Ten Things We Learned from Ohio State's 38-17 Win Over Indiana
COLUMBUS — Ohio State led Indiana by just seven points late in the third quarter, which while a disappointment for Buckeye fans, should surprise absolutely nobody given the way things have played out over the last five years between these two teams.
Despite the struggles, the Buckeyes were one bad call away from winning by the four touchdowns that Vegas was calling for. Still, that potential Malik Hooker pick six was not going to be enough to erase the questions surrounding the Ohio State passing game, which will be much of the focus of this week's Ten Things We Learned.
So what did we learn?
1. The passing game is not getting better.
It was windy on Saturday, but not so windy that the Buckeyes shouldn't be able to figure out how to complete more than just nine of 21 pass attempts. Heck, isn't that what screens and jet sweeps are for? Every pass seemed like a struggle. J.T. Barrett threw the ball eight times on third down and picked up just one first down. They were zero for their final seven such attempts in this game. When Indiana holds you to 93 yards passing, you are doing something wrong.
2. Curtis Samuel cannot be neglected like this again. Ever.
Curtis Samuel finished with nine carries or 82 yards and zero receptions against the Hoosiers. Urban Meyer said after the game that even the nine carries weren't enough compared to the 15-20 touches they want Samuel to have. When your offense is struggling like this one was on Saturday, then maybe you should get the guy who averages eight yards per carry and 15 yards per catch involved a bit more than you have.
Part of Samuel's lack of touches was directly tied to J.T. Barrett's inability to either see him when he was open, or complete an accurate pass to him. Nobody is going to keep Samuel from getting open on passing routes for an entire game, so when he doesn't get any catches that's not his fault. And if you want him carrying the ball more than nine times, there's an easy solution for that as well. This didn't seem to be one of the Buckeyes' better offensive game plans and Samuel not having more say in the outcome was just one reason why. If he really is your best playmaker -- which he is, then let him make some plays.
3. A little adversity is good for the football soul.
Adversity is a wonderful thing as long as it doesn't ruin your season. While the Buckeyes weren't ever in danger of having that happen yesterday, it did allow them to experience some difficulty and overcome it. The passing game wasn't working, so they did what they normally do -- run the quarterback until the game is over. It's not a flawless plan, but it's been pretty darn close since Urban Meyer arrived. It's his own version of Tresselball. Call it Meyerball, I guess. And now this team goes to Wisconsin without feeling invincible, yet confident enough that should tough times arise, they will be able to handle it.
4. Jerome Baker is going to be an All-B1G player at some point.
I know Ryan Shazier plays on Sunday, but I swear I saw him wearing No. 17 for the Buckeyes on Saturday. Jerome Baker finished with a game-high 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. He flashed into the backfield just like Shazier used to, wrapping up a ball carrier like a boa constrictor. He involves himself in everything. He's basically the nosy neighbor of the Ohio State defense. I'd call him a future All-American, but since he is already a sophomore, that means he's only got one more year at Ohio State after this one, so he might not have enough time to get it done.
5. There is a trust chasm between Urban Meyer and J.T. Barrett.
It's weird. Urban Meyer and Ed Warinner didn't have a whole lot of faith in J.T. Barrett to throw the ball in the second half in this game, but they had a whole bunch of faith in him when it came to running the ball. The distance between those two levels of trust was as wide as the football field yesterday. There was never a thought like, "Well, J.T. will work this out. Let's keep slinging it." No, this was, "Well, J.T. doesn't have it today, so we can't let him lose it for us, so make sure nobody else but J.T. touches the ball so that we can win."
It's just a weird dichotomy. On one hand he frightens you, but on the other hand he's the only thing that keeps you calm. But I think this is pretty standard for Meyer. This is his version of "winning the surest way" and he's been pretty successful with it. But like with Tresselball, it only takes one play for that philosophy to be rightfully maligned.
6. It is now okay to have conversations about Nick Bosa being better than his brother.
On Indiana's failed fourth-and-one attempt in the fourth quarter, Sam Hubbard said after the game that that was Nick Bosa's first rep in the goal line package. They put him there because he's strong, which he showed when he and nose tackle Mike Hill stuffed Devin Redding for a loss of two. The stop kept Indiana from coming within one touchdown of the Buckeyes, and eventually that lead was stretched to three touchdowns.
Bosa finished with four tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss. He now has 13 tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks after five games. His brother Joey after five games? Eleven tackles, two tackles for loss and no sacks. And Joey had started three games by that point. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Nick is better than his brother was as a freshman, but I'm saying you should be allowed to discuss the matter freely among friends without being scoffed at.
