The much-anticipated start to the season had Ohio State fans getting just a bit more antsy by starting the game on the defensive side of the ball, while they awaited to see who would take the first snap at quarterback. Of course, the answer ended up being Cardale Jones. The scoring got started in fashion with a off-the-back-foot strike from Jones to a diving Curtis Samuel in the endzone.
While the rest of the first half wasn't nearly as fun, the second half got the real party started, led by two-time Big Ten Player of the Year, Braxton Miller. The Buckeyes bull-rushed Virginia Tech in the second half, as they quickly piled on two scores in the third quarter and followed up the final quarter with a pair of scores from Cardale Jones and then J.T. Barrett to Michael Thomas.
At the end of the night, it was another great Buckeye win and a good way to kickoff the start of the 2015 season. As Ohio State prepares to defend its championship this season, here are some things to know from Monday night's win over Virginia Tech
3 things we learned:
1. Braxton Miller is every team's worst nightmare. Another one of the top storylines of the season was how Braxton Miller would transition from star quarterback to H-back and wide receiver. After tonight, it's safe to say that Miller is still going to be heavily involved in Ohio State's gameplan and even safer to say he'll be making his fair share of highlight plays - like the one where he hit the 'B' button. The versatile athlete lined up at several different positions, including quarterback for the Buckeyes and although he didn't throw any passes, the mere possibility and threat of that play could be important later on in the season.
Miller made a nice catch in the middle of the field off a Cardale Jones pass that went a little low, but a diving effort produced Miller's first reception at his new position. He would later on score a touchdown at the start of the second half, to put Ohio State up 21-17 in typical impressive fashion, keeping his balance for the 54-yard reception.
The potential Miller showed in fall practice had any Buckeye fan excited about what he could do, but that doesn't always translate to success on the field. See guys like Taurian Washington or Ray Small, for example. Miller, however, not only met expectations, but exceeded them. He was exactly what Ohio State needed, when trailing at the half. On top of that, Miller proved to be just as clutch now as he was the last time he donned the scarlet and gray. The future is bright for Miller as an H-back, for sure. He finished the night with two receptions for 78 yards and a touchdown, while also adding 62 yards on the ground from six carries with a rushing touchdown.
2. Cardale Jones is the guy ... at least for now. At first, it was a fast start for Ohio State. Cardale Jones was announced as the starter moments before the Buckeyes kicked off, and then took the field for the first time of the season over J.T. Barrett. His first touchdown pass of the season was a strike to sophomore Curtis Samuel, who made an incredible catch, reeling in the first score of the game. But Jones struggled against the Virginia Tech defense, who stifled Jones before the end of the first half, as he failed to complete a pass in the second quarter.
The start of the third quarter turned the tide of the game both for Ohio State but for Jones as well, when he found Braxton Miller for a touchdown throw. From there, he ran the offense efficiently, providing some highlight plays of his own, including a last-second jump pass to Johnnie Dixon with several defenders in his face. Jones would finish the night 9-of-18 passing for 186 yards and two touchdowns to one interception.
While J.T. Barrett will likely play some this season, as he did in the fourth quarter Monday night, but it's pretty clear Urban Meyer and his staff have made the decision to make Jones the starter for the Buckeyes this season. Whether or not that remains the case throughout the year remains to be seen, but for now, it seems as if it's Jones' job to lose.
3. Limited touches and all, Ezekiel Elliott is still the real deal. Despite only getting four carries in the entire first half, Ezekiel Elliott was phenomenal to watch in the limited touches he had, picking up where he left off during the national championship run. His first carry of the night was a gorgeous 80-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the field, outrunning the Hokies' defense. Beyond that, Buckeye fans were mostly kept from Elliott's run game, as the offensive plan worked around Virginia Tech's 'Bear' defensive scheme.
Once things opened up in the second half, Elliott still wasn't given as much of a role as most would like, but the threat is still there. With J.T. Barrett coming in for mopup duty, Ohio State simply continued to roll past the Hokies en route to their big win in Blacksburg.
Regardless, there's no question that Elliott will play a large role this season, and though he may not have been the main focus tonight, his final statline was still fairly impressive with 11 carries, 122 yards, and one touchdown. His production will likely grow over the course of the season, and considering last season's contest against Virginia Tech resulted in under 50 yards for Elliott, Monday night was a notable improvement.