Bank Blog: Bye Week Look At The Offense

Ohio State has destroyed their first three opponents and is riding high during the bye week. Bill Greene takes a look at each position group on the offensive side of the ball.

OFFENSIVE STAFF COACHING: To me, this all comes down to the flow of communication between Urban Meyer, Ed Warinner and Tim Beck, far more than who is in the box or on the field. Things are flowing smoothly right now and it appears Ohio State has figured out exactly how all three fit into the final play call decision. While the offense has been more efficient than dynamic, there's no doubting that the staff has a handle on how they want this offense to run. The key will come when they're in a close game with a defensive minded opponent. Will they button things up and just run J.T. Barrett behind ten blockers, or will they run the entire playbook? And will they play someone physical enough to take away the inside run? My guess is that they will. 

GREG STUDRAWA: Don't think he fits into the playcalling, but he deserves a mention for how well this offensive line is playing. Everyone knew Billy Price and Pat Elflein were pretty good, but the development of Jamarco Jones, Isaiah Prince and Michael Jordan goes to the abilities of Coach Stud. He gets an A+ for how his group has played through three games. 

THE QUARTERBACKS: Barrett has been very good with the exception being the first half of the Tulsa game, but he has operated about as stress free as it can be through three games. Oklahoma was not good defensively, Tulsa is not noted for their defense and Bowling Green is worse than Columbus Walnut Ridge defensively. But Barrett has taken care of the football, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10-1 is excellent. He has not run the ball as well as his first year, but has made good decisions in the zone read. The biggest questions are: Can he throw when he needs to throw? Can he bring Ohio State back in a game they trail in the fourth quarter? Can he make plays under pressure? More than likely, these question will need answered at some point in time, but to date Barrett has done all that's been asked of him. 

THE RUNNINGBACKS: Mike Weber has been very impressive and while he might not be making many people miss, he is certainly gaining yards after contact. He has also been a very willing blocker and is a physical football player. I don't think either of Demario McCall or Dontre Wilson are true runningbacks, but they can run jet sweeps and catch the dumpoff passes and gain big yards. Antonio Williams is not physically ready to play at this point. There is a lot riding on Weber's shoulders because he is the only true power guy to bust the football between the guards, and they absolutely need him healthy and productive. If Weber can continue to play the way he has so far, Ohio State is going to be very tough to beat. If they can run the football inside, it opens up everything for this offense. 

THE WIDE RECEIVERS: This group was mostly unproven going into the season, and with the exception of Noah Brown there is still not much known about the rest of them. The one thing that is known is all of these guys block their tails off, a must in this offense. The downfield blocking turns eight yard runs into 28 yard runs. Brown was awesome against Oklahoma, and he is a solid red zone option. Who will step up and grab the spot opposite Brown? McLaurin? Campbell? Mack? Clark? Hill? Dixon? Those six have combined for 14 catches to date. Who is the deep threat to loosen up the defense? At this point we don't know. 

THE TIGHT ENDS: It has been all Marcus Baugh, with a little A.J. Alexander and they have not been factors in the passing game at all. But they have blocked extremely well, particularly Baugh who is playing his best football. Is Baugh another Heuerman or Vannett? We don't know that yet. 

CURTIS SAMUEL: He has been so good that Samuel deserves his own paragraph. To me, he is the most valuable player on this team with apologies to Malik Hooker. Samuel has caught 16 passes, which is seven more than the next leading receiver. He is also averaging eight yards per carry running the football. Barrett is looked at as a Heisman Trophy candidate, but it should be Samuel because he is the single most valuable offensive player and one of the best players in America. 

THE OFFENSIVE LINE: This has been the clear position group strength for this offense, and all five are playing at a very, very high level. The pass blocking has been really good, and they have flat mauled people in the running game. Elflein and Price are the givens, yet Jones, Prince and Jordan could all be eventually drafted higher than those two. Last year's O-line was really good, but through three games this group has been better. Can they be as good as the line was through the playoff run two years ago? They might be far more talented, so I would say Yes they can. The good news is this group can play even better, because three of these guys have not played much college football to this point. The upside here is tremendous for improvement going forward. 

THE SUMMARY: While the record is probably what a lot of people felt it would be, it's hard to argue that this has been a dominant defensive football team. I felt this team would struggle defensively early in the season, while the offense would have to carry the load. This offense has been very good and the numbers are impressive, but the defense has set them up in great situations and also put a lot of points on the board. When the offense sputtered in the first half vs. Tulsa, the defense picked them up and led the way to a blowout win. Can this offense win a game when/if the defense falters? We will find out that answer over the course of 12 games. 

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