Ohio State's Offense is Grooving, but its Goal is Ridiculous

By Kyle Rowland on October 17, 2013 at 9:15a
It's electric!

Ohio State ranks in the top 20 nationally in total offense and rushing offense. The Buckeyes have scored 36 touchdowns, average 493 total yards per game – 281 on the ground – and gain nearly seven yards each play. Yet, they aren’t clicking.


That’s the message from both players and coaches. Expectations have soared at Ohio State. Wins are still the bottom line goal, but an exciting offense that produces yards and highlight-reel plays in bunches is desired. College football will resemble a beauty pageant for one more year, so being attractive to voters remains important.

A Dontre Wilson end-around resulting in a 46-yard touchdown run is akin to a pretty face and voluptuous body on Miss Ohio. While judges at the Miss America contest might give her a 10, college football voters – media and coaches – give the Buckeyes a boost when they win big and do so in stirring fashion.

It hasn’t happened often enough in 2013, with the polls as evidence. Ohio State has dropped two spots in the AP Poll and one in the Coaches Poll since the season began. And that’s with a perfect 6-0 record. True, there are no marquee wins. But another factor is, when given the opportunity to pile up points, the Buckeyes haven’t taken advantage.

Wisconsin could end the season with two losses and be the best team Ohio State plays in the regular season. Leading 31-14 in the third quarter, the Buckeyes went conservative instead of widening the margin. They won 31-24 and the doubters became louder. Meyer was one of those critics.

“I think we are not as explosive as some of these teams,” he said Monday. “That’s something I want to be. If I had to grade us, we are not explosive from first to fourth quarter.”

Oregon and Clemson get noticed not just for wins, but also who they come against and the creativity used to achieve victory. After a bye week, time for Ohio State to take a breather and return fresh, the final six regular season games could welcome the offense many thought the Buckeyes would run this season.

Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde, Dontre Wilson, Jordan Hall, Philly Brown, Devin Smith and others making defenses look silly on a continuous basis.

“We can get a lot better,” Brown said. “You can never reach your peak, especially at this level. We still make a lot of mistakes, and we see it on film and leave a lot of points on the field. Even [at Northwestern], I feel like we could have scored better in the red zone.”

When Drayton was asked where the offense could improve, he became a third-grader who was scared to give a presentation in front of the class. He stuttered for several seconds before the thought finally came to him.

“I think that by the end of the year it will be a ridiculous offense.”

“We haven’t clicked on all cylinders just yet,” he said. Keep in mind, however, that Ohio State is averaging 47 points per game. The program has never had a season average reach that level.

As recently as two seasons ago, the Buckeyes had trouble scoring 17 points in a game, let alone 47. The leading receiver had 14 catches, gamebreakers were nowhere to be found and the Buckeyes won six games. They haven’t lost since the 2011 finale.

Prior to that, fans bristled at Tresselball. It was too hard to be upset, though, when 10-win seasons, victories over Michigan and BCS bowls were a yearly occurrence. A coaching change from Jim Tressel to Luke Fickell didn’t change the offense. It just so happens the offense had a true freshman quarterback and a senior quarterback who played like anything but a veteran. Not to mention turmoil swirled all around, sucking the entire team into a vortex.

The final straw from fans was that the offense couldn’t produce wins like it did the previous decade. Now, Ohio State once again has two quarterbacks that have played – a junior who finished fifth in the Heisman voting and a senior that sets school records every time he starts.

Perfect the Buckeyes are not, though.

“We haven’t had a game where the run completely supported the pass and the pass completely supported the run,” Drayton said.

Mention of that inconsistency is true, and it’s something that’s annoyed Meyer. Balance on offense is paramount. He prefers a breakdown of 60 percent run plays and 40 percent passing.

The closest Ohio State has come to that ratio in yardage was at Cal. The Buckeyes ran for 332 yards and threw for another 276. Not coincidentally, it was Ohio State’s best overall performance of the season. It happened to involve 10 skill players filling up the box score – seven receivers and three tailbacks. 

