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The Buckeyes Offense Is Catching Fire

Joseph Maiorana -USA TODAY Sports Images

After a sluggish start, the Ohio State offense has come alive the last four weeks

Last time we saw Ohio State in the national spotlight, their offense was embarrassed in the second half by Oklahoma’s stout defense. The Buckeyes did not score in the second half and quarterback J.T. Barrett was held to 183 yards passing on the night with no touchdowns and an interception. Many were worried that the Buckeyes’ ineffective passing threat would be a major issue.

But like great teams do, the Buckeyes offense bounced back, and in a big way. Since their loss to Oklahoma, Ohio State has totaled no less the 584 yards of offense in each of their last four games, granted against inferior opponents. The Buckeyes are now fourth in the country in total yards per game at 568. Balance has also been a major key to the awakening of the offense. Ohio State is ranked 18th in rushing offense at 247.7 yards per game, and are ranked 14th in passing offense at 320.3 yards per game.

As for J.T. Barrett, he has put up some efficient numbers over the past four games:


TeamPassing Cmp.Passing Att.Passing YardsPassing TD’sInterceptionsRushing Att.Rushing YardsRushing TD’s
Army2533270    07321
UNLV1217209505150
Rutgers14222753010890
Maryland2031261308591


During this four game stretch, Barrett has also averaged over 10 yards a completion in each game. He averaged 17.4 yards per completion against UNLV and 19 yards per completion against Rutgers, showing that the Buckeyes’ deep threat ability is still there. Barrett has been able to deliver these numbers thanks to a clean pocket, delivering the most touchdown passes from the pocket without an interception in the FBS.

The passing game has also been aided by some fantastic play at wide receiver, a corp led by the junior trio of Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, and Johnnie Dixon. The three receivers have combined for 845 yards receiving on the season, and have helped revive the Ohio State passing attack.

A big reason for the resurgence of Ohio State’s passing game has simply been a return to basic passing offense. This play shows Johnnie Dixon running a simple curl route. J.T. Barrett finds him in the soft spot in the defense and results in a touchdown.

Short passes force the defense to come up and try to take away YAC or yards after the catch. This, paired with J.T. Barrett’s ability to extend the play with his feet, gives the offense a chance to hit the home run pass, as they did here against Rutgers.

For the ground game, the workhorse has been true freshman running back J.K. Dobbins, who has tallied 669 yards rushing on 88 carries, and accounting for four touchdowns. Since the Oklahoma game, Dobbins has averaged more than 6.8 yards per carry in each game. His quickness and explosiveness have added another dimension to the running game.

His backfield mate, sophomore running back Mike Weber, was relegated to a short-yardage back, where he has been effective for the Buckeyes. Weber has rushed for 145 yards on 30 carries and four touchdowns. J.T. Barrett has also made his mark in the running game, rushing for 322 yards on 61 carries for three touchdowns. This three-headed rushing attack has been a fantastic compliment to the Buckeyes’ improved passing game.

Many Buckeye fans were quick to credit first-year offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson with helping orchestrate the offense’s turnaround. However, Wilson was adamant that the credit went to J.T. Barrett instead of himself:

“One, (criticism from the outside) comes with the territory of what position he plays, and it comes with the territory of where he plays,” Wilson said. “Hopefully me and (quarterbacks coach Ryan) Day are getting through to him to quit worrying so much and quit trying to be perfect, and trust yourself, trust your teammates. Don’t be foolish and careless, but live on the edge and start anticipating and cutting it loose a little bit.” 

(Nick McWilliams/Buckeye Grove)

Whoever the Buckeye faithful decide to claim as the savior of their offense is up to them, but one thing is for certain. This Buckeye offense is locked and loaded for the home stretch of the Big Ten season.

**All stats courtesy of espn.com, sports-reference.com/cfb, stats.ncaa.org, and cfbstats.com

Edited by Brian Kang, Peyten Maki.

SQuiz
Against Army, J.T. Barrett became the all-time Big Ten touchdown leader, who previously held the record?
Created 10/12/17
  1. Denard Robinson
  2. Drew Brees
  3. Troy Smith
  4. Antwaan Randle El

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