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Williams thrilled to return

September 2, 2012
By JIM NAVEAU - Special to the Herald-Star

COLUMBUS - Urban Meyer wasn't the only person in scarlet and gray at Ohio Stadium making a return to football on Saturday.

Ohio State senior defensive end Nathan Williams played for the first time since a knee injury forced him out of OSU's opener against Akron a year ago.

Meyer's absence from football was self-imposed. He thought he just needed some time away from coaching.

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But Williams had no say in the matter. The pain in his right knee did the talking. First, he had arthroscopic surgery, then microfracture surgery.

While Meyer mostly kept his emotions to himself about his return, Williams didn't want to contain his feelings after Ohio State's 56-10 win over Miami.

"It was like a dream come true all over for me again, getting another chance to be in the stadium," the fifth-year senior said. "It's great to get something back that was taken away from you. To get back with these guys means a lot.

Williams, who had 4.5 sacks in 2010, had to pass a pre-game evaluation by co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell and defensive line coach Mike Vrabel before he knew for sure he would play Saturday.

"I felt great. Warm-ups felt awesome," Williams said. "I knew I would play. I didn't know how much."

He finished the game with two tackles.

Last year was painful in more ways than just physically for Williams.

"You watch from afar. You feel they (his teammates) are doing their thing and you're off doing your own thing," he said earlier this summer.

Meyer said, "I love Nate, I love the fact he's a warrior. He played more snaps than I thought he would."

DYSERT IMPRESSES BUCKEYES: Miami quarterback Zac Dysert (31 of 53 for 303 yards) impressed both Meyer and OSU's defensive players.

"He will throw for a lot of yards and be an NFL quarterback," Meyer said. Cornerback Travis Howard said, "He is a great quarterback. I guarantee he'll be in the National Football League one day.

"He has the arm strength and athleticism to make the big play."

TOO MANY CARRIES FOR MILLER?: Quarterback Braxton Miller tied running back Carlo Hyde for the most carries (17) by an Ohio State player.

Meyer said that was more than he would have liked, but that Miami started the game in a defense which left Miller running the ball as the best option before some adjustments were made.

"We ran him too many times," Meyer said. "We'd like to have him in the 10 to 12 range. He didn't throw as well as he has been in practice but I anticipate he will."

Miller hit only one of his first seven passes when Miami outgained the Buckeyes 165 yards to five yards in the first quarter.

He finished 14 of 24 for 207 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Miller left the field twice in the second half because of leg cramps.

He was surprised when told how many times he carried the ball. "I ran with it 17 times? I'm OK with that," he said.

BY THE NUMBERS: Meyer became the 22nd Ohio State coach in a row to win his first game as the Buckeyes football coach. He is now 35-4 in games he has coached in September.

Ohio State's last loss in a home opener was 34 years ago when Penn State, not yet a Big Ten member, beat OSU 19-0. Miller's 161 yards rushing was the fourth 100-yard rushing game of his career.

Linebacker Ryan Shazier led Ohio State with eight tackles and freshmen defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington had their first career sacks.

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