“We couldn’t do that last year,” Meyer said. “There were games I refused to call [pass plays] because they were going to be covered and we couldn’t throw it. That’s a big part of who we are. So we would have more explosive pass plays.”

On Wednesday, Miller said Iowa would present the stiffest test of the season for the Buckeye offense. That’s probably hyperbole, though the answer will come Saturday. Don’t be shocked if Miller’s statement proves to be wildly inaccurate. It’s not to say the Hawkeyes aren’t good on defense, but Ohio State will have an offense at full strength.

For two weeks, they’ve been gearing up to run crossing patterns and implement Wilson and Hall. New wrinkles could be seen all over the offense. Wilson was supposed to give the Buckeyes the look of SEC and Pac-12 offenses, but he’s still just a novelty, according to Meyer. It’s partly true and partly a motivational ploy. It could also very well mean that Wilson will touch the ball close to 10 times on Saturday. 

Said Brown: “If we keep working every day in practice and keep getting better and taking this game-by-game, I think that by the end of the year it will be a ridiculous offense.”

Some evidence points to that already being the case.


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4thandinches's picture

Hard to imagine what this offense would look like clicking on all cylinders. Would be nice to see it in the second half of this season. 

I wasn't born a Buckeye but I became one as fast as I could. 

Doc's picture

I'm hoping the offense opens up a big 'ol can of Whoop Ass on Saturday.  We need to destroy the "Fightin' Ferentz's" and look good doing it.

CJDPHoS Member

The Official DDS of 11W

Gametime's picture

I'm not one of those guys who thinks Kenny G (though I love Smooth Jazz) should start, BUT when the article began with mentioning "clicking on all cylinders" I have to admit that his performance against Cal (& to some extent FAMU) is immediately what I thought of.

Basically all the WRs, TEs, & RBs touching the rock, along with poise, patience, and TOUCH in the pocket.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

pjtobin's picture

I see your point. And have to agree. I know that Braxton can do the same thing though. We have seen it. Just not this year ?!?! I'm hoping that Xbrax and the entire offense can get clicking. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

BenArazi4's picture

I don't think we've ever seen Braxton distribute nearly as well as Kenny.  The playcalling is also more conservative when he's in the game in terms of throwing downfield.  Kenny gets the O firing on all cylinders where as Brax is more of a do it yourself kind of guy who hesitates to give the ball because he still isn't comfortable in the offense.




Gametime's picture

I think Braxton is still making the transition from being playmaker at the QB position versus a QB who is a playmaker and it seems like, despite what reports have said, that the play-calling between Braxton & Kenny G was slightly different.
I'm sure we all don't care much for too many designed runs for Braxton despite what kind of athlete he is. We've got a fresh stable of backs with Hyde, Hall, Smith, Dontre, & Zeke. Let's let THEM run the ball, not just so Brax doesn't get banged up, but also so his read options become a wrinkle in the offense rather than part of the main offense attack.
I've got faith that if we gave Hall and/or Smith 8 or 9 carries a piece they could produce similar results in totality that Braxton can with his designed runs and without the risk of him getting nicked up.
This isn't a knock on Braxton by any stretch, but having the ability to do vs. doing on a consistent basis is now the rub with him. When we compare him to comparable playmaking QBs (Boyd, Manziel, Mariotta, Winston) Braxton has comparable ability, but does he pass the eye test/look the part?
I think that's what got people so hyped about Kenny G. Despite playing against weaker competition, he looked like he had complete command of the offense, and was comfortable running it. Even when Braxton has had great games statistically, he doesn't necessarily look the part, if that makes sense?
I hope he's on his way!