7. The offense won't reach its potential until the deep balls start landing.
This game is much different if J.T. Barrett connects with just two of the three or so deep balls that he missed to open receivers. You add another hundred yards to his passing stats and two more touchdowns and you're looking at the same kind of performance he had against Oklahoma, but with a bunch more rushing yards. If you combine Barrett's ability to run the ball, which the Buckeyes can call on at any time effectively, to a solid deep passing attack, then you're talking about an Ohio State offense that might be one of the best in the nation.
But if the deep passes aren't happening, then the entire offense is going to look a little wonky. The problem wasn't the lack of a deep threat, it was Barrett's inability to hit the deep threats that were open. He said after the game that he didn't play well and he needs to make better reads and complete the plays that are available to him. These are the kinds of plays that are available and until they are capitalized on, then you're going to see some similar outings from this offense.
8. The defensive tackles are ready for prime time.
I'm convinced that ESPN should employ a Robert Landers Cam and just have one feed entirely on him. He had two tackles for loss for the third time in four games. Fellow redshirt freshman Dre'Mont Jones is tied with Raekwon McMillan for the team lead in tackles (13) over the last two weeks. Nose tackle Mike Hill came up huge on the fourth-and-one play. And defensive ends Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa both hold up very well when they come in for the rushmen package. Indiana had a couple of drives in this game where they had some success going up the middle, but when you look at the final numbers you see the Hoosiers with 40 rushing attempts for 99 yards. The running backs ran it 37 times for 101 yards (2.7 ypc), and that's always going to be a win for the defensive line.
9. The Buckeyes are going to have to win a game by throwing the ball at some point.
Yeah, like next week. Wisconsin has the No. 1 rush defense in the Big Ten (90.4 ypg), and as much as the Buckeyes like to show that they can run on anybody, they are still going to have to look like a team that can throw the ball on anybody as well. The Badgers are going to sell out to stop the run as all teams do, and it will be up to the Ohio State passing attack to make them regret that plan of attack.
If the weather conditions aren't perfect, do you think Urban Meyer is going to throw it around? Or do you think he is going to go back to his "security blanket" of Barrett getting 20-plus carries? Ohio State is more talented than Wisconsin, but an inability to throw the ball effectively has a way of bringing everybody down to the same level. Meyer said after the game that he's not sure why the passing game struggled. He better find out pretty quickly, because they're going to need it next week in Madison.
10. Gareon Conley is in the zone right now.
There was a third-and-four play in this game that saw a rarity: a pass completed in Gareon Conley's neighborhood. Don't misread that -- the pass wasn't completed on Conley, it was completed behind the zone he dropped into because Malik Hooker was a bit late to the scene. Conley was targeted four times in man coverage in this game and gave up zero receptions, breaking up two of those passes.
The only reason he didn't break up all four is because the other two weren't accurate enough to be as close to the receiver as Conley was. Conley has now gone three games without allowing a reception. We should all probably slow down on Marshon Lattimore or Malik Hooker being the best player in the secondary, because right now there is no question that that player is Conley. In man coverage, Conley has given up a total of 25 yards passing this season. In other words, he's allowing five yards passing per game. That's an 11 on the impressive scale.
Ohio State Announces Champions After Indiana Win
COLUMBUS — When winning by three touchdowns is disappointing for Ohio State as it was in Saturday's 38-17 win over Indiana, you can expect few players to be rewarded for their performances.
On Monday, Buckeye head coach Urban Meyer announced champions for the victory over the Hoosiers.
For an offense that put up 383 yards on 71 plays, the Scarlet and Gray had just two offensive champions and both were offensive linemen in Pat Elflein and Jamarco Jones.
After holding IU to just 281 total yards, and less than 100 rushing, the Buckeyes had eight defensive champions, five of which were defensive linemen. Michael Hill, Jalyn Holmes, Sam Hubbard, Dre’mont Jones and Nick Bosa, as well as cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley and Denzel Ward were all given champion status.
Defensive end Tyquan Lewis was the defensive player of the game. He finished with five solo tackles, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble.
Special teams player of the week goes to Parris Campbell who had the fourth-most kickoff return yards in school history with 149, including 91-yard return just before the half.
Special teams special mention to the three gunners – James Clark, Eric Glover-Williams and Terry McLaurin – for keeping the Hoosiers from gaining any punt yardage.
There was no offensive player of the game.