Ohio State's Playbook Should Blossom in Due Time, But It Hinges on More Than Just J.T. Barrett

By Patrick Maks on September 1, 2014 at 4:05p
64 Comments

On a scale of 1-10, Devin Smith said Ohio State's offense operated at about a "four or five" against Navy Saturday. 

"We really didn't do a whole lot passing and running," the senior wide receiver said, "but we got the job done. That's all that matters.”

Sure, its output was enough to beat the Midshipmen 34-17 in Baltimore, but it took the Buckeyes the better part of three quarters to go from ugly to effective. 

"Offensively," head coach Urban Meyer said Monday, "that was very poor the first half."

And it wasn't until Smith caught an 80-yard bomb from redshirt freshman quarterback J.T. Barrett that Ohio State broke open a tight game. 

In some ways, its slow start last weekend was expected. It was Barrett's first competitive snap since high school alongside a supporting cast full of new faces and an offensive line replacing four starters. Meyer kept the game plan simple. 

"We had nine new starters on offense, that’s not a normal transition," he said Saturday. "(When) we kind of settled in, we only ran about four or five plays in the second half."

Added Meyer: "We went into a very vanilla (mode) last week."

Naturally, though, he wants to progressively open up the playbook as Barrett, who's charged with replacing the talented and dynamic Braxton Miller, settles into his newfound role as the starting quarterback of a team with championship aspirations.  

"We'll expand a little bit ... we will keep giving him more and more," Meyer said. 
Among players and coaches, confidence abounds over Barrett's ability to soak up more complicated concepts. 

"I think we're gonna get into it very quick," Smith said. "J.T. is a smart kid, he knows where to put the ball at. As skill players, as soon as we tough the ball we make stuff happen and so I feel like it's just a matter of time until we find ourselves and really know what we can do and cannot do."

But so much of it also hinges on a new-look offensive line that Meyer called "the number one concern" right now. Barrett's certainly a critical factor, but he's only as good as his protection up front. 

"I think Barrett's part of it, the offensive line is a big part of it," Meyer said. "What can those guys do and what can they do well. We're expecting them in next couple of weeks to be able to do it all well. It's not just J.T. When we say expand the playbook, it's for J.T. and it's for the offensive line." 

And with a nighttime bout against Virginia Tech and its vaunted defense looming this weekend, Ohio State needs an offense that isn't hamstrung by one or two plays. For that to happen, Barrett has to build upon a solid outing against Navy and the offensive line needs to shape up. 

"I'm expecting that to happen rather quickly," Meyer said. "It better, or we won't win this game."

64 Comments

Comments

nfischer's picture

I fully trust Warinner to have the OL clicking by the time B1G play starts.  Let's hope that they can still put up W's in the meantime.  I'm not so worried about JT.  He's not Braxton, but we would all have been totally happy before the game if we knew he had would have the stats he finished with yesterday.

+1 HS
D-Day0043's picture

Agreed. I think Warriner is going to have those boys squared away by this weekend. They looked a lot better even after half time.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

bucks4nuts's picture

Joel Hale I would think gets the start.. He helped in that 2nd qt

"To The House"

Nutinpa's picture

By this weekend?  That's expecting a lot....too much, considering the caliber of Defense coming to town. Warriner is a good coach, but not a miracle worker...not with this bunch. 

+1 HS
nikolajz1's picture

We've been hearing this for the last three years though. We'll see if it finally comes true. 

+5 HS
SAK's picture

I feel like this is the same story, over and over; heard year one, heard year two.  

+10 HS
BuckNutzGasMan's picture

I agree but hard to argue with 40 points a game.

+3 HS
Blackbeards Delight's picture

My argument, 40 points a game against 

BIG competition .

Crunchy Peanut Butter Bitches.

- Me

 

-6 HS
whobdis's picture

Averaging 40 points a game is pretty damn good..regardless of who your playing. The fact is..people complain if you don't open it up then complain when you don't hand it to Carlos every time. Everyone knows the problem last year had nothing to do with the offense.
 

+8 HS
OSU_undergrad's picture

I think the only real issue with the offense last year was that it disappeared at tipping points in games...like when we needed a score the most they didn't pull through (Mich. St., Clemson finish). But really when I type this out I realize it was the defense that caused this, because they never pulled out a win for us and built up way too much pressure on the offense.

