Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Maybe Corey “Philly” Brown just needed his coach’s permission.
Three days after Buckeyes coach Urban Meyer said – only half kidding – that the junior wide receiver is “allowed to make a guy miss,” Brown answered Meyer’s call with one of the biggest plays in Ohio State’s biggest victory of the 2012 season.
Brown returned a punt 76 yards for a touchdown roughly five minutes into the third quarter, putting OSU up, 49-31, against Nebraska Saturday night at Ohio Stadium. The highlight-reel worthy play all but sealed the now-No. 8-ranked Buckeyes’ 63-38 win against the then-No. 21-ranked Huskers. At the same time, the touchdown showcased the skills Meyer has wanted to see from his should-be playmaker all season.
“The thing I’m looking for from Philly is, we need some explosiveness in this offense,” Meyer said last Wednesday.
After going down on contact and failing to run past defenses through five games, Brown said he was pleased with the “explosiveness” he displayed during the return. He deferred credit to his teammates after the game, though.
“Basically they made the perfect blocking and made it easy for me,” Brown said. “The blocking was so good all I saw was me and the punter. I knew I had to make just one person miss and change the game.”
Brown said he knew he had to make a play as he jogged onto the field and prepared himself for the return. Not just because Meyer had been imploring him to, but due to the way the game had been hanging in the balance.
OSU was up 11 points at the time, but the Buckeyes had not yet had a lead bigger than two scores. Nebraska’s offense – after scoring with relative ease through two-and-a-half quarters – just had its first three-and-out possession of the second half.
Brown said he saw an opportunity to change the way the game was flowing, as did his coaches.
“Going out there, I knew I had to make a play. (OSU running backs coach Stan Drayton) was in my ear, he was in my face, telling me I had to change the game,” Brown said.
After the game, Meyer and many other OSU players claimed Brown’s return, along with the interception sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby returned for a touchdown in the first quarter, were the plays of the day.
“We do a ceremony after the game (and) let some guys talk who performed well, and every one of them to a man said that,” Meyer said of the praise Brown received from his teammates.
Brown’s performance Saturday night didn’t just include the special teams touchdown. He had three catches for 35 yards and was the only Buckeyes wide receiver with a reception. On OSU sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller’s 72-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, it was a block from Brown that sprung the OSU sophomore quarterback.
“Philly Brown probably turned (the game around),” Miller said.
Yet again though, Brown gave credit to his teammates before accepting any praise of his own.
“We had a couple punts leading up to (Miller’s run), and having someone like Braxton to excite the crowd – because the crowd kind of got out of it and everything – having someone like Braxton to be able to make a play like that, (to) get us into the game, being able to score was good,” Brown said.
While Brown has trouble accepting praise from the media, he will gladly accept praise from his head coach with a smile.
“It’s always good to be one of (Meyer’s) guys,” Brown said. “He told me he loved me, I told him I love him, I appreciate him. He’s turning most of the wide receivers’ careers around, basically.”
Brown has been arguably the most consistent wide receiver on OSU’s roster. He has 35 catches on the season, the most on the team.
The junior said he’s grown tremendously since the start of the season and that he is “learning now” every day.
Still, Brown said he knows there is plenty of room to improve, with Meyer’s call for more broken tackles near the top of his things to do list.
“I’ve just got to get better using my vision, speed and obviously, like (Meyer) said, break some tackles,” Brown said.