Buckeye Breakdown: Ohio State Blows Past Rutgers on the Road

The Buckeyes absolutely dominated Rutgers on the road Saturday night. A look at each unit's performance against the Scarlet Knights.

Unit Breakdowns

Ohio State Run Offense: Early on, Rutgers keyed in on Ezekiel Elliott and limited him to 15(?) yards rushing in the first half. Ohio State used J.T. Barrett effectively in the zone-read run game and set up the play-action pass game to perfection. The second half was Elliott’s time to shine, as he grabbed 127 yards in the second half, including the 55 yard scamper that ultimately ended his night on a high note. Power runs, zone reads and counter treys helped Ohio State dominate the line of scrimmage for most of the game. The tight ends also played a big role in the run game, sealing the edge and even being the lead blocker on some plays. – James Grega

Ohio State Pass Offense:The Buckeyes were far from balanced, running 48 times to just 21 passes, but when they did go to the air they were successful. J.T. Barrett completed 14 of 18 passes, displaying solid accuracy throughout the night while mostly dealing with a clean pocket, and finished his night with 223 passing yards and three touchdowns through the air. One of those went to Michael Thomas, who routinely made Rutgers defenders look silly. Cardale Jones entered the game in the fourth quarter and was efficient in limited time, completing  all three of his passes for 24 yards. The Buckeyes were able to get by with a run-heavy attack, but when they threw it they were about as good as could be expected.  – Blake Williams

Ohio State Run Defense:Run defense was the big question for Ohio State heading into the game, and the Buckeyes answered the call — kind of. On the opening drive Rutgers had a lot of success on the ground, but things stalled after that, which wasn’t helped by quarterback Chris Laviano’s inability to complete more than 50 percent of his passes. The final numbers are favorable as Ohio State allowed just 104 rushing yards on 29 attempts for a 3.6-yard average, but there’s certainly still room to improve for the Buckeyes’ run defense. That said, if giving up 3.6 yards per rush is a low point for your team, things are probably going pretty well.   – Tim Moody

Ohio State Pass Defense: In a game of total domination, pass defense was no different. Rutgers’ Chris Laviano didn’t get over 100 yards passing until the first play of the fourth quarter and ended with just 117 yards through the air before giving way to Harden Rettig in the fourth quarter. Gareon Conley got his second pick of the night and was part of a nice coverage night from the entire secondary. The Buckeyes also held Rutgers best player, receiver Leonte Carroo to just 55 yards and held the super star out of the end zone before his night ended in the third quarter thanks to a lingering ankle injury. Outside of a long catch of 33 yards, Carroo was largely eliminated in this game. Add in the solid pass rush from the Buckeyes, especially out of the rushmen package that features Joey Bosa on the inside next to Adolphus Washington and Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard on the edge and it was a solid day for the pass defense.  – Blake Williams

What We Learned

Ryan Ginn: The switch from Cardale Jones to J.T. Barrett is one that Ohio State needed to make. With an open week coming up, the last thing Ohio State needed to endure was two weeks of questions, and Jones’ recent performances didn’t exactly inspire confidence in his ability to turn things around and play consistently well. Instead, the Buckeyes head into the open week with a pretty satisfying victory and a clear answer at quarterback. This is Barrett’s team now, and the Buckeyes will go as far as he can take them.

James Grega: J.T. Barrett is made for this offense and it showed on Saturday night. Yes, it was Rutgers. Nonetheless, 324 total yards in just more than three quarters of play is nothing to sneeze at. Cardale Jones is still a very good quarterback, but his skill set does not seem to fit Urban Meyer’s scheme. The shorter, more fleet of foot Barrett helped move the ball easier, and for yet another week, the Buckeyes remained perfect in the red zone with the Texas native in the backfield. 

Tim Moody: Cardale Jones was unfortunate to lose his job, but it’s hard to argue against J.T. Barrett if he plays like that.Barrett had 324 total yards and five touchdowns and was generally dominant after settling in in the second quarter. But it wasn’t just Barrett that clicked against the Scarlet Knights.Ezekiel Elliott had another huge day after a slow start with 142 yards and two touchdowns while catching three passes for 29 yards. Mike Thomas added 103 yards and a score through the air as the Ohio State offense certainly looked its best this season.

Blake Williams: J.T. Barrett is the starter, for real. More so than at almost any point when Cardale Jones was the nominal starter, Barrett was given the full reins of the Ohio State offense. Barrett led the Buckeyes to a 49-0 lead against hapless Rutgers and looked good doing it. Jones, who Urban Meyer said would have a role in the Buckeye offense, didn’t enter the game until it was well in hand, checking in on the second offensive drive of the fourth quarter. While the play calling with Barrett in the game didn’t fit the 50-50 run-pass split that Meyer wants, it all worked out for the Buckeyes. Ohio State will need to more consistently work in the pass on early downs with Barrett, especially against better opponents, but the sophomore is clearly the starter which gives the Buckeyes a shot at consistency moving in to the meet of the schedule.

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