31-16 is Worse Than 31-0 and Here’s Why

Postgame Ohio State Oklahoma

The Buckeyes were 16 points better against Oklahoma than they were two games ago against Clemson, but do you feel 16 points better about it?

You shouldn’t, because losing 31-16 to Oklahoma is worse than losing 31-0 to Clemson. When the Buckeyes lost to Clemson, Urban Meyer knew what the problem was and he took action to fix it. Ed Warinner and Tim Beck explored other opportunities. Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day came in to bring in their own flourishes, with a specific goal of fixing the Ohio State passing game.

Two games in, however, and the passing game has had about two quarters of acceptable production and six quarters of disappointment.

Losing 31-16 to Oklahoma has confirmed Buckeye fans’ greatest fears — absolutely nothing has been resolved with the offense.

This loss was worse than the Clemson loss because the answers were supposed to be in place. Instead, the same questions remain, and now they are louder than ever.

After the game, J.T. Barrett said he needs to trust himself more and needs to trust his receivers more. Urban Meyer said there was no chance of Barrett being replaced, which means that Meyer trusts Barrett more than Barrett trusts himself.

That seems counter-productive.

So much of the passing game is about timing and Barrett’s habit of hesitating ruins that timing. That’s why you see receivers running out of room on out routes. That’s why you see a defender behind a receiver step in front of a pass and intercept it.

And yet you can argue that Barrett’s receivers aren’t doing enough to consistently help him. Austin Mack completely sold out for a catch inside the 10-yard line, which was an incredible play, but once again a deep shot went through a receiver’s hands in the end zone. That’s not exactly going to build trust between a quarterback and his receiver.

The second half of the Indiana game saw Barrett pass for over 200 yards and mask some of the issues at hand, but the first half of that game looked exactly like the worst of 2016. The game against Oklahoma was that first half for all 60 minutes.

Throwing the ball just isn’t that difficult — the Ohio State defense is proof of that.

So if the coaches have changed, but the players and the results haven’t, what do you do?

Everybody not on the Ohio State sideline — and maybe even some of them on the sideline — can see the issues and struggles with the passing game. In all of our years of watching football, when there are struggles like this, the finger is pointed at the quarterback and the questions arise about whether it is time to make a change.

That is a standard football thing to do and just because Barrett is a four-year starter and a three-time captain does not make him immune to the same questions.

When a passing game struggles, either you put a new quarterback in or you learn to live with your shortcomings.

The playcalling on the Ohio State offense doesn’t seem to recognize such shortcomings, however, because Barrett accounted for 53 of OSU’s 69 plays, leaving running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mike Weber with just 16 carries between them.

Urban Meyer went and got two new offensive coaches because he didn’t ever want his offense to be shut out again. He made two major moves, but for minimal results.

Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day were supposed to be the answers — and they very well may yet be, but plenty of questions still remain.

The major question — can J.T. Barrett lead this team to a championship — has seemingly been answered. Many fans will tell you that it was answered a long time ago.

Meyer didn’t want to point too much blame in any one area after the game. He offered up no answers, other than he wanted to watch the film first.

He has now seen the film, but when he speaks with the media on Monday, don’t expect him to provide any type of substantive answer. He will likely say that Oklahoma’s defense did some things that gave them trouble and they just need to work on things in practice and get things fixed.

He won’t be wrong, but it won’t instill any kind of confidence in a fan base that has already made their decision.

Tickets could be bought on the secondary market for the Oklahoma game for 32 dollars. There will be thousands of empty seats for Army and UNLV. Any semblance of an uptick against future opponents will be meaningless.

Things were supposed to be different this year, but nothing has changed. And on Monday, no real solutions will be provided.

16 Responses

  1. At this point, having seen the Ohio State pass offense and pass defense in game situations, I am wondering: what the hell are practices like?

  2. JT is not a runner. He’s not Rod Gerald (remember him?). Gerald was electric with the ball!

  3. This was a very good article, Gerd, and it expresses how I feel about JT’s play. I have no doubt that we’ll beat many opponents with JT behind center. But he has shown that he just can’t throw against better teams. I feel we know JT’s ceiling. I’d really like to see another QB get some snaps at this point.

