Kevin Wilson and Ryan Day were brought to Ohio State to fix a passing game that spent the past two years struggling at every turn.
In the offseason, receivers coach Zach Smith presciently told his players that the new passing game was going to fit them better than it ever had before.
Being provided with a fifth-year senior starting quarterback and a batch of Urban Meyer recruits at the skill positions gave Wilson and Day a head start. Despite slow beginnings, however, the offense has been on full blast since the third week of the season.
Meyer has said at every turn that we must keep these performances in perspective given the opponents that they came against, but when compared to what the Buckeyes have done in the past, things are clearly better.
The Ohio State offense came into this season with question marks at receiver and tight end and almost no statistical production returning at either position.
Growing pains were expected, and they happened. Over the last month or so, however, those pains led to an offensive growth spurt, and specifically in the big-play area.
The Buckeyes no longer have to fight and scrap for every yard because they are hitting big shots like never before. Ever.
After just seven weeks, Ohio State has done something with their passing game that has never happened previously.
A whopping 10 Buckeyes have caught passes of at least 30 yards this season, which is more than any other season in school history. Only twice before (2012, 2006) has an OSU team even had eight players with receptions of at least 30 yards.
The 10 receivers in 2017 equals the totals of 2015 and 2016 combined, when each season featured just five such players.
And the season is about half over.
Here are the 10 players and their respective long receptions.
Parris Campbell (74)
Terry McLaurin (31)
Binjimen Victor (46)
Austin Mack (31)
C.J. Saunders (50)
Marcus Baugh (31)
Johnnie Dixon (70)
Rashod Berry (38)
Mike Weber (53)
Demario McCall (35)
Interestingly, the one name missing from that list is K.J. Hill, who is arguably Ohio State’s best receiver. So yeah, things are going pretty well for the Buckeyes.
For me, the numbers are indicative of an offensive attack that puts stresses on every inch of a defense, which we have seen routinely the last five games. The catches are split up among wideouts, H-backs, running backs, and tight ends. Everybody has an opportunity to make plays and the ability to get the job done.
For many, judgments won’t start rolling in until after the Penn State game, but the numbers above are all you really need to know that things are better this year.
Are they good enough? We won’t know until we know, but based on what we have seen so far, a school record is usually a good reason for optimism.
Whoa there, pump those breaks HARD. Just a few short weeks back, this receiving unit was (fairly justifiably) being questioned for its route running skills, separation skills, and even talent. Its only been about 4 weeks. I want them to be good just like any OSU fan; its just far too early for such praise. Are they better than last year’s group? Sure, its just not much of an achievement. Beware of misleading stats- they do exist! Hoping for continued success against the meat of the schedule in upcoming games.
Buckeye teams have played weak teams every year of their history, so when they do something they never have before, it’s okay to be impressed by it and remark upon it.
You’re free to be impressed all you want, Tony. Your article was loaded with qualifications that hinted at my point- I preferred not to ride the fence on this one and actually took a side. The criticisms I referenced are real and VERY recent, and some appeared on this site. I love the hard working players and want them to succeed, I just haven’t suffered the amnesia required to forget the problems associated with this passing game (which lay at the feet of the coaches more than anything else). I”ll be “impressed” if the true offensive sharing occurs- and succeeds- against the roughest part of the schedule. I’ll be ecstatic if the coaches remember the running backs who’ve been consistently good, while forgetting the bizarre pass play calls we’ve seen pretty darn recently. The praise is premature.
I don’t know that it’s praise as much as it is statistical fact.
I DO know, so problem solved. Your lack of objectivity is showing,,, better cover up. We’ve seen this movie before, so its prudent to withhold the accolades, lots of tough sledding ahead.
No judgements have been made on this offense being good enough for the best defenses. We don’t know. Also, statistics are pretty objective in that they aren’t opinions.
Umm. actually we DO know, Tony. There was that little OU game a couple weeks back. Also, I’m older than 6, so trying to convince me that statistics are objective is absurd- that dog won’t hunt. People can find the friendliest stats for their cause and trumpet them, while whistling in the dark and hoping others won’t notice. I pride myself on not being a reality dodger like the typical UM, Penn State, or ND fan and will call out folks for stuff like this- stop being such a homer and at least wait for meaningful results before all the backslapping begins. If you want to be better than “that guy” who shoots his mouth off about UM or whatever team he adores, then take a deep breath on this kind of praise. I want them to excel too, against the tougher part of their schedule- it just hasn’t happened yet.
This piece wasn’t a statement about anything other than the fact that the Buckeyes have already done something that they have never done before in the history of the football program and how offensive records are a good thing. It doesn’t mean they will beat Michigan or win a playoff game. It just means they have done something for the first time in school history, and this isn’t the first time in school history people have questioned the schedule. That’s all.
Mr. Longtime Fan, it seems that you have some kind of axe to grind with Tony. For the past few weeks you’ve had a knee-jerk reaction to virtually everything Tony has posted. Your posts aren’t so much a critique of the football team as they are critiques about Tony’s WRITING about the football team. The team is far from a finished product, but I’d argue that they are very improved from the Oklahoma game, despite the competition. In other words, no matter what Tony posts, you’re going to criticize it. That is your prerogative. But if I had my choice to trust or believe what Tony writes about OSU football, I’ll take Tony over you any day, hour, or minute of the week. Facts, and statistics, don’t lie. Emotional broadsides against someone whose writing you don’t care for is not lying, but it’s not a good way to make a point.
presciently !!! Well done Gerde
The big question remaining is the offensive line and to a lesser extent the receivers. The OL only has been tested vs. Oklahoma and really hasn’t been matched up with even near to OSU-level talent since. Ditto the receivers against DBs of their calibre talent. What it has shown is that when J.T. Barrett has time and the receivers a) run good routes and b) don’t drop balls that he’s every bit “The Distributor” he was his redshirt freshman year.
The boo birds can ignore me all they like but the stats don’t lie – Barrett is tied with Drew Brees for all-time touchdown PASSES (not running or responsible-for but PASSES) in B1G history. If you still want to diss his ability then you also MUST diss EVERY OTHER B1G QB that has EVER played! Not just Buckeye QB, but B1G QB.
Andrew- yep, I’m a JT fan too. He has been unfairly roasted, and been a good soldier, when the true culprit for offensive hiccups was often not him. He’s a good player who has brought fans lots of good moments.
That’s a lot of leeway given from a guy who completely sized up Mike Webber’s ceiling from a couple of shoestring tackles EARLY in his FRESHMAN year!
Jim, Weber hasn’t proven me wrong yet. I also remember while he only had a couple carries the whole game against Clemson he still fumbled during those carries. Give me something to consider other than what I’ve pointed out instead of indicting me based on something that hasn’t been proven wrong yet.
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