Week-Nine Game Thoughts: OSU Offense

Ohio State defeated Minnesota 28-14 Saturday night in Columbus. Although the offense was not sharp, they did just enough to secure the win.

- Obviously, any time you discuss the Ohio State offense this year it will begin and end with the quarterback situation, and that's exactly how it should be. It is THE story with this side of the ball, and won't go away. Cardale Jones IS the story when talking about the offensive performance against the Gophers. Period. 

- For Jones, it was almost a tale of two halves and almost the tale of who he is as a quarterback for Ohio State. In the first half he was bad, and he has been bad a lot this season. In the second half, he was above average, and he has been above average a lot this season. He is a very inconsistent quarterback, and with him on the field this season Ohio State has been a very inconsistent offense. And if he plays again this season, I would expect much of the same. 

- With the offense only coming up with 21 points at home against Minnesota, you would think all the blame needs to fall on Jones, right? Not even close. It's pretty easy to see that the current offensive staff- Urban Meyer, Ed Warinner and Tim Beck, do not have much expertise running a quasi pro-style, semi-power based, offense. They do Jones no favors in making him run this hodge-podge scheme, and it's pretty obvious this isn't their gig. They are a zone-read, option-based, staff. Period. Cardale Jones does not fit this system. They have enough talent to muck around and fall into some points against the bad teams on this schedule, but to beat Michigan State and Michigan, it simply has to be J.T. Barrett being J.T. Barrett in the zone read. 

- I hope people realize how great of a player Zeke Elliott is. And I hate using "great". Archie Griffin was great. Eddie George was great. And so is Zeke Elliott. He is a superstar that does everything right on the field. His blocking has saved so many sacks and negative plays this year that it isn't debatable. He has the best hands on the team, and why they don't throw it to him 10 times per game is beyond me. Especially with Cardale Jones. In addition to his blocking and his pass catching abilities, he can kind of run it a little bit as well. He's not going to get it, but anyone calling him the Heisman Trophy winner won't get an argument from me. 

- The wide receivers were OK in this game, but they sure didn't block downfield much for Elliott at all. They did get open a lot, but an inconsistent quarterback missed a lot of them in the first half. This group needs Barrett back in there, just like the entire offense does. The zone-read just opens up the passing game so much, and Barrett can read the field better than Jones. He can spread the ball around, while with Jones it's going to go to Mike Thomas every time. Thomas had four catches against Minnesota. Marshall, Miller and Samuel combined for five. 

- The offensive line mirrored Cardale Jones: below average in the first half and above average in the second. When Elliott is limited to 114 yards on 26 carries, that falls on these guys. He doesn't miss reads and doesn't miss holes. They weren't there. The Minnesota defensive front was more physical and caused problems for the Buckeye line, especially in the first half. Pass protection also struggled early, and was much better later in the game. Overall, this was an inconsistent group. 

- The answer for this offense is to play EXACTLY how they played in the fourth quarter against Penn State and the entire game against Rutgers. THAT offense is going to give Ohio State a chance to repeat. They had it going until Barrett's selfish and stupid act cost this team the momentum they had earned the previous two games. Can they get it back? 

- I do not see Ohio State beating Michigan State, Michigan, Iowa, Notre Dame and Alabama five straight games with the offense they had on the field last night. And neither does Urban Meyer. Last year is over and in the books. They need Barrett back in the zone read, and playing well to have any chance at repeating. Meyer knows this.

- I expect to see Barrett back at the controls today. Not next week. Not later this week. TODAY. If he can get the offense humming, and the Ash led defense can continue playing well, then Ohio State can repeat as national champions. The zone-read gives them a chance. I STILL think their BEST beats anyone else's best. What we saw last night was not the Ohio State offense performing at its best. 

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