  4. This loss was worst than the Clemson loss, the D was somewhat functional against Clemson, but got wore down. The D against OK got exposed and if it wasn’t for OK shooting themselves in the foot the 1st half, it could of been a 52-7 game easily.

  5. Like everyone else, I’m extremely disappointed with the Buckeyes’ showing against Oklahoma. But I guess I have an advantage in that my sense of meaning and self-worth aren’t derived from whether OSU wins a football game, or a National Championship. Urban Meyer, until Saturday touted as one of the game’s best coaches, is now being lumped by sum in the Thad Matta court. Did he get stupid overnight?
    He doesn’t accept millions of dollars a year to draw up bad game plans and choose the wrong players for their respective positions. He lives, eats and sleeps Buckeye football, while we just curl up on our couches and demand to be entertained with one overwhelming victory after another.
    Get over it, Buckeye “fans.” If Meyer sticks with Barrett, I’ll presume he’s making the right decision based on being with all of the players every day, along with his coaches. If he benches Barrett, I’ll presume the same.
    I for one am sick and tired for the “what have you done for me lately” attitude of Buckeye Nation. Could it be that Oklahoma, which has not lost even one game since losing to OSU last year, was just a superior team?

    1. The point here was about denial, not about Meyer. In Matta’s case it was the denial on the side of the OSU Board. Your reply was a pleasure to read until it got to the ‘…Buckeye Fans…I am so sick of….’. No one is attacking your opinion just as we would ask not to attack the others’. If we see that this is not working, it is our right to say so, just as yours. I think Meyer sees Barrett’s overall control of the play calling at the line of scrimmage and calling the signal and therefore chooses to keep him and not trusting the same with the other QBs. This unfortunately does not translate into play execution.

    2. I bet you thought it was the right decision for Zwick to start over Troy Smith and Bellisari to start over Krenzel? Krenzel and Smith only got to play because the coaches choices for starter got DUI’s resulting in losing their starting spot. Without alcohol OSU would have one less Heisman and NC. I have little faith that the coaches know who is the best player to start anymore than we do.

      1. Pretty sure Zwick got hurt, not a DUI

  6. This is the same denial also with Thad Matta as coach that over years drove the BB program with the best talents into ruins. Barrett does not look off receivers, his favorite side to throw is the left side of the field and if he doesn’t find someone there, there is no throw. Watch all the end-zone receptions or attempts. There is no looking off to the left and throwing to the right or vice-versa.

  7. I have been a JT apologist for 2 years now. No more. I was wrong, time to give another QB a chance. Meyer’s loyalty to players contradicts his mantra of “Best player will play”. Let’s see what Haskins has.

  8. The problem goes deeper than this. Urban Meyer’s offense is stale. He put the philosophies in place back in BG, Utah and Florida. The rest of the world has caught up. It is a gimmick offense that should not be necessary with the talent available at OSU. As long as Meyer holds on to Q-Run as his best attack, the pass game is going to suffer. There is a reason that Barrett isn’t successful in the deep passing game — he is not a pocket passer. And it looks like OSU’s receivers spend more time learning how to block than they do on running routes.

    The solution: Either change the philosophy all together (which is never going to happen) or quit trying to pass the ball. Meyer can beat most of the teams in the Big 10 with single wing football. Maybe if the defense plays well — all of them. This is just like the DAVE play we all hated in Tressel’s offense. It is who Meyer is. Time to stop wringing our hands. Run Dobbins, Run JT, Run Weber.

  9. This one is worse. MUCH worse. The Clemson game had two good drives ending in missed FGs and some really good defense for quite awhile before fatigue set in.
    If I didn’t know better I’d have sworn Oklahoma swapped defenses with Ohio State Saturday night the Buckeye defense played so badly.
    There were exactly 4 bright spots – Drue Chrisman, Sean Nuernburger, Parris Campbell’s kick return, and the DL.
    This team will be very lucky to contend for the B1G, much less win it.

    1. Six – Dobbins and Weber being healthy. I still don’t think Weber will ever be more than a ‘serviceable’ back but the fact that he’s healthy is still a bright spot.

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