Confusion, Mental Errors Resulting in 29 Penalties Through Three Games a Point of Emphasis for Ohio State During Off Week

By Eric Seger on September 23, 2016 at 8:35 am
Ohio State claims it is working on its Big Ten-leading 29 penalties during the bye week.

Though Ohio State is unbeaten and has a strong road performance against a top-15 opponent to hang its hat on during an off week, the Buckeyes wish they were not atop one Big Ten statistical category. Officials whistled Urban Meyer's team for 29 penalties in its first three games, the majority coming on the offensive side of the ball in the form of false starts, delay of games, holdings or illegal procedures.

“Coach Stud isn't too happy about that,” left tackle Jamarco Jones said on Wednesday, referring to line coach Greg Studrawa. “A lot of it's been on us with the false starts, I've gotten a couple penalties myself too. So we gotta try to limit those penalties.”

Urban Meyer surely isn't pleased either with the mistakes and lack of focus that led to yellow flags flying often during Ohio State's win against Bowling Green, Tulsa and at Oklahoma. Chalk some of that up to an inexperienced lineup particularly on offense, but more than once against the Sooners the Buckeyes suffered a delay of game because they were out of timeouts and J.T. Barrett could not get his teammates lined up properly. The 29 infractions are tied for fifth-most in the country.

“As coaches, you think about that darn kickoff return and you see some other things that shows your youth,” Meyer said after Ohio State defeated Oklahoma 45-24. “We also didn't hustle ourselves to the line of scrimmage and blew timeouts and just some silly things that we need to get cleaned up.”

Ohio State Penalties
False Start (7) 3: Billy Price (x2), Isaiah Prince 2: Curtis Samuel, Prince 2: Price, Prince
Holding (4) 2: Price, K.J. Hill 1: Jamarco Jones 1: Jones
Pass Interference (2) 1: Marshon Lattimore 1: Joshua Norwood
Substitution Infraction (2) 1: Team 1: Team
Offsides (2) 1: Dre'Mont Jones 1: Chris Worley
Illegal Formation (2) 1: Team 1: Team
Personal Foul (1) 1: Austin Mack
Unsportsmanlike Conduct (3) 2: Ref tripped on sideline 1: Chris Worley
Delay Of Game (4) 4: Team
Illegal Block In Back (1) 1: Johnnie Dixon
Illegal Procedure (1) 1: Team

Understandably, that is a focus of Meyer's team during its lone off week of the regular season. The Buckeyes return to Ohio Stadium on Oct. 1 to host Rutgers. Illinois is nipping on Ohio State's heels for second place in the Big Ten so far in 2016 with 27 penalties. Ohio State's 208 penalty yards trail only Nebraska's 228 in the conference.

At Oklahoma, the Buckeyes had 11 penalties — a pair of false starts, one illegal procedure, a block in the back, one holding, one unsportsmanlike conduct, a substitution infraction and an ugly four delay of games. However, one of those 5-yard delays was on purpose as Meyer wanted to give punter Cameron Johnston more room to operate near midfield.

“We had 11?” Barrett said on Wednesday, smiling. “I mean (Meyer) hadn't said nothing about it. He probably doesn't like that and I could do a better job with that.

“I think if it really gets out of hand, he'll start yelling me about it.”

Barrett appeared to be joking when he referred to his head coach's thoughts on all the whistles against his team, though many of the 29 happened as a result of miscommunication on offense. With how many wide receivers the Buckeyes continue to rotate in and out, Barrett said it is sometimes difficult to relay what each guy is supposed to do and where they should line up. Especially if the quarterback makes a check at the line in a hostile environment like the one at Oklahoma.

“It was a little chaos, first away game, got a little rowdy down there in Norman. Just a little miscommunication,” Barrett said. “I wasn't tripping, it was all good.”

Ohio State never trailed against Oklahoma and its plethora of talent shined through in the 21-point victory. Still, four delay of game penalties is an issue. Twice against the Sooners Barrett didn't get the snap in time and neither he nor Meyer could call a timeout because they didn't have any as a result of blowing them earlier amid the confusion.

“I think getting into the right play was part of it. Then also guys getting lined up, we had guys mixing in and out,” Barrett said. “I guess changing personnel and that types of things.”

The team's youth is still growing up and experienced its first taste of a road night game at Oklahoma. There are plenty of firsts during the team's three games in September. Guys making their first career starts, scoring their first touchdowns, taking their first road trip, playing in their first night game. That's what happens when essentially half the roster is freshmen.

“That just really was on us not being aware of the time, and when I say us I mean the players, us not being aware of the time and not really running out there when we break the huddle,” Samuel said. “That’s on us.”

Little issues like that can play a part in a closer game than the one on Saturday. Ohio State players claim they understand that and know those issues need proper attention because once they return from their off weekend, preparation for Big Ten play is on tap.

“We had two miscalls from the sideline and we weren't able to figure it out,” Meyer said. “We had some issues, [but] they're all fixable.”

“It's just a chance for us to review what we've been doing these first couple games,” Jones added. “Clean some stuff up before we get into Big Ten play which will be very helpful.”

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