Ohio State entered the game versus Iowa ranked near the top 5 nationally in Total Offense, while yours truly undermined the offensive prowess of the Hawkeyes, even referring to their offense as “archaic.”
While most of us celebrated Halloween earlier in the week, it appears as though the Buckeyes celebrated by showing up late to the party dressed up as an inept offense and all that was left in the candy bowl was the garbage that nobody wants like Pixie Stix or Almond Joys.
The defense of the Buckeyes has been taking the most heat this week after surrendering 48 of the 55 points last week. While it is alarming, the fact that Ohio State routinely curls up offensively into a protective shell during important games is perhaps more glaring.
In this week’s Buckeye Breakdown, we take a look at some of the issues that lead to the debacle, as well as launch an Amber Alert for the creativity we’ve seen earlier in the season.
Right from the start, J.T. Barrett showed a lack of decision-making that has otherwise been rock solid this season. Instead of taking what the offense was giving him, he held the ball and ultimately delivered a pass late and over the middle, two major no-nos for a QB.
What stands out the most on the play is that his initial read is Marcus Baugh to the flat, and it is wide open for an easy 5-7 yards. The Buckeyes needed to take the easy yards to play with any sort of rhythm and tempo and it was plays like this that ultimately tied their hands and took away their own strengths offensively.
Barrett never seemed to recover following the disastrous start as he continued to force the ball downfield on his way to 4 interceptions. Here he came off his initial read, the wheel route versus a linebacker, to make a more difficult throw on the run.
Lack of Creativity
As I had mentioned in last week’s edition of Reading the Buckeye Leaves, Ohio State needed to attack the edges versus the Hawkeyes, and even alluded to the simple pitch play we had seen versus Nebraska. The problem appeared to be in the timing and execution of the play as Barrett would double-clutch the pitch, which allowed the Hawkeyes to pursue the play more quickly.
To throw more salt into the wounds of the offense, when the fake pitch was called it would have gone for a big gain.
There are a multitude of ways to attack the perimeter of a defense, yet the Buckeyes relied on simplicity and repetition instead of misdirection. Getting the ball into the hands of playmakers in space would also go a long way towards moving the chains and providing a much-needed rest for a tired and beaten defense.
With a struggling quarterback, it is the responsibility of the Offensive Coordinators to provide him with more manageable reads and easy throws to establish a rhythm. Not only did we not see a single bubble screen to establish the horizontal passing game, we never saw an RPO. Both work hand in hand and both have been a staple of the offense this season.
With aggressive linebackers, the Buckeyes’ offensive braintrust did little or nothing to manipulate these defenders or put them in any sort of conflict. By doing so, the middle runs and read options would open up, as well as the vertical passing game.
In an offense designed around multiple concepts based upon defensive strategies, the Buckeyes lacked the creativity to put the team in a position to win.
With a tough game and their backs against the ropes, we will learn a lot about the fight of this team this week against Michigan State. Can they get back to creative, multi-dimensional football or will they simply choose to once again rely on their “get out of jail free card?”