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

ibuck's picture

If I could, I would upvote GAMETIME & BENARAZI4 for their sober analysis of OSU's QB play. There are several reasons Guiton's not in there, IMO,  including that Braxton will be back next year, while this season is Kenny's last hurrah. The more Miller plays, the better he gets. Just wish the progress was faster.
Also would upvote BuckeyePastor's comment below.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

balbak buck's picture

I do agree with statement.KG deserve a chance to show case his talent.He has paid his dues, and with him playing in games ,will present a problem for the other team..

buckeyepastor's picture

Oregon hasn't played anyone, really, apart from Washington.   Funny thing is, the final score of the Washington game makes it look like a dominant convincing win even though Washington was matching them punch for punch through most of the day.  Only a couple of late scores made it look like a very different sort of ball game than what it was.   On the flip side, OSU shut down Wisconsin with the exception of some big plays to Abbrederis and were in position to run away with it in the 4th quarter which would have made the nation say, "Damn, they are a very good team."   Instead, we seemed to coast and Wisconsin closed the gap making that game look a lot closer than it actually was.   
Miller will be the "x-factor" during the second half of the season.  If he makes good decisions in the zone read and runs with confidence and is decisive about things, we have the line and the skill players to nudge that points per game average up above 50.   If Miller continues to look indecisive and shaky on designed runs and makes poor reads in terms of handing off or keeping, we will continue to win but will play games that are closer than expected.   
I don't think any margin of victory is going to win over most of the doubters at this point.   The B1G has not shown improvement and big wins over Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, even Penn State will get yawns from a lot of people.  But I think it's fair to expect some big margins because we have the personnel that us at our best vs. them at their best should bring about those results.   

"Woody would have wanted it that way" 

Buckeye06's picture

This offense would easily be scoring 50+ if they would keep their foot on the gas into the 4th quarter.  I don't personally advocate that, but if there is a way to tell me "if we score 60 or more points in the next 6 games, and win each of them by 30+, we will gain points and be in the title game" then I will listen.  To me, a 3 TD win is usually the same as a 6 TD win, it's just one team took the foot off the gas earlier

BuckeyeQ6's picture

Seems like the best D we'll play in the regular season was Wisconsin (Michigan State is probably better).  Wisconsin plays very well against spread teams, as evidenced by limiting OSU the last two years and shutting down Northwestern.  Still, we scored 31 against them this year and were on pace to eclipse 40 but took the foot off the pedal to secure the win against a good Wisconsin team.  I don't think we do that against Iowa.


That is definitely something the naysayers and whiners keep forgetting. The injuries, suspensions and mental mistakes took a FAR greater toll on the offense (and defense) than anyone realizes. A great unit needs cohesion and familiarity to to be optimal, yet Brax was out for most of the first half of the season, Hyde was out and now we have Hall hobbled a little. We have only been at full strength for 3 1/2 quarters (vs. Wisconsin before Bryant went down) all season! We saw flashes of what this offense can really do during the Wisconsin and NW games and if this team gets clicking and back to full strength I have no doubt they're going to roll people. We keep getting hurt then its going to throw a wrench into the engine. People talk about how much greater Oregon's offense is right now. If Mariota gets hurt I guarantee you they won't be as dynamic. Same thing for any offense that loses its best player. We lost our two best players for most of the season and are still averaging 47 points a game!

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

dlb72osu's picture

IBS&G - Good synopsis of the first half of the season. Whereas we may get back the full offensive contingency the OSU defense is without a leader and captain for the remainder of the year. And that is a loss on many levels.
In Rose Bowl 2010 Oregon's speed and elite players were going to blow our door's off. How did that work out for them? But, as an aside, Mariota is an incredible player. Gets my October Heisman vote.

I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.

- Invictus

Hovenaut's picture

I'm hopeful to see new gears come Saturday and down the stretch. 
Hyde himself said he really feels back, as well as Brax saying he and his knee are 100%.
With Herman looking to add some passing game spice - a la crossing routes/hitting receivers on the go - I believe this all adds up to marked improvement. 
Looking for that start to finish game (or the contest is well in hand for the good guys). 

calebhouser9's picture

Ridiculous sounds great to me! Tired of the BCS crap and us having to worry about winning with "Style points" or having other teams lose in order for us to jump in the polls, but that's the way it is for the rest of this season... Let's get the style points we need! Go Bucks!


