Football Hayes & Cannon

The Fake “A” Student: The 2016 Ohio State Offense

Urban Meyer and Ohio State Buckeyes Receivers

I want you to think really hard about this next question — what do you consider a successful offensive season for Ohio State? Is it how many points they score? Or how many yards they put up? What about just being consistent? Maybe a combination of all of these? For each person, the answer to this relatively simple question will cause an internal debate.

As a fan base, we have become very spoiled, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Just like at our jobs or school, you should always strive to be the absolute best in everything you do. In our house, we use the term “Maximum Effort” (Thank you Deadpool!) with our children and our employees. No matter what you do, even if you fail, simply put in maximum effort and complete the task to the absolute best of your ability. So naturally, wanting the Buckeyes to be the best at every facet of the game is not a bad thing.

With maximum effort, you can’t simply measure success off of accomplishments, grades, or being named the best…it is the effort you put into the success throughout the process.

This is where the Ohio State football team comes in to play.

As an offense in 2016, looking at the stats as a whole, you would have to consider it somewhat of a success. I mean come on, they finished 33rd in Total Yards and 13th in points per game. When you consider there are 128 teams and then factor in that OSU faced three top-10 defenses, those numbers would appear to be relatively successful. We were much like a parent who would be proud of their child for an “A”, completely oblivious to the fact they put zero effort into the school year and cheated.

The 2016 version of the Ohio State offense is in fact that kid who cheated their way through an entire school year. They kept on bringing home report cards that said they were an Honor Roll student and we just kept patting their head and saying, “Nice job, kid.” Before we knew it, they had bombed finals week and we were all left standing there with our mouths open wondering what happened.


The first semester started with a bang. Being in a new school, no one knew quite what to expect. They convinced everyone they were the sure-fire valedictorian averaging almost 60 points a game while facing what wound up to be the 117th, the 76th, and the 68th-ranked scoring defenses in the country. But we didn’t care because POINTS!!!

Gearing up for midterms, things got a little rougher for the Buckeye offense. As they came into conference play, the talent gap closed a little and it showed for the Buckeyes. They started off much like the first semester, facing the 116th and 57th-ranked scoring defenses and averaging 48 points per game, and we were excited for our little buddy. Going into midterms week, they were averaging an impressive 53 points per game. You couldn’t stop our straight-A student, gosh dang it we were so proud! Midterms for the OSU offense was Wisconsin (#4 scoring defense in 2016), Penn State (#47), and Northwestern (#23).

You know that moment when you go into a test confident, flip it over, read the first question, and realize you’re screwed? That is what this little stretch was for the OSU fan base. Confidence was soaring high in our prize student going into Madison. After three quarters, however, this supposedly unstoppable force had scored 13 points and was actually losing. Cool no biggie, they pulled it out. Maybe our “A+” student is really a solid “A” student. No big deal, they will get it together for the next midterm.

Our little Buckeye went to the next class (Penn State) and completely bombed this test. Our pride and joy was doing okay with the old “fake it till you make it” mentality, limping their way to a 21-7 lead aided by a couple of field goals, a safety, and a long Curtis Samuel run, but then the last portion of the test was some algebra stuff they had never seen. Mentally broken, the star student left that class with a solid “C-“ and an “L”.

Ehhh no big deal, the “C” hurts but they can still qualify for that A at the end of the year if they just put in maximum effort.

The final midterm didn’t go much better. They rebounded pretty well against Northwestern, putting up 17 points in the first 21 minutes, but then the doubt set in from the last class. The offense would go completely silent for the next 27 minutes of action before waking up and adding the game-winning touchdown halfway through the fourth quarter.

Midterms ended with our favorite child only averaging 25 points per game and we sadly realized our “A+” student was probably more of a solid “B” kind of guy. Not a big deal. Remember, it comes down to effort, not overall stats, and the second half would surely be better. We all sat down and discussed how to move forward. The second half of the season would be different and maximum effort would be applied.

The second half of the season started out with a bang. The Buckeye offense was definitely back as they put up 62 points against a top-10 fraud team in Nebraska and another 62 points against D.J. Durkin’s Maryland squad. Maybe they had figured out what went wrong at midterms and really did take a leap forward? Now it was time for finals week and we could not be more excited for the star student.

