Week-Ten Game Thoughts: OSU Offense

Ohio State went on the road and defeated Illinois 28-3 Saturday to continue their undefeated season. Who stood out for the Buckeyes on offense?

- Another Big Ten game, another win for Ohio State under Urban Meyer. It seems that this team sets some sort of conference record every week, and it's pretty amazing to think that the last Big Ten regular season loss was to Michigan in Luke Fickell's only season as head coach. I don't care how good or bad the conference is perceived to be. That's pretty amazing. 

- Even though the numbers might look good from the Illinois game, there's no way Meyer can be thinking his offense is operating the way he wants it to. Penalties, turnovers, poor pass protection and inconsistent QB play continues to hold back this side of the football. Even though 28 points and 440 yards looks good on the surface, this team is not playing extremely well on offense. 

- So much of the success Ohio State looks forward to on offense is quarterback dependent, like most teams in America. The QB play has been spotty this season, to say the least. J.T. Barrett was average Saturday, and the offense mirrored his performance for the most part. Other than Ezekiel Elliott and Mike Thomas, it was a pretty inconsistent day for the offense. I still think there's no question that Barrett is the guy over Cardale Jones, but he has to play better. 

- If you read these reports week after week, you can go back a long way before you see me criticize play calling. I'm more about execution and putting players in a position to have them perform at their best. That being said, the play calling in the first half was unbelievably bad. Going five-wide with a shaky offensive line set Barrett up to play poorly, which he did in this set. The five-wide set takes away Zeke Elliott as a runner and a blocker, and he's not bad at these things. The five wide set is going to get blitzed or pressured by four, but either way Barrett will not have time to go through progressions, so having five wide receivers is worthless. When they came out in the second half with Zeke playing tailback, a novel idea, all the sudden they started moving the football. Like Magic. 

- Running from the shotgun at the opponent's one yard line is stupid. Period. When you have to run six yards to make an inch, that's stupid. And a LOT of teams do it. I watched two high school teams get stoned this weekend from the one in the shotgun. Because it's stupid. When J.T. Barrett runs a QB sneak and scores but it gets taken away by the refs, YOU RUN IT AGAIN. Or you hand it to Zeke from point blank range. Don't go in the shotgun from an inch away, because that just decreases your chances of scoring a touchdown, which puts either of the two kickers that can't kick on the field to miss a field goal. 

- In the first half, there's no way Urban Meyer/Ed Warinner/Tim Beck are going to review the film and think "Boy, we were all over it right there." Once they went back to Ohio State football, utilizing their superstar Zeke Elliott, things got a LOT better. Zeke has to be Option #1, and once the middle is established they can then go back to East/West. And maybe they could throw the football. It's hard to imagine a team with this much returning talent would struggle this much on offense. And continue to have problems with penalties, turnovers and missed assignments. 

- Mike Thomas is not fast at all, but he has a great set of hands and runs great routes. And he showed Saturday that can take a hit. He is a heck of a player and it makes you wonder the numbers he would put up in a great passing offense. If Ohio State is going to win the next five games, Thomas is going to need to continue to play at a high level. There aren't going to be a lot of opportunities, so he needs to maximize every pass attempt that comes his way. He needs to be a third down converter, and a touchdown maker. There just won't be days of 10 catches for 165 yards. 

- The offensive line ran blocked well, and struggled in pass protection. And that has happened fairly often this entire year. Chase Farris really struggled, and Taylor Decker and Billy Price had issues in pass protection as well. They will have to throw the football to beat Michigan State. We've seen the past few years when Ohio State cannot throw it against the Spartans, they cannot score. If you can't block Illinois, good luck with Shilique Calhoun and his buddies. This group has to play better, and they have a history of playing well against great competition. They need five straight great games. They have the talent and the coaching to do just that. 

- After ten games, I'm not sure this is now going to be an offense that people fear going up against. They can still win games, but I don't think Ohio State is going to score 91 points against Michigan State and Michigan this year. They won't have to with the Chris Ash defense on their side, but they have to find a way to be more disciplined and more efficient. You hate to harp on turnovers and penalties, but it's that important in big games. Especially when you have no kicker. 

- Is this unit good enough to move the football and score points on Michigan State? Yes, they definitely are good enough. Will they play well enough to do so? 

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