April 21, 2012; Columbus, OH, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes defensive back Adam Griffin (9) tries to tackle wide receiver Michael Thomas (83) during the spring game at Ohio Stadium. The Scarlet team won the game 20-14. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-US PRESSWIRE
The Urban Meyer era at Ohio State is officially underway after the Buckeyes put on an aerial display, combining on both sides for 57 pass attempts on a chilly, drizzly Saturday afternoon at the Shoe.
Braxton Miller was 24 of 31 for 258 yards with an INT, and looked comfortable in a new offense that — believe it or not — looked more like an offense.
Sure it was "vanilla" in Meyer's words, but most Buckeye fans would prefer that vanilla to the vanilla from the past 10 years.
Neither quarterback threw many deep routes, but it was something to see receivers actually having a chance to get into space after catching passes.
That brings us to the guy who made a name for himself on Saturday: freshman WR Michael Thomas.If you look back to last season, the leading receivers for Ohio State were Devin Smith, Jake Stoneburner and Corey Brown, each with 14 catches throughout the 13-game season.
Michael Thomas in his first game in the Horseshoe had 12 receptions on his own for a total of 132 yards.
That alone should be a dramatic statement about how abysmal the Buckeye passing attack was.
Thomas did most of his damage on shorter passes like flats and hitches, something that you would only see about five times a month from Jim Bollman's offense.
He also showed quite the elusiveness where he was able to make a couple of players miss on a reception in the second half.
Brown and Smith each had some nice plays as well, including Smith's 25-yard TD reception where he turned a short slant into a run to the house.
On the defensive side of the ball, is there any more doubt that Ryan Shazier is going to be an absolute monster next season?
After bursting onto the scene last season as a true freshman, Shazier is well on his way to becoming the next great Ohio State linebacker.
He has added about 15 lbs to the slender frame that he came into Columbus with as a true freshman last spring. If he shows that he hasn't lost any of his explosive speed while adding weight and hitting power as a result, Shazier will become the most dangerous defensive player in the Big Ten — at least until Noah Spence dominates offensive lines.
Shazier had some great tackles on Saturday, including a great open-field stop on freshman RB Bri'onte Dunn, a tackle that would've been tough for him to make a year ago.
While we all may have wanted to see some fancy running plays — more than the one reverse option we got in the first half and Kenny Guiton's zone-read touchdown run in the second half — the Spring Game taught us more than anything that this is a whole new Ohio State offense.
For once, Buckeye offensive football is getting into the 21st century and away from the archaic days of the Jim Bollman era.
While it's not pretty and not nearly a finished product, it's worth getting behind.
Michael Thomas is a young guy worth getting behind. And on Saturday, he lived up to his Twitter handle: @CantGuardMike.