The Ohio State offense has not gotten off to the same start it did a year ago when the Buckeyes were averaging 64.5 points and 650 yards of total offense after the first two games.
But that doesn’t mean things are on the downswing.
Ohio State is currently averaging 43.5 points per game and 488.5 yards of total offense. They have the most balanced offense in the Big Ten, with 51.9% of their offense coming from the running game and 48.1% coming through the air.
There are currently three Buckeyes with 100 yards rushing and two over 100 yards receiving. Seven different players have scored touchdowns in two games.
These are all numbers that pose problems for opposing coaches, but Indiana defensive coordinator Kane Wommack has seen some things that make him think his Hoosier defense will be up to the task, and most of it centers around new Buckeye starting quarterback Justin Fields.
Fields has not yet looked like Ohio State’s weak spot, as he is currently completing 76.0% of his passes and sitting at second in the Big Ten’s pass efficiency rankings. He has also added 103 yards rushing in two games and only three players in the conference have more rushing touchdowns than he does (3).
After two starts for the Buckeyes:
Dwayne Haskins 561 total yards, 9 TDs accounted for, 1 INT
Justin Fields 561 total yards, 9 TDs accounted for, 0 INT
— Tony Gerdeman (@TonyGerdeman) September 9, 2019
Indiana’s defense held Eastern Illinois quarterback Johnathan Brantley’s mobility in check last week, allowing him just nine rushing yards. But this Saturday is a different challenge altogether.
This is the biggest start of Fields’ career. This will be the best defense he’s faced and it will be his first time starting on the road. There are a number of reasons for him to have concerns, but now with two starts under his belt, his confidence grows by the day.
The Hoosiers definitely understand the problems that Fields poses, and yet they see some problems that they will pose for him as well.
“I think for what we do defensively we’ve always had to deal with that,” Wommack said of Fields’ ability to run. “We’ve always had to build ourselves schematically around stopping the quarterback run game. I think they do some nice things in taking care of their quarterback and at the same time, getting him in some one-on-one matchups. They do a nice job of that.
“From our perspective, there’s some things that we feel like we’re probably going to be able to take advantage of. And frankly, every time that guy has his hands on the ball, we’re going to try to get some pretty good shots on him.”
Fields and Ohio State head coach Ryan Day understand the need to avoid unnecessary physical contact, and so far the sophomore quarterback has done a good job of avoiding getting hit hard while he is running the ball. Fields has, however, taken some shots in the passing game, which is another area where Wommack feels good about his defense’s opportunities this weekend.
“They’re really aggressive in their play-action game with shots downfield,” he said. “I think they do a really nice job of trying to force you to get downhill and to create some one-on-one matchups. Obviously, there’s probably some things that they probably leave at risk by doing that. We’ve got to take advantage of those things, and I think we will.”