We’ve seen this before.
Devin Smith ... or Teddy Ginn?
With the Cal game on the line late in the fourth quarter, Braxton Miller looked to Devin Smith for another improvised, game-winning score. But this time, as compared to last season’s game-winning catch against Wisconsin in the back of the end zone, Smith still had some work to do.
“It’s kind of funny,” said Smith, who caught the ball around the Bears 38-yard line. “My mom, she tells me every time I catch the ball to run like a dog is chasing me and as soon as I caught the ball that’s all I was thinking in my mind. And a funny thing is when we got in the locker room, Philly
(Brown) was like ‘You’re Teddy Ginn (running) down the field,’ and I thought that was pretty funny.”
So the two biggest touchdown catches of Smith’s career have now come on plays intended to go elsewhere.
“This play today was designed to go to [Philly Brown],” Smith said. “The (defensive) guys went to him and left me wide open and I made a play.”
His 72-yard catch and run provided the eventual game-winning margin in the 35-28 victory for Ohio State.
“It feels great to know that I made a play for my team and won the game for them,” Smith said. “It feels great.”
It was another milestone day of sorts Smith, who finished with five receptions for career-high 145 yards, including the career-long catch from Miller, and it was the second two touchdown reception game of his career. Despite tight coverage, Smith snagged a 25-yard pass from Miller earlier in the contest to put the Buckeyes up 13-7.
“I tried to get (the defender) to fall inside so I could get on top and he kind of bit inside and played my back hip a little bit,” Smith said. “And Braxton threw a perfect pass and I just made a play.”
Smith showed great body control on his first touchdown reception.
Smith is well on his way to becoming a big-play receiver for the Buckeyes. But it is not something that has taken him by surprise.
“I know what I can do on the football field but I’m glad it’s happening the way it’s happening,” Smith said. “You know hard work really pays off. I worked extremely hard this summer and it’s showing in the field.”
However Smith has yet to receive a complimentary word from Urban Meyer for any of his catches he’s made this season. In fact, his occasional drops have caught Meyer’s eye.
“But he told me that I’m going to have to make plays like (the one-handed Miami touchdown catch) all the time,” Smith said. “And then with the catch that I had today to win the game, he told me don’t drop another ball. He’s a good guy and he’s a great coach and he’s coaching us like crazy and we’re getting better. When he says that I kind of laugh at first, like ‘Oh man I can’t drop another pass.’ But for me myself I don’t like dropping passes and I’m just going to keep working hard and hope I don’t drop a pass again.”
However Meyer did publicly say, when he was talking about his improving receiving corps, that Smith, in general, “had a hell of a day, made a couple of great catches” and, in particular, he mentioned Smith’s great effort in hauling in that first-quarter touchdown catch in addition to commenting on a couple of drops that Smith had in the game in the press conference after the Cal victory.
“Yeah he dropped a couple but we need a home run hitter,” said Meyer referring to Smith. “When you take a really hard swing every once in a while you’ve got to hit it out of the park and he did. I thought the one execution, the one Braxton fired it on, we ran back-to-back deep balls, one to Jake (Stoneburner) and one to Devin. He back-shouldered it. That was a big league throw and catch.”
But like he waited patiently all alone for the ball to drop out of the sky and into his arms in the Wisconsin game last season, all Smith had to do was wait for the ball to get him once again before he used his 4.34 speed (timed during the summer) to get into the end zone for the game winner this time.
“We live for stuff like that,” Smith said. “I’ve dreamed of being wide open and catching balls and it was open for me and I had to make a play for the team. And that’s what I did.”
Smith’s obviously got a great thing going with Miller, especially when it’s late in the game and the team needs it the most.
“Coach Meyer, he always talks about winning the game when the team is down,” Smith said. “He says it at practice all the time. When we’re just scrimmaging against each other he tells us to win the game and me and Braxton hooked up very well on that last play.”
In their two seasons playing pitch and catch together, Smith has hooked up with Braxton for numerous big plays and collaborated on seven touchdown plays.
“We work every single day and he tells me how he’s going to throw the ball or if the defense plays this way, this is how he’s going to throw it,” Smith said. “We’re constantly in each other’s ear talking about how we’re going to attack the game.”
It’s almost scary to think that their better days playing together on the gridiron are still ahead of them.
“We’re going to keep working hard together, making sure we get that camaraderie together and hopefully the game doesn’t get this close again where we have to rely on someone,” Smith said. “But you know when you know you can rely on someone to make a play it feels great.”