OSU Offense: A Closer Look

Even though Ohio State defeated Indiana 34-27 last weekend in Bloomington, there is a lot of concern with a Buckeye offense that has sputtered the past month. Were things better against the Hoosiers?

-  HAS THE OSU OFFENSE REALLY IMPROVED THE PAST FEW WEEKS? I maintain things are dramatically better, and a look back at the two games before Indiana prove that out. Against Northern Illinois, the Buckeyes were basically dominated offensively. They had less than 300 yards of total offense, only ran 66 plays, had 136 passing yards, and scored a whopping 13 points. Just a horrible offensive showing. The following week against Western Michigan, it wasn't exactly the 2014 offense with J.T. Barrett, but things were better. Over 500 yards of offense, with the balance Urban Meyer wants at 223 rushing yards and 288 passing yards. And 31 points on the scoreboard, even though points were left on the field. But this was progress from the Northern Illinois debacle. 

- WHAT ABOUT THE INDIANA GAME? BETTER OR WORSE? Even though the closeness of the score skews the perception of the offense, last Saturday was yet another step forward for this offense. But penalties and turnovers marred what could have been a pretty amazing offensive day. On a rainy, windy day, Ohio State scored 34 points, but left a ton of points out there. They had over 500 yards once again, and showed great balance with 272 yards rushing and 233 yards in the air. Really, it was a very efficient day offensively and could have been even more dominant without four self-inflicted errors. Of course these mistakes still count against OSU, and goes to coaching and execution, but I'd rather fix errors than try to find talent after five weeks of the season. This team has talent. Where did it go wrong? 

- 2ND QUARTER: 9:15. OSU TRAILING 10-3: After a good drive to get things to a 7-point defecit, the defense forced a 3-and-out, giving the ball back to the offense with great field position. On first down, Cardale Jones hits Jalin Marshall with a strike down inside the Indiana 15 yard line, but Marshall fumbled it away. How many points left on the field there? 7 or 3. 

- 2ND QUARTER: BEFORE THE HALF. OSU TRAILING 10-6: Ohio State took over on their own 20 with 3 minutes left in the half and Jones led them on an impressive drive. They had 1st and 10 from the Indiana 13 yard line with nearly 2 minutes remaining in the half. A 15-yard penalty, a sack of Jones, and a bad run by Jones on third down sets up a chip shot field goal. Of course, they wanted 7 there, but points are points, especially after an 80-yard drive before the half. But the lack of a quality kicking game bit them when Jack Willoughby missed from 43 yards out. High school kickers make these all the time. Ohio State should reasonably expect to have a kicker on the roster who can hit 43-yard field goals with regularity. They don't. How many points left on the field there? Either 7 or 3, but something has to be put on the scoreboard.

- 3RD QUARTER: 6:00. OSU LEADING 13-10: After taking over in Indiana territory, this is where Ohio State goes for the kill and goes up by 10 before routing the Hoosiers, right? Nope. On third down from the Indiana 21, Cardale Jones hits the linebacker between the numbers and another scoring chance is gone from point blank range. How many ponits left on the field there? 7 or 3.

- 4TH QUARTER: 14:00. OSU LEADING 27-17: Ohio State takes over in their own territory after forcing a punt after another three-and-out by the defense. Time to go on a nice drive and score to put the game away by going up 17 right? Uhh, not exactly. Jones hits Marshall on a pass that would have given them a first down in Indiana teritory, looking for the knockout blow. But Marshall fumbles it back to Indiana, and the gift giving results in a score that cuts it to 7 points, and now you're headed to the wire. 

- SUMMARY: You cannot go back and change plays that are already completed, and as Bill Parcells said "You are what your record says you are." But it's a heck of a lot easier to fix mistakes in the middle of the season, than it is to go find talent on your roster at this time of year. You have to think Urban Meyer, Ed Warinner and Tim Beck are sharp enough to get the penalties and turnovers turned around. You have to think the same players that rolled Wisconsin, Alabama and Oregon only ten months ago can do the same to Maryland, Minnesota and Rutgers over the next month. An explosion is coming on top of someone. It could be this week. 

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