+4 HS
SAK's picture

I'm not arguing about the points. I'm simply pointing out the rhetoric used over the past two years.

MountainsAwait's picture

Now that Meyer has all the weapons (well, except Miller) to replicate the type of dynamic offense he's been trying to create, we need to see it.  The first few games will be smoothing out the wrinkles...I sincerely hope he's not calling our offense vanilla in 2 months...

Also, being an aggressive offense that is exciting to watch HAS to also come from the sideline.  I didn't see much fire or excitement coming from the coaches as I have in the past...I wonder if they had begun the game fired up if it wouldn't have translated to the players?   That was one of the things that drove me nuts about watching Tressel and Bollman...it was like watching paint dry with an occasional hoorah.  I want to see Kerry Coombs levels of energy coming FIRST from the coaches, which will naturally impact the players as well.

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity..." -John Muir

Bleeding-Scarlet-Grey's picture

Amen

Without lies there would be no truth!

-2 HS
ibuck's picture

You have to creep before you crawl, and crawl before you walk, and walk before you run.  Encouragement helps as long as it doesn't overwhelm. This O is crawling, trying to walk, and it seems to be more the O-line than the QB that's coming along slowly. Also,weren't half of Barrett's passes either screens or almost hand-offs?

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

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

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I didn't see much fire or excitement coming from the coaches as I have in the past...I wonder if they had begun the game fired up if it wouldn't have translated to the players?  

It's a LONG season dude. We just made it through the first game. It was about what I expected, although not what I hoped for with  Meyer & Co. The coaches as well as the players have to pace themselves. Getting overly hyped for Navy should not be the same as preparing for MSU, PSU, Wisky or TTUN. I personally liked Meyer's cool, calm demeanor. He gave me and I'm sure the players the impression that there was no need to panic. We got the W and I was impressed with the way the team responded in the second half.

 

 

+4 HS
bucks4nuts's picture

It sure is... I guess no one saw Urban as the clock hit 0:00.. He couldn't have been happier arms raised and all

"To The House"

+2 HS
MountainsAwait's picture

How does being fired up and energetic equate to being panicked?  Quite the opposite, in my opinion.  I was simply saying that it would've been nice to see more emotion from the sidelines.  Not that non-emotion is bad, but let's be honest that people rise or fall to the expectations of those leading them.  Solemn and quiet doesn't get anyone pumped up...

"Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity..." -John Muir

BoFuquel's picture

We are in good hands. The offense can never operate at full bore until we don't have to keep the defense off the field for as long as possible. We must run the ball to use up time. If not we will end the season with the 118th defense in the country. That will not impress the play off crew. GO BUCKS!

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

bigtenspeed's picture

Due to playing Navy's offense another important factor is that VT has no film on the changes we've made to the defensive scheme. It will be interesting to see if their offense struggles.

+7 HS
Mortc15's picture

With as highly praised as VT's defense has been this week and this short season, I sure hope their offense struggles because it seems like a lot of people don't think our offense can move the ball much on them...

I'm not 1 of those people but we'll see come Saturday night.
 

Buck-I4Life

+2 HS
Young_Turk's picture

Thinking back on the game, JT was Guiton-ish. Not quite Guiton, but the comparison is fair.  I think he made a couple bad run reads, most noticeably near the goal-line.  And the interception in the red-zone was a bad mistake.  But otherwise, he earned The Distributor moniker. 

+2 HS
robobuck's picture

Remember that Guiton threw an interception that set up his game winning drive against Purdue. He redeemed himself is what's Important

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  1 Corinthians 9:24

+1 HS
steveoz49's picture

First game of the year, 9 new starters... and a QB who missed nearly his entire SR season, plus redshirted... let him just get some game experience.  I'm cool with that.  Plus, we won.  I'm sure they will add more as JT's comfort level increases. 

I wouldn't be surprised if they opened the VT game with a pass heavy selection.  Some simple roll outs and play action quick passes and maybe a shot or two down the field.... I can even envision the TEs playing a bigger part this week.

+4 HS
Bucksfan70's picture

herman needs to stop calling plays like he's scared. he needs to just open up the playbook and go.

i saw this the second half of last year but we had carlos hyde so you ride him, that makes sense. this year there is no excuse.

“Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't.” - Jerry Rice

+2 HS
2morrow's picture

Actually I thought they at least opened the game well. Seemed like Herman had BM throwing 40 yarders right from the opening whistle last year.  My criticism was that he never seemed to allow BM to open the game throwing short, high percentage passes that might build his confidence as the game went along. It would have also helped his passing stats. I hope they continue to do this with JT. Short, high percentage passes, build up the confidence for a few drives before opening up the passing playbook too much. Get all of the weapons involved early. 

+1 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

The line for the VT game opened at -12. I took VT. 

Edit: Jez guys, relax with the dv's, I bet with my money not yours. 

Read my entire screen name....

+2 HS
bucks15's picture

Not really living up to your name there Optimistic.

+6 HS
Urban Nation Army's picture

*see full name*

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

+8 HS
buckeyedude's picture

LMAO @ the DVs.(I didn't give you one, BTW.)  If OSU was playing in Blacksburg(?), Va., I might agree with you. Remember, there was a thread on 11W last week from Phil Steel that said OSU has the best home field advantage and it usually accounts for an extra TD.

I don't think we cover the spread, but we win this game by 7 or less. Just my gut feeling.

 

 

Spider1944's picture

Buckeye Dude, you started out saying you didn't agree with Opti $, then you agreed with him. I hope you don't get his down votes for having an opinion.

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Yea.  My take is:

12 is a lot of points.  While people have been hiding behind "we covered the spread against Navy" we scored a TD when we could have taken a knee.  

VT is a defensive team and our offense is struggling.  Take a new OL and a new QB and I think VT defensive packages will confuse the hell out of us. 

I think points will be at a premium.  In order for us to cover, I think we have to be +2 in turnover margin and get a special teams/defensive TD.

Read my entire screen name....

+2 HS
southernstatesbuckeye's picture

I hope you didn't put too much on the game, because the Bucks are gonna more than cover.

+3 HS
Spider1944's picture

I am curious how much $ you guys are laying out?

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

+1 HS
Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

I do small potatoes.  I keep $50 in an account and usually bet $5 a game.  I just think it makes the season more interesting for me.  I rarely come out ahead.

Read my entire screen name....

THE's picture

Would absolutely love for this to happen. 

Take the training wheels off and the burners burn baby. We've all been waiting...

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

I agree, brah. Dontre came close a couple of times last Saturday for taking one to the house. It's just a matter of time... It's just a matter of time.

 

 

+2 HS
Hitman61's picture

With you guys here. Wilson was really close to breaking one open a couple of time.

LebBuckeye

11UrbzAndSpices's picture

Urban must have read the comments on 11W this weekend!

Cardale Jones. Cardale Jones! CARDALE JONES!!

+2 HS
chirobuck's picture

Well the good thing is v tech has no game tape and no idea what to expect for whatever we add to the playbook this week

 
^ best post ever ^

+1 HS
BigDrill's picture

The vaunted VT defense put those great numbers up against William & Mary.... Let that sink in a moment.

Not Kent State, not Cincy, and surely not Navy. 

We won't have much to show them from our stated 2014 changes because we will have a totally different look against the triple option and the spread, or power I, or anything else.  The D against Navy was something I HOPE we can chalk up to playing against a gimmick. And even though HOPE is not a course of action, I expect a BIG difference this week in the DL play and the LBs.  The DBs went virtually untested vs the Midshipmen, so the jury is still out on them.  But Coach Ash and everyone else said we would see a more aggressive and attacking D this season.

He just failed to say it would begin week 2.

+7 HS
2morrow's picture

In my opinion, the Navy game was the best game of the Meyer era as far as the coaching is concerned. For once, it looked like we were making adjustments in game and we were trying to use all of our playmakers - maybe out of necessity - but we used a lot of people on offense. The OLine went from awful to much improved. I thought the DLine played very well but I am still not sold on our linebackers. 

+9 HS
northcampus's picture

I wish people would pump the brakes on the concerns with the offense.  In 2002 (as well as most years under Tressel), the offense didn't look so hot early on and things usually worked out fine.   

Even if the line needs 4-5 games to solidify itself, OSU has the luxury of multiple playmakers they can instantly dump it off to (Wilson, Samuel, Elliott, Smith, Spencer, Thomas, etc), which I think minimizes the growing pains of the OL.  Plus, Navy will end up being an 8 or 9 win team who people underestimated in the preseason.  Their QB and RB are legitimate talents who would give nearly any defense in America issues this year.

