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Buckeye Breakdown: What we learned as Ohio State moves to 6-0 with a win vs. Maryland

Ohio State pulled away from a game Maryland team by scoring 28 consecutive points in the second half. Are things better in Buckeye land than they were a week ago?

Unit Breakdowns

Ohio State Run Offense: Ezekiel Elliott got his 11th straight 100-yard peformance but it wasn't a great day in this realm for the Buckeyes, who averaged just 3.9 yards per carry. Some of that was thrown off by the 25 lost yards on a bad snap late in the game, but still, the Buckeyes would have been at 4.5 yards per carry with that taken out. Good but not great for the Buckeyes, and the team is sitll finding it hard to run when teams sell out to stop it. Of course, that's the idea behind those defensive plans, but the run game is still OSU's bread and butter and the Buckeyes need to figure out ways to make it work; a passing game rounding into competency can hopefully take some of the attacking sting out of defenses. J.T. Barrett's ability to run also helped in the red zone. -- Jeff Svoboda

Ohio State Pass Offense: It was an interesting day for the quarterbacks. While plenty of the talk should be on J.T. Barrett getting snaps in the red zone, Cardale Jones’ performance in the passing game should not be overlooked. Urban Meyer said it was the starter’s best game of the season and I would have to agree. Jones finished with a career-high 291 yards passing with two touchdowns and no interceptions while completing 75 percent of his attempts. For his part Barrett completed both of his pass attempts for 26 yards. The Buckeyes also spread the ball out as four receivers caught at least four passes and three went over 75 yards on the day. Overall this was Ohio State’s best passing day. -- Blake Williams

Ohio State Run Defense: While the Buckeyes did allow 253 yards on the ground, many of those were on broken plays as Terrapins quarterback Perry Hills was running for his life all day, but did so well as he tallied 170 rushing yards on the day. The Buckeyes got constant pressure on Hills but at times struggled to contain him in the pocket. It was odd that Ohio State decided not to spy Hills, especially after a 75-yard run to get inside the Buckeye 5 yard line set up a score right before the half. As far as designed runs, Maryland was not as successful as the next leading rusher outside the quarterback was running back Wes Brown who carried five times for 30 yards and a score. -- James Grega

Ohio State Pass Defense: For all the problems that Perry Hills caused Ohio State’s defense, none of it really had to do with his arm. He finished the game with just 10 completions on 27 attempts for 133 yards and he threw two second-half interceptions as the Terrapins attempted to come back. The defensive line was disruptive in the passing game and finished with four sacks and Ohio State’s coverage was generally solid, but it seemed like Vonn Bell uncharacteristically bit on a play-action pass to allow Maryland’s first touchdown on a 52-yard catch and run. Certainly not a perfect day from the pass defense, but the Buckeyes were generally solid and did more than enough to limit Maryland’s ability to throw. -- Tim Moody

Ohio State Special Teams: It was another banner day for punter Cam Johnston, who unleashed three punts that traveled 164 yards, an average of 54.7 yards per kick. That included two that went longer than 50 yards, two that landed inside the 20-yard line and one that was downed at the 5. The same praise can’t be doled out to kicker Jack Willoughby, who still hasn’t made a field goal of 40 yards or longer this season. At this point, Urban Meyer has to ask himself if he’s content to keep ending otherwise productive drives without points. If there comes a point at which Ohio State needs to kick a game winner that isn’t a chip shot, all evidence would currently indicate that the Buckeyes would be in trouble. -- Ryan Ginn

What We Learned

Blake Williams: Well, Meyer wasn’t simply blowing smoke when he talked about using J.T. Barrett as a situational red zone quarterback as the sophomore got plenty of time against the Terrapins. That suggests that Meyer’s proclamation that the zone read was no longer a big part of the offense was also a bit premature as Barrett had a good bit of success in those plays. Barrett is unquestionably better at read-option plays and the fact that the staff went to him for that type of production suggests that Meyer isn’t as content to run the pro-style offense from the spread as he had previous let on. If the Buckeyes are going to use the zone read more going forward Barrett will have to get more time.

Ryan Ginn: No matter what issue comes up, the Buckeyes don’t appear to be panicking. There was a critical stretch in the game late in the first half when an Ohio State drive stalled and ended with a missed field goal, and then Maryland turned around and scored a quick touchdown. When Ohio State was moving the ball it looked like the Buckeyes would take a 28-7 lead into halftime, and instead the Terps got out of the first half with a 21-14 deficit. Despite that, Ohio State linebacker Joshua Perry said the team felt confident in its ability to get things turned around. Even when Maryland tied it in the third quarter, Ohio State showed no signs of pressing. Four straight touchdowns followed and turned a tense game into a laugher.

Jeff Svoboda: Maybe we should be a little worried about the defense of all things. I felt pretty good about the Buckeye D after last week -- I viewed the late Indiana 79-yard TD as a fluke more than anything else -- but today's performance against a previously lifeless Maryland offense is somewhat concerning. The Buckeyes made Perry Hills look like Mike Vick at times, and Maryland rolled up nearly 400 yards of offense on the day. Hills' 170 rushing yards -- including the 75-yard run -- makes it two weeks in a row teams have broken a big one. Hills' passing line -- he finished just 10 of 27 -- is encouraging, but the Buckeyes simply gave up more than I expected on the ground.

James Grega: We learned that Ohio State seems to have two pretty good quarterbacks after all. We also learned that running quarterbacks seem to give the Buckeyes a little bit of trouble as we have now seen back-to-back games where the Silver Bullets have given up 75 or longer yard runs to mobile signal callers. We also saw what an Ohio State offense is capable of when it executes in the red zone and does not turn it over. The Buckeyes put up 49 points, and yes it was Maryland, but maybe this is the game OSU needed to get its swagger back before the leaves start to turn. 

Tim Moody: Turnovers and red zone offense are of utmost importance. The Buckeyes proved that last week as well, but it worked in Ohio State’s favor against Maryland. The Buckeyes didn’t turn the ball over a single time while they scored six touchdowns in six trips to the red zone. Cardale Jones was superb between the 20s and could arguably have found success in the red zone, but it’s hard to argue with Barrett’s three rushing touchdowns as a reason to get him in the game. Ohio State has every reason to go back to that quarterback rotation against Penn State next week, and if the Buckeyes put in another perfect red zone performance it will likely continue down the line.

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