Oldschoolbuck's picture

I know this isn't really related to the post, but it was very interesting to me:                              My wife sat next to a Jets' scout on a plane about two weeks ago (she's also been seated beside Mike Turico. Of course, she had no clue who he was!). She told him I was a graduate of THE Ohio State University and, of course, a die-hard Buckeye fan. He said that he really liked what Urban was doing here, especially on offense. If I would have been sitting with him, I probably would have been pushing to see if there were any players they were scouting (doubt if he would have told me).
Anyway, he also thought Urban's ban on wearing blue to practice was amusing -- he wasn't offended or anything.

Scarlet_Lutefisk's picture

Oh I bet the Jets scout loves the ban given what the team colors are for the Giants.

ChazBuckeye's picture

Read and react is key in this game and from here on out.  OSU's offense will be fine as long as Braxton reads his keys and makes good decisions.  If that happens, OSU's offense will be ridiculous like Philly Brown said. 

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

allinosu's picture

Don't fall for this. When braxton stepped on the field the wide open play calling went with kenny. How long have we heard about all these weapons only to watch them stand on the sideline.After the first drive we go right back to being predictible. But as long as we win and we will, what the heck. I'm just tired of hearing how dynamic our offense is when it's clearly not. None of our remaining games will be lopsided because it's not who we are. We didn't score an offensive touchdown until the third quarter against nw. We will continue to play offense when we need to and it's good enough. I am excited about to possibilities on defense. It's coming together and by the end I feel it will be suffocating.GOBUCKS 

BenArazi4's picture

I agree with you man, and some people may not like to hear it but the playcalling is much more conservative with Braxton in the game.  I don't think Herman has a lot of confidence in Braxton throwing downfield, great playmaker with his feet but still has a long way to go as a QB




d5k's picture

The playcalling is conservative when Urban is preserving a lead.  First half vs. Wisconsin we were airing it out for 50 yard TD's if you recall.  Northwestern showed us a defense that took away deep passes and QB runs and we finally realized we could just pound Hyde to victory in the 2nd half.  It isn't all about conservative vs. aggressive, it is about having things you do well and constraining the defense so you can have success with those things (i.e. run Hyde and Miller, play action and edge plays to constrain).

ibuck's picture

Agreed CHAZBUCKEYE, ALLINOSU, BENARAZI4 & DSK. Braxton has to show he can actually distribute the ball to playmakers better, including seeing the open receiver and hitting receivers in stride, before the Guiton fans will jump on his bandwagon.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

d5k's picture

You aren't agreeing with me to be fair.

ibuck's picture

I actually do agree with you if your point is about changing playcalls to adapt to what the defense is giving. I just wish the coaches would adapt faster.

Our honor defend, so we'll fight to the end !

If you can't win your conference, just quietly accept your non-playoff bowl game.

avail31678's picture

Agreed D5K.  I am SO thankful we are making adjustments.  In Bollman days we would have kept on running Dave.  I am glad we can air the ball out when we have to, and I'm glad we can pound the ball when we have to.

BenArazi4's picture

You're right its super conservative when Urban's preserving a lead, Tressel conservative.  However, even in the first quarter, he may come out firing but the passes completely stop, its obvious Herman doesn't have as much confidence in Braxton throwing downfield.




saltybuck61's picture

Completely agree. The flexibility of the play calling has stood out to me, and I believe that this is one of the reasons the offense is as successful as it is. It isn't always flashy, but it doesn't have to be. Ohio State has made a habit of starting fast this year, which is something that they never did last year. Being conservative with the play calling works well when the team is up by three or four touchdowns.

avail31678's picture

I hear ya (some)...but we currently have the highest point average per game in OSU history.  Let that sink in a bit. 

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I'll be interested to see how Brax does this week.  He came back from injury against our two toughest opponents of the season.  Now he's got those 2 games plus a bye week under his belt.  Let's see how he looks against Iowa.  An elite offense hangs at least 45 on the Hawkeyes.  

