GLENDALE, Ariz. — We probably should have seen that one coming.
OK, maybe not that — a 31-0 shellacking by Clemson over Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl and the first shutout in Urban Meyer’s head coaching career — but a poor offensive performance from the Buckeyes probably shouldn’t have been a surprise.
That’s because Ohio State’s offense — particularly the passing game — hasn’t really been that great all season. There were multiple issues — pass protection, lack of separation from wide receivers, errant quarterback play — and they all reared their head Saturday night. The Buckeyes’ once potent offense looked like a fish out of water against a more-than-game Clemson defense.
“Ohio State is not used to this,” Meyer said afterward. “I’m not used to this and we will not get used to this. That’s not going to happen again, so we’ll get things worked out.”
There’s plenty of time for that now. And there will almost certainly be some changes made.
Who knows if Meyer will make staff changes — co-offensive coordinator Tim Beck was asked if he thought he would return next season and said, “That’s coach Meyer’s decision — but there will certainly be tweaks to style and philosophy.
To get where Ohio State wants to get — competing for national championships — the offense must be better. It sounds strange to say that about a team coached by Meyer, but it’s true.
The Buckeyes mustered just 215 total yards against the Tigers on this evening — 127 of which came through the air. Ohio State averaged a dismal 3.8 yards per play and it had just nine first downs. There were points this season when the Buckeyes were unbalanced, but they still found ways to win. Saturday night was no such thing.
“We just didn’t execute really on offense,” Barrett said. “I think we prepared really hard and coaches did everything they could as far as like throwing us the different looks that we thought we were going to get but we just didn’t execute it anywhere on offense, really.”
Meyer was adamant Ohio State would improve on what was its biggest weakness this season.
“We will become a good passing team, we will,” Meyer said. “Next year.”
With Pat Elflein the lone member of the Buckeyes' offensive line departing — Billy Price said following the game he will be back for his senior season — Ohio State figures to improve up front. Players are expected to get better over time and with four out of five returning next year, the Buckeyes should be better.
Most of the receivers are coming back, too — Curtis Samuel said he was unsure after the game — but Ohio State needs serious player development in that department as it lacked explosion for most of the season.
Barrett hinted at a possible return, too, saying, "it will be really hard for me to walk away when we just lost 31-0."
There's potential for most of Ohio State's offense to return. The next step is for those players — and coaches — to improve.
"Got to go to work," Meyer said.
There's plenty of work to be done for the Ohio State offense.
Because the same issues that plagued the Buckeyes all season hurt them once again in their biggest game of the season.