Sat. Nov 17th, 2018

What Exactly is Wrong With the Buckeyes?

Ohio State’s weaknesses as a team have been thrusted into the spotlight during these past few weeks. This all culminated with the drubbing that Ohio State just took on the road. The Purdue Boilermakers pulled an “Iowa” on Ohio State, as this is the second year in a row where the Buckeyes were blown out by a Big Ten West team that was wearing all black uniforms on the road. How did this happen?

A common criticism of Ohio State last year was their inability to throw the football at an elite level. However, that has changed this year with Dwayne Haskins at the helm. Unfortunately, the running game has now gone into the place where the Ohio State passing game was. Urban Meyer’s offensive scheme is dependent on the QB run. Haskins is not a dual threat QB. That fact is highly evident anytime you see him run the ball. Without the QB run game, Ohio State is trying to find that balance between the option run and standard run plays. Against Purdue, Ohio state finished with only 76 yards on the ground with a 3.0 yards per rush stat.

Minnesota, Ohio State’s previous opponent, came up with the formula for beating Ohio State last week. They shut down the run and forced Ohio State to pass. In theory, this works into Ohio States strong suit. However, Ohio State has not been very efficient in the red zone. Ohio State, without a solid run game, had to settle for four field goals against Minnesota in their 30-13 win. Although Minnesota may not have had the fire power to beat Ohio State, their scheme kept the Buckeyes scoring three as opposed to six. Purdue, who has a much improved defensive unit, was able to take this scheme and run with it.

During the game, Ohio State threw the ball 73 times for 470 yards. That amount of passing attempts is comparable to that of a stereotypical Big 12 “shootout” team. Even with these 470 yards, the Buckeyes were only able to score two field goals in the 4 red zone attempts. If Ohio State can not finish these drives, it will not matter how many yards were gained through the air. The Buckeyes were very efficient in the red zone due to the option run game of J.T. Barrett. That dimension has been lost this year. Overall, the offense is one dimensional, and that dimension has been producing more 3’s than 6’s for the Buckeyes.

Additionally, the defense for the Buckeyes was exposed by the veteran quarterback, David Blough, star running back, D.J. Knox, and freshman phenom, Rondale Moore, as Purdue’s offense racked up over 500 yards of total offense. Ohio state’s defense made mistakes in tackling, coverage, and misalignments which all resulted in a loss for the Buckeyes. The Ohio State defense is lacking a stand-out star. There isn’t a player on Ohio State that opposing teams fear (aside from defensive end Chase Young). The defense has had back to back bad games.

With these two factors, the Buckeyes have become a “stereotypical Big 12” team. They have a high flying pass offense, a poor defense, and a general lack of a running game. This type of team will not be able to make any noise  in the playoff.

If there is any bright side for Ohio State, their loss has not killed their playoff aspirations. If Ohio State were to win out, they would be a 12-1 conference champ with a win over a highly ranked Michigan team. A 12-1 record would mean a likely playoff birth for Ohio State. Additionally, if Purdue wins their division, the Buckeyes may get a shot to redeem their loss by beating Purdue in the Big Ten championship game. However, before all of that speculation, Ohio State has a problem on their hands, and it will need to be fixed during this upcoming bye week if they want to contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff.

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