OVERVIEW: When I originally wrote that I saw Ohio State losing two games this year, it was with the exact offense the Buckeyes had Saturday in mind. I also thought the Buckeye defense would struggle a little bit this year with so many inexperienced players and a new coordinator in Greg Schiano. I thought there might be a few shootouts where the defense would give up 30-35 points, and that would force J.T. Barrett to match points and have to throw the ball doing it. This defense being as good as they are, it's just hard to see any shootouts coming up. If this offense can put up 24-28 points, they probably will not lose.
HOW OSU MOVED THE BALL VS. INDIANA: The offensive line continues to move people off the ball running the football, and this is the strength of this team. I thought the Hoosiers did what they had to do defensively. They tried to play man on the wideouts, and force Barrett to beat them throwing the football. They tried to take away the inside run, and force Barrett to run the football. The plan was the right plan, but they don't have the athletes on defense that Top-20 teams have. Barrett ran it well enough to put enough points on the board. If Ohio State learns anything from this game we are going to find out going forward, because this is how defenses need to play them.
THE OFFENSIVE LINE: As run blockers, these guys are really good. We saw against Indiana that keeping Barrett in the pocket might not work well against decent pass rushers, because there were some breakdowns in pass protection. And with three new starters on the line, pass protection will come slower than run blocking. All in all, the offensive line was good enough to win. New offensive line coach Greg Studrawa has done a good job with this group. When forced to throw the football, they will need to be better, but that should come with more experience. They should be able to move the ball on the ground against anyone they play, and if they pass protect better there are zero worries with this group.
THE WIDE RECEIVERS: I've been asking week after week if this group is above-average, or just average, and we still don't know. One thing was evident yesterday, and that was that these guys struggle to get open consistently. And I wouldn't call the Indiana secondary the Alabama secondary. Or the Michigan secondary. Barrett was bad throwing the football, but there weren't wide receivers running free either. Barrett needs open receivers because he's not good enough to throw guys open. These guys do block like animals though, and each and every one of them knock people around. As pass catchers? They need guys like Austin Mack, Binjimen Victor, Tyjon Lindsey, Trevon Grimes and Jaylen Harris out there, not the guys out there now. The younger guys will bridge the gap between Mike Thomas, Devin Smith, Jalin Marshall and Braxton Miller.
THE RUNNINGBACKS: I thought Mike Weber should have gotten the football more, but Indiana stacked the middle and wanted Barrett running it. As Indiana looks back at things they have to be thrilled with Barrett running it 26 times. Weber only had 15 carries, and the real travesty was Curtis Samuel only getting 9 touches. And a lot of those 9 touches were handoffs between the guards. Samuel getting 26 touches and Barrett having 9 makes this offense so much better. Samuel scares people to death, while Barrett is who the defense wants to have the football. They need to get the ball to Samuel. Period. If you can't throw it to him, then pitch it to him, wildcat him, screen pass to him, run him on a reverse, whatever you have to do. Tell anyone of OSU's next opponents that Barrett will have over 25 touches and Samuel will get under 10, and every team on the schedule will sign up for that right now. There aren't a lot of elite playmakers on this offense, but Curtis Samuel certainly is one. Let him eat.
THE QUARTERBACK: Barrett is a great leader, one of the best in America. He can run this zone read to perfection. He is dangerous on scramble situations in the open field. What isn't he? He's not a good passer. He's not a guy that should be the number-one option in this offense. He has to throw the ball better, especially if this team finds itself behind in the fourth quarter. He isn't a pocket passer, and I like him better outside the pocket with a run-pass option. That puts so much more pressure on a defense than having Barrett scan the field from the pocket. Barrett is a winner, one of the best in Ohio State history and they can go undefeated with him. They just need to be smarter on how they use him offensively. Pocket passer? No. Primary ball carrier? No. Distributor? Heck Yes. Facilitator? Oh Yah.
SUMMARY: Pounding girls 65-0 does not help this team. Learning from a game against Indiana should help things down the road. Because this is EXACTLY how defenses will play them going forward. EXACTLY. With better athletes on defense from Wisconsin, Michigan State and especially Michigan. Curtis Samuel is their best offensive player, not Barrett. It's on Meyer and Warinner to devise ways to get him 20 touches every single game going forward. Not 9. With the defense Ohio State has, this offense doesn't need to be great. They need to be efficient. And if they improve on distribution of who gets the football, this is going to be a hard team to beat by anyone on the schedule.