolina Gamecocks, 49-6.
The Alabama team is the 22nd team in the last quarter of a century that OSU will meet for the first time with the first meeting in Columbus. OSU has won 20 of the previous 21 games against first-timers in the 'Shoe.
THE 10TH ANNIVERSARY of the Ohio State's 2002 national championship team will be recognized Nov. 24 during halftime of the OSU-Michigan game. As this is being written, it isn't known if former OSU head football coach Jim Tressel will attend. Tressel, who is now vice president of strategic engagement at the University of Akron, isn't banned from attending Ohio State football games as a result of the problems prior to his resignation.
Considering the ability of Tressel-coached teams to beat the Wolverines with a 9-1 record (despite what the NCAA says about the 2010 game), it seems fitting that he appears at what has been termed as college football's greatest rivalry.
Most Ohio State fans are aware of his memorable words and the Michigan game when he was introduced at a January 2001 basketball game: "I can assure you that you will be proud of our young people, in the classroom, in the community, and most especially in 310 days in Ann Arbor, Mich., on the football field."...
SATURDAY'S game, slated for noon, will be aired on the Big Ten Network...
Pokas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.