College Football’s version of The Triangle Offense (along with coach Urban Meyer, the Phil Jackson of this sh$*t) was on full display Labor Day evening as Ohio State avenged its only loss of last season's National Championship run.
The Buckeyes have a wealth of talent, including a backup QB who would be starting on most top teams in the nation in J.T. Barrett, as well as Braxton Miller, the Big Ten offensive player of the year as a quarterback in 2012 and 2013, who is now in his Jerry Rice mode.
Barrett navigated OSU to an 11-1 record during last season's championship run before fracturing his ankle during the fourth quarter of Ohio State's 42-28 win over Michigan in late November. It was a bittersweet win as it ended Barrett's season but propelled Buckeyes Nation into the Big Ten title game.
Barrett was having a Heisman season in place of Miller, whom Ohio State lost to a season-ending injury before the season even began. Barrett threw for 2,834 yards and pounded the ground for another 938 yards and scored a school-record 45 total touchdowns.
However, QB Cardale Jones swooped in, got all the glory and when the smoke cleared, Barrett sort of got Wally Pipp'd.
While the numbers crunch has crushed Barrett’s hopes of significantly contributing to a season in which Ohio State is the favorite to win back-to-back National Championships, Miller’s versatility has made him part of an equilateral situation, sharing the spotlight with the 6-5, 250-pound Jones and running back Ezekiel Elliot.
This all black everything triumvirate -- indeed a triple threat of terror -- gave college football fans a glimpse of the high-octane, Urban Meyer mega mix, rallying from a 17-14 halftime deficit in dazzling fashion to begin their title defense with a 42-24 licking of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg.
Not to be outdone by the offense, the NFL-sized D was punishing, breaking the collar bone of senior QB Michael Brewer and holding Va Tech to 7 meaningless second-half points.
If we had to individually rate the dominant performance of each Triangle Offense component, everybody gets five stars for Monday night's get down. Let’s start at the top with Jones.
The redshirt junior tossed two touchdowns and dipped for a third. He was focused and in command and as usual a load to bring down. Jones’ remarkable rise to point man is now a permanent. glorious memory in college football lore.
Jones started last season as the third-ranked QB on Meyer’s depth chart. Benefiting from two season-ending injuries to his competition, Jones quickly rose to national prominence after winning his first three college starts at quarterback. It was a life-changing, quick, efficient and fierce grind that began with the 2014 Big Ten Conference Championship Game and ended with the inaugural 2015 College Football Playoff National Championship.
Overnight celebrity followed by rapid regression is common in this fast-paced sports and information age, but Jones ended last season as the supreme signal caller and seems locked in and focused to make a Heisman run this season
Most cats would be salty if they had a career at QB like Miller and then had to switch positions, but maybe he knew something that we didn't.
In his debut game as a receiver Miller scored two touchdowns and blessed the highlight reels with some memorable feet work. Son was Na-Na'ing, DLow Shuffling and doing the Macarena simultaneously, scoring on a 54-yard catch-and-run where he had to tippy-toe the sideline. He had another video game moment – a sick 53-yard run where he shook the entire D with a nasty spin move.
It’s looking like Miller has found a future NFL home at receiver and his diverse set of skills allows for Meyer to utilize him in numerous ways. He’s become more of a weapon than he was at QB if that’s possible.
Hokies coach Frank Beamer thinks so.
"I really would have preferred that third quarterback be over competing for a quarterback job rather than out there as an athlete," Beamer said. "I thought he was pretty special."
Miller also made a diving 24-yard reception for his first catch and his scintillating scores came after the Hokies took that half-time lead.
The ground work of pigskin-toter Ezekiel Elliott was off the chain as well and he completes the triangle with no drop off in talent, excitement or ability. After the game, Elliot’s uniform was clean as a virgin in the shower as he broke off an 80-yard scamper and racked up 122 yards on just 11 carries without ever really being hit.
This is not your daddy’s Ohio State football squad. They don’t focus on any particular facet of offense (unless scoring as many points as you can in as many different ways as you can counts).
The D is solid as usual, but not the headline. Offensively, this could be the best compilation of talent OSU's ever had and it all starts with college football’s feared Triangle Offense.