Ohio State simply doesn’t lose a night game at home, or at least opponents aren’t suppose to make it look easy. However, that’s exactly what happened on Saturday night as the No. 2 Buckeyes were beaten by No. 5 Oklahoma 31-16.
In some quarters it was Ohio State’s decision to abandon the run game (what were they supposed to do when trailing?).
In other quarters, a lack of a cohesive passing attack was to blame (and there’s plenty of truth in that).
Some are pointing the fingers at the pass defense (and who can blame them after that performance on Saturday?).
Still others are looking at a program with issues developing depth at key skill positions as a problem.
What went right in Week 1, went horribly wrong in Week 2 — mainly the dynamic playmakers couldn’t make plays.
J.T. Barrett was just 19 of 35 for 183 yards and no touchdowns through the air.
Dynamic H-back Parris Campbell was held in check, putting up just three receptions for 27 yards.
Meanwhile, freshman running back sensation J.K.Dobbins was held to only 72 yards and a touchdown.
Simply put, that formula isn’t going to win you games against quality opponents, and head coach Urban Meyer made his displeasure in the performance of his supposed leaders known post-game.
“I’m never going to point the finger at the quarterbacks,” said Meyer. “I’m going to say he’s the head dog and he’s accountable. … But I’m going to make it perfectly clear: There’s not a bull’s-eye on J.T. Barrett.”
Who should the bullseye be on then?
Perhaps the bullseye should be on Meyer and the coaching staff? After all, they are the ones who call plays and put this team in the positions they were in on Saturday night.
It may seem strange to suggest, but there is even inexperience on the coaching staff. Sure, Kevin Wilson and Greg Schiano are veteran minds, but both are in their first seasons as coordinators for the Buckeyes. Wilson isn’t even the one calling the shots with the quarterbacks, which was a puzzling move considering his long history of getting the most out of that position.
Wilson was brought in in the hopes of upping the ante in the passing game. That hasn’t happened through two games at all. Instead, a youthful set of receivers and a veteran quarterback have struggled to find a rhythm in large part.
Barrett has completed just 55.7 percent of his passes for 487 yards and three touchdowns to an interception already this season.
Sophomore wide receiver K.J. Hill leads all receivers with seven receptions, but that’s only produced 50 yards. Meanwhile, Johnnie Dixon leads all wide receivers with just 77 yards through two games.
Take away Parris Campbell’s big day against Indiana to open the season and the numbers are anemic for the Buckeyes young wide receiver group.
It isn’t just youth and inexperience on offense that has reared its ugly head early on this season. Ohio State’s pass defense has shown to be just as bad as the offensive output.
Oklahoma just simply picked Ohio State apart with quick passes around the line of scrimmage. Normally that would mean short gains, but the Buckeyes decided covering players at the line of scrimmage wasn’t a priority.
Too often a five-yard pass over the middle turned in to 10, 15 or even 20 yards.
It all added up to a Sooners passing game that amassed 386 yards and three touchdowns.
Sooners quarterback Baker Mayfield was a wholly efficient 25 of 37 passing for those 386 yards and three touchdowns as well.
Even youthful running back Trey Sermon did his best to show the Buckeyes offense what they should’ve looked like. He had just 62 yards on the ground, but also put up three receptions for 27 yards and a key score to power his team past Ohio State.
It was the type of efficient effort that Dobbins and Co. couldn’t put up and the Buckeyes defense couldn’t stop.
Through two games it is clear OSU’s passing offense is stagnant at best and it’s pass defense is porous as hell.
Ohio State’s pass defense is the worst in the Big Ten, giving up an average of 403 yards per game through the air. No seriously, think about that for a second. Ohio State is the worst in the conference in a stat category.
When was the last time that happened?
One could argue OSU has also played two of the most difficult passing offenses anyone in the Big Ten would see all season long. That is a good point, but so is the fact that Ohio State has failed against said passing games and teams are only going to continue to draw up game plans to exploit that weakness.
Indiana’s wide receiver group is considered one of the deepest in the Big Ten, so giving up big numbers to them on the road wasn’t exactly a head-turner.
Seeing the film, doing nothing to correct it and arguably regressing at home against a big time opponent? That’s worrisome.
While all of that doesn’t add up to a lot of confidence going forward, the good news is that there is a wealth of experience and knowledge on the coaching staff to draw from. This also happens to be just Week 2 of the season.
Problems exist to be sure, but this isn’t the time to hit the panic button just yet.
Now, if the same problems are here in Week 6 or 7? By all means, hit that panic button because all the hype meant nothing to the reality of this team.
Right now, it is time for the Buckeyes to do some soul-searching and make some serious changes from within. If they can do that, this season is far from lost, if not, it will be a season of what-if for plenty of reasons.