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Commentary: Hall, not Bauserman or Miller, the answer for struggling Buckeye offense

Thomas Bradley / Campus editor

Ohio State lacks playmakers this year. That much is true.

But if we can take anything positive away from OSU’s 24-6 loss at the hands of Miami (Fla.) Saturday night, it’s that running back Jordan Hall is the spark the Buckeye offense needs.

The game looked familiar in many respects. Miami quarterback Jacory Harris further displayed his penchant for throwing to scarlet and gray jerseys, adding two more interceptions to the four he tossed against OSU in Ohio Stadium last year.

Like 2004 and 2008, the dual-quarterback system reared its ugly head, with freshman Braxton Miller looking shaky at best and Joe Bauserman throwing ball after ball into the stands. (Just for some perspective, Bauserman and Miller combined for an eye-popping total of four passing yards in the first half.)

Then there’s the trusty ole’ running game.

Hall, playing for the first time this season after being suspended two games for receiving $200 from a booster, ran at will against the Canes’ defense, tallying 87 yards on 14 carries. Hall was the only threat OSU could muster, especially with Bauserman and Miller unable to put much together through the air.

The OSU offense finished with a measly 209 yards of offense: 174 yards on the ground off 37 carries and going 4-18 in the air for a pathetic 35 yards passing.

Sixty-four of those rush yards came on a 16-play drive in the second quarter, all of which were on the ground. Hall chalked up 26 yards and Carlos Hyde added another 35.

Three yards and a cloud of dust. It’s boring, sure, but with a squad lacking much of an offensive identity, it might be OSU’s last best hope for a respectable 2011 campaign.

Fans have long been clamoring to get Miller snaps under center. After Bauserman, the absolute antithesis of Terrelle Pryor, got the starting gig, I could understand why, as he doesn’t fit the mold of successful Buckeye quarterbacks of recent lore, including Pryor and Heisman-winner Troy Smith. But after Miller threw a pick on his first pass attempt, fumbled the ball away in a crucial fourth-quarter drive and consistently missed targets, it doesn’t seem as if he’s the answer quite yet. Shame, because a Miller-Hall duo in the backfield would give opposing defenses headaches.

Until Bauserman can become a formidable threat in the air, it looks like the offense is going to hinge on the running game … yet again.

Opposing defenses have no reason to be scared of the Buckeye “O” right now. The coaches are going to fall back on the ground game, of course, until Bauserman can establish some semblance of a passing game to open up the running lanes.

Heck, even the trusty special teams have been unusually inconsistent. Kicker Drew Basil is only a measly (by OSU’s standards) 2-4 on field goal attempts so far this season, and return coverage needs to be shored up.

With Bauserman launching every red zone pass into the 12th row, get used to a steady dose of Jordan Hall, ladies and gentlemen.

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