Yeti's have feelings too.

shaggybuckeye's picture

I don't know about hanging 45 on Iowa via just an elite offense. They have always had a decent defense and rarely get blown out. I think in order to score 45 against Iowa special teams and/or defense would need to get in on the scoring too. Being as run heavy as Iowa is if they don't have turnovers the opportunity to score that many points drops dramatically.
Though living in Iowa, I would abso-freakin-lutely love it if the Bucks hung 60 on em.

d5k's picture

Exactly, the only way we hang 45 on Iowa is if they turn the ball over a few times.

AndyVance's picture

Ohio State ranks in the top 20 nationally in total offense and rushing offense. The Buckeyes have scored 36 touchdowns, average 493 total yards per game – 281 on the ground – and gain nearly seven yards each play. Yet, they aren’t clicking.

Let's do a little statistical comparison, comparing this year's squad to the 2002 team that went 14-0, and the 2006 team that lost to Coach Meyer's Gators in the national title game (yes, that national title game):
EDIT: The tables would not show up in this thread, so I created a blog post with the data HERE.
So it's probably true that the game has changed in the years since those teams took the field, but it's safe to say that when it comes to our offense, we aren't in Kansas anymore. Let's look at the Defense:
EDIT: The tables would not show up in this thread, so I created a blog post with the data HERE.
On the face of it, as improved as our offense is compared to those two great teams of the Tressel era, the defenses are performing at a fairly similar level to the 2002 squad. That 2006 defense, on paper, looks absolutely amazing. In terms of yards allowed, the current squad through 6 games has actually allowed slightly fewer passing yards, while still being pretty dominant against the rush. Points allowed, obviously, is the bigger difference, allowing more than 19 points a game, while the two comparison squads barely allowed 13.

sir rickithda3rd's picture

i like how the team hasnt met its ceiling, yet remains the most prolific offense in osu history. i also believe the defense can continue to get better. roby alone if nothing else.

mark may wins douchebag of the year... again

steveoz49's picture

I'd like to see "ridiculous"... esp during The Game

Buckeye5000's picture

If we do harbor any hopes of making the BCS Champ., we are going to have to really lay on the points the rest of the year. We will also need some national contending teams to lose and have the stronger teams left on our schedule win as many games as possible. Also if we can manage to play a 11-1 Neb., or 11-1 MSU in the B1G Champ. it would help. 
I don't think it's justified, but that is the perception of the nation at large...a perception shoved down their throats by ESPiN and other talking heads.
Thank God it will be settled on the field next year...sort of...8 teams would leave little doubt but we are not there yet.
I was always very anti-playoff...I loved knowing every game counted and it created excitement every week. But when a team with OSU's tradition, from a power conference,...being so dominant in our conference the last decade+, having top ranked recruiting classes every year, having not lost in 2 years (if we win out) can be left out of the BCS Champ. Something needs to change.
Imho, we need to average 50+ over the next 5 games AND keep the next 5 under 15 per. to get back in the conversation.
With that said we could make it if these things happen:
1. Ala. wins out...thus eliminating all the 1 loss SEC schools (except maybe TXAM)
2: Oregon losses to Stanford
3: The winner of the Clemson vs FSU game losses to either Miami (FSU) or S.Carolina (Clemson)
That probably would get us in. 

2014 Undisputed National Champions!

shortbus20's picture

I will take another win like the 1995 game where we scored 56 points in the first half. Here is a link to the Ozone write up   http://www.the-ozone.net/football/Iowa95.htm

  • shortbus20
darbnurb's picture

IMO, style points are such a 1st-half-of-season discussion.  The second half is all about wins.  It is hard to believe that we will gain any spots by style points alone, nor lose any spots (unless a team directly behind us beats a team directly in front of us, which could happen this weekend) due to lack of style points.  The only way we move up now is through winning (and others in front losing).  I could be wrong statically, but the impression I have is that no team was left out of the title game because of not enough "style points" but rather because of SOS, wins, and timing of loses.  So can we stop talking about style points now that we are on the backside?  Urban will use whatever strategy gives us the best chance to win.  Of course, I will be coaching from the couch should he need any assistance.