Game Thoughts: OSU Offense

Ohio State fell to Virginia Tech 35-21 Saturday night in a game that saw them fall behind early, and try to rally late. How did the Ohio State offense perform?

From reading the BSB message board, I would think most of you are on the money and have this one figured out. The key question now is: Where do they go from here? My guess is they beat Kent State 125-2, and set lots of school records in the process, which will have folks saying everything is fine now.

To look for a positive, I think you need to look past the numbers and give some credit to J.T. Barrett, who I think is going to be really good in time. With no line, no running game, no receivers, and more importantly zero help from the offensive staff, the kid hung in there and battled all night long.

Barrett ran extremely hard, which was a rarity for anyone else carrying the football last night. He threw the ball on target the infrequent times he didn't have a helmet stuck squarely in his chest in his throwing motion. When his offensive line retired in the fourth quarter, he was a sitting target for abuse, but kept playing and kept trying to win. I really like this kid, who has no experience and needs those around him to provide a little help. Players and coaches. He got no help.

What can you do to help an inexperienced quarterback, playing behind a young line, with average wideouts, and without a running game? Ask Loeffler, Scot. Because he did EXACTLY that, and he did it going against a great front, not the Virginia Tech front. Roll the quarterback away from pressure. Throw short routes. Use the tight end. Run crossing routes. Draws. Screens. Stay with the running game, even when it's not going well. OR, go four wide and run vertical routes 40 yards down the field and continually throw deep against the blitz. With wide receivers that have no chance of separating from better defensive backs. Having J.T. draw it up in the dirt with a bottle cap, a rock and a penny was easy pickings for Bud Foster.

Using that eagle defense was dirty by Foster, and adding the extra defensive tackle to stop the run was devious. He should have at least told Ohio State he was going to play their offense the way he plays Georgia Tech. Oh wait, he did tell them how he was going to stop them early in the week. Urban's answer: "Really?" With an LOL thrown in there. Yah, REALLY. LOL. And Foster blitzed again before he left for the airport, and stole the breakfast food on the way out of town. He might blitz by mail tomorrow, and kidnap the janitors. I don't think he will be stopped either.

I would love to hear Kirk Barton's take on the offensive line, but he's in a tough spot because he's so loyal to Coach Meyer, Coach Warriner, and he loves these kids he once coached. I want to know where someone I respect feels they are headed. I don't want to call guys out by name, but there are a few that are pretty bad players. Is it too soon to give up on these guys? Are their backups they can turn to? Can the freshmen be better at this point? My guess is they roll with what they have, and hope Warriner can get them up a notch or two, and then hope Meyer/Herman put this offense in a better position to succeed.

I know they love speed and attacking the edges, and they love to throw low percentage deep balls, but I think the best chance for success is running inside power. This line is not constructed to pass block 40-50 times, and give the quarterback four or five seconds. They might not be constructed to run power either, but I think they have a chance pounding people. That might call for some Rod Smith or some Brionte Dunn, but it would protect Barrett and protect the defense from being out there all day after a succession of three-and-outs.

They referred to the wide receiver group as a clown show when they arrived, but the same guys are out there after three recruiting classes. And wide receiver is a spot where freshmen can succeed, if they are talented. I want to give Corey Smith a pass because that was his first football game that mattered since he was a junior in high school. If they were going to continually go deep, Devin Smith should be the guy they send long, not Spencer or Thomas, but they don't seem to trust Smith. They aren't going to throw to the tight ends regularly, and it is what it is.

The passing game needs updated to compete with great teams, let alone decent teams. The bottle cap, rock and penny will destroy Cal and Florida A&M, and set lots of school records in the process. It is useless in the fourth quarter of a tight game against a quality opponent when you need to throw the football. See Michigan State, Clemson and Virginia Tech fourth quarters for proof.

Where do they go from here as a unit? Well, the season is not over, and I'm guessing you won't see more than one undefeated team in the country, and maybe not one at the end of the year. Instead of throwing bombs on Kent State next week and thinking all is well, they need to figure out who they are offensively going forward, and start to execute that identity against the Flashes. Instead of trying to win 87-4 against Kent, they need to do what they have to do to beat Cincinnati and succeed in the conference schedule. The offense has been all over the board in the first two games. They need to figure out the best way to win with the talent at hand, scale things back, and do what they can do best. Braxton, Carlos, Jack, Corey, Andrew and Philly ain't walking through that door.

They can still be decent offensively, and with a defense that is going to get better every week, they can still hit all their goals. Coaching is all about adjusting and fixing problems as they crop up. But offensively, this newer group needs to be put in a position to maximize their skills. Last night wasn't it. Bank That.


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