The Ohio State offense took strides against Western Michigan, but that unit isn’t quite there yet.
That was the message of head coach Urban Meyer when he spoke with the media Monday, calling the 38-12 win over Western Michigan as a “much better performance on offense.”
Meyer allowed quarterback Cardale Jones to settle in against the Broncos and he responded with a career high 288 passing yards and two touchdowns while the Buckeyes also piled up 223 rushing yards.
Offensive champions for the Buckeyes were Michael Thomas, Corey Smith, Ezekiel Elliott, Jacboy Boren, Billy Price, Taylor Decker and first-time champion Marcus Baugh. Curtis Samuel and Pat Elflein were offensive players of the game. Defensively Ohio State had just two champions with Joey Bosa and player of the game Adolphus Washington.
With the offense taking strides Meyer spoke about the shortcomings that still exist on that side of the ball, where he saw the defense take a step back and more during his Monday press conference.
- While Jones and the offense played better, Meyer lamented the missed deep balls the offense had against Western Michigan. While those balls were underthrown, Meyrer was happy that the team was able to stretch the field by getting receivers behind the defense, even if they didn't hit those throws. “Underthrown balls, especially if you can do it, are just a matter of execution,” Meyer said. "Fundamentally he wasn't sound" with his weight transfer.
- With the missed deep balls Meyer said that it should have been at least 350-yard passing day against Western Michigan, but the Buckeyes did execute well in intermediate throws. They were able to take advantage of the middle of the field because of the quarters defense that the Broncos plays and the Buckeyes did so with aggression, Meyer said.
- On the two-minute drill Ohio State was trying to execute at the end of the first half against Western Michigan, Meyer said that he was happy with that drive until the last play -- one on which Jones was correctly called for intentional grounding and resulted in the end of the half. On that play, Meyer said, Jones had been instructed to throw it away early if it wasn't there. “He held on way too long. If it’s not there burn it and take the field goal.”
- Much of the improvement offensively came from an accelerated tempo that allowed the Buckeyes to see a cleaner defense. That was aided by co-Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck getting more involved from the press box, Meyer said, adding that the coaching staff is getting more comfortable with the structure and organization of game-day play calling.
- Assessing Ohio State's play in the nonconference generally, Meyer admitted he expected a better offensive performance but added that you can't pick up right where you left off from the previous year. "I hope no one here felt a sense of panic," Meyer said. "Those are normal growing pains of 2015."
- Arguably the most consistent offensive player for the Buckeyes this season has been Thomas who has shown an elite ability to get his feet down in bounds during his time as a Buckeye. "He does it in practice," Meyer said. "He has a very good awareness of the field, of where he is at. He's playing at a very high level."
- Defensively, Meyer was not happy with the way the interior played, allowing the Broncos running backs to get free up the middle. "We were exposed a little bit," Meyer said. "That's going to be a lot of our emphasis right now."