The first class was Michigan State, who our little student was excited to face. In years past, this had been the hardest class, but this year it appeared to be easy. The Spartans came in fresh on the heels of losing seven of eight games where every team except for Rutgers scored over 20 points against them and five of them scored over 30 points. The Buckeyes offense was averaging 62 points per game in the second half, nothing could stop them!

Maybe a little too overconfident, the offense only scored 17 points and barely hung on as a late two-point conversion attempt by Sparty failed.

The little student passed, that was all that mattered. I mean who could blame them? They had their biggest test the next week and this test was worth about 99% of their final grade. It was one of those pass/fail situations. They would surely get back on track with this one and show how improved the offense was as the mighty Wolverine defense came to town.

Sadly, things did not turn out like we hoped, as the star child simply could not fake their way to a dominant performance. They only scored 10 offensive points through four quarters, but luckily the teacher decided to give them some bonus questions and sent the game to overtime. The Buckeye offense stepped up to the plate as J.T. Barrett EASILY GOT A FIRST DOWN on a fourth-and-1 play, and Curtis Samuel danced around the Michigan defense to a win which resulted in our student barely scraping by with a “C+”. We were all proud, but the celebration came too early as the star student completely bombed the final test against Clemson.

Like seriously, I still don’t want to talk about it.


What did this diatribe of horrible writing mean? Well, what is a successful season for you? Last season by all statistical merits, the offense had a darn good year. They finished the year with a solid “B” grade, so should that be enough?

Over the past couple of weeks as I did my statistical projections, I guessed the offense would improve at almost every aspect, but how would that compare to OSU offenses of the past?

YearTotal OffenseTotal RushingTotal Passing
*20176,549 (3)3,197 (3)3,352 (2)

* Projected        (Rank since 2008)

Do you consider last season an offensive success? I mean, last season was the third-highest offensive output since 2009. Or does the final three games outweigh everything else? Were we entirely too spoiled by the 2013 and 2014 offenses? Looking at all of this, would you consider this projected 2017 offensive campaign a success?

In the end, it is entirely too difficult for me to decide what actually constitutes what offensive success means. The most important thing for me would be consistency throughout the entire season. Scoring 40 points per game is great and all but when you are loading up against the Rutgers of the world and laying goose eggs against any decent defense…we have issues.

For me, consistency will be the name of the game moving forward. Without consistency, we will continue to be upset by the performance of the offense because any good defense will make them one dimensional.

7 Responses

  1. I’ll judge the offense by the number of points and yards it gains against good teams, as well as whether the Buckeyes won or lost. The good teams are Oklahoma, Clemson, Wisconsin, Penn State and the team up north. By that measure, the offense is good but not great. Scoring no points against Clemson takes their rating down.

  2. When you have more talent than your opponent you should win. When you face equal talent, your coaching should win. Urban is a helluva coach but 5 of his 6 losses are poor coaching losses, and not always against equal talent. There is a message there. Just sayin’.

    1. I can think back to a few of those losses and know exactly what you are talking about as far as coaching decisions…I mean FEED HYDE THE DANG BALL!!!!!! While there is a few coaching mistakes sprinkled in there, some still falls back on execution from the players in the early parts of the games. There have been a few times where it just feels like the players have come out and sleepwalked through the first couple of quarters because they know they are supposed to win. That then circles back around to coaching but I think that shouldn’t be a problem this year. The amount of talent on the coaching staff is unmatched by any team

  3. I’ll gladly settle for 250 yds passing and 250 yds rushing. With this D, we’ll be set.

  4. I think you can hide mediocrity in the aggregate. Its why I hate averages. Averages only work if the level of competition is the same throughout like in the NFL. In college its not the same. You can have 3 games where they blow out two out matched teams and then get clowned by a team with parity. You take the average of the three contests and it doesn’t look bad. But zero points against Clemson……You got problems when you can’t even figure out how to score….one friggin time.

    1. That really is the key to a succesful offense in my opinion. While the 70+ points against crappy teams is fun and all, if that same offense doesn’t show a pulse against the Wisconsins of the world…it is all just fluff. I think last season’s team is the best example of that in a long time.

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