COLUMBUS -- Urban Meyer was asked early last week if he wished Ohio State's Buckeyes were unveiling his old/their new spread offense against a team other than one from the Mid-American Conference, where spread offenses are the rule, not the exception.
"Huh?" said Meyer.
The question was repeated.
"It's completely different than our spread," Meyer said, still not quite getting the essence of the question and answering another one instead.
But he was right.
For one quarter Saturday afternoon they were as different as night and day. Miami University's spread had produced an impressive 172 yards. Ohio State's stank.
On the Buckeyes' next five possessions, things changed.
Mostly, Braxton Miller changed, and by the time it was over, OSU ran away to a 56-10 victory over the RedHawks at Ohio Stadium.
Meyer wanted to see leadership from his quarterback, which he sensed was missing on season-old video. Miller delivered.
Meyer wanted to see cool and calm, a confident demeanor, even when things weren't going well. Miller delivered.
Meyer wanted his leader to sense an opponent in retreat and put the hammer down. Miller drove the spike.
Meyer wanted his quarterback to be a magician in a tricky, now-you-see-it, now-you-don't offense. Miller delivered in a big way.
Frankly, Braxton Miller was not a leader or a decision-maker or a reliable quarterback last year, but maybe that should have been expected. He was a freshman thrown into a tumultuous situation and a talent-thinned lineup when the player he expected to sit behind and learn from, Terrelle Pryor, and the coach that recruited him, Jim Tressel, both disappeared into the fog of NCAA sanctions.
Everything changed when Meyer appeared as the new head coach this past winter. It was time for a new offensive system, a new offensive staff, a new swagger, a new everything.
And it was time for a new Braxton Miller.
Fifteen minutes in, he showed up. Miller passed for 207 yards and ran for a school-record (for quarterbacks) 161 yards. He accounted for 368 total yards and three touchdowns. And he pretty much did it all in two quarters, one half, a mere 30 minutes considering the first quarter shouldn't count -- there wasn't much to count -- and the fourth was backup Kenny Guiton's turn.
"Obviously, the first quarter was very poor football on our end," Meyer said. "Miami did a really good job defending a certain formation that we ran out [of], which is a base formation."
It had Meyer's head spinning trying to fix what was broken. During one sideline session the coach turned and bumped into Miller.
"No, I [wasn't] as positive as Braxton was," he said. "It's nice to have your quarterback stand right with you and say, 'Hey, we'll be fine.' I liked his demeanor."
It wasn't all Meyer liked as the Buckeyes turned a 3-0 deficit after one quarter into a 21-3 halftime lead and made it 28-3 on the first play of the third quarter when Miller streaked away to a 65-yard touchdown run that included a jaw-dropping stutter step that froze Miami's only defender.
"In practice, some guys do it and people figure, 'He's down,' but I just did a little jerk, and I scored a touchdown," Miller said.
What Meyer most liked was seeing an athlete playing quarterback turn more into a quarterback who's an athlete, who can make quick adjustments, who can manage a game, who can get the ball to playmakers and be one himself.
"He's got to manage basically the entire offense," Meyer said. "He's got to stay positive. He has to be a leader. And he showed that today."
Miller said the ultimate compliment from his coach occurred while things were still dicey. He said Meyer would come to him and "ask me what did I see, what did I like, and I'd tell him 'I'd like us to run this because everybody feels comfortable.' "
Everybody certainly got comfortable. Devin Smith, a sophomore receiver, made a spectacular, leaping one-handed catch for the Buckeyes' first TD, a moment Meyer said "ignited" what had been a deathly quiet crowd of more than 105,000. Carlos Hyde ran for 82 yards and two scores. Bradley Roby seemed to be in on every big defensive stop, and his fellow cornerback, Travis Howard, had both of OSU's interceptions.
You know, there are no secrets in football. Every coach knows the tricks, even Meyer's tricks, and can draw the X's and O's on a board. The difference is always the athletes and their execution.
There will be better opponents, better defenses. Miller and the Buckeyes weren't perfect and will have to be better too.
But Saturday was a start -- of a coaching era, of getting 10 or 12 yards before that legendary cloud of dust, and of a quarterback.
If Saturday was any indication, Braxton Miller found his offense, and Urban Meyer found his man to run it.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: email@example.com or 419-724-6398.