+5 HS
D-Day0043's picture

I can understand working slow and trying to get JT into a rhythm. The playmakers are going to have to help him out by getting open, not dropping balls, and getting yards after the catch.

I may be wrong, but in my opinion it would build more confidence in the players if they took the kid gloves off of them and trusted them to make plays.

Open it up and let them roll. Conservative is predictable. Attack, attack, attack. It is too easy to defend an offense when you are only running a few plays. That isn't going to cut it against the big boys. It works when your talent is superior, but when the talent is equal, the better scheme will win.

These are all top tier recruits. Let them do their jobs and stop coaching scared.

I am D-Day0043 and I approve this message.

+1 HS
904buckeye's picture

*UNDEFEATED IN THE REGULAR SEAON FOLKS* I have faith in Meyer! He'll get us where we need to be by the end of the year. And for now it's one game at a time. Next up VT. I expect the same result as all the ones prior.

GO BUCKS. BEAT MISSAGAIN

+1 HS
ARMYBUCK's picture

I sit here with a huge smirk on my face. Im pretty even keel. I dont think most people understand how much better we will look against a traditional offense annd traditional defense for that matter. Say what you will but I can see Navy going undefeated for the rest of the year. Yes, I know they play Notre Dame.I hope they destroy them! Playoff bound

+1 HS
buckeye phi's picture

Everyone has known all along that the offensive line could be a source of concern this season.  While a better performance against Navy might have been expected, they did seem to improve as the game progressed.  The coaches may be able to build on that this week.

On the other hand, considering the circumstances, J.T. Barrett's debut was impressive. If he's as intelligent as they say, it should be no problem opening up the playbook a bit more now that he has a game under his belt.

Virginia Tech boasts two of the best cornerbacks in college football.  OSU's wide-outs may have a tough night. 

Look for more production from the H-backs, the tight ends and, of course, the running backs.  That is assuming the o-line holds up their end of the deal.

If they're able to get the ball to the skill position players in space, the Buckeyes' team speed should overwhelm the Hokies.

Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement. - Will Rogers

kdogg72's picture

Personally I still think our offense will look pretty vanilla. What Urban Meyer wants is an A gap presence. Effectively running the ball sets up everything else. If we have to out scheme teams because we cannot do that, we won't be very good. It's why he says the game is always won in the trenches. Virginia Tech will be a great challenge, I cannot wait until Saturday.

+2 HS
socalbuck2014's picture

Urban says Rod Smith earned some carries...lets see it. I felt like if he had some of the holes the other backs got he could go 40 50 60 yards at any given moment. I just dont see whats not to like about him he gains yards everytime he touches the ball. Nothing better then a strong run game for a freshman qb.

Pay it forward

Crumb's picture

I like hearing this. If even they can't expand the playbook its always nice to hear that they want to. I love Jim Tressel but this better to hear than his standard 'they're a good team, we have to play better, and not make mistakes'. Sometimes its nice to hear the team admit that they share the same concerns as us fans. I mean of course they did under Tressel too, it's just nice to hear it. Dang this post came off as 'needy' and was not my intent, oh well.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

+2 HS
Spider1944's picture

Urban nation Army: your comment "look at full name" regarding optimistic buck gave me a good laugh. Clever post. I can't give you an up vote, so I will give you a shoutout.

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

+2 HS
Spider1944's picture

You know what scares me most about these posts? We are still talking about Navy almost 72 hours later. Turn the page Buckeye Nation. What do we need to know about VT, other than they are a Frank Beamer coached team. I hope special teams are getting extra attention. Especially the punt team.

"There are 3 things that can happen and 2 of them are bad" - the Curse of Woody Hayes

FROMTHE18's picture

its the only game we have to use to analyze the teams performance...

+1 HS
FROMTHE18's picture

With the amount of speedsters to use, the hurry up needs to be quicker, like Oregon-speed fast. You could just run the defense over with Zeke or Samuel up the middle and Dontre or Jalin around the outside. The passing game needs to be a bit quicker early on so keep the LBs back from the line of scrimmage, allowing JT to get more time and opening up more opportunities downfield, which of course would only help the running game that much more. Its a deadly cycle that could be enhanced with more pace with the no huddle IMO.

+2 HS
Buckeye_Ryan's picture

Agreed 100%. I was asking for some hurry-up/no huddle during the Navy game as well - every time (IIRC) we ran it last year it gave opposing defenses hell. 

Born a Buckeye, raised a Buckeye, will die a Buckeye.

jamesrbrown322's picture

IMO, the coaches felt that OSU had superior enough talent to beat Navy pretty soundly without opening up the playbook much. However, once it was obvious that Navy wasn't going away, and was keying on OSU's run and screens, the Bucks opened it up a bit more, used a little bit more creativity and pulled away. Doing so also gave the defense a sense of momentum and support from the offense, as well as some much needed rest.

I am hoping that they playbook is indeed more "open" this week and we see some offensive creativity. Also, against a more pro-style offense, our DLine, and D overall, will have more of a chance to showcase new schemes and changes, as well as their natural gift - pass rushing - as opposed to reading the option.

The point spread is 12, and I think it's right on for this one. I will admit that I was quite worried when Navy answered to make it 14-13, but the Smith bomb convinced me that the Bucks were going to pull it out. We'll learn much more about this team this week, which fortunately is at home.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

+1 HS
DC-town's picture

None new starters, playing the cut blocking triple option of navy...

it was a great game, entertaining, scary enough for every pessimistic fan to freak out and start telling Meyer, Herman and Ash what they should be doing, made the adjustments and came out with a win.

For the first game, pretty much what I expected-  young team that's going to progress...don't freak out

'Piss excellence' -RB

DC-town's picture

None=9

'Piss excellence' -RB

PittBuckeye's picture

I never felt like the offense really got complicated at any point last year. We always hear about opening up the playbook and doing x or y, I hope we get to see some of this.

TURD_BUCKET's picture

The Buckeyes have one of the youngest TEAMS ( age AND returning starters ) in the entire NCAA. I believe we will see continued improvement from game to game on both sides of the ball. If they can weather the storm early by the end of the season, look out! And the O-line has to bring it.

“Being average means you are as close to the bottom as you are to the top.” John Wooden

Barnsey69's picture

I think it went pretty well actually. Considering we had a young QB making his first start on the road, behind a revamped O-Line that was still trying to determine starters, 34-17 is fine. Especially since the onus if off "style points" in the new playoff era. But even if it weren't, Barrett sees Spencer open in the end-zone and doesn't throw that red-zone pick, final score is 41-17. The defense spent the whole game avoiding chop-blocks and chasing ball-carriers. Navy couldn't pass at all (20 yards total!), so conventional wisdom would dictate that any team that does line up and drop back in traditional passing situations, is not going to do very well versus our pass rush.

I guess in general, besides the 370 yards rushing our defense allowed, it seemed like they beat a pretty solid Navy squad without much effort.

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

+1 HS
lax20's picture

We all have to remember that this years team was going to be next years team.  Next year is now and as one said the offense needs to go from crawling to running.  I am not sure why all the anal lyst are dogging Navy.  This team returned 8 starters on offense including the QB, both RB's and the offensive line.  The 'D' returned 7 starters.  Navy has always been an overachiever and well disciplined.  Remember Pryor and company struggled with Navy at home in 2009 and brought home a win against Oregon in the Rose Bowl that season.  Asking me to be patient is like asking a smoker to quit cold turkey.  Let us go through the progression and see where we are in October.

BuckeyeFreak4844's picture

I dont really see any other team navy plays holding them to under 17 points.  The offense will come around, i would much rather play and beat a Navy team that is in a bowl game almost every year then put 62 points up on South Dakota State.  Not one team that i watched this weekend screamed wow that team looks scary good, maybe Texas A & M looked the best that i watched.  Its a long season and a 17 point win over a bowl team with a pretty uneventful first half i will take.

Michigan Sucks!

NuttyBuckeye's picture

I'm hoping we see more slants run against VT.  I did not see too many of those against Navy.  All it takes is one missed tackle and with our speed, it could lead to a TD.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

What's round on the ends and high in the middle? Tell me if you know!

+1 HS
zeversole's picture

Rather surprised we didn't see more on the edge as well. Curious if it had anything to do with the near interception on the WR screen early in the game. I suspected that's what we would see more of given the inexperience in Barrett and the speed of the receivers. I'd like to see more option looks as well. I think Samuel and Wilson could do some dangerous things out of the option.