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.