Tim Moody/BSB

Bank Blog: Back To Work For Ohio State

Ohio State is coming off their first loss of the season to Penn State, but the Buckeyes have a lot of football left to be played this season. Where do they go from here?

- For starters, let's look at how the loss to Penn State affects Ohio State nationally and the prospect of reaching the football playoffs. The only thing that loss cost Ohio State was the ability to get into the playoffs with only one loss, assuming they were unbeaten and lost to Michigan. The loss to Penn State means they get no breaks from the committee, and they will have to play their way into the playoffs. So really, the loss to Penn State didn't really hurt them much at all. 

- Secondly, who among the most fervent of Ohio State fans would not have seen 6-1 as not all that bad at all back in August? Let's revisit a few facts first: Namely that this is THE most inexperienced team in the country. Again, not a young team, THE most inexperienced team in the country. Secondly, Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Tyvis Powell, Eli Apple, Mike Thomas, Zeke Elliott, Jalin Marshall all left Ohio State early. Would Urban Meyer like to have those guys back today? I guarantee you he would. Ohio State is very talented, but there are a lot of players on the field that have not played much football yet. 

- Nobody goes undefeated anymore in college football, so expecting Ohio State to do that this year was very unrealistic, in my opinion. This is a rebuilding year, no matter the stupid stuff Meyer said about this being his most talented team. He says things like that from time to time, and it's amusing, but not true at all. Nick Saban is the greatest college football coach of all time in my opinion. FIVE national titles, including four of the last sevenBut in his time at LSU and Alabama, with five titles, he has exactly one undefeated season. One. And he would not go undefeated with this Ohio State team either.

- What does Ohio State need to do to run the table and beat Michigan? Even though I've called for Michigan to beat Ohio State and win the Big Ten all year, I did not think the Wolverines were all that much better than the Buckeyes and still don't. Ohio State should be favored at home, and it should be a classic game. We are going to learn a lot about Michigan this week when they play Michigan State. You think the Spartans are in Ohio State's head? They live inside Michigan's soul, and have beaten them continually over the past few years. Michigan State stinks this year, but they will be ready to play Michigan this week. More importantly, will Michigan be able to handle things mentally and beat Michigan State? If you can't handle this pressure in East Lansing, good luck coming to Columbus with everything on the line against Meyer and Ohio State. 

- Before Ohio State gets to Michigan, there are four games that need won and they cannot afford another slipup. You get one free spot in college football, and Meyer just used his. First and foremost is Northwestern and this is a team that is not physical enough to stop the Ohio State run game. The Wildcats should have trouble running or passing on the Buckeye defense. Let's see how Meyer and company respond to their first loss, but this should be an easy win. Will Ohio State wallow in their misery, or come out loaded for bear and empty a can of whoop-azz on the Cats? That will tell us a lot about the Ohio State team. 

- Don't want to dwell on the defense in this piece because I think it's championship quality all the way around. Championship talent. Championship coaching under Greg Schiano. No worries there at all from me. 

- The biggest flaw with this team? It hasn't changed throughout the 56-5 run under Meyer. They do not throw the football well. And please no tears over the loss of passing game guru Tom Herman, because I hate to break it to you, but they didn't throw it all that well with him either. This is Urban Meyer's offense. He invented it, and they are going to run it his way, under his direction. When Herman was at Ohio State, he ran Meyer's offense. Not the other way around. But it was easier for Herman throwing it to Devin Smith, Evan Spencer, Mike Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Nick Vannett and Jeff Heuerman. Rather than Parris Campbell, James Clark, Marcus Baugh, Dontre Wilson, Terry McLaurin and K.J. Hill. If you cannot see the dropoff from all those NFL guys to these average Big Ten guys, I don't know what to tell you. And Herman has enough on his plate trying to figure out how to throw the ball against powerhouses Navy and SMU.

- How can they throw it better this week, and in going forward? That's a tougher answer, because you can't trade for better receivers or pick up guys on waivers. You have to make do with what you have. And to be honest, the best passing teams in the country don't all feature future NFL players either. They have to play to their strengths, which would be J.T. Barrett outside the pocket with a run/pass option. This stresses the defense far more than him sitting in the pocket scanning the field, something he's not good at anyway. It also eases the stress on the O-line, because they aren't great at protecting him in the pocket. The pocket passing needs a deep threat to stretch the field, and there isn't one on the roster, so scrap that. 

- What do these receivers do well? Well, what they don't do well gets emphasized too much. The bubble screens to trucks like Mike Weber and Noah Brown are useless. Hit Curtis Samuel (he is on the team still, right?) and Dontre Wilson in space behind Brown, Campbell and Weber as blockers on the bubble. These two have a chance to make someone miss and go the distance. For Noah Brown? He's not a deep threat, as we've seen often. BUT he is amazing red zone target and he's the one guy that you can throw him open, because he has great hands and can adjust to the football in the air. I would like to see him get the ball from the H-back spot or from tight end. The other outside guys? Stop the maddening rotation of every warm body. Pick your best guys and coach them to be better. What would it hurt playing Binjimen Victor and Austin Mack? How can they be THAT far behind the guys out there now? I love Samuel and Wilson on linebackers from the slot. And the touch pass to them from Barrett that is actually a long handoff. And the bubbles to them. I know they're scared to throw in the middle of the field, but this is where Brown can make hay. And I know they hate to do it, but throwing on first down makes you less predictable and it's the best down to throw. Tom Brady has made a living throwing on first, running on second, and making you adjust your defense from there.

- For the future? I truly believe they are going to be forced to upgrade their passing schemes based simply upon the talent coming in. You might be able to run Joey Burrow or Dwayne Haskins in the zone read, but Tate Martell would last about two games doing that. And Haskins doesn't run it well, nor does he want to run the football. You always want to have the threat of the QB run, but I don't think having these guys run it 20 times per game is what they're hoping for at all. 

- For these big time wideouts, they know they have to be able to contribute as blockers, but that's not why they are coming to your program. You keep telling these recruits how the offense is going to evolve from a passing scheme standpoint and it's time to make that happen. Makes Ohio State better as an offense, and allows them to continue to add guys like Mack, Binjimen, Grimes and LIndsey. 

- How will Ohio State finish this season? My crystal ball has been broken lately, so I'm the last guy to ask. This has been a tough team to read, and I would think Meyer feels the same way. This is the story of a very young, but very talented team. There simply HAS to be ups and downs with this much youth and inexperience. They had a lot of ups the first six weeks. Last week was a downer. Going to be fun to see where they go from here. 


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