Ohio State beat Virginia Tech 42-24 to open the season Monday night, displaying the makings of another high-scoring offense one year after numerous school records fell by the wayside.
The Buckeyes piled up 360 yards rushing against the Hokies, but social media was abuzz most of the night with one big question: Why did star running back Ezekiel Elliott carry the ball only 11 times?
According to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, it was a matter of simple arithmetic.
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"If you just hand the ball off, there's two extra guys there," Meyer told reporters in Blacksburg after the game (transcript via CoachingSearch.com).
And how were the Hokies able to do that? By bringing back the "Bear" defensive front that gave the Buckeyes fits a season earlier and bringing both safeties into the box to help against the run.
Ohio State had several different potential answers, including deep throws by quarterback Cardale Jones, option plays and direct snaps to quarterback-turned-receiver Braxton Miller.
Elliott gashed the Hokies for an 80-yard touchdown early in the game but was otherwise held in check, netting 42 yards on his other 10 carries.
The majority of the damage Ohio State did on the ground was by Jones on option keepers and scrambles as well as Miller, who took an end-around 53 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback J.T. Barrett also contributed a 40-yard run on an option keeper after coming in to relieve Jones late.
Meyer explained that while Virginia Tech reprised the Bear formation (a five-man defensive front including down linemen covering both guards and the center), they changed things up by slanting and stunting against the Buckeyes this time around.
The undersized but quick and athletic Hokies gave Ohio State's interior linemen some trouble, but overall Meyer and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner were happy with the output.
"We managed to get 360 yards rushing which is pretty good," Warinner said, "We hit some big plays in the passing game because that's the nature of the defense they play -- it's feast or famine.
"They went after us and were aggressive trying to get you for 0-yard gains on every run and be real aggressive on every pass, and if they up a big play then that's kind of what happened to them. They gave up big plays with the explosive athletes that we have."
(H/T transcript via CoachingSearch.com)