Football

Familiar Pattern: Buckeyes Lean On QB Rushes In Loss

In Ohio State’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma, a number of the Buckeyes’ familiar offensive issues re-emerged. From struggles in pass protection, to receivers having a tough time getting open, and the inability to consistently complete passes downfield, the game followed what has now become an unwelcome pattern.

The evening also mirrored the majority of Urban Meyer’s losses as Ohio State coach in another way. Quarterback J.T. Barrett had more carries (18) against the Sooners than the team’s running backs (16). It’s the fifth time in Meyer’s seven losses that the quarterback position has finished with as many or more carries than the running backs, a trend that spans three different OSU offensive coordinators.

That started with the 2013 Big Ten Championship Game, and the oft-criticized choice to have Braxton Miller keep it on a crucial fourth down play instead of handing it to Carlos Hyde. Miller had 21 carries that night, while the rest of the team rushed it only 19 times.

It happened most recently in the 2016 Fiesta Bowl, when Barrett’s 11 carries for minus-2 yards equaled the 11 carries for 91 yards for Curtis Samuel and Mike Weber.

In between, Barrett had 24 carries in the 2014 loss to Virginia Tech, compared to 15 for other Buckeyes. Barrett had 15 of the Buckeyes’ 29 rushes against Michigan State in 2015, a game in which Ezekiel Elliott got only 12 handoffs and then popped off afterward about the playcalling.

There was no similar outburst from any player on Saturday night, but offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson acknowledged that getting away from Weber and J.K. Dobbins was an issue.

“The quarterback run game is a part of our deal. I do think, though, that the tailback needs to be the featured guy,” said Wilson.

The Buckeyes did enjoy some success on the ground against the Sooners, especially when Weber and Dobbins had the ball.

Weber was limited by a recurring hamstring issue, but finished with 29 yards on just three carries. Dobbins rushed 13 times for a game-high 72 yards and his first career touchdown.

Afterward, Meyer was fairly blunt about the offense going away from Dobbins and Weber.

“I wasn’t happy with it,” Meyer said.

“J.K. was hitting the ball pretty hard and doing some good things. Mike Weber did some good things. And we’re just not getting enough flow on offense.”

Wilson said part of the issue was the Sooners’ defensive scheme.

“The way Oklahoma played tonight, we thought it was best to spread them out to try to run the ball. That being said, J.T. was the viable read guy. They made him keep the ball,” he said.

“I do think our tailbacks need to be our runners. They’re great runners. J.T.’s a nice complement,” Wilson continued. “We’ve got to work hard to have a running game (where) he complements the running game and is not the featured guy.”

14 Responses

  1. There are so many more things going into the passing game than JT Barret. He may not be John Elway slinging balls all the way down the field, but he can obviously pass the ball unless people are forgetting about 2014 and even 15, there were issues with that team but passing wasn’t one of them.

    JT obviously has not been perfect, I’m not going to sit here and say he has for a second, however, there are glaring issues other than him. Lets look at the entire right side of the offensive line. JT did NOT have the option to sit in the pocket and go through his progressions because Isiah Prince, like last year, quite literally looks like hes on ice skates whenever a half way decent defensive end is lined up across from him. Secondly, the wide receivers are HORRIBLE. not average, not bad, but beyond terrible. It is so easy to look at JT and say oh why arent you throwing your receivers open or some other excuse, but the fact is they are just not getting any seperation what so ever, and it is hard to see on tv, youve gotta watch the sky cast to see it. So yea it looks like to us he’s overthrowing, but thats the only way he can get the ball downfield and even give them a chance to get it without being intercepted is to throw it way out in front of them. I.E. Parris Campbell drop in the end zone at indiana, or the Marcus Baugh foul up also in the Ohio State game. JT. just has absolutely no faith in his receivers at all. And I dont think any of us can say this receiving group is alike to Michael Thomas, Evan Spencer, Devin Smith, or Jalin Marshall of 2014. He doesn’t have a receiver he can count on which fouls him up when it gets tough. Its understandable I mean our receivers are god awful. Watching the Oklahoma receivers vs. ours was like watching a pro team vs. high school, its a joke. Reiterating, JT is not blameless, however simply replacing him will not help the situation. Furthermore, Dwayne Haskins is basically a pro style qb, meaning that when Isiah Prince blows his assignment, which he will, Haskins will not be able to get away like JT can.

  2. Give credit where due is due: OU and Baker Mayfield played a fabulous game. JT’s shortcomings as a passer are well known as are missed assignments on pass blocking as are a weak secondary on pass defense. As far as the headline of the story, QB rushes; what do you expect when you can’t stretch the field, run a read option and linebackers key on the tailback? We are a good football team that has lost two out of the last three games to outstanding teams. Watching the game is almost like watching a practice. The defense doesn’t have to worry about the long pass and is focused on stopping the run which they do very well. Question I have is when we have the opportunity, why don’t we give playing time to a backup QB and let him throw the ball?
    It’s not likely that you can have a championship team with a one dimensional offense unless you’re overwhelmingly superior in every other phase of the game. Go Bucks!

  3. How is Joe Burrow? If recovered, he is our best bet at Quarterback. If he’s not healthy, Bucks should go with the freshman. Both appear to be far better passers than Barret. If the coaches would play one of theses two we might beat Penn State, but Barrett can’t win against good teams.

    1. Did you forget about Dwayne Haskins and how can a injured quarterback be our best bet?

  4. The 2017 Ohio State Buckeye football team is officially dead.
    Poor blocking by the offensive line, especially “much improved” Isaiah Prince and receivers’ continued inability to a) catch a football and b) get separation combined with a defensive back seven that couldn’t even stay with Oklahoma receivers much of the night.
    This team might not even seriously contend for the B1G and should NOT under ANY circumstances be put in the college football playoff.
    As others have pointed out, including Tom: college football has figured out Urban Meyer and he’s not adapting well. That said, one thing Tom and posters above DIDN’T note is that Oklahoma punted exactly once – ALL the rest of the Sooner drives ended in either points or, early on, the Silver Bullets forcing turnovers but not until the Sooners were DEEP into Buckeye territory.

    1. The lone exception to the turnover comment leading to a FIELD GOAL rather than a TD. Unacceptable.

      1. Counterproductive comment because the 2017 team is not dead, but a national championship is very unlikely. We can and probably will win the conference and be a contender. Glad Andrew isn’t a coach or player because the timeless locker room sign is true, “winners never quit and quitters never win”.

        1. Fred Pevow, you’re pretty new to the O-Zone. I didn’t declare this season dead based on one game but based on an ongoing pattern, of which last night was a very ugly chapter with no solutions in sight. If it were one or two or even five areas of concern I’d be right there cheerleading with my scarlet glasses but last night was a train wreck with only a few positives and an avalanche of negative. Next season has a lot of promise and go right ahead and whistle past the graveyard if it makes you feel any better, but I’ve watched too many years of football to gloss over something this bad.

          1. Andrew, I’ve followed O-Zone for many years but don’t comment unless I think I can contribute. I’ve been a Buck fan since Vic Janowicz gave me his jersey when I was 12. I played high school and college freshman QB and I was dismayed at your comment that the “2017 Ohio State Buckeye Football is officially dead”. We have the best coach in college football and some great talent even though we got whipped by an outstanding team that played a fabulous game. “Never underestimate the heart of a champion”. It’s time to stand up and be counted, not quit!
            We’re spoiled because we’ve had a 15 year golden age. NOBODY wins the national championship every year let alone make the playoffs.

  5. Urban Meyer wonders what his tendencies are. HIs tendencies are to try and trick the defence by running a play that goes against common football intelligence. That’s great if you catch the other team off guard, but, but if everyone knows that’s what you do, then they prepare for anything, and the reasons why things like why running straight ahead with first and goal at the 5 became standard operating procedure everywhere in football. The simple fact is, everyone in the SEC was on to Meyer before he left the SEC. Now everyone in the country is on to Meyer. I predict a tough year.

    Michigan State and Penn State pulled off victories against Meyer in bad weather when their ground games gave them an advantage. Oklahoma beat them in good weather in their own stadium.

    It’s looking more an more like the National Championship being a number of two factors. 1. Jones wasn’t as good a runner, so they had to run a tradition offence and hand the ball off to a running back. And the Bucks were forced to use Cardale Jones, a more traditional type quarterback who could hit a quick slant because he could see the field. It’s looking more and more like that championship was because Meyer was forced to break his own tendencies, which are unfortunately counter intuitive. Time and time again we’ve seen, traditional straight ahead football gives you the best chance to win. Guys like Meyer might surprise a better team every now and then but in the overall scheme of things, they also lose to inferior teams every now and then.

    Meyers offence is a perpetual gamble on pulling off a few big plays. And when the inevitable happens and they have a game with no big plays, they lose badly. Grinding out a tough win just isn’t in his DNA.

    Someone give Tressel a call.

  6. When will Urban get over his bromance with JT and realize the guy can’t pass? You can’t win a NC with a mediocre passer and that’s what Barrett is. Geez!

  7. We screamed all night long to run the tailbacks. JT Barrett we already know is a lousy passer and now this year he’s running for the most part like he’s afraid. He need not worry about protecting his draft because he’s not getting drafted as a quarterback.

    So Meyer and Wilson both state that the runningbacks need to be the primary carriers. So why didn’t they line the backs up and run them?

    Opponents have discovered ways to slam the RO portion of the run game. They also know they need not be afraid of JT’s arm. It’s a limp noodle that can’t deliver with an ounce of velocity and still is incapable of putting the ball on a receivers frame. The only option left is inside power running but apparently neither Meyer or Wilson have the authority to runs the plays that work. I wonder who they have to get permission from since they both claim they needed to feature the tailbacks.

    This one wasn’t disappointing, it was downright embarrassing.

  8. By the way, forgot to mention in my previous post that the statistical analysis was nicely done. The writer made clear the very tendencies that I felt occurring in the games mentioned. It is beyond bizarre that highly skilled and, more importantly, PRODUCTIVE players are minimized in favor of gimmickry.

  9. What does “working hard” to feature the running backs even mean? This nonsensical reliance on the QB to run needs to STOP. There’s no working hard, instead you call plays that get the ball to the guys who actually produce! Sheesh.

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