Ohio State Struggles Again in 29-15 Victory Over UAB

Yahoo Contributor Network

COMMENTARY | On Saturday, September 22, 16th-ranked Ohio State beat UAB 29-15 to improve their season record to 4-0. Quarterback Braxton Miller was 12 of 20 for 143 yards with 64 rushing yards and two touchdowns to lead the Buckeyes.

The negatives

I think it may be time to face an unsettling truth about the 2012 Ohio State Buckeyes: they aren't very good. The fans and media members who follow this team probably thought that Urban Meyer would instantly transform it into a top five program. However, it's becoming clear that Meyer needs more time to rebuild the Buckeyes.

Let's not forget that Ohio State was 6-7 in 2011. It's easy to blame Jim Tressel and Luke Fickell for the team's failures, but the truth is that there were other reasons why the Buckeyes struggled last season.

Defensively, Ohio State had its issues with missed tackles throughout 2011. That problem was on display for the entire country to see in the team's 40-34 loss to Michigan last November. Now it remains an issue for a defense that was expected to be improved this season.

The Buckeyes did a better job tackling against UAB, but they still missed on quite a few plays. This is happening because defenders are often taking poor angles to the ball. For example, defensive tackle John Simons had UAB's quarterback stuffed in the backfield on a play in the first half, but he ran too far to his left and missed the tackle. This is something that has plagued the Buckeyes' defense throughout the season, and you have to wonder if it's too late to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, the Ohio State offense has looked great at times, but it has also had some extremely lethargic moments in each of the team's first four games, including Buckeyes' season-opening 56-10 victory over Miami. Against the Blazers, the Ohio State offense disappeared in both the first and third quarters.

Yet while the Buckeyes have struggled to pull away from weaker teams, I'm convinced that Miller and company will improve. Miller appears to be grasping the offense well, and other players are starting to step forward on offense.

Overall, it's going to take time for Meyer's Buckeyes to come together. This is a team littered with Tressel's recruits, and it's going to take another recruiting class or two to bring in more players who fit into his system. I hate to say it, but it's going to be another year or two for the Buckeyes to return to prominence.

Players of the game

Braxton Miller gave a solid performance for Ohio State, which included two rushing touchdowns. He also made better decisions with the football than he did in any of the team's first three games. You won't see it on a stat sheet, but Miller is slowly putting it together in Meyer's offense.

Running back Jordan Hall ran for 104 yards on 17 carries for a 6.1 yards-per-carry average. After a rough game last week against Cal, Hall stepped forward and took over as the Buckeyes' feature running back at a time when the Buckeyes offense needed it. His playmaking ability will serve as an outstanding complement to Miller as the season moves forward.

Next up

Next Saturday, Ohio State will travel to East Lansing to play Michigan State in their Big Ten opener. The Buckeyes are looking to avenge last season's 10-7 loss to the Spartans in Columbus, but they will have to do it against one of the strongest defenses in the country. Hopefully, we will learn a little more about this team next weekend.

Derek Ciapala has been following Ohio State athletics since childhood. He has been published on Yahoo! Sports, GatewayMMA.com and multiple other websites. You can check him out on Facebook or Twitter